Main Street Mutt Rescue Has Sketchy History
A Bellingham dog rescue reneged on its approval for a woman to adopt a puppy after she asked questions about the group’s vaccination and health protocols.
Main Street Mutt Rescue is the organization that cut off communication with the woman who insisted on knowing the rescue’s procedures before she adopted a puppy.
This isn’t the first time I’ve heard about Main Street Mutt Rescue’s sketchy vaccination practices. In 2015 I wrote that the rescue adopted out unvaccinated dogs that weren’t spayed/neutered.”
In my post I wrote that a woman adopted a 7-week-old puppy from Main Street Mutt Rescue that hadn’t been vaccinated or dewormed.
The rescue’s founder Amy Millman also placed an unneutered adult dog w/out an adoption contract, health certificate, or proof of vaccination.
I wrote that if Ms. Millman didn’t accept help and change her procedures, she “should get out of dog rescue because she is either unable or unwilling to prioritize what is in the best interest of the dogs she says she’s trying to help.”
Apparently she never took my advice.
(Note: Amy Millman never responded to the questions I sent her about this incident.)
Email Lays Out Potential Adopter’s Concerns
Last month a woman sent me the following email regarding the article I wrote about Main Street Mutt Rescue in 2015:
“I found Main Street Mutt rescue on Petfinder when I was looking for a puppy to adopt. I found an adorable litter of pittie mixes and I was overjoyed. After my application was approved I was looking up the shelter to show my friends the litter when I noticed the mediocre rating on Google reviews. After many of the reviews stated having troubles with vaccines and other health issues I started to get more nervous.
I did some more research and found this article as well as complaint filed to the better business bureau. The BBB claim stated that the dog had preexisting medical conditions that were not mentioned and they would like a refund, and as far as I am aware the issue was not resolved by MSMR.
Because I still had my heart set on these adorable pups I decided to address my concerns to Amy and the foster parent directly. The specific issues I raised were whether there would be some record of the vaccinations administered, how they were administered, and whether they had been checked by a vet.
The foster parent was as helpful as I believe they could be and said that to their knowledge the puppies had not been to a vet, that the vaccines as well as the microchip would be administered at the time of adoption (by whom was not specified, but I assume the foster parent or Amy herself), and that they would be dewormed at 6 and 8 weeks. They also said I would receive a voucher for the neuter/spay. They even sent me a photo of the vaccines which was the “Nobivac Canine 1-DAPPv”.
(I am not a vet so take what I say next with a grain of salt, but from what I read certain vaccines are not recognized unless administered by a vet.)
Amy was MUCH less helpful in my opinion. She simply said that she has no idea why there would be negative reviews and that I would get “a document stating what they were given and when”. As far as any of my concerns, they were not addressed and when I continued to press I was promptly told that I could no longer adopt the puppy because “they got too many applications and miscounted”. This was AFTER I was confirmed to adopt one of the 3 remaining puppies in the litter.”
Potential Adopter Makes Questions Clear from Outset
Here are the texts between the potential adopter and the person fostering the puppies.
Several statements from Main Street Mutt Rescue in this text thread about its vaccine protocols raised red flags for the potential adopter. You’ll also see several misleading statements regarding the rescue’s general health protocols.
Having done her research about Main Street Mutt Rescue, the potential adopter said from the outset she wanted clarification about the rescue’s vaccination and neutering policies.
This answer is not accurate.
Most veterinarians don’t consider vaccinations valid unless a veterinarian or licensed vet technician (LVT) administered them.
Furthermore, you can’t get get a health certificate for your dog unless a veterinarian or LVT vaccinated it.
Airlines won’t allow your dog to fly without a valid health certificate. Most dog boarding and dog daycare facilities won’t take dogs that don’t have valid health certificates and/or vaccinations.
And saying vets “should” accept vaccinations administered by a rescue means nothing. It’s just a statement to falsely assure potential adopters that the vaccinations the rescue gave are valid.
The reality is, regardless of what anyone thinks, if your dog isn’t vaccinated by a veterinarian or LVT, you cannot get a health certificate for it. Period.
Like I said, it’s true that you have to get a clean bill of health (ie, a health certificate) from your vet if you want to fly with your dog, but you can’t get one until a veterinarian or LVT vaccinates your dog.
The potential adopter said she’ll adopt the puppy when she gets clarification regarding Main Street Mutt Rescue’s vaccination policy.
The puppies’ foster tells the potential adopter that Amy Millman approved the adoption.
I’ll address the statement in the 2nd red box first.
Most rescues don’t vaccinate their dogs at adoption events. The larger ones, like Seattle Humane Society, have their own licensed veterinarian(s) on staff that vaccinate their dogs. Smaller rescues usually have their dogs vaccinated during vet exams.
In addition, it usually takes “ten to fourteen days” before a vaccine provides reasonable level of protection. If a rescue vaccinates a puppy/dog the day someone adopts it the vaccine may not provide adequate protection for several days.
Furthermore, bringing an unvaccinated puppy to an adoption event could expose it to dangerous viruses that vaccines given the same day may not prevent.
Finally, dogs sometimes have adverse, life-threatening reactions to vaccinations that require immediate medical treatment.
If the dog vaccinated at an adoption event has a severe reaction at the event or on the drive home it could die before it gets medical treatment.
Reputable rescues have their dogs and puppies vaccinated before an adoption event to ensure they have a minimal level of protection. They can also get medical attention immediately if the dogs have an adverse reaction to the vaccination.
Regarding microchips, the American Veterinary Medical Association, says “microchips should really be implanted under supervision by a veterinarian, because veterinarians know where the microchips should be placed, know how to place them, and know how to recognize the signs of a problem and treat one if it occurs.”
And you should note that in this text the potential adopter says for the third time in 24 hours that she wants to know Main Street Mutt Rescue’s vaccination protocols.
The potential adopter asks a some new questions. Has a vet examined the puppies? Are the puppies being dewormed?
While it’s true that reputable breeders have a veterinarian certify the health of their puppies, reputable rescues have all their puppies/dogs checked out by a vet before adoption to ensure they’re healthy.
Main Street Mutt Rescue’s website even says part of the adoption fee covers vet visits.
I think it’s unconscionable that a rescue would adopt out puppies or dogs without a vet exam.
And the foster’s statement about deworming is problematic. At the time of this text exchange the puppies were about 6 weeks old and hadn’t been dewormed yet.
Puppies should be dewormed when they’re 2 weeks old and then every 2 weeks until they’re 12 weeks old. These puppies should have been dewormed 3 times when the potential adopter asked if they’d been wormed yet.
Not long after the potential adopter said she wanted some assurance that the puppy wouldn’t have any pre-existing health problems, the foster told her the adoption wasn’t going to “work out” because they “miscounted” the adoption applications.
Potential Adopter Dumped the Same Day She Expressed Concerns to Director
The potential adopter also had a brief text exchange with Amy Millman in which she raised the same concerns she expressed to the woman fostering the puppies:
The potential adopter made her vaccination/health concerns clear to Ms. Millman. She also specifically asked if veterinarians, airlines, etc. would accept the vaccinations.
Ms. Millman responded somewhat defensively that she didn’t know what issue there could be with vaccines even though she had to be aware about the complaints about the rescue’s vaccination procedures since 2015.
She also failed to note that veterinarians and airlines wouldn’t consider vaccinations valid if the rescue vaccinated the puppies.
Ms. Millman stopped communicating with the potential adopter after she asked if a vet would exam the puppies before the adoption. That same day, the foster told the potential adopter that the puppies were no longer available for adoption.
Simple Questions Help Identify Bad Dog Rescues
A few years ago I wrote a blog post called, “10 Questions That Can Identify Fake Dog Rescues.” In it I say that the first thing you should do before adopting a dog from a rescue is conduct an internet search on the rescue and its founder.
If anyone has written bad reviews about their experience with the group you should find it in seconds.
The potential adopter’s internet search for Main Street Mutt Rescue turned up complaints about its vaccination and health protocols.
Here are comments from people who adopted dogs from Main Street Mutt Rescue that raised her concern about the rescue:
“Any animal “RESCUE” facility whos adoption fees go up 200$ based off the cutness of an animal is straight trash. I get trying to make money but 1000$ to rescue a puppy….. Your trash….. We already have to get 1000 $ worth of stuff and new pet rental fees etc… And saying it’s to ensure financial responsibility is A lie, just like the “vaccinations” you provide that aren’t administered by a professional (or accepted by airlines, etc).” 5 months ago
“I adopted a puppy from this business through a foster family. I’m very happy with my new pup but things are tough going. Firstly, the $450 adoption fee claims to cover vaccinations… Except those vaccines aren’t administered by a licensed vet, so any organization (e.g. airlines, behavior schools, dog boarders), won’t recognize them. So even if puppy actually was vaccinated, we had to repeat the shots regardless. As well, Main Street Mutt Rescue has no phone number because apparently it’s a business from the nineteenth century. As well, they’ve not responded to any of my emails or questions about puppy. (EDIT: they eventually did, and even got us in touch with the families who adopted the siblings of our pup, so we could all cross-reference health stuff.)
So through some veterinary investigation, we found that she has giardia, demodectic mange, kennel cough, and an abdominal infection resulting from some type of insect bite. We were told that the kennel cough and the bite infection could very possibly have been from after adoption, but the giardia definitely predated that. Mange is a little more complicated, so it’s difficult to lay the blame at the mutt rescue, but their startling unprofessionalism, lack of communication, and opacity in presentation are all kind of red flags that we should have noticed.
I would advise folks who are looking to rescue to go elsewhere. There are plenty of shelter dogs and puppies around Whatcom that need adoption and their shelters will continue to provide clear communication after adoption and they actually administer vaccines properly. I am happy with my mangy puppy, and every puppy is a lot of work, but there’s clearly something missing in how this place conducts business.” a year ago
Note that the dog had some health problems that a vet should have identified and treated before adoption.
Reputable Dog Rescues Welcome Your Questions
The potential adopter’s discovery of these complaints led her to ask 3 questions listed in my post:
Can I see this dog’s health certificate?
Has this dog had a comprehensive health exam?
Is the dog up to date on its vaccines?
Reputable dog rescues with nothing to hide are happy to answer questions from potential adopters. It shows they take adopting a dog seriously. It also shows they understand the commitment and responsibility that comes with adopting a dog.
Most sketchy rescues, however, will cut off communication with an adopter who asks lots of questions.
How this woman conducted her search for a puppy to adopt is a textbook example of why it’s critical to carefully research any potential dog rescue and ask questions about any concerns you may have before you make a commitment to adopt a dog.
She ended up adopting a puppy from the Seattle Humane Society. Here’s how she described her experience to me:
“As far as Seattle Humane I asked them all the same questions, and they answered all of them without fail. The pup was 9 weeks when I got him and he had a full vet exam and had a sheet with his vaccinations listed. Overall, a much better experience! “
I want to emphasize that the vast majority of dog rescues in Washington are run by people dedicated to saving dogs from euthanization and finding them homes where they will thrive.
Asking some pointed questions helps you identify the dog rescues you should avoid. These questions can also help you find reputable dog rescues that will help you find a fantastic companion.