Rescue Watchdogs(TM)

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The Stories

Adoption Experience from Captain John Scott, USAF

Hello Sir,

I noticed your comments concerning the Wards and their business practices, specifically this letter:

I think that one of you contacted me about the Wards awhile back.  I think it's fabulous that you've decided to 'take 'em on'!  What a couple of idiots those people are.

Several years ago myself and two other people active in the Dane community went to the Wards with myself posing as a newbie to Danes and future owner.  We wanted to see if they were breeding litters as well as trafficking in Danes.  What we found made us sick.  No screening of either dog nor possible future owner was done.  People were being overcharged and lied to about the 'source' of the dogs.  The place was filthy and stunk to high heavens.  Even their home smelled so strongly of urine that we could smell it outside the closed front door.  There were 3 harl pups around 3-4 months old closed in a bathroom with shit smeared all over the walls and toilet.  One dog was chained and obviously aggressive.  The were still offering him as an adoptee!  There was a blind wobbler bitch that they refused to euthanize.  She was shy and terrified!  It made us sick!  These people need to be shut down!  They don't even deserve to own a house plant!  If there's anything I can do, please let me know.  -- Name withheld at the request of the author

Note - The author is a well known show judge and an active member of the Great Dane Club of California and the Great Dane Club of America. While she is willing to testify or do whatever else she can to help, she has asked us not to reveal her identify on the internet. We will be happy to provide contact info to any valid animal control agency who wishes to verify this information."
(Note the original this is quoted from is available here--Ed.)

Your letter sounded very similar to what my dear old mother and I experienced, when I flew back to visit her this holiday season.  She had recently lost two of her three Tibetan Mastiffs to old age and wanted to rescue two more.  It was supposed to be my gift to her but it turned into a terrible ordeal.  The email below describes the situation in more detail.

I spoke with Renee Power, Norco Animal Control Superintendent (951) 737-8972 / fax (951) 272-1163 on Wednesday.  She said that there had been numerous complaints against the Wards.  Other rescues, adoptive families, animal rights organizations, and the Norco Department of Animal Control were all opposed to the way that the Wards had been doing business.  She told me to send her the vet records, contract, and notes from the vet indicating that the dog was terminally ill at the time he was "adopted."  The Wards apparently started the rescue illegally, and in general, give a bad name to decent rescues everywhere.

-----Original Message-----
From: Scott, John
Sent: Wednesday, January 16, 2008 5:14 AM
Subject: FW: Complaint against Gentle Giants Dog Rescue in Norco, CA

Over the Christmas holiday, we adopted two dogs from a dog rescue (Gentle Giants Rescue and Adoptions) in Norco, CA.  They charged us an adoption fee of $1,307.50 cash for two dogs that were supposed to be of a specific breed, healthy, and with full veterinary records to include a vet check, shots, and dental records.

The dogs at this "rescue" were kept out of sight behind iron gates.  Howls emanated from two dilapidated buildings in the back.  In total, we were told that there were over 75 dogs in this single-family home with a back building.

The young dog, in addition to being filthy and undernourished, was not the breed we were told he was and was unstable (it appears he turned out to be a Fila-mix).  He repeatedly attacked our 13-year-old female dog, often while she was sleeping without warning or reason, harming and terrifying her each time, both from the injury and the unexpectedness of his attack.

After a few days of requesting a refund and asking that they take the dog back, they finally took the dog but offered no refund.  Yesterday morning, I called from my office to ask why.

One of the owners (Bert Ward), screamed at me, tried to blame the dog's condition on my mother (as though teeth could rot down to almost nothing, gums could become abscessed and horribly infected, and huge tumors could appear in a dogs throat in the course of 5 days), said that I had killed the dog, and insulted and threatened me.  On the day of the adoption, I noticed him yelling at his dogs and throwing things at other animals to "shut them up."  Based upon this, and his interactions with his family, his dogs, and his workers, he seems to be a bully who loses his temper quite easily but who otherwise says the right thing until he gets what he wants.

This rescue has a great website, they make people drive a long way and jump through many hoops, (waiting an an iron gate, going in, feeling trapped as the back gate closes, and waiting another two hours at another gate until being seen) to get a dog.

They seem to know that after going through such an ordeal an average person won't say anything if the dog is filthy or doesn't appear to be the promised breed.  The average person will take them at their word that it is the promised breed, that it is healthy, that the vet records will be sent, and that everything will be fine.  They will pay any fee requested almost as an afterthought.  The average person sign the contract, in the dark, based upon what they tell you it says.  You sign it because they tell you that you have to sign it right then and there, that you cannot possibly go in the house, and that you shouldn't worry that you don't have sufficient light to actually read it because as they tell you, "you can trust us."  The average person falls into this trap because the average person just wants to get the dog, get outside the iron gate, make the long drive home, care for the dog and get some sleep.  Even the not-so-average person would reason that any decent rescue would act decently.

This rescue seems to value the money far more than the dogs.  On the good side, they do find families for many dogs, but house flippers find families for many homes too.  Their motive at this "rescue" does not appear to be the well-being of the dogs but rather the money they can make from selling "adopting" them.  In short, they appear to be in the business of flipping dogs.

We'd like to see an independent governmental agency inspect the Gentle Giants rescue at 4867 Pedley Ave, Norco, CA 92860, particularly the parts that are "off limits".  I'd like to see the condition of those dogs howling in that dilapidated rear building.  I would like to see conditions that the dogs packed into the back of that old house have to endure.  I do not know who would be the appropriate agency to do so, but just because someone lives in a rural area behind two sets of iron gates should not make them above the law.

Thank you,
John Scott
January 18, 2008

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