Rescue Watchdogs(TM)People and Rescues working together for the betterment of Rescue
Who We Are
We are the diehard core of a group formerly known as ROARs (Rescues Organized for Actual Rescue). ROARs was a coalition of adopters, rescues, breeders, breed enthusiasts, lawyers, animal advocates, breed clubs, and people in the animal welfare field, who came together in 2004. ROARs represented at least a dozen different breeds. ROARs members ranged from local mom and pop operations, to regional and even national organizations. And they hailed from California, Arizona, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Montana, Utah, Colorado, and even as far away as Alabama. We all shared common goals, to improve the quality of rescue overall, and to protect the dogs in rescue and the public.
But one of the rescues we were investigating filed a lawsuit against some of our members, and that lawsuit, along with other attempts to intimidate the members, succeeded in splintering the group, scaring some of our members into hiding and leading others to leave the group for fear of being sued. It wasn't that they felt they had done anything wrong, they simply could not afford to fight a lawsuit. Win or loose, a lawsuit can cost you big $$, and most rescues and individuals simply do not have the funds for these sorts of battles. They were also worried about what other things that might be done to them in retaliation, such as false reports of animal abuse or neglect made to animal control (this has actually happened to several of ROARs members) or being reported for other minor infractions, real or otherwise (these sort of nuisance complaints can end up shutting a rescue down sometimes and they always make an already difficult job harder). But some of us are still willing to fight the good fight, and we have reorganized under a new name. Our goals remain the same, the commitment of our current members remains the same, and we will continue with the investigations we began under the ROARs name. Heck, aside for the name and logo change, our website is still pretty much just as it was.
|Why We Are Here
We have made it our goal to investigate complaints about rescues objectively, and when we find problems, to help those rescues adopt and follow responsible rescue practices. When our efforts to help fail, we will seek to protect the public from those rescues that refuse to clean up their programs. Our purpose is not to shut down anyone. We would much prefer to help them become responsible, ethical rescues. There are too few rescues as it is, we do not want to reduce the number of operating rescues. Doing so means dogs will die. That is the harsh reality of rescue that we must face. But sometimes, a "rescue" is so bad or so resistant to change, that we simply must act, to protect the dogs and the public. When a rescue is placing aggressive dogs without informing the adopters, and refuses to even acknowledge this is a dangerous practice, we must act. When a rescue is not getting their dogs basic medical care, we must act. When a rescue is abusing or mistreating their dogs, we must act. When a rescue is placing sick dogs, or dogs in need of medical care, and not telling the adopters, we must act.
Part of this process will be to work with public shelters, keeping them informed about our investigations and warning them when they are working with rescues we believe do not operate in a responsible and ethical manner. Often shelters have no way to assess a rescue other than by whether they have a 501c3 (are defined as a tax exempt charity by the IRS). Being a 501c3 is not in any way an indicator of whether the rescue is responsible and ethical. We would like to be able to give shelters something to work with, some verifiable facts that they can base their decisions on. The job we ask of our shelters is hard enough, it is not fair to ask them to also somehow investigate the rescues that contact them.
We also will investigate complaints about foster homes brought to us by legitimate rescues. Again our goal is to help where we can and to protect the rescue community where we have no other options. Our investigations will be fair and unbiased, and will be reported on publicly via this website. For years rescue has handled these issues privately, fearing the potential lawsuit that might result if they publicly named an individual or rescue. They have created DNR/DNF lists where rescues can report problems and where rescues can check each other or foster homes out. But all too often these lists turn into forums for one rescue to simply bad mouth another, or bad mouth a foster, because of personal problems. With no way to verify the facts, things can easily get out of hand. We want to offer an objective unbiased group that will verify the facts and report them publicly. This will stop people from trying to lie about one another, and it will allow problem rescues and fosters to be easily identified.
|How You Can Help Us
Before you adopt, take time to become an informed "consumer."
Find out what a good rescue does, and what to watch out for when interviewing rescues. Learn about the breed you are planning on adopting. If you have doubts, contact us. Find out if the rescue's practices are normal, or follow basic rescue guidelines. It is important that you have an emotional bond with your new pet, but the decision to adopt should not be based on emotion alone. If a rescue (or a breeder for that matter) plays on your emotion, be wary. Adopting a dog, especially a giant breed dog, is something that you really need to think through objectively. It likely will involve a number of changes in your home and lifestyle. All the factors should be considered and looked at logically before you commit to bringing that new dog home with you. Good rescues understand this and will never pressure you to adopt. If you feel pressured to adopt, stop right there. Something is wrong. If you need help or have any questions, please feel free to contact us.
Would you like to join Rescue Watchdogs?
Membership is free and open to individuals as well as rescue and shelter groups. All that's needed is a conscience, maybe some steady nerves now and then, and an abiding concern for the safety of animals and for the truth. If you find yourself saying "somebody ought to do something about ...," then here's your chance to be somebody and do something. For more info, contact us.
|How Can We Help You?
Want to know more about what's happening?
Looking for a place to ask questions and get answers? Want to share your story? Want to talk to former adopters and others before you adopt from rescue? We now have a public forum just for you, at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Tiergans_Roar/
Want to ask us to investigate a rescue or foster for you?
We can not guarantee we will be able to start an investigation. But if we can, we will be happy to look into things for you. Be prepared with documentation supporting your allegations, as the more data we have, the more likely we are to be able to start an investigation. But remember, we are going to investigate fully and our investigations are objective. We can not guarantee you will agree with or like the results. On the other hand, if we find you have a legitimate complaint, we will be happy to get the word out and to try and help fix the problems we find. If you want to request an investigation, please email us.
The Gentle Giants Rescue Investigation
In late 2004 we started an investigation of one particular rescue called Gentle Giants Rescue and Adoptions Inc., located in Norco, California. This is a high profile rescue, that gets lots of media coverage because the owner was an actor and was on a TV show back in the 60s. As the investigation progressed, we began to see a number of issues that concerned us greatly. We are saddened and angered by what we have found in the course of our investigation. In our opinion, we have found a clear pattern of them neglecting their dogs, of them misleading the public, of outrageous "adoption fees," of quoting one fee and then charging a much higher fee once the adopter is there, of bullying adopters into taking a dog when they were not sure, of requiring the adopters to pay the first $400 of the "adoption fee" in cash, of failing to provide basic paperwork with the dogs, such as vaccination and spay/neuter records, vet records, or any sort of paperwork aside from the contract for that matter. In fact we have at least one documented case of them placing a stolen dog that was properly microchipped. The adopters eventually found out about this and were easily able to contact the former owner. We were left wondering why Gentle Giants had not done so as well, and why they placed this particular dog out of state. We also heard numerous times about how they would blame the adopters when new adopters would call for help with undisclosed health and/or behavioral problems. All of these issues are red flags for any responsible rescue. All dogs coming into a rescue should have a paper trail that tracks the dog from arrival until placement. This paperwork may also contain documentation from any rescues or animal welfare agencies that had the dog prior to the rescue getting them. It may include documentation from the previous owners and past vets. It should allow the rescue to show what condition the dog was in when it arrived, what care it got while it was in the rescue, and what if any chronic health or behavioral problems may exist. It is rare for a responsible rescue to place a dog with any serious health or behavioral problems, especially behavioral problems. And when they do, they will go over these problems and how best to deal with them, in detail and prior to placement. A responsible rescue will work hard to help the adopter resolve the problems rather than simply blaming the adopter.
We are not the only group or agency concerned about the problems at Gentle Giants. For more, check out In The News.
Have you adopted a dog from Gentle Giants Rescue in Norco, California?
Have you wanted to complain to someone about problems you had with them? Well there is a way. We have created a Declaration that is formatted and everything. All you need to do is download it, fill it out, and send it to us. We will see that it not only goes to the City of Norco Animal Control, but also to any other agencies that might need it. We will make sure we get the maximum benefit from the Declaration. To download, click here. This is a Word Document format. If you need it in some other file format, email us.
Want to see Gentle Giant's tax return for 2003 or 2004?
The 2003 return is only a half year really, as it covers May through December. It is sparse, but it does give some interesting information. Did you know that Tracy takes a salary? Yep, according to their 2003 IRS Form 990 (the "tax return" for charitable organizations) Tracy took $7000 in salary in 2003. While this is not illegal or anything, it is unusual in the rescue community. Especially given that it represents almost 1/3 of total expenditures for that portion of the year. And in addition to the salary, there were also payroll taxes due in the amount of $1,379. So total cost to the rescue was really $8,379 as I read the return, which is more than 1/3 of the total expenditures for that portion of the year. Check it out for yourself, and draw your own conclusions.
In checking out their 501c3 application, we discovered that their projected income for 2004 was listed at $265,000. And that they expect to spend almost 1/3 of that, $84,000 on Tracy's salary alone. The 2005 projections were pretty much identical. I am not sure how they jumped from an annual gross (extrapolated) in 2003 of around $45,000 to an annual gross (projected) of $265,00 in 2004. It will be interesting to see what their 2004 returns actually show, and how close their projections were. As of October 1st 2005, their 2004 form 990 was still not available for review, however we will update this section as soon as it is, and we will add it to our Documents page.
Well the 2004 return is finally in. It was filed 11/5/05 from what we can tell. Their 2004 IRS Form 990 shows an annual income of $223,021. which is not far off of their projections in their 501c3 application. But Tracy's declared salary for 2004 totaled "only" $47,292, far less than the $84,000 they had planed on declaring. We still have a hard time with some things. Such as how they went from an extrapolated annual income of around $45,000 in 2003 to a whopping $223,021 in 2004. I have never seen them talk anywhere about such a rapid and massive increase in business. I know most people in rescue would be shouting that to the rooftops. Imagine increasing adoptions by a factor of 5 in just one year! WOW. That would surely be something to brag about. The other thing that really stood out for us, was their average adoption fee. They list income from adoptions at $222,493 (part VII line 93) and they claim to have placed "over 200 dogs" (part III line a). Now I know, "over 200" is pretty vague, but you have to figure that if they had meant over 225 or over 250, they would have said that, so you have to go with the number they did choose to use. For the sake of argument, lets use 224 dogs, that being under 225 but over 200. $222,493 income on placement of 224 dogs works out to an average adoption fee of just under $1000. That is a figure that boggles the mind of every rescue group I know of. Why is it that GG's adoption fees are more than double anyone else's? (In fact they are 3 to 5 times that of most rescues!) And given that this is just the average, what must their top fee be if they place some dogs for "just" $400.00? Anyway, peruse their return at your leisure and see what you think.