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Tag: rescue groups

Are dog rescue groups helping support big time breeders? It sure looks that way

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Are animal rescue groups actually helping keep big-time dog breeders — both good ones and bad ones — in business?

That’s the question raised in this blockbuster report that appeared in The Washington Post this morning.

The newspaper’s investigation found that rescue operations, traditionally the nemesis of puppy mills, have been buying dogs from breeders at auction, using donations from their supporters to buy dogs in what it described as a “nationwide shadow market.”

The result is a river of rescue donations flowing from avowed dog saviors to the breeders, two groups that have long disparaged each other. The rescuers call many breeders heartless operators of inhumane “puppy mills” and work to ban the sale of their dogs in brick-and-mortar pet stores. The breeders call “retail rescuers” hypocritical dilettantes who hide behind nonprofit status while doing business as unregulated, online pet stores.

But for years, they have come together at dog auctions where no cameras are allowed, with rescuers enriching breeders and some breeders saying more puppies are being bred for sale to the rescuers.

Bidders affiliated with 86 rescue and advocacy groups and shelters throughout the United States and Canada have spent $2.68 million buying 5,761 dogs and puppies from breeders since 2009 at the nation’s two government-regulated dog auctions, both in Missouri, according to invoices, checks and other documents The Post obtained from an industry insider.

Most rescuers then offered the dogs for adoption as “rescued” or “saved,” and charge adoption fees that range from $50 to $1,000 per dog.

The article reports that it is likely the success of rescue groups in reducing the numbers of dogs needing adoption that has led to an increase in such organizations turning to buying dogs offered at auctions by commercial kennels: “As the number of commercial kennels has decreased, so has the number of shelter animals killed in the United States: A February 2017 estimate put the total for dogs alone at 780,000, a steep drop from estimates for all shelter animals that were as high as 20 million in the 1970s.”

One golden retriever rescue group turned to the auctions after seeing 40 percent fewer dogs coming in as of 2016. At the auctions, such rescuers describe buying purebreds and popular crossbreeds such as goldendoodles and maltipoos as “puppy mill rescue,” the article notes.

Some rescue organizations have paid more than $1,000 for a single dog.

Animal-welfare groups, including the ASPCA, HSUS, say rescuers are misguided in buying dogs at auction because the money they pay only encourages more breeding on a commercial scale.

While they may be keeping some individual dogs from being purchased by breeders for a life of breeding, they are also lining the pockets of breeders and helping to create a “a seller’s market.”

JoAnn Dimon, director of Big East Akita Rescue in New Jersey, says that buying breeding-age dogs at auctions makes it harder for commercial breeders to profit in the long run: “That breeder is going to make thousands of dollars off that [female dog] if he breeds her every cycle. I just bought her for $150. I just took money out of his pocket. I got the dog, and I stopped the cycle.”

The majority of the $2.68 million The Post documented was spent since 2013 at Southwest Auction Service, the biggest commercial dog auction in the country, with some additional spending at its smaller, only remaining competitor, Heartland Sales.

As the last remaining government-licensed auctions, they let buyers and sellers see hundreds of dogs at a time and are a legal part of the country’s puppy supply chain. They are regulated by the U.S. and Missouri Departments of Agriculture and open to the public.

“I’m not going to lie about this: Rescue generates about one-third, maybe even 40 percent of our income,” Bob Hughes, Southwest’s owner, told the Post. “It’s been big for 10 years.”

“I honestly think there are very good, responsible rescues that just love the dogs and want to get them out of the breeding industry,” he added. “And I think there are malicious, lying, cheating rescues that are in it for the money and the glory and the funding.”

Rescue groups generally are organized as nonprofit charities and raise money through fundraisers, adoption fees, grants and bequests. Shelters and rescue groups connected to the auction bidders have annual revenue that runs from $12,000 to $1.5 million.

Hughes told the Post that what happens at auctions shows that nobody has the moral high ground in America’s puppy wars.

“In their minds, the rescuers think they’re better,” he says. “The industry is all alike. We’re all supplying puppies and dogs to the general public in some form or fashion.”

(Photo: Dogs being sold at an auction in Michigan))

NC dog rescue group fighting to stay open

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Zoning laws often lack logic, but this one, in Davidson County, N.C., seems especially bone-headed.

A rescue organization in Thomasville that shelters dogs while trying to find them homes has been told that county ordinances allow kennels to have no more than 10 animals per five acres.

Exceptions to the rule are made for those who keep show dogs, those who keep hunting dogs, and those who keep or train guard dogs.

But for an organization like Ruff Love Rescue that saves dog’s lives and tries to find them adoptive homes? Sorry. Up to now, no exceptions have been made, and the county has threatened to shut them down.

ruffloveThe Winston-Salem Journal reported yesterday on the rescue, the problems it is facing, and how it is attempting to surmount them.

While the nonprofit rescue has been operating for nearly 20 years, the county issued it a zoning violation in 2015, saying, as a kennel, it is subject to rules limiting the number of animals to 10 for every five acres.

The notice followed an investigation that was prompted by a neighbor’s complaint.

The rescue’s owner, Sue Rogers, appeared before the county’s planning and zoning committee last week to again seek an exception. The committee voted in favor of allowing the rescue to have more than 10 animals as long as Rogers adds trees or other sound barriers.

That still requires approval from the Davidson County Commissioners. They are scheduled to discuss the proposal on April 11.

Rogers has argued that the rescue should receive the same exception that owners of household pets, and trainers of guard animals, show dogs and hunting dogs receive.

“So you can have 71 hunting dogs or 71 show dogs or 71 pets, but because we are a rescue, that’s a problem?” Rogers said. “What are those ‘exceptions’ doing for Davidson County? I’ll tell you what we’re doing, saving a heck of a lot of lives.”

She has a point. Shouldn’t a rescue get at least the same break that the county has granted to the owners of show dogs, guard dogs and hunting dogs? Since when is grooming dogs for beauty contests, or training them to hunt, or teaching them to get aggressive with intruders more important than saving their lives?

Given all the shortcomings over the years at the Davidson County Animal Shelter, shouldn’t the county be appreciating Rogers efforts, instead of punishing her?

The county shelter was one of the last in the state to stop euthanizing animals in a gas chamber. It has had traditionally low adoption numbers. Even after it’s operation was turned over to a nonprofit group, it had its license revoked in 2015 when investigators found, among other things, that sick and injured animals were going untreated.

Rogers started her independent rescue in her 5-acre backyard in the late 1990s. In 2015 she took in about 400 dogs. Last year, she took in 220 dogs, most of which were adopted.

The rescue regularly pulls dogs from the Davidson County shelter and other county shelters.

“I take the dogs that don’t have a chance because no one wants to invest the time and money to get them better,” Rogers said. “A lot of the dogs I take in have medical issues, like broken femurs or fractured pelvis, and would be euthanized otherwise.”

She estimates she has spent $50,000 on legal fees to keep the shelter open.

“It’s been a hard fight, but I’m not giving up,” she said. “This is my passion, this is my life, this is what I do.”

An online petition to keep the rescue open has received 1,400 signatures in a week.

(Photos: At top, Ruff Love Director Sue Rogers loads toys, treats and food donated at an adoption fair Saturday; lower photo, one of Ruff Love’s dogs is greeted at an adoption fair in Greensboro; by Allison Lee Isley, Winston-Salem Journal)

Feel-good story about homeless man’s reunion with dog took some strange turns

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Getting your Huntsvilles confused is one thing, but one website really screwed the pooch when they published a story about a good Samaritan who helped reunite a homeless man and his dog.

In September, in Huntsville, TEXAS, Wilma Price was driving through a Walmart parking lot when she saw a homeless man holding a sign that said, “Dog in pound. Need help.”

Price, who runs a rescue called Mr. K’s Pet Shelter, stopped to find out his story. She learned the homeless man, named Patrick, had been arrested and jailed for trespassing, and that, because of that, his dog ended up in the animal shelter.

She took Patrick to the shelter, and paid the $120 necessary for him to get his dog — named Franklin — back.

The story was picked up by the website Life with Dogs, CBS News, People.com and many more.

Dozens of other websites reprinted or rewrote it — most of them doing a decent job of passing along the facts.

Then there was the Alabama Observer.

patrick2It reported that the story took place in Huntsville, Alabama, that the dog’s name was Wilbur, that the homeless man’s name was Mark Spencer, and that the good Samaritan’s name was Elizabeth Masterson.

The story had no links to actual news sources, and little attribution.

It wasn’t the only website to get the facts askew, but it was the only one that appeared to be making up entirely new names for everyone involved. At least three other websites published versions of the story with those erroneous names.

One wonders what might be the motivation for substituting illegitimate names into a legitimate story.

Might the exact same story have happened with different people at a Walmart in Huntsville, Alabama? Clearly not. Might the website be trying to cover its rear, legally? Maybe. Might there be something more nefarious going on, such as diverting donations intended for Patrick (whose last name isn’t Spencer) to some guy named Mark Spencer? We hope not. Might a computer program be doing the website’s writing? Highly possible.

Apparently, a bogus Go Fund Me campaign to raise funds for Patrick was launched by someone neither Wilma nor Patrick knew, and, using photos from Wilma’s Facebook page, it raised $3,000 before the page was removed from Go Fund Me.

That’s $3,000 Patrick and Franklin didn’t get. Wilma Price, meanwhile, started a campaign for him too, and it has raised more than $15,000 for Patrick on GoFundMe.

Price said Patrick has been helping her organization with rescue efforts since the two met, and her Facebook page documents their adventures together.

Snopes.com looked into the story and couldn’t figure out how or why the Alabama Observer version had new names inserted into it.

There is no contact information on the Alabama Observer’s web site, and no description of who operates it. Snopes reported it appears to accept stories submitted by users, as opposed to having its own reporters or freelancers.

We think there’s a good possibility it’s one of those websites that runs news stories through computer programs that rewrite them (with mixed results, or should I say “stirred outcomes?”).

How else could you explain the opening of this recent Alabama Observer story about clown sightings in Ohio?

“The developing rash of reported dangers including clown-faced villains has law authorization offices crosswise over Ohio and somewhere else attempting to recognize true blue dangers while cautioning deceptions are no giggling matter.”

(Photos courtesy of Wilma Price)

Scenes from BARCStoberfest

    

     Rescue groups, dogs in costume and the Orioles mascot were just a few of the sights to be seen at yesterday’s BARCStoberfest at Patterson Park.
     The annual fundraising event is held by Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter (BARCS).