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

The dog ate my Valentine

I spent Sunday and Monday in New York City wandering a vast space known as Toy Fair. While I was away, my husband John decided to surprise me by making homemade sugar cookies in the shape of hearts. 

This man? He knows I love cookies. And homemade anything, which is why he didn’t just go to the store to buy a mix. He made these cookies from scratch, with colored icing and all.

He carefully arranged the lovely cookies, which had filled the house with a sweet, buttery scent, and placed them in the very center of our kitchen island to await my return home.

A little while later, he came down the stairs to find frosting smeared all over the hardwoods, and a very guilty dog looking at him. 


Do you remember the dad’s tirade* in A Christmas Story after his beloved leg-lamp is broken? I’m pretty sure the house sounded like that for a few minutes.

The dog survived, and so did my husband, though I’m not sure he’ll be making  cookies anytime soon.

But thanks, my love, for the effort. It is so very much appreciated. Even if it was a 65-pound pooch with an undiscriminating palate who was the one who scarfed it all down.

*warning: sound clip will automatically play when link is clicked, so watch that volume!

Wordless Wednesday: Happy


Star: Almost three months with us and right at home