by Amy Fernandez
Ads and editorial consistently caution us about supporting groups like HSUS. The subtitle of those messages is invariably the same…if you want to help animals in need, donate to your local shelter or rescue instead. Well…you might want to take a closer look before you lay your money down.
The big story in my neck of the woods is the faulty new computer system at Animal Care and Control, New York’s city shelter. Last year, they announced this forthcoming innovation. Like most great ideas, it was simple and brilliant. An online notification system would alert potential adopters about animals scheduled for imminent euthanasia. Updates would be posted by 5:00 PM daily, and adopters could arrange to claim animals by 6:00 the following morning. Everyone agreed that it would facilitate adoptions of many unlikely candidates – which includes most of the underdogs at ACC. Adoptable animals generally go to the deluxe no-kill ASPCA facility a few blocks uptown. Rejects join ACC’s population of stray cats, pit bulls, and three legged/one eyed geriatric Chihuahua mixes.
This potentially lifesaving program was developed and donated privately, and it required a year to get it up and running. Since then, its bugs and glitches have made the news a few times. Shelter spokesmen contend that they need more time to perfect it. Rescue groups claim that no one at ACC bothers to update the site, reply to emails, or answer phones. They agree on one thing – more money would solve the problem. ACC is managed by a city contracted non-profit group. Their $8 million in tax dollars annually is supplemented by volunteers, rescue groups, and private donations. Maybe I’m wrong, but this seems like enough money and manpower to get the job done.
Even groups like PETA and HSUS are finally acknowledging that shelter populations are dwindling. Yet, as the problem diminishes, budgets for some of these organizations have exploded. I’m probably not the only one wondering what’s going on. As Deep Throat said to Bob Woodward “follow the money.” In the past year I’ve heard four similar accounts of dubious relationships between shelters and rescue groups. Circumstances suggest that rescue can be a profitable venture. The latest incident happened right in my backyard. Let me tell you about it.
Barbara describes herself as an unsuspecting Dachshund owner who inadvertently exposed a highly questionable dog rescue operation. Like many dog lovers, she wanted to adopt a rescue after losing one of her beloved pets. Petfinders.com led her to a local LI group. On May 26 she emailed them about a Dachshund they had posted to the site. They replied immediately saying that although that Dachshund had been placed, they had just gotten another one. “Nadia” was described as a 3-4 year-old stray that they had pulled from the local municipal shelter, that was spayed two weeks ago.
A few days earlier, a local Dachshund breeder got a call from the same shelter asking her to foster a seven year-old Dachshund turned in by the family of a woman in hospice care. Coincidentally, this breeder had received two recent inquiries for pets, and this dog seemed like what they were looking for. She passed along the information. Callers were told that the shelter is required to hold dogs for six day. They were advised to call back on the date this Dachshund would be released for adoption. With any luck, this pampered, middle-aged pet would quickly be re-homed.
Meanwhile, Barbara’s online rescue application was approved and she and her husband went to see Nadia the following day. A woman answered the door of a big colonial house in a residential community carrying Nadia in her arms. She explained to Barbara that they were redecorating so “ We do the meeting in the foyer.” To Barbara, this doesn’t look like a stray. “She is plump and has no scar from recent surgery.” She has more to ponder when the rep requests a $300 adoption fee. “We are taken aback since we have been quoted fees of $89-$150 from other pet shelters.”
Before making a decision Barbara wants Nadia to meet her other two Dachshunds to ensure they are compatible. The rescue volunteer immediately offers to bring Nadia to Barbara’s home that evening, going on to say that she can keep the dog if it goes well. Nadia is a sweet, appealing dog, just what they are looking for, but Barbara’s intuition is telling her that something is not quite right. Another red flag is raised when the rescue rep turns to leave. Barbara glances beyond the door to see “rows of crates stacked on the kitchen cabinets and lined up on the floor.”
Barbara and her husband decide to discuss the price and have Nadia checked by their vet before making a final decision. And that’s pretty much what she tells the P…P…rescue contact the following day. She receives a reply saying, “We are a rescue group, we pull dogs from shelters. The $300 is not a “price”, it’s a donation made to our rescue group so that we can continue to save lives from high kill shelters.”
Yes, Nadia did come from the local kill shelter. Their website says: All adopted pets will be spayed or neutered, will receive all required innoculations (sp) at no charge and will be micro-chipped free of charge. Call our helpful staff at (xxx)xxx-xxxx to find out more information about any of the pets you have viewed on Petfinder.
Adoption Fee – Dogs: $85.00 • Adoption Fee – Cats: $75.00
And the P….P…website says: Pups over the age of 6 months will be spayed or neutered before they are adopted out… We take spaying/neutering very seriously, and follow up to make sure that all of our puppies get spayed/neutered. Puppy adopters should be aware that spay/neuter surgery can cost more than $200.
Shelter policies vary, but many municipal shelters neuter/vaccinate/ chip animals prior to release. And P…P…rescue pulls most of its dogs from this particular shelter. And Nadia was spayed long before she entered the shelter.
In the end, Barbara didn’t get Nadia, mainly because the rescue refused to allow a pre-adoption vet check. She still wanted another Dachshund, so on Wednesday, May 30 she visited the aforementioned breeder. The seven year-old Dachshund at the town shelter also comes up in conversation with Barbara. The breeder describes her call from the shelter administrator and Barbara suddenly realizes “we are talking about the same Dachshund. That would explain why she was overweight and didn’t have a recent spaying scar.”
Circumstantial evidence suggests that Barbara’s hunch is correct, but dog people aren’t happy unless they get right into it. The following day, another breeder contacts the shelter administrator and asks her point blank. “Two people were interested in the mini smooth dachsie and they called the shelter wanting to see it. In the meantime, the shelter ships the dachsie to Calverton knowing damn well that people were interested in adopting her. So I sent them an email asking why ? (I pay my taxes to the this town).
“And they replied …Thank you for your inquiry regarding “Gia” the dachshund. She was given to rescue because she is 7+ years-old and is more suitable to go into rescue/foster. The shelter environment is too stressful for most dogs, especially elderly dogs. She had to be given up by her only owner. The dog has never been outside the home environment. This particular case/dog was better in rescue. We did not have any official adoption applications showing interest in her. I hope that helps clear up any confusion. If you have more questions please contact me directly.
Animal Shelter and Adoption Center
“The shelter director also confirmed that they had delivered Nadia/Gia to the rescue when the legal holding time expired. Potential adopters calling that day were told that she had already been adopted.”
Barbara also called them to ask why a completely inaccurate description of Nadia/Gia was posted to Petfinder.com. “The assistant director tells me that she needs P…P…Rescue. They have been working together for over 10 years.” She goes on to explain that no one could find Nadia/Gia on their site because the shelter doesn’t advertise its adoptable dogs – an incomprehensible policy. Barbara also asks why the dog was sent to P…P… after people called the shelter offering to come in and complete preliminary paperwork to adopt her. “Isn’t it the job of shelters to place dogs in homes? She does not give me a response. In fact, she becomes angry and hangs up the phone.”
By now, Barbara realizes her suspicions are well-founded. The P…P… rep had told her that they placed 18 dogs that week. “Do the math. Eighteen dogs at $300.00 per dog is $5,400.00 for one week of adoptions. They pay nothing to shelters for these cute, little, adoptable dogs and turn them over to adopters who pay more than twice as much as it would cost to adopt from a shelter.This is supposed to be a non-profit organization. It looks more like a dog broker.”
Despite her bad experience Barbara doesn’t want to discourage support for shelters and rescues. She emphasizes that most of them are honest and dedicated, but scammers are out there. “Do your homework before donating or adopting.”
Short URL: http://caninechronicle.com/?p=3595
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