The majority of rescue groups are started by extremely caring and conscientious people, with great intentions to help their animals. However, there is no national regulating body to monitor rescue groups and shelters to ensure that universally acceptable standards are met. Unfortunately, this enables problems such as abuse to occur. In some cases, the abuse arises when well meaning people get in over their heads, to the point where they can no longer properly care for their rescued animals. In other cases, the rescuers assume the guise of being legitimate, but are actually involved in criminal or disreputable practices.
In Rosamond, California, on January 9, 2012, more than 200 animals, most of them dogs, suffering from neglect, dehydration, malnutrition, illness and injury were rescued by Kern County Animal Control officials and individual rescue groups. The caretaker of the Best of Buddies animal rescue, Duain Preitz, was arrested on suspicion of felony animal cruelty. He had been cited years earlier for not having proper permits to run a kennel, and failed to pass inspections on repeated occassions, which led to his recent arrest and the removal of the animals for proper care.
In Surrey, British Columbia, in November of 2011, two women who posed as animal welfare officers were charged with dog-napping and arrested. The women arrested were A Better Life Dog Rescue's founder and director Janet Olson and co-director Louise Reid. The two were under surveilance by undercover police and observed stealing Sampson the bulldog from his family's back yard. Olson has also been charged with a theft related to another dog stolen in April 2011. One of the dogs allegedly taken by ABLDR was 17-year old Kate, who was eventually reunited with her family. Unfortunately, she died shortly thereafter and the family believes that the trauma of her ordeal contributed to her death. The group has allegedy been stealing dogs from homes and rehoming them for several years, believing the animals they were taking were being abused and therefore should be saved.
In January 2012 in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Lina Dalva da Silva was arrested when it was discovered that the abandoned cats and dogs she took into her care were in fact being killed, and their blood sold on the Brazilian black market. She presented herself as a rescuer. Suspicion arose about her operation in 2009, when an email circulated via the Internet pointing to suspicious activity in the woman's house
These news stories demonstrate that individuals who call themselves rescuers or caregivers can operate for years before their actions finally catch up with them and authorities are able to officially lay charges. Often, community involvement is essential to discovering and resolving these types of situations. Without citizens stepping forward and reporting suspected animal abuse, these crimes against animals, and in some cases, the humans they belong to, would just continue without recourse.
As distressing as such cases are to learn about, they do re-emphasize the need for people to evaluate the rescues and shelters they support and want to adopt animals from. The vast majority of times you will discover caring and legitimate rescuers. There are thousands of them throughout the world, doing the best they can to care for neglected or abandoned animals with limited resources and money. In a few cases, you may learn some unpleasant histories. But doing a bit of research can go a long way in assuring you that the group or individual you are supporting is legitimate and not crossing ethical boundaries or breaking the law. Read more on how to find a reputable shelter or rescue.
If you suspect substandard care is being given to the animals under the care of a caretaker or rescuer, don't hesitate to voice your concerns to your local Animal Control, police or SPCA.
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