While I was looking through Facebook Wednesday I saw this post on a few different pages:
“My dogs have been stolen by a so called rescue and elegaly (illegally) moved and put up for adoption…. These are my kids not my dogs and I have to find them! They were at p.u.r.r.r. Rescue in Tacoma and the lady did me so dirty……. I need help finding my babies!”
If you’ve read my blog for the last few months, you know I’ve written several posts about PURRR Rescue’s questionable adoption practices, so I got in contact with Shawna Smith, the woman who posted the message.
Here’s what she told me:
Shawna is a single mom living in Tacoma with her two kids, ages four and one. She has two dogs – Thor, a two-yesr-old lab/chow mix, and Athena, a four-year old pit bull mix. She’s had Thor since he was a puppy and she took Athena from a neighbor who beat her and planned to shoot her.
On February 28th of this year, Shawna was in front of an Ace Hardware Store at corner of 30th and Pearl in Tacoma. While she was outside Ace Hardware, her dogs acted barked loudly and acted aggressively towards people that walked close to her and her girls.
She told me her dogs were on edge and trying to protect her and her kids because the night before, a neighbor attacked her family and hit the dogs with a baseball bat.
A woman came up to her and offered to buy the dogs harnesses for her dogs to help her control them. After she had the harnesses the dogs continued to make a lot of noise, and someone ended up calling the police.
The woman who bought the harnesses for her turned out to be PURRR Rescue founder Diana VanDusen who was holding an adoption event at a nearly Pet Pros. Since the police were on the way she offered to take the dogs so Shawna wouldn’t lose them. After she took the dogs she told Shawna to contact her through a woman named Debbie Eggart.
For the last few weeks Shawna texted and called Debbie to check up on Thor and Athena and asked for pictures of them. Debbie would only say “I haven’t talked to Diana but I will try to get ahold of her.”
Eventually, Shawna started googling Diana and PURRR and discovered PURRR’s checkered history with animal control. This week, after more unsuccessful attempts to get in touch with Diana through Debbie, Shawna texted her that she knew about PURRRs questionable adoption practices and run ins with animal control. She also said she “would press charges and file a lawsuit” if anything was wrong with her dogs.
That finally got Debbie’s attention. She contacted Shawna Wednesday and said “she was told to tell me (Shawna) my dogs are gone.” Since Debbie had been an intermediary between Shawna and Diana, I assume Diana is the one who told Debbie to say the dogs were gone.
I asked Shawna to send me the texts between her and Debbie to confirm their conversations. She still had the texts but couldn’t send them, so she retyped their conversations and sent them to me. Here is her record of their conversations:
Shawna: This is Shawna…. I am getting housing soon and will be taking my dogs… I also want you to know I know about the way they have really been loving how tazers are used…. If my dogs have been taxed (tased) or had shock callors (collars) on them at all I will press charges…. I dont think its right at all that you wont even respond to my texts at all…. If I find out anything is wrong with my dogs there will be a law suite just so you know……. I thought you ppl were a real rescue.
Debbie Eggart: You know what just cause you read something doesn’t mean it is true they take wonderful care of all of the dogs yours included I don’t respond all of the time because I don’t always have time when you text me and I forget I have a lot going on in my life too and loose track of things she did you the favor of taking your dog’s even though she isn’t a boarding facility your dog’s were fixing to go to the pound and would have been put down there so for u to come at us this way is so very wrong.
Shawna: And for you to not answer me about my dogs is very wrong… I texted you so many times and you refuse to respond… The only time you respond is when I’m pissed…… I want dianna’s number, that’s who I should have been talking to in the first place….. I am irate.
Debbie Eggart: Well I’m not giving you her number but I will pad the msg off to her u act like I don’t have things in life to deal with well I do I am dealing with the death of my mother in law her funeral arrangements and everything else that goes along with that I am also dealing with my children and the crazy Ness that life has brought me I am also dealing with looking for work and getting myself into school I have a lot on my plate and I don’t always respond and I’m sorry but right now life is crazy and ppl forget things.
Shawna: Well sense I can’t seem to find out info on my dogs I will have the authorities involved…. Those are my kids not just animals to me….. I will get Diana’s number myself sense you dont want to cooperate
Debbie Eggart: I don’t have permission to give out her number so I told you I will pass the word that u want her to call you
Shawna: I will be waiting for her call
Debbie Eggart: Fine
Debbie Eggart: I was asked to let you know that your dog’s were sent to a different rescue and we have nothing to do with it any more the police gave the dogs to the rescue instead of the pound and having them put to sleep we boarded them now they r with a different rescue and I have nothing to do with anything
At this point Eggart stopped answering Shawna’s texts/messages.
So do I believe Shawna? Based on the what I’ve learned about Diana and PURRR Rescue in the last few months and the content of the messages between Debbie and Shawna, my opinion is that Shawna is telling the truth.
Here are some other reasons why I believe Shawna:
1. Since I started writing about PURRR several people have told me Diana often buys or takes dogs from strangers she’s met and sells them to people who want to adopt them. Just a couple of weeks ago someone told me he witnessed Diana buy two pit bulls from a homeless women she ran across at an adoption event.
2. There is a Debbie Eggart who lives in Lakewood, which is where Diana lives as well. One of the the likes on her Facebook page is PURRR Rescue. It could just be a remarkable coincidence, but I doubt it.
3. In her messages to Shawna, Debbie acknowledges that she was speaking on behalf of Diana and that for some period of time Diana had possession of them of the dogs
4. Debbie changed her story. First she said PURRR gave the dogs to another rescue, then she said PURRR gave the dogs to the police who gave them to another rescue.
5. Shawna’s experience with Diana and PURRR are consistent with those of many others that have contacted me.
I hope Shawna does get the authorities involved in trying to find her dogs and determine if Diana still has them. That isn’t going to be easy since Diana currently has all her dogs hidden from the public and refuses to say where she’s keeping them. Or maybe someone who knows where Thor and Athena are will come forward and tell Shawna. Or maybe whomever has them will actually do the right thing and return them to Shawna. Legally they are still her dogs
Since last December I’ve written that Diana has had numerous run-ins with animal control in multiple jurisdictions, was denied a business license by the city of Lakewood because, among other things, she had “engaged and is likely to continue to engage in illegal activity,” had adopted out dogs that have killed multiple pets and mauled a six-year old, and has kept about 2 dozen dogs in boarding or kennels for over a year.
Now she’s accused of taking dogs from a young single mother.
How can this be considered a legitimate dog rescue?