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