Groomers: Good intentions are not enough

This is a mix of a Pit bull and a Shih Tzu--- can you guess what they call it?

This is a mix of a Pit bull and a Shih Tzu— can you guess what they call it?



I work for a kennel that offers  dog daycare and grooming.  The owner  often asks me how I get information.  I network.  I train my dog. I attend performance events.  I also  volunteer.

You would think that all groomers love dogs and  I believe that most of us do.  However, for a lot of us, there’s a limit to how much we can love.  some do not want to know any more than what they’ve already learned.  They do  other things—non-dog related things on their time off.  When I started grooming over 40 years ago, it was not this way. Everyone who groomed  either showed a dog in conformation or obedience, or  did tracking of field trialing.  There was no internet. It was the only way to learn.

I try to volunteer  for shelter dog washing events.  I usually cut toenails since I can do it quickly without hurting a dog.  I’ve volunteered  for animal shelters that have physical facilities.  Shelters where  I know  the boards of directors and people involved in the actual care of the animals. I know their policies.

What’s happened in the last  30 years or so is that  small rescue groups have sprung up.  The people who form these organizations either don’t like the policies of the animal shelters (particularly that they will euthanize  animals found unsuitable to be pets) and think they can either do a better job, or can save more animals.  This is what has  gone down in the metro Chicago area in the  last couple of years:

1.  Purrs From the Heart was a cat rescue.  They actually set themselves up as a  non-profit registered in the state of Illinois, I   made a donation-in-kind to them. Upon a random audit (by a state agency connected with the Illinois Department of Agriculture) it was found that they took  90 cats from Chicago Animal Care & Control (this is an open admissions pound which cooperates with  private shelters & rescues) which they could not account for.  No records? Trapped/neutered/released?   Given in bunches to kitten killers?  used as bait  for dog fighters? Were any spayed or neutered? No information is available;

2.ROMP—Rescue Our Mill Pups.  This is a private rescue run by Italian Greyhound breeder Liz Dobryzinski.  She says right on her web page that  she is NOT nonprofit. She will take in IGs, but she  will also buy  puppy mill  dogs to ‘rehome’.  She really does a very good job of this, and screens carefully….but is it rescue when you  pay for  a dog & don’t put the breeder  out of business?  One of our mutual friends defended her, stating not everyone could pay $1200 for an IG. Did they not deserve a dog? My response  was, “When that pup develops luxated patellas, and the operation to fix them costs  $2500 per knee, that  $1200 dog from OFA parents  seems like a bargain. Does she tell  buyers that  there is a good chance that the pup will turn out to have luxated patellas?  Or—that if they don’t crate the dog and use operant conditioning to get the dog housebroken, that it will never be housebroken?”

3.  Christine Poyner a/k/a Poyner Pet Rescue & Steppingstones for Pets is still in business, and licensed by the Illinois Department of Agriculture as not just a breeder, but a shelter.   A private shelter.  She’s a great business woman, buying low and selling high, but she is in violation of Ill. Dept of Ag laws about rescues including shots & NEUTERING in their fees.

4.  Wright-Way, in Morton Grove, Illinois, continues to  buy  pups( and rarely adult dogs), from  out of state, from dog pounds known to take surplus commercially bred dogs from puppy mills, ignoring the many locally  available dogs.  They rarely do any screening, any follow up on spay/neuter, and lie about the soundness of their dogs.  Although volunteers tell me they ALWAYS take dogs back, we know they tell  BUYERS (you can hardly call them adopters) to bring their dogs to OPEN ADMISSIONS  shelters if they don’t want them.    I thought it was my  skeptical imagination, but ah, no.  I learned from someone who volunteered with them, and also from a client who had no idea that they were not OPEN ADMISSIONS.

5.  Unnamed Rescues.  We have several that go by ‘adopt-a-pet and ‘save-a-pet’ but completely rely on volunteers to foster.  They have web sites.  They often have crippled or paralyzed dogs, and this means they need their bladders expressed manually.  They will tell adoptors they will pay all medical expenses for the lives of the dogs—and then they do not.

6. PAWS Chicago.  The largest ‘no-kill’ shelter in the city.  Will take an owner surrender if they have room—and charge your $200.  Hard to tell from  an annual report how many owner surrenders they have taken in. What we do know is, although they will pull dogs from the OPEN ADMISSIONS  shelter/pounds in our area…they do NOT take all adoptable dogs, If they did, over 60% of the dogs in the shelter would be Pit Bull or Pit mix dogs. They go out of state  often to get purebred dogs, or designer mixes (remember, this is the  shelter that Oprah Winfrey put in an  order for 2  brown cocker spaniel puppies, and later, 2 springer spaniel pups).

These ‘rescues’ deride breeders.  You see all over Facebook that they say, “Don’t shop, adopt!”    Or, another  guilt causer—the photos of dogs in shelters  with the caption, “Which one do you think should die because you bought a dog from a breeder?”  They do nothing to  stop the problem.  These dogs are not coming from ‘breeders’ who are breeding for the betterment of the breed. They are coming from the many backyard breeders who don’t think if themselves as breeders.  The veterinarians love these imbeciles as much as they love the puppy mills.  If they didn’t the veterinary community would  do all they could to stop them.

Google the Portuguese Water Dog Club of America and check out their code of ethics.  Notice, you NEVER see Scottish Deerhounds, Briards, English Setters….so many breeds—-in shelters or anything but breed specific rescues. In fact,  many of the  breed rescues don’t even have a list of ‘private placement’ dogs.  The breeders take them back.  Via networking, they manage to find good homes for dogs. So, the argument that hobby breeders ar the problem is specious.

I don’t want the ignorant idiots of the world deciding what kind of dog I should live with.  I refuse to  help a  shelter or rescue that pro0motes this  ignorant way of thinking.

How do you ‘vet’ a shelter or rescue?

1.  Ask to see a copy of their nonprofit status.  If they aren’t answerable to anyone, they make their rules up as they go along.  They might be dog brokers, as the groups I’ve listed above actually are;

2.  Ask for a list of their board of directors and their contact information.  If you check around, you see some of the groups actually have  puppy mill breeders on their boards. WTF?

3.  Ask for volunteers to contact you m so you can ask them about  their experiences;

4. Ask them for their adoption guidelines.

I am always happy to  groom a dog to make it more adoptable.  It just makes no sense for  a group to pander to a hoarder or a backyard breeder who disrespects my interest in planned breeding.


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