Update on Bad Behavior in Boston Rescue

I need to take a deep breath before diving into this update.  I’ll start with a quick recap.  A gentleman in Indiana named John Cunningham lost his senior Boston Terrier “Sassy” in late October.  She was found by a concerned citizen who had her scanned for a microchip at a vet’s office and then turned her directly over to the Indiana division of a Tennessee Boston Terrier rescue. Normal protocol is to report a found dog to the local shelter, who can record the dog’s info and process them through their system and then they have the authority to sign the dog over to a rescue.  That step was skipped.  The rescue organization posted Sassy on their Facebook page and made arrangements for the dog to go to a foster home. Within about two hours of receiving her, they were contacted by John who recognized Sassy from the photos they posted, and informed them she was his dog. He had been in contact with the shelter and had already filed a missing dog report.  Once he located Sassy, he showed the shelter proof she was his and they wrote a letter to the rescue, advising them that he had proven ownership.

The rescue’s position was that the dog desperately needed to be treated by a vet and her health came first, so they kept her.   She had a skin condition, of which she had been previously diagnosed and John warned them of this issue already.  Regardless, Sassy was sent out of state by the rescue, to a vet in Kentucky.  John traveled to the vet to pick up his dog but was denied possession at the vet’s office. The rescue’s reasoning was once again that she desperately needed medical attention. Publicly they indicated the dog was not well cared for and was so thin that her “skin hung off of her in rolls”.  They refused to return her to John even though she was found property and they had no right to claim her as their own. As news got out about a veteran’s dog being held from him by a rescue, pet owners everywhere began to follow the story, outraged at the blatant disregard for his rights.

A few days later, it was announced that an agreement was made between the Tennessee  Boston Terrier rescue and a Boston Terrier rescue in north Texas, and that everyone was satisfied with the decision.  I was informed John had actually signed Sassy over to the Texas rescue. This was a little confusing but it is the owner’s decision and many of those who had been following the story were a bit perplexed, but assumed it was over.

This is where the deep breath is needed.  I may need to take a couple more and count to ten, for fear my fingers will become injured as I furiously type this out.  It turns out that Sassy, who was so “desperately in need of veterinary attention” and was sent to a vet in another state for this urgent care, was merely at the vet’s office for BOARDING the entire time. Let me say that again. Sassy, was who was not returned to her owner because she was so unhealthy that the rescue insisted she be sent for urgent treatment, WAS NEVER TREATED. She sat, BOARDED, at the vet’s office and went without any sort of this “urgent treatment” for ELEVEN DAYS, and nothing was done for her for about TWO WEEKS from the time she was picked up.

The first time Sassy began to receive treatment, was AFTER she was picked up by the other rescue. A network of Boston rescue representatives worked with the Boston rescue in north Texas and footed the bill for her treatment, NOT the Boston rescue in Tennessee who originally kept her away from John “because she was so sick”.

Another interesting development was the appearance of fresh dog bite marks on Sassy when they picked her up….  Bite marks that were not in the original photos of Sassy posted by the Tennessee rescue.  It appears while under the foster’s care, she was bit and injured by another dog. Was this why she urgently needed to be boarded? It’s purely speculation, but that would be one reason for her to sit at the vet’s office without treatment and without going back to the foster’s home.

But back to the original story. You might be wondering why John had signed Sassy over so quickly when he was so desperate to get her back only days before? The Tennessee rescue’s Facebook page hinted that Sassy’s condition was worse than he thought, so he was doing it to get her the treatment she needed. It seems like a reasonable explanation, but if Sassy was never evaluated and diagnosed to begin with, nor prior to him signing her over, why would he do that?

Well here’s the back story.  The group that mediated to get Sassy turned over to the Boston Terrier rescue in North Texas, did so with the intention of giving Sassy back to John where she belonged.  John signed her over to the Texas rescue with the understanding that she would be returned to him once she received treatment. She was then moved to a vet in Tennessee and began treatment for both flea allergy dermatitis and demodex. The vet who did her evaluation said she had a skin condition but that she HAD NOT BEEN NEGLECTED by John.  She was microchipped in John’s name and as far as he knew, his dog was going to be returned to him in the near future.   That should have been a good ending to this story, right? WRONG.

Communication from the Texas rescue was suddenly cut off and John discovered they were backing out on their part of the deal.  The reasoning? Well they gave him none, but in actuality they had checked out his neighborhood, and felt it wasn’t good enough.  It’s not a wealthy neighborhood and the crime rate is high. They had concerns about issues of drugs and dog fighting in the area.  In the grand scheme of things, someone’s neighborhood does NOT determine whether or not they will be a good dog owner.  It never has.  Everyone has the same rights regardless of what neighborhood they live in. The laws are the same, the rules are the same.  Unless you are being judgmental or are looking for an excuse to keep someone’s dog, then apparently the rules no longer apply to you?

Isn’t it ironic that Sassy was fine under John’s care but it took being held by a rescue for her to be involved in a dog fight, the victim of a crime (see Indiana found property law and theft), and for her medical needs to be neglected.

I just don’t know what to think anymore.  Just when  you think there’s only a couple of bad apples in the bunch, another stinky bruised piece of fruit shows up to join the ranks of stinky rotten rescues.  I thought the Tennessee group took the cake when I found out Sassy was never treated, but then to hear this other rescue in Texas made promises to get him to sign her over, only to then cling to that document they coerced him into as a way to keep her away from him….. It makes me absolutely SICK.

Once again, I LOVE the work rescues do. I know many people who are involved in legitimate rescues and I help out where I can through donations and service. The volunteers are amazing, and the mission is vital.  But to hear about cases where pets are kept from their owners for illegitimate reasons is absolutely unbelievable. How can you say you put the dog first and keep a straight face?  Do you not see what you do to the dogs and to the families who lost them?  Wake up! Sassy was on the streets lost. She should have been turned in to a local shelter who already had John’s lost pet report on file, or given directly back to John the moment he stepped forward. She would have been back home within hours of being found.  Instead she is picked up in Indiana, transported across state lines to live with strangers whose dog attacked her… and then to live at a vet’s office (more strangers, another strange bed) and boarded for 11 days in a loud stressful environment…. then she’s taken to a vet and foster in yet ANOTHER state (more strangers, another new bed, another strange environment), and now she is hundreds of miles from home when she has probably longed to be back in her own bed all this time.  From there the next step is to re-home her with yet MORE STRANGERS, and for her to sleep in another strange bed, live in another strange environment.

This is a senior dog with a medical condition, she NEEDS stability for the sake of her mental health as well as for the sake of her physical health.  Stress drains the immune system and it takes a strong immune system to keep demodex in check, otherwise it flares up.   New homes are top stressers for dogs and in the last month she’s had THREE with the intention to now place her in a FOURTH. Why did either rescue feel the need to do this to the poor dog?  Let her live out her senior years in a home and with people she knows and loves.  And for goodness sake, don’t take a potential forever home from a dog who actually needs it.

John has set up a GoFundMe page for donations towards the legal costs of pursuing his rights to ownership. Does it really need to come to that? Can’t common sense rule in this case? Does the rescue in north Texas really want to be known as the rescue who kept a senior dog from a veteran without justifiable reason?  Will they seriously tell someone they can have their pet back and then spit in their face and rely on the release that they had signed based upon HONESTY and TRUST?

PLEASE let this poor senior Boston go back home and restore our faith in rescues!

If you support John and would like to get the word out about the injustice being done to him, please share this story and make people aware that it’s important to investigate rescue organizations before donating. Donate generously, but make sure you are not supporting this kind of behavior.  If donations drop for those rescues who are not respecting owners’ rights, they may change their attitudes.

If you would like to help John out in paying the legal fees to get his dog back, his GoFundMe page can be found here: https://www.gofundme.com/rad8sggs









16 thoughts on “Update on Bad Behavior in Boston Rescue

  1. Dear God in Heaven – this type of behavior is just going to continue until all these rescues start getting called on this behavior legally. I do cat rescue and if I find a cat and can find an owner I THROW A PARTY. I advertise, I post everywhere I can think of. I have only been able to locate 2 owners. I could run an entire rescue (and may, one day) JUST of owner surrenders. Of course that is not sexy and would probably not bring in the big buck donations. Also, if you buck the status quo, and criticize rescues who do things like this, they will do their level best to get you raided and discredit you in any way they can – that way no one will listen to the “disreputable” rescue. All I can do is pray I win the lottery one day because this fight needs money and no one is willing to put their money in. I used to beg a friend who was a lawyer (she’s passed away) to “Please make it stop.” Unfortunately the only people who can make it stop are us.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Well I’m not sure what is going on here, but I personally know people who have worked with/for the Texas rescue. I believe there’s more to the story. Rescue will definitely not put a dog into a possibly dangerous situation regardless of who it is. The dog looked sick in the pictures I’ve seen. Remember there are two sides to every story.


    1. There is a veterinary report that says Sassy was NOT neglected and was in the condition expected for a dog of her age and with her medical condition. There is NO QUESTION as to whether she was neglected. A certified DVM said she was NOT. There are multiple rescues in TX, but if it’s the one who gave John their word and had him sign a release with the agreement that he would get her back if he did, then they lied. A home inspection was needed to get him approved for the Vets for Pets program, which would assist him with future vet bills. It was NEVER a condition of him getting his dog back, but they used it to deny him, as if he were “adopting” his own dog. They gave their word and are now using that agreement and trust against him. Then someone reported his GoFundMe page as fraud, in order to keep him from getting funds to hire an attorney to stand up for his rights. Those are real upstanding actions to be proud of aren’t they? The entire situation is a disgrace to the rescue world. Both rescues and those from the network group who went back on their word should be ashamed of themselves. The sad thing is, they are not.


      1. There is a court date coming up where they will determine if he gets HIS OWN DOG back. The rescue in North Texas still has her and refuses to give her back. There was rumor she was already adopted, but I have not confirmed that.


    1. I wish I had an answer. There are many reasons why rescues won’t let go of a dog. Sometimes it’s control issues, sometimes it’s for the adoption fee they would miss out on, sometimes they think they have the right to determine that someone without a lot of money can’t take care of their own dog. It’s infuriating.


  3. This entire story sickens me!! Whatever happened to being a person of your word??!!! And since when is how your home looks on the outside the end of it? Even a homeless man in Oregon had his dog removed from rescue and returned to him!!! Wake up people while there are many good rescues and rescuers it’s crap like this that makes MOST PEOPLE NOT TRUST RESCUE!!! WHAT is this really about? EGO? It’s ridiculous!! Give sassy back .. It’s where she belongs.. It’s her home and her person… Good god where’s your sense of giving your word??? Omg


  4. This isn’t the first time I’ve heard a story like this about a rescue that refused to return a dog to a rightful owner. Many of these self proclaimed rescues are really retail rescues involved in dog flipping for a profit. If I was him I would not have trusted this ‘rescue’ to return the dog unless I’d had it in writing.


  5. I’ve worked with multiple rescue groups. I’ve done some rescue myself in the past. I can say WITHOUT exception that every person I’ve ever crossed paths with in rescue is bats**t crazy. some just hide it better than others- at least on initial examination. this had a lot to do with why I got out of it. people who are in rescue for a long time are there because they have deep seated psych issues- control issues, the compulsion to save and to see themselves as a hero. I fell into it too- thank god 22 cats later I realized that it was a problem and began the long process of extricating myself. it might be a good and noble cause, but the dark underbelly of rescue is far too many stories like Piper or Biscuit or Sassy. not to mention that prolonged rescue work has the quite frequent eventual disintegration into straight-up hoarding. the very common eventual condition is that the rescuer becomes convinced that no one could possibly provide as good a home as they do- and they refuse to let the animals go. it is a sad story on every side, because the animals often end up on the losing side, yet they’re supposedly what it’s all about


  6. This person has stooped to all time lows to defend the whys of keeping a dog not theirs… Printing half truths in an effort to refocus folks on non issue points? PURE EVIL. Claims to be A CHRISTIAN .. When it suits them I guess. This type of person is exactly WHY FOLKS DONT TRUST OR GO TO RESCUE….and why attorneys are so busy going lawsuits.


  7. This case just gets more interesting by the day. There seems to be a page justice for Sassy on FB . Their camp keeps adding to the story daily .. So now the points are first it’s about money? Second supposedly the dog was now found locked in an abandon house? Previous statements were she was “FOUND NEAR DEATH IN A CREEK BED” !! Now this is the story? So which one is it? I know it’s not the later fairytale unfolding…As far as money goes unfortunately we have to place a monetary value on something to go to court.. It’s not about the money at all.. It’s about returning a dog to its family…it’s about getting an owner surrender under false pretenses…it’s about working with owners to keep families together. Not all rescues are created equal either.. Many do work with owners to help and educate so that families do stay together.. Rescue is not about stealing dogs under false pretenses..it should not be about changing the story to fit into WHY WE HAVE SASSY NOW.. It’s about supporting a veteran that served for all of us. It’s about reuniting a family..it’s about a senior Boston being kept in the dogless protection program illegally…unethically . ITS ABOUT SASSY! Bring her to court and just see how much she misses her family!! I can garuntee the rescue won’t have the backbone to do this… BECAUSE SASSY WOULD PROVE THEM WRONG. The wild stories started unfolding after the request for dismissal was denied by The court….if I was this rescue I’d shut all chatter down … Everyone with a brain knows if you’re involved and it’s legal to shut up…all this is doing is making John’s case stronger .. What never ceases to amaze and sadden me is the idea ” WERE CHRISTIAN” … Gimme a break… Real Christians don’t stoop to the levels these folks have! Daily I SMH… This story is like a soap opera unfolding .. the very ones claiming to have Sassys best interests in mind have made this into a three ring circus!! The owner ( John) has never ONCE changed his story … The rescue and its representatives change it DAILY😱… Just saying..,. REALLY? Someone in that lynch mob group also created another page called DOGFISH.. What’s so interesting about this particular group is some of the admins actually HAVE SEVERAL FAKE PROFILES!!! The group’s bio states finding fakes.. I’m laughing to myself because all they’ve done is unite the fakes and MEAN girls all together on the page … Much easier to locate them now . Perhaps they don’t know the meaning of fake profile? LOL.. Mean girls never were really known for their brainpower … smh again .. As I stated interesting fairytales going on. I hope that the case returns to being about that poor sweet sassy going HOME soon…the other suggestion I have is people really need to put on some hip waders to get thru that rescue’s story now! I’m sure the TAIL (tale) will only get longer by the hour.. One thing this rescue group seems to be very good at is FICTION!


  8. Is there an update for this? They went to court 6/16/16 but now the FB page is gone and no updates to be found anywhere 😦


    1. There was an agreement between both parties that included a gag order. Whatever the resolution was, it was not made public, and they are not allowed to talk about it with anyone. The rescue made every attempt for months to keep it out of court, the evidence of conversations and the original agreement was very strong against them. The fact no one will know what happened and why has left everyone hanging and a little confused. It’s amazing an organization can get away with this and not have to answer publicly for their actions. I know they will never see a dime from me though, nor from anyone who asks me which rescues are ethical and honest.


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