The Paws Cause
Dog Rescue Group Loses In Court
By Daniel Guss of the STAND Foundation
Aug 1, 2003 - 4:02:00 PM

I truly believe that the majority of dog rescue groups operate with the best of intentions. Some, however, have what I refer to as a "God Complex," where their good intentions are overshadowed by a compulsion to take on far more responsibility than they can handle.

DISCLAIMER: Like everything in this article, this is strictly my opinion. Opinion, opinion, opinion. Opinions are like bellybuttons; everybody has one. And you cannot be sued for your opinion. That's a fact, so says my lawyer.

Another indisputable fact is that last month, a judge in Los Angeles ordered Canine Crusaders, a southern California rescue group, to pay $353 for their botching of a dog adoption last year.

The story goes like this: When I rescued a dog last summer, I notified my colleagues in the local rescue community that a particular dog, " Vinnie," was now available at a local shelter. Canine Crusaders posted the dog's photo on their website and identified an adopting family for him.

Sounds good, right? The problem is Canine Crusaders failed to ensure that Vinnie was a good match for the adopting family. Canine Crusaders failed in a lot of ways:

   1. They never visited Vinnie in the shelter to judge his temperament or condition
   2. They never met the adopting family in person
   3. They never visited the home to ensure that it was safe or secure
   4. They never met the foster family's dog to see if they would be compatible.
   5. They never prescreened the family to learn of their experience in raising dogs, whether he would be left alone, where he'd sleep, etc.

Canine Crusaders' spokesperson tried to explain these lapses in judgment by saying that she "simply didn't have time or resources" to do all of these things.

Unfortunately for Vinnie, whose whereabouts or condition Canine Crusaders still refuses to provide, the story gets worse, much worse.

Predictably, within 24 hours, the adopting family changed its mind about Vinnie. Instead of making arrangements to pick him up from the adopting family, a Canine Crusaders representative berated the family, to no avail, trying to convince them to give Vinnie more time.

Canine Crusaders asked me to pick up Vinnie while they made arrangements to house him elsewhere. Good schnook that I am, I complied. But once he was in my possession, Canine Crusaders' founder, Inga Bull, refused to provide instructions on where to bring Vinnie until I "made a long-term financial commitment to support him."


I was never one for heavy-handed demands for money so instead, I located local housing for Vinnie on my own, which the family felt so bad about, that they actually helped to pay some of the tab. During this time, I made arrangements with another local rescue group, Pacific Coast Dog Rescue, to care for and find him a suitable, loving home. But until PCDR had space to take him in, he would have to stay in a local kennel. One can imagine the feelings of abandonment that Vinnie must have felt as he was shuttled from street, to kennel, to home, to kennel; a grand total of eight temporary "homes" in under two weeks.

Canine Crusaders, a group whose very name suggests a God Complex (OPINION), are you listening? The poor dog that you were legally responsible for slept in eight different places in less than two weeks.  While he was being shuffled from shelter to shelter, I was the one who visited Vinnie everyday with treats, to give him a brushing and to soothe his nerves. Where was Canine Crusaders, his legal owner, when this was happening?

Unfortunately, David Roe, head of PCDR, despite having been told what Canine Crusaders did, gave Vinnie back to Canine Crusaders without ever sharing with me his intentions to do so.

Fast-Forward One Year

Ultimately, the matter had to be settled in court. The money that I had spent in retrieving and housing Vinnie was only part of the matter. A judge would decide who was right and who was wrong.

During the small claims trial, Inga Bull denied that Vinnie was Canine Crusaders' legal responsibility. But the judge saw through her denials when I presented him the actual adoption papers from the shelter with Canine Crusaders named as legally responsible for the dog's well being. "The dog's not our responsibility," Inga claimed in court. "These documents prove that he is," the judge replied.

And Canine Crusaders lost the case.

No Glory In Victory

Believe me, there was no joy in winning this lawsuit. Every dog that the rescue community saves (and places in a warm and loving home) is a victory for us all.

But when a God Complex gets in the way of sound thinking, it's the dogs who suffer.

And this time, it (OPINION) cost Canine Crusaders in court (FACT).

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