Over the last 3 weeks I’ve received multiple reports that Main Street Mutt Rescue, a new dog rescue group in the Bellingham area, has adopted out dogs that haven’t been vaccinated, dewormed, microchipped, or spayed/neutered while collecting $300-350 adoption fees for each dog.
In addition, the rescue refused to authorize medical treatment for a sick puppy in foster care, and it’s bringing in dogs from California to Washington without health certificates, which is required by law.
This rescue hasn’t been around long – a woman named Amy Jo Millman started it last February.
I’m sure that most people who start rescues have the best of intentions but sometimes they don’t understand the time, effort, and money it takes to run one properly.
Running a rescue, even a small one, is full-time job that can take over your life and eat into your bank account, but understandably, these details are easily overlooked because rescuers number one priority is rescuing dogs.
But pulling dogs in danger of euthanization out of a shelter is only the first, and in most cases the easiest part of rescue. The tougher (and more expensive) parts are getting them properly vetted, finding foster homes to stay while they wait to be adopted, assessing their personalities and potential behavior problems, and finding them the best possible permanent home – these are the areas in which Main Street Mutt Rescue appears to be having problems.
Here’s what I’ve heard about Main Street Mutt Rescue (MSMR) regarding three of its dogs:
Ina is a dappled chihuahua mix that was fostered for about 4 weeks before she was adopted by a woman from out of state earlier this month. The woman who adopted her paid an adoption fee of $300 to Main Street Mutt Rescue.
For this fee she was supposed to get a puppy that had been vaccinated, dewormed, microchipped, and spayed, but as you can see from the screenshots of their conversations, Ms. Millman refused to pay for any vet visits.
Ina’s foster mom ended up having to pay $98 to cover the procedures Ms. Millman promised. When the adopter came to get Ina from the foster mom, she reimbursed the foster mom for the $98 she paid for the medical procedures that Main Street Mutt Rescue was supposed to have collected, bringing the total she paid for Ina to $398, $300 of which when to the rescue that apparently paid for nothing other than bringing the puppy to Washington.
Furthermore, she was never given an adoption contract to sign, and, because the woman was from out of state, Main Street Mutt Rescue never did a home visit to determine if the adopter’s home was appropriate for Ina (I have no reason to believe there was anything wrong with Ina’s adopter, but responsible rescues generally don’t put their dogs in homes they haven’t seen).
Jacoby is a 2-year-old high energy Pit Bull Terrier/Chesapeake Bay Retriever Mix that Main Street Mutt Rescue said was pulled from a high-kill shelter. While being fostered he growled at the foster’s kids and once acted aggressively towards the foster’s son and wouldn’t let him in the house.
MSMR placed Jacoby with a partially disabled veteran who is hard of hearing and a single dad with two kids. No one told him about Jacoby’s aggression problems towards kids.
MSMR brought him to the veteran’s house all they provided was a harness. He was not given a contract to sign, MSMR didn’t provide any health certificates or vaccination records. Jacoby also wasn’t microchipped or neutered.
Jacoby didn’t stay with the veteran very long. He escaped soon after he arrived and was missing overnight. When he was at the home he growled/acted aggressively towards the veteran’s mother.
Jacoby is back with MSMR because the home in which he was placed was clearly not appropriate for him. A responsible rescue would never have put a high energy, 2-year-old dog that has exhibited aggression problems with kids should have never been placed with a partially disabled dad with 2 young children.
Radar is a black chihuahua mix. During the 4 weeks with his foster mom he had problems breathing but was never taken to a vet because his foster mom couldn’t afford it and Ms. Millman refused to pay for a for a vet visit.
After almost a month Ms. Millman “washed her hands of him” and transferred ownership of him to his foster mom who then gave him to another rescue group in the Bellingham area where he finally got medical treatment he needed.
These stories could indicate that Ms. Millman simply didn’t anticipate all the critical details and minutiae necessary to follow in order to run a successful dog rescue group. If this were the case, she would have accepted the offers from well-established rescues in the Bellingham area to help her set up proper procedures that reputable rescues follow to ensure they put their dogs in homes most suitable for their temperament and behavior.
However, Ms. Millman has refused to accept help from other rescues.
For instance, one rescue told her about a transporter called Rescue Express Transport that brings dogs from pulled from California shelters to Washington rescues in a comfortable, climate-controlled van for free. Ms. Millman replied that the van wasn’t free because it required the dogs it transported to be heart worm tested, have up-to-date vaccinations, and have health certificates, and she would only pay for the dogs to be tested for heartworm.
Ms. Millman’s response raises a HUGE RED FLAG for me because apparently Ms. Millman uses dog transports that don’t require her to pay for vet exams or vaccinations for the dogs she brings to Washington.
According to WAC 16-54-170, all dogs brought into Washington from out of state must have “a certificate of veterinary inspection.” This certificate “must identify each animal and certify that each animal at the time of entry is current on rabies vaccination according to the manufacturer’s label, and does not originate from an area under quarantine for rabies.”
Ms. Millman is violating this statue every time she brings a dog into Washington for MSMR from another state without a document certifying it was examined and vaccinated before its transport.
Furthermore, by bringing dogs into Washington without health certificates, MSMR could be bringing dogs here with communicable diseases like dog flu that could threaten the health of all dogs in the state.
This is not how a responsible rescue operates.
In my opinion, Main Street Mutt Rescue should stop bringing dogs from other states into Washington and cease all its operations immediately until it can enact procedures that comply with Washington regulations, prioritize the health of the dogs they bring here, and ensure it puts its dogs into home where they have the best chance to lead happy lives with a permanent family.
I hope Ms. Millman accepts help from other rescues to put these procedures into place and doesn’t, as she has threatened, bring dogs into Washington and sell them directly out of the back of a van to anyone who wants one.
In my opinion, if she doesn’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.
Isn’t that what dog rescue should be about?