Circling wagons around Adopt-A-Lab (UPDATE 1.13.13–please read)

Photobucket*****My heart is sick to read this story about a raid on Adopt-A-Lab headquarters. As someone who worked in animal rescue, this hits me to my core. I will never regret bringing our Star home and out of that environment. My only thought can be is that this is one couple who was so overwhelmed by the amount of unwanted dogs that they lost sight of what they were doing. I would like to thank those people who questioned my support and for bringing this to my attention. ******

*****11.12.12 I will be talking to Lee today and writing an update shortly. I know the tendency is to go after people with pitchforks when this happens, but I can’t help but think about the thousands (and thousands) of dogs they have saved and how something doesn’t add up in my head. I’d like to hear their side of the story and then will post my thoughts.*****

*****1.13.13 I’ve included a new paragraph at the bottom rather than write an entirely new post since I assume that most people who come here are familiar with the AAL raid and closure story.


Long before I had my own Star, I volunteered at a couple of animal shelters to help exercise, groom, and find homes for other dogs–and cats– who had been abandoned, abused, unloved, or just unlucky. It was one of the hardest, and one of the best, things I’ve ever done. I worked with so many people who gave so much more than I ever could—they were incredibly dedicated to the cause of helping give pets a second chance.

When it came time to get our own dog, there was no question that I would go through a rescue organization. Adopt-A-Lab was recommended to me by a good friend from my animal-shelter days. We had a wonderful experience with them, and I know that even today, nine months later, I could call them with a question, and Lee or Patty would be on the phone to talk through the issue.

But today, I’m asking you to circle wagons around them to insure that this amazing organization–that has adopted out over 7,000 dogs–doesn’t get sucked under by one poorly researched, sensationalized news story.

Apparently, a woman adopted a yellow lab from Adopt-A-Lab. She was told that the dog needed some extra TLC, and when he arrived after the long stressful trip from Indiana to Massachusetts, he was very thin, no question about that. It’s also been reported that he smelled bad, a fact I find hilariously obvious to anyone who can imagine what a dog crate holding a scared dog in a multi-state road trip might smell like.

The obvious course of action, if she had any concerns, would have been to call Adopt-A-Lab and talk to the organization about next steps, and to contact her vet. Instead, her boyfriend filed a complaint of animal abuse to the animal control officer in Adopt-A-Lab’s area. A complaint that was then picked up by the local news.

What blows my mind is this: Who did they think realistically did this to this poor animal? The rescue group? The foster family? Or, maybe—just maybe—this dog was abused by its previous owners, or starved because it had been lost on the streets, or so thin from the stress of being abandoned?

I’ll be the first to say that adopting a rescue dog can bring certain challenges that you may not get with a dog purchased from a breeder (just please, please, please tell me you’d never even consider buying a dog in a pet store, okay?) Even our Star has a few issues, though nothing I’d ever blame on the one group of people who saved her from a life on the streets.

If you are shocked at the state of Chance—the dog in the news photo—and are shocked that Adopt-A-Lab believed he really just needed some TLC and good meals, you should know that he is now a happy, healthy 75 pound lab who really did just need some TLC and good meals. And, recently, his vet  jokingly suggested he may need to go on a diet.

The woman who adopted Chance has, for the first time, spoken to Adopt-A-Lab, and claims that her boyfriend acted without her knowledge. But, the damage is done: The news story implicating Adopt-A-Lab did something wrong is out there.

What I ask is that you go to the news story and post your own comment, especially if you have a shelter animal that you’ve adopted. And then please let Adopt-a-Lab know that you support what they are doing to help so many animals (like these Akita pups! gah!)

I can’t imagine our life without our shining Star. But what is worse is imaging that others may be turned off by an organization that has done so much to find homes for dogs that have no other chance.


Well . . .

As I mentioned at the top, I did talk to Lee and Patty after the raid and got their side of the story which was published on their website.  The gist of their claim is that they were set up by a disgruntled employee who left their shelter in filth and then called Animal Control to complain. They even sent me photos of the shelter in better days and those photos are like night and day. In fact, if it wasn’t for the same flooring, I wouldn’t have believed they were the same place.

Where things fall apart for me is that I don’t understand how they could’ve leave someone in charge of the shelter who was obviously not doing anything correctly. I understand that people get busy. . .but, if the conditions were truly as bad as animal control states, being “busy” is no excuse.

At the same time, my conflict comes from my own personal experience with Lee and Patty which is very different from some of your experiences. My adoption was a pleasant experience without any major glitches, and the dog we have now is our sixth family member: I cannot imagine life without her. Let’s say she did live in less-than-ideal conditions for a few weeks before she was adopted to us. . .what other options were open to her? Life on the street? Overcrowded city shelter where healthy adult dogs are put down weekly? Unfortunately, it’s very unlikely that there is another rescue group ready to jump in and take over for those animals that AAL adopted out.

Bottom line: I think after 10+ years, AAL ran its course. Perhaps it was run differently early on and this was a “blip” in care, or perhaps this was its standard. Perhaps this was a set up, perhaps the accusations against them are true, or perhaps the owners were just tired of the endlessness of animal rescue, where no matter what you do, it is never “enough” and there is no end in sight. I’m no reporter and will never know for sure.

One thing I do know? I am heartsick for the animals who may never find a home unless some other person or group decides to jump into the never-ending grind of animal rescue.  —Christina


  1. Thanks so much for sharing this! We adopted our 4 year old Yellow Lab from a rescue group last year and can’t imagine our lives without our big, silly, goofy, loveable pet. Like the dog in this story, and so many rescue animals, Oliver was skinny and starved for attention. With a good home and lots of love, he’s the best dog we could have ever hoped to adopt. Going to leave a comment now. Thanks again!
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  2. I commented on that article. What a ridiculous response from Chance’s new owner’s boyfriend. **makes side eyes**

    We’ve adopted three rescue animals. For the first few weeks I was overwhelmed with their physical needs, their behavioural issues and the stress (and the joy) of integrating them into our household. It’s so worthwhile, and I hope that Adopt A Lab weathers this storm.
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  3. My parents have been trying to adopt a dog to replace their recently passed “Kramer”. They applied to adopt and got no response for a week. When my Father followed up (via email cause there arent phone numbers available on their web site) he was met with aggressive, rude and angry attitude from “Patty”. She says “we are volunteers and owe you nothing”. Patty claims that she responds to “500 emails a day” and said that because she didnt have time to deal with impatient dog lovers she “removed their application to adopt”. My parents were heart broken to be treated this way. I would think twice about dealing with people who are bitter and not interested in helping people to adopt pets. If you are angry about being a volunteer then i suggest you leave. This is not the place for attitude! Get over yourself and help these doggies find a loving home. There was no response to their request to adopt but a flurry of angry emails within minutes of their concerned follow up a week later. I recommend adopting from or donating to a more kind organization!

    • Yes it was “adopt a”.

    • Davida Argent says

      I think there’s more to this story than is being blogged about. This group was also the subject of an investigation in 2010 by the Muncie Animal Shelter for keeping dogs confined to “cramped plastic travel crates for up to 21 hours a day with no ready access to food or water.” And I contacted a group who looks into animal rescues to be sure they are on the up & up and I was told to contact the IRS to see if Adopt-a-Lab is a legitimate rescue. The IRS has no record of them being a 501-C-3 which means donations are not tax deductible. I wonder what they do with all the money they get from, in their own words, the 7,000 dogs they’ve adopted out over the years.

  4. Christina says

    Admittedly, these last two comments do give me pause. I want to understand the “other side of the story” better too, esp. since I, and many others, have had such a positive experience.

    A couple of things: I know that when dogs went into the animals shelters I was at, they had to be quarantined for a period of time without contact with other animals and I wonder if that has something to do with the “21 hours” in a carrier—not ideal by any means but it sounds like they now have dog runs instead of dog carriers for their dogs. Also, I think that with any kind of foster/animal rescue organization, you can get overwhelmed pretty fast—-I remember when our dog officer hurt his back and we had to help him clean the dog runs—they were dis-gus-ting after just a half a day and I’m sure if that shelter had been investigated that day, there would have been multiple complaints.

    When I went to the pickup spot last October, there were probably 15 dogs that were going to families. All the animals looked healthy and well cared-for, even after being transported so far.

    And, if I’m going to gather pitchforks and go after any group, it’ll be the puppy mills in the south and midwest that keep churning out “designer puppies” with only profits on the brain, not a rescue group that brought us our dog. But, I will post your comments, both positive and negative, in an effort to be fair and let people decide for themselves.

  5. I am so sorry to read this and for the hurt that I know you’re feeling. Sometimes the world is so confusing and things just don’t make sense (yes, I realize that’s the definition of confusing.) I’m sorry for the pain, for things being what they are. xo
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  6. Ugh. That’s unfortunate, but not all that surprising. When we started looking for a puppy in the summer we were surprised at the number of rescue operations and privately funded shelters we could chose from, compared to when we’d adopted our first dog in 1999 and the only option was the SPCA. Give Star some extra cuddles today — I think you both need some love.
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    • Huh. Reading back on my comment, I did a piss poor job of expressing myself. I wanted to make the point that there are a lot of private, independent or small rescue outfits today. They sadly lack the funding and the support and the checks-and-balances that the SPCA receives. It’s no wonder that they sometimes run into trouble. I’m sure that the case with AAL. I’m glad the dogs and the couple are now receiving some attention and (hopefully) compassion.
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  7. Cathy Redman says

    I have seen the pictures! Disgusting and heartbreaking. Don’t know what happened tp Patty and Lee but somewhere along the way they lost their minds and the dogs have suffered greatly.

  8. THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH for this story. There’s so much more to it including employees who are on a witch hunt due to be fired because they wouldn’t do their jobs. I am THRILLED to see there are others in support of Patty and Lee and all the good they’ve done. Bless you!

    • The employee you are referring to was not fired, he quit because he couldn’t get them to make the needed improvements.

  9. Christina, it’s my impression that much of what you’ve reported that the Strayers have told you is not true. As someone who seems to be compassionate about dogs I’d think you’d want to see these people criminally charged? But… Thousands of dogs have been “saved”… I’m sure many of them have been subjected to these terrible conditions and been put through so much but that’s the thing. Dogs can’t speak and it’s easy to right off all signs of abuse to the dogs being “rescue dogs”.

  10. I adopted my boy, Jimmy, from AAL nearly 5 years ago. He’s brought so much to my life. I recommended AAL to friends, who later went on to adopt from them. I am so upset about this news story, and to see these pictures. I just don’t know what to think anymore. Did they want to save them all, until there were just too many to actually provide proper care for under their own watch? And what about the puppy stuff? I’m so confused. I’m still thankful for my boy though….

  11. Christina, were you ever able to talk to Lee? I am heartsick about this too–we just adopted the most wonderful boy a little over a month ago from AAL, and the experience was wonderful. I would really love to hear their side of the story, although from what I’m reading it sounds like something went terribly wrong…

    • Liz, I will be updating the story with Lee & Patty’s side of the story soon. I just need some time to get my thoughts together and I’d like to speak to their vet too. I promise to get something up as soon as I can.

      • I know you are all trying to be fair here and appreciate that. I too was in dealing with Patty and Lee. They have turned out to be unscrupulous, evil and nasty people. I adopted a dog from them, they falsified the health records, agreed to compensate us for the medical expenses and have turned their back on it completely. I have a hard time believing this was a legitimate non profit business. Anybody know what they did “for profit”? From what I can see they aren’t 501 (c) 3 charity. Lee and Patty have both shown their true colors and while they escaped prosecution for the animals, the attorney general and the IRS wont look as kindly on them. Surely God won’t.

        • Joe, in what way did they falsify the records? I ask only because now I’m concerned about my dog’s records–I assume that he really did receive a rabies vaccination, for example, and he was (obviously) neutered. I’m hoping everything they said was done really was. I’ve read such conflicting things about Patty and Lee over the past week…
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          • Liz, I would contact their vet, Dr. Heather Baker, if you are concerned. I assume she would have a record since she appears to be the one who was their regular vet.

          • Christina,

            Sorry for the delayed response, but I have been busy with the holidays, blah, blah. They told us that our dog was spayed and it turns out she wasnt. They didnt even admit it until we noticed no scar and then the said they meant to tell us. They promised to pay for it, then offered $100 towards it and then reneged on that. These people turned out to be nothing like they tried to pretend they are.

  12. I have tried numerous times in the last 5 yrs to adopt from AAL, never receved any response, I’ve emailed to volunteer for them with no response, a friend filled out application to adopt a small breed, she just rec’d notice that all had been adopted even though they always had numerous ones available on their website. I have adopted 2 dogs and never had any problem with my applications but AAL would never respond. To think so many people wanted to adopt and they wouldn’t respond all the while having all those dogs living in those conditions. They talk about their doggy daycare a lot on their website, did it even exist, and why is their website still up?

  13. We adopted a black lab from back in March – the dog that we thought we were adopting was 5 or 6, neutered, with grey around his nose, and 80 pounds per the website. The dog we got was 57 pounds, maybe 2 and not neutered. We never actually received medical records. It ended up great though – we contacted AAL about the mix-up and they offered to refend a portion of the adoption fee. We declined, but felt good that there was the offer. We LOVE our dog, and feel so happy over the mix-up. We then tried to adopt another lab, Horse, and AAL offered to give him to us for free due to the previous mix-up. We have been waiting since August, our original pick-up date in Sept was canceled because Horse was sick. We have had little communication from AAL since then, and I guess now we won’t be getting him. It’s really disappointing because I really thought this was a reputable organization, and believed in what they were doing.

  14. To comment on the previous posts, we have adopted 3 dogs from aal and know people who have adopted as well. That being said our first adoption was great, she came as stated that was 4 years ago. Our second came just as advertised but with infected wounds all over him. I called patty and lee to tell them then took the dog to tufts seeing it was Saturday night. I had asked them tom pay for it as stated on their web site if anything was wrong they would help you through… I was met with hostility and anger from lee stating that his clients were the dogs .. I said the clients are the products and the person with the money is the client . He did end up paying for half after 4 emails back and forth. We adopted another dog recently and my husband drove an hour and a half down to the meeting spot and the truck never showed up without any answers. We ended up meeting them the following day with the exact dog that was promised. But other people who were promised dogs for that day never got them. I really want to think that they got in over their heads and just lost sight of the true meaning of their business but the pictures on the web makes me nervous… But there are 3 sides to every story, theirs, the other people involved and the truth.

  15. I’m saddened to hear about this stiry, and not quite sure what to believe. I just finsihed reading the final update on the AAL’s website, as well as the seeing and reading the Muncie news reports re: this case… I’m dumbfounded as to what the true story is. I adopted my chocolate lab Poppy from them back in April 2012 and had a wonderful experience. She is the BEST dog, ever! Yes, she came to us needing to gain a good 15 lbs., but who’s to know if that was from her previous owner? She had definitely been used for breeding (her former owners gave her up because she had an “accidental litter”. Really, whose fault is that?!), so she could have been malnourished from nursing- who knows? She also did stink- but what dog wouldn’t after being on that journey? All I know is that today she is thriving, 70 lbs, completely loved and spoiled, and brings me and my family so much joy- I can’t imagine my life w/o her! She has had 2 of her teats infected recently (1/month- weird), but otherwise she is very healthy and active. I hope the true story comes out- I’m curious to see what Dr. Heather has to say…

    • I just adopted from AdoptALab early November our winter was Sally on the website. When we drove 3 hrs to pick her up at a doggy daycare in Connecticut there were approx 10 to 12 other families there we waited 45 mins for them to arrive all the dogs were piled in cages in a van. Our Winter was dirty stinky with feces on rear she was scared and limp. I brought her home bathed her and combed her she didn’t appear to be the same dog from photo. But immediatelyy children loved her with her sad puppy eyes. Next day she was scheduled to vet and groomer even had a blueberry facial but weak she could jump didn’t respond to touch well becoming limp when carried. At vet dog had eye infection and need tlc no Rabelais shot given too young but vet said definitely not mini schuazer as advertised. Winter is now still very hard to train and even eat they must have barely fed them or give them water they must have been caged all the time too. I really feel like I truly rescued a dog. I want to know how to support the claims made against AdoptALab and sue for fee charged fraudulently provided?

      • I’m sorry, but you won’t get my help on info on how to “sue for fee”. First, I have no idea. Second, the fact that you waited “45 minutes” and she was “stinky with feces” is kind of to be expected when a van is transporting dogs from Indiana to Connecticut, don’t you think? I was shocked that Star wasn’t covered herself when we got her (she didn’t even need a bath). But if a dog soiled herself on the route, what could they do but just try to get her to her forever home as quickly as possible? And having worked in a shelter, it can be really, really hard to decide what “breed” a dog is. I’m not sure if Lee/Patty told you they were “sure” she was a mini schnauzer or if they thought she was??? Either way, I’m not sure you can sue b/c you didn’t get a pure breed—I was never “guaranteed” a breed. As for becoming limp when carried and hard to train, it’s quite possible she had little to no care before she arrived at their shelter. Hopefully you are able to help her out with lots of TLC—-it’s wonderful to hear that your family loves her so much.

      • In response I thought she would be dirty and scared, but she wasn’t the dog I was promised the money isn’t the problem it’s the fact that patty and lee prayed on families sold them a wish of a wonderful addition to there family then expected payment by credit card immediately or you were not guaranteed your dog bc they were so in demand credit or debt only then I had to wait for receipt 4 days after I called then day before transport it was cancelled .. This seems like a pattern too.. Then when u called to follow up on the dog you and your family have been dreaming of in my case 3 children with special needs looking for a forever friend I was received by a agitated patty with question why I call her 3 times with next day transport scheduled then swapped dog whom by my certified vet of my dog whom just past away that was part of our family 12 years says that I Winter was miss treated with eye infection and patty and lee said pure breed not me!! I could care less was looking for a therapy dog good for children with autism . The plain truth is they lied, were nasty, we’re quick to ask for money but slow to deliver dog then to compound it mistreated our forever friend they should be out of business maybe at onetime they were do it for good but now it was definitely the$$$$. But thanks aal for Winter we will love her forever I will never adopt again from a website that’s for sure if I can’t see for myself I will never believe a “rescue” again.. That’s the legacy they left for us. And FYI one if the dog taken and photographed by Authorities was said to be adopted on there website. If it stink it normally is foul

  16. I adopted from AAL this last October, and while my experience wasn’t terrible…it definitely was not normal. Keep in mind that this is my second dog, and I have been through the adoptions process before (with a different organization).
    So I got a call from Patty regarding my adoption application and we talked about which dog O was interested in and what personality type would mesh nicely with my first dog. So it was agreed that Muffin (who is now Olive) was a great fit. Great. So then she wanted payment immediately. I happened to be at a park with my dog and did not have my credit card on me. So I said that I would call back in an hour and she agreed to “hold” for that amount of time. As I walked in the door of my home exactly an hour later…Patty called. This rubbed me the wrong way a bit but I just chalked it up to the possibility that this dog was in high demand (she was SUPER cute after all). So I gave her my credit card info and she said that I would be receiving a confirmation email with all the details within that day. That night I still had not received it…the next day nothing…day after that I emailed inquiring about the lack of confirmation. And two days later I finally got a response. Patty emailed it over with a little note apologizing because she had been sick. Normal enough I guess..but I was for some unknown reason just getting the weirdest feelings and vibes. So great I was scheduled to get Olive that weekend..I cleared my schedule and was so beyond excited. Less than 24 hours before pick up time Lee sent out an email saying that their van broke down and transport was cancelled and scheduled for two weeks later. My first reaction was disappointment..and then I got a little upset about how inconsiderate they were being. Sure there really was nothing they could do but an apology would have been nice and maybe a bit more notice if possible and clearer plans on the next step. So soon after I realized I could not make it during the next scheduled transport…I obviously did not think this would happen and had meetings set for that whole weekend. So I emailed attempting to make alternative arrangements as the email sent my Lee directed the adopters to do. No response. For over a week. So I called Patty…she was so outright rude to me. I could not believe it. She was offering no solution and just kept asking me what I expected them to do. I just was doing what they said in the email. I am THE nicest person and was in no way saying anything to set her off like that. Finally she said they would have to find a foster family in Boston to take her over night so that I could pick her up at my convenience. This made me feel very uneasy…after all how do they have foster families that they personally know is Massachusetts when their shelter runs out of Indiana. Nonetheless, I agreed and she said that when they figured it out they would email. And as the trend goes ..I heard absolutely nothing. So the day before the scheduled transport I made my last minute decision to cancel my meetings and just go to Connecticut to get my dog. So I called Patty to let her know…and again she acted very rude and impatient and then said the transport was changed to Sunday instead of Saturday. Annoying because now I had to switch my schedule around again! I was beginning to think I would never see my dog. Finally Sunday came and I drove to Connecticut to get my Olive. Everyone was so excited to be getting their new babies and so was I! Olive came out of the van TERRIFIED and completely covered head to toe in feces. It broke my heart. I chalked it up to the transport and tried to calm her because she still had another hour car ride to go. Once she got into the back seat of my car and I opened the windows for her to feel the breeze, I could see the relief in her entire body. An just like that I was in love.
    She has been with me for about three months now and we have encountered many problems. For example she was an avid “nervous pee-er” and from time to time still is. She for no reason at all will become so frightened and if will last for a week straight and then she will return to normal. She had a horrible case of tapeworms and a bladder infection as well as a respiratory infection, which was all costly to treat obviously but again it comes with the territory of adoption…just usually not so many things wrong at once. It was also quickly apparent that she was not 1 year old as stated on the website. She was very much still a relatively young puppy. Not what I had signed up for, I didn’t want to do the puppy thing again but I would never trade her for the world and it worked out because she put my other 1.5 year dog into more of a big brother position and it has helped tame him a bit. He was my wild child and gave me every possible headache as a puppy. But the final thing that made me scratch my head was the fact that the original transport had been scheduled for Oct 6th but on Olives health records it stated that she was not spayed until Oct 10th. Okay? But shouldn’t she have been ready to go if they were being honest about the van break down that was seemly just discovered less than 24 hours prior to transport? This bothered me to no end…why couldn’t they just be honest…why did I have to hound them for vital information? Why did they just not care?! Well now I see. And along with everyone else it makes me feel sick. They have their own stories as to what went down with the raid and prior to that, but animal control does not just show up and take your animals with no warning…it is a process. And also the police would not have just gone by whatever this animal control officer was saying if it was untrue. What sickens me the most is their news update on the AAL website. It is a sad attempt to gain pity, and it is extremely hard to follow as most of what it says either does not make sense or is contradictory of whatever else they say within the update. I mean this is simply not a conspiracy against Patty and Lee, what does anyone have to gain? More work? They may have good intentions and of that I am not convinced but they are not right. I felt very odd about the entire interaction I had with the organization. Isn’t it weird that they pretty much adopted to only the New England area? Thinking about it now, it is not the best practice to transport dogs like that On a regular basis. Very stressful for them, and they pretty much do nothing to ensure that the homes are fit for these incoming dogs. And one final note: Olive has a very botched scar from her spay surgery so not too sure about this vet either…who btw is defending the couple. I will never go against my gut feeling again. I knew something wasn’t right when she was hounding me for payment at exactly an hours time. I wish I would have contacted them about all of the issues I’ve had, but honestly I just wanted to wash my hands of this organization, and I am so glad that justice has caught up with them.

    • Hi Lindsey, a lot of your concerns are reasons why I brought AAL to the attention of the media back in June 2012. The dog we received was in very rough shape and much of the concerns with regard to his health should’ve improved considering he was with a “rescue” for about 6 weeks. The stories AAL posts on their website and Facebook are usually made up. For example…. In the AAL explanation they say I didn’t see our dog for months later which is not true. They also say my girlfriend had been married and that she went through a divorce and miscarriage. Both not true.
      The story you got about your dog is most likely not true. The date listed as the spay/neuter just means that your dog was supposedly examined on that date or had the procedure. AAL makes it seem like the spay/neuter all dogs but in our case with more research I was able to determine that our dog was actually neutered at a shelter in Martinsville, IN back in 2010 when he was a puppy. He was the adopted by someone in March 2010. It’s not clear what happened after this but I do have the adopters first name and a couple theories. What is certain is that our dog came to us over 20lbs under weight, skin/bones, the insides of his body were almost dead from lack of food/water, the pads of his paws were burned from standing in his own urine for hours, and he had open pressure sores under his body. These health concerns are a perfect example of AAL’s inhumane housing of the dogs.

      Back in June 2012 when my concerns were brought to the attention of the media it would have been easy for the Strayers to handle the concerns in a professional manner and show specific vet documents of our dogs health prior to coming to AAL. They didn’t do this… They immediately went negative which says enough right there. Legitimate/professional businesses never make negative attacks.

    • I got the same story about the bus breaking down, etc. Bottom line, this was a business for them at the expense of the animals. Horrible.

    • Lindsay,
      I had much the same experience with them. Charlie, then Mickey was filthy, with kennel cough and a disturbingly bad case of worms which still persists today, six months later. Making things worth, his breed was misrepresented. We adopted a Morkie. As it turns out, he’s anything but. We don;t really care, he’s a great dog. Further it was represented to us, and documented with Vet papers, that he was neutered. He wasn’t.

      Needless today, with all his medical issues it’s cost us more than it would have from a breeder. We truly believe AAL is a puppy mill disguised as a NFP company. I whole heartedly hope they get shut down soon

  17. Thankfully these people who turned out to be nasty, mean, foul mouth liars are not going to be doing this anymore. Although, I’m not sure they would be capable of making a living any other way. I understand that there have been investigations being reviewed by the Attorney General in Indiana and the IRS. If you haven’t guessed, I am very angry about their deceit,hostility and poor treatment of the dogs and I truly hope they pay the price for their behavior.

  18. Wow,
    I have to say, You guys must all be talking about a different AAL than I have dealt with.
    Go to their web site today and you will still see Sally the St.Bernard.
    She is my second AAL dog and is absolutely gorgeous, happy and healthy! (does slobber alot though)
    My first AAL dog is a big chocolate lab that we adopted back in Nov 2009 and Dawkins is a wonderful dog as well.
    My experience with AAL was as advertised and a pleasant experience.
    There trully are 2 sides to every fence.
    Stewart recently posted..Comfort and joyMy Profile

    • Hello to all. I am very saddened to read about Adop-a-lab. I went on to their site today to see what dogs they had available for adoption. And it was pretty empty, which led me to research what happened to their organization.

      I have dealt with their operation little dog rescue from their Not-a-lab program in April of 2010. We adopted Jacques, a little beige poodle. Drove to Darien to meet the van with great communication from Patty- since his original adopters fell through and we were the back up family. They provided a phone number to track the van progress from Indiana in case of problems along the way. We met the van in the vet parking lot on schedule.

      There must have have been about 30 families waiting for their dogs- all excited. And every dog came out of the very clean and ready to meet their forever families. As with all dogs, their personalities were very different. Some skittish, some hyper, but all looking happy. We got Jacques, who is now Roscoe, and couldn’t be happier. He is the best dog we have ever had as far as temperment goes, very happy and gets along with my other 2 bichons. He is my 2nd rescue and Dealing with Adopt-a-lab was a joy. I don’t understand what happened to their organization, but 3 years ago they were great to deal with. Roscoe was clean, healthy, neutered, and when we had him checked out by a vet, he was given a clean bill of health. All the dogs appeared to look and smell clean. Everyone was happy with their dogs.

      To read of the deterioration of their program is very saddening indeed. We got a great dog. Thank you Patty for all your time and devotion. I offered to volunteer for them in this part of the country but they never contacted me. Again very sad.

      • Small correction to my above story. My daughter pointed out it was 2 years ago- April 2011, not 2010. Roscoe will be 3 years old Dec. 2013

        • Stephanie says

          I attempted to adopt a German Shepherd puppy that I saw on PetFinder last July and long story short, the adoption was cancelled just a few hours from when it was arranged (the dog was not to be shipped out for another week and half). My credit card was charged and I never saw my money (or even the half promised if cancelled before shipment) and was given the run-around about all kinds of paperwork that never even existed. I just really wanted my money back. So damn frustrating that my money didn’t even go to help any animals. These people are SICK.

  19. I’m simultaneously shocked and yet not surprised at all to read this. We adopted our black lab in June 2012, which is right when this all happened, and even though we love our dog we were appalled at the whole experience. I actually blogged about it, I was so upset!

    I think you’re 100% correct, Christina, that they were just “overwhelmed by the amount of unwanted dogs that they lost sight of what they were doing” — it’s so sad, but those dogs really didn’t deserve to be treated like that (and neither did the prospective owners)!

    Luckily Nyxa (now nearly 1.5 years old) is completely healthy, happy, and a 70 lb ball of energy. She still has an ugly scar from the (really sloppy) spay job they did on her, and she had skin & worm problems on and off for the first 3 or 4 months after we got her… but sitting here with my healthy pup sleeping on my lap, it’s hard not to remember things with rose-tinted glasses.
    Jennifer recently posted..Play time!My Profile

  20. I did not know of the ending for Adopt-A-Lab. I am one of the few supporters. It breaks my heart what happened to them. I adopted my Chase from them four years ago and every dog that got off that truck was in excellent condition. Chase had been severely abused and they rescued him. If not for them, he would have died in a shelter. He came to me a behavioral mess but his physical health was fantastic. I have two friends who also adopted three dogs from them. All in great health. I think they got in over their heads and things snowballed. It’s an absolute shame. I can’t imagine my life without Chase.

  21. I know I’m late on this post, but for some reason tonight I wanted to see if there was any more news about AAL, I found out sometime last year about the shut down. I think people are very quick to judge, when there are two sides to a story, and when they don’t really understand everything that transpired.

    That being said, I have my own experience with Operation Little Dog, and it was great, and as expected in ways when dealing with the very demanding issues of running a rescue. I adopted Fritz (now Ranger) in April of 2012. He was around 4 months old at the time (because with rescues it is not always known), and his brothers were up for adoption as well. He was a fancy Boston Terrier / French Bulldog mix, and Patty told me that she rescued them from an auction, where otherwise they would have gone to someone willing to pay the price to make them into backyard breeder dogs. While I understand that that’s not a typical rescue scenario, I don’t think we need to be judging what the best type of dog to rescue is.

    The day I picked up my dog went really smoothly. I was with about 20 or so other people in the pet store pick up location in Darien (who also spoke very highly of AAL – wonder if anyone talked to them, they seemed to have a close or at least regular relationship with Lee and Patty). The dogs who came in that day were clean considering how long they had been on that bus. They put the dogs into the pens that were set up, and then proceeded to match humans up with their dogs. My interaction with Patty and Lee at that point was very minimal, I actually would have loved to have chatted about my new dog, but that day was not about me, it was about my dog, and about their getting him to me, and nothing more than that. I think people need to understand this isn’t about you, or about what was done to you, or about how poorly you were treated … this is about the dogs, and the sad truth is that there are way too many unwanted or stray or abused animals out there and only so many people willing to step in. This is not about your nose being offended b/c your dog was covered in feces, this is about your dog reaching you, about his or her life being changed for the better, about the rescue doing as much as they can (but perhaps not perfectly) to make that happen.

    I remember that they gave us kennel cough meds that day, b/c there was an outbreak before they left. I thought that was proactive and honest. A few months before I adopted Ranger from AAL, I had adopted another puppy from an out of town rescue, that may or may not have been a rescue, but whose facility was clearly being mismanaged. Unfortunately, that scenario led me to unknowingly adopt a puppy who had parvovirus, and who died a week after bringing him home. That was a horrible experience for me, so I guess my point is that my experience with AAL was good, I have a wonderful dog who I can’t imagine being without, who certainly has had his issues, but not b/c of AAL, but b/c he’s a dog. And after the first experience I had, I can only be appreciative for this one.

  22. I was also a Darien Ct. adopter in the spring of 2011. The communication from AAL and operation Little Dog was fine. I had no problems. If fact, we were back up adoptees when the first family for Jacques had to cancel due to a medical emergency in their family. We were contacted 2 days before the pickup date and agreed to take Jacques on delivery day.

    We showed up in the vet parking lot in Darien about 3 PM and the unload began. 1 by 1 the dogs were unloaded from the back of the bus and their adopted families called for their dog. All were excited, and all the dogs appeared fairly clean and healthy. Finally our turn came and Jacques was in my arms- an overgrown poodle pup- all wiggly and energetic- so happy to be out of the bus in my loving arms. My heart melted right then and there. Jacques became Roscoe and he has been the best dog we ever had. His temperament, behavior, and loyalty is perfect. I have never seen a happy dog all the time. His stumpy tail never stops wagging. And he has grown into a very smart, fairly obedient member of the family.

    I honestly don’t remember how much the adoption fee was, but at the time it was thought to be fairly high- $250 or so, but that covered his neutering and shots, or so I thought. He did have paperwork from the vet showing proof of immunizations and neutering. He was also chipped, but at the time I did not know it and re-chipped him. So he has 2 chips- 1 registered by us and 1 unregistered.

    When I found out AAL was put out of business by the scandal I was shocked- partly because I was looking for another animal to adopt and they were no longer in business. And because I thought their organization was doing well. We had brought blanket donations and I was even thinking of volunteering for this part of the country. I had no clue their shelter was raided. Our experience with this organization was a 5 out of 5. I got a great animal, and he got a great home. If this couple was stopped from doing something they loved, I feel very sorry for them. I doubt you can get rich from adoption fees when you are dealing with 15 dogs at a time. They had to be doing for the animals too.
    Just my 2 cents.

  23. Kim Warren says

    I adopted a standard poodle named jack in fall 2010.. it didn’t work out and they arranged for someone to pick him up. Several emails agreeing to refund me the $350 fee.. I sent email monthly asking for an update for two years. Sigh.

  24. This is the first I’ve heard about the issues with AAL. We adopted a puppy in early 2006 and I have been curious to how her litter mates were doing. I have searched to AAL to no avail. From what I’m reading, it sounds like we were one of the lucky ones. Our “goofy, clown of a lab” was from the L litter born in January of 2006. We picked her up in Mass in March. She is still with us. The old girl is almost 15! I have always wondered about LuLu’s (now Naiya) brothers and sisters. I know it’s a long shot, but would love to hear about them!

    • Hi Liz,
      I don’t blog from here anymore but the site is still up. Just wanted to say that I am glad to read that your dog is still doing well—as is our Star! Just reading this post and all the comments makes me so sad. I did a search on Lee & Patty and it seems that they had a failed home decorating business after this, but do not appear to be in the animal rescue/business anymore. Probably for the best. This whole story is so sad. Take care and hope you get many more years with Naiya!

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