Last week Adopt-a-Pet.com removed Rising Phoenix Mastiff Rescue in Yakima from its website for violating its rules for service.
The removal was the culmination of a ten month effort by Seattle DogSpot to delete this fake rescue group from North America’s largest non-profit pet adoption website.
I first learned about the shady practices of Rising Phoenix Mastiff Rescue and its founder Trisha Porter last December after reading dozens of complaints from people who adopted or attempted to adopt dogs from the rescue. (Dozens Say Dogs They Adopted from Rising Phoenix Mastiff Rescue Were Sick, Emaciated, 12/13/2016.)
The people who filed the complaints said the dogs adopted from RPMR had one or more of the following health problems: parasites, parvovirus, mange, infected wounds, worms, ear infections, diarrhea, torn ligaments, broken teeth, ear and eye infections, ear mites, infected paws, elbow and hip dysplasia, hernias, open sores and bloody stool.
Some also noted the dogs were emaciated or starved. Others said the dogs they adopted had severe behavior or aggression problems that RPMR never revealed to them.
During my research on RPMR I noticed that it only used Adopt-a-Pet.com to list its dogs available for adoption. I then looked at the rules rescues using the site must follow and found that RPMR violated these two rules:
- “We don’t require 501(c)(3) non-profit status of organizations that list pets with us. However, you must be a legitimate animal welfare organization and not engaging in activities counterproductive to the cause of animal rescue such as breeding pets, encouraging the public to breed pets, or selling pets for profit. You must be in possession of any local or state-required permits necessary for your operations. You must not have any pending or confirmed animal control or criminal citations or violations.”
- You must be honest in your pet postings about breeds, ages, and all other information, and, when dealing with adopters, you must disclose any known health or behavior issues.
Adopt-a-Pet also requires shelters and rescues to operate “with all applicable local, state and federal rules and laws,” but since the Washington Legislature exempted private rescues and shelters from any rules or standards regarding how they treat their dogs, violations of this rule can be difficult to prove.
Local and state officials are often either unable or unwilling to hold them accountable because our state’s regulations for private shelters and rescues are weak or nonexistent.
That’s why people who adopt a dog which is sick or has temperament problems from a shady rescue should report it to whatever sites it uses to list its dogs. Doing this won’t shut down these rescues, but it will make it more difficult for them to operate.
But you can’t expect a pet adoption website like Adopt-a-Pet or Petfinder to kick a dishonest rescues off their sites just because your report them. You must also provide specific proof like vet reports, vet receipts, and screenshots of conversations that the rescue violated the websites’ rules.
You should also follow up with the pet adoption website to ensure that it will investigate the rescue you reported. I had to do this multiple times with Adopt-a-Pet before it decided to remove RMPR.
While this process can be frustrating, reporting fake rescues listed on pet adoption websites is another important tool you can use to hold them accountable for mistreating dogs and misleading adopters.