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The Stories


Kimberly Gomez
January 13, 2007

In June 2006, my husband and I went to Gentle Giants Rescue (GGR) in Riverside, California to adopt a Great Dane.  I had spoken to the owner, Tracy, on the phone telling her that lived 14 hours away and couldn’t make the trip until they had several Great Danes to choose from.  She assured me that she had about 250 to choose from right now.  We were encouraged to bring cash.  Tracy also told me that all their dogs were professionally trained, gentle and healthy and if there was ever a medical issue with the dog, they would pay the expense for medical attention.   We were thrilled; it seemed too good to be true. Well, it was! 

When we arrived at GGR we were shocked.  The place was filthy, as were Burt and Tracy.  We were there for 8 hours, along with 9 other people also hoping to adopt dogs.  Each dog Tracy brought out looked dirty, matted and skinny.  Within 8 hours, she only showed us 4 Great Danes, one being their own, one looking more like a mastiff.   I had asked her where all the other Danes were and she told me that they were not yet ready to be adopted.  I was tired, disappointed, hungry and emotional after that long drive to get there and did not want to leave without a dog.  That left us with two choices:  A supposed 9 month old that really looked like a 3 month old lab, and a 3 to 4 year old female.   We chose to adopt the female and paid GGR $790.00 in cash for the dog. There were 9 other people in” our group”, when we were there and each of us paid by cash.  Each dog was adopted for $790.00, except for the one puppy, at $690.00

We then introduced our own 2 year old Great Dane to the new dog, who reacted by growling & Tracy quickly hit the dog on the nose with a paper towel roll, yelling “quit.”  We did not think too much about that incident at that time since it was the first meeting for the dog. 

On the return trip home, we stopped for the night.   As we were walking our newly adopted Dane, she saw another dog & viciously tried to attack the dog, reacting like a crazed animal. My husband had to tackle the dog to the ground to stop her from attacking.   She was so strong that he got all cut up. Her dog aggression was totally unexpected as Tracy claimed that all her dogs were gentle.   Once at home, we brought our new dog to our vet for a check up.   The vet said she had vaginal, eye and staff infections.  Her nails were so long that she had difficulty walking without a limp, her teeth were all covered with heavy plaque, (from top to bottom) and she had terrible diarrhea.   I called Tracy soon after our initial visit with the vet to tell her about the infections and she replied, "She was healthy when she left here".  She went on to say that they refuse to do anything unless the dog is brought back to Riverside, (a 14 hour drive from our house) and is examined & x-rayed by their own vet, claiming that most vets do not know much about large breed dogs.  In the same telephone conversation with Tracy about our newly adopted dog’s aggressiveness with other dogs, Tracy told me that she almost didn’t allow us to adopt the dog, as we were so far away and she couldn’t work with us, because the dog tended to be “a little protective of other dogs”.  This Dane is so dog aggressive, that she has attacked several dogs, (and has even growled at several people), often dragging me down the trail trying to get to them. We hired a dog behaviorist to work with her extensively.  He noticed that she appeared to have several scars, mostly indicative of dog fights.  After working with her for 3 months, he basically stated that she would never be 100% trustworthy around other animals or humans, without being leashed and under direct supervision & finally, that he just could not do anything more with her.

Our dog continues to have health problems. .  She is now almost lame and in constant pain, requiring another visit to the vet.  X-rays have shown numerous old traumas in her spine, hip and knee.   A few months ago, when various treatments did not help, we had to have her tail amputated because of serious infection from tail biting. She had bitten off over 3 inches, well into her tail bone. Her tail was scabbed over when we got her, once again we didn’t give it a second thought at the time.  We recently learned from a specialist that the tail biting was probably due to tingling sensations from the spinal problem.   The vet also found 3 micro-chips in her, none of which match the number on the chip tag that Tracy gave us.  From the microchip records, it appears we are the fourth owners for this dog.  We were told that they had tried to place the dog once before, but we were unaware about the 3 other placements.   We have also learned from our vet, that that the dog is closer to six years old, not three or four as we were told when we adopted her.

As of 12 January 2007, we have spent $2,218.98 on medical bills and professional training and this does not even cover medical expenses now required for the spinal issues.

THIS HAS TO STOP!   We were promised a gentle, healthy 3-4 year old and instead ended up with a probable 6 year old with numerous physical and emotional issues.  GGR has a no refund policy, therefore, you can return a dog but you forfeit your money.  They also have the right to re-sell a dog that has been returned. GGR’S web site is very misleading and deceptive.  No one should have to be put through this kind of stress and financial burden!
-- Kimberly Gomez - Reno, NV

Post Script:
January 19, 2007

During the first week that we had her I came into the house and she was on the sofa.  We have large beds in both the front and back rooms for the dogs and don’t allow them on the sofa unless we are on it and they come to sit by or on us. Anyway, that is not what is important.  The thing is, when I came home and saw her on the sofa, I said in a stern, (but not harsh) voice,” Freckles no, get down”.  She was so frightened that she began to shake so hard that I could literally hear her teeth rattling together.  She curled up into a small ball and started to wet all over herself.  I was so deeply saddened by this. I have had 6 Great Danes in the past and I have NEVER witnessed behavior like this before!  I sat down beside her and she crawled into my lap, licking my face.  Just writing this down makes me cry all over again.  I immediately called Tracy, asking her if this dog has ever been abused.  She said no that she was just trying to make me feel sorry for her and not to give in or she will take advantage of the situation.  She went on to tell me that she was not happy in her last home and “peed and pooped all over their house”.  This was obviously something else that she forgot to mention! -- Kimberly Gomez - Reno, NV

Read Kimberly's  Adoption Contract on our Documents Page

Sadly this is yet another example of "business as usual" at GG. So much of this testimony is so familiar. We had hoped that maybe GG  would have used the clean-up that they were forced into by our pressuring Norco to do a full site inspection of their facilities last year, as a springboard for real improvement. We heard a lot from their supporters about how they had really gotten their act together and that the issues we were "harping" on were no longer applicable. But it seems things have not gotten any better. In fact it sounds as if they have gotten worse. Now the adopters are being required to pay the entire adoption fee in cash rather than just the first $400. And it sounds as if the dogs are in worse condition than ever. We must get the word out, we must ensure that no one adopts from GG without a full understanding of what they are getting into. We must see to it that dogs go to reputable rescues and not to GG. GG claims that they are the only ones who will take these dogs. That is flat not true. There are reputable all-breed and breed-specific rescues that will take the dogs, they do not have to end up at GG. Most of the time the responsible rescues are trying to get these dogs, but they can't get to the dogs fast enough, because GG is constantly on the prowl for dogs. 

One of the biggest concerns those of us in rescue have is that GG will place a dangerous dog with someone, resulting in injury to the adopters or someone else, especially given that they claim that all their dogs are fully trained and get along with people and other dogs.  The following statement from Kimberly's behaviorist puts this concern front and center. Kim and her husband were told the usual BS about the dog they adopted from GG, that is was friendly, good with other dogs, fully trained, and healthy. As you can see from the behaviorist's evaluation, this was far from accurate. Does GG know so little about the dogs they are placing? If so they are not doing their jobs. Or is it a case of intentionally misleading adopters? Either way, after reading this behaviorist's evaluation, I have to say this dog was not adoptable in my opinion. And while there may be that perfect home out there somewhere for this dog, the only way a rescue can find that sort of home is to be brutally honest and accurate in their description of the dog. With these sorts of behavioral problem dogs, if you do elect to tray and place them, the adopter has to be an informed and willing participant. From what we have been told over the past few years, that is seldom if ever the case with GG. It was certainly not the case for the Gomez family. It seems that GG is playing Russian Roulette with their adopters and the public. This does not help the dogs, the adopters, the breed, or rescue itself.

To Whom It May Concern,
I, Josh Foster, (dog behaviorist), was called upon to evaluate the mental state of an approx. 6 year old female Great Dane.  She was adopted by Kimberly, from Gentle Giants Rescue and Adoptions, in Riverside.  It was brought to my attention that she was showing signs of severe aggression, mainly towards other animals, which I found out to be true.  Upon my first visit, I found that she was also aggressive towards humans, in an unstable, fearful state of mind.  She is what I call a passive-aggressive dog, which can be very dangerous, especially for her size and strength. I also noticed several scars which are usually indicative of dog fights. After several extensive visits, working with groups of people and animals, the dog finally made a breakthrough.  She was able to meet most people without growling, although, her fear based aggression with other dogs continued.  It is my opinion, that this dog will never be 100% trustworthy around other humans or other animals, without being constantly leashed and under constant and direct supervision. I worked with her for a little over 3 months, until I felt that I just couldn’t bring her any farther along.  -- 
Josh Foster

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