by Katharine Dokken - March 21, 2016.
First in a three part series on animal rescue scams in America.
At left: Katharine with renowned tiger trainer Carlos Quinones, Mindy Patterson, President of The Cavalry Group, and exotic animal trainer Doug Terranova at the USDA Headquarters, Washington, DC, 2016.
Dogs are in such short supply in America that rescue groups all over are scrambling for product to keep their sales volume going and keep up the illusion that America still has a pet over-population problem.
Many rescues are jumping on the hot new Turkish Golden Retriever scam to keep the money flowing.
In the past year over 1,000 supposedly purebred Golden Retrievers have been imported into the United States by various American rescue groups to resell off for tax free profit.
These storires are getting high mileage in the press and donations are flowing into the groups that are exploiting Americans soft hearts and their need to feel that they saved something.
Far too many will believe any sob story these rescues make up and pay premium prices for second hand dogs from unknown backgrounds.
We are supposed to believe that these perfectly healthy, glossy-coated, friendly, well socialized dogs with a smile on their faces and a wagging tail as they come off the airplanes from Turkey have been gathered up from the streets of Istanbul as so-called strays.
Fraudulent retail rescues want you to believe that purebred Golden Retrievers are wandering the streets of Istanbul, Turkey, in desperate need of homes. They claim that Turkey ahs a massive stray dog problem to con gullible buyers who know nothing about the middle east and believe it to be a massive wasteland of illiterate people.
It is true that dogs roam free in the middle east but many of them are in fact, owned. These dogs have owners who love them and enjoy them.
Villages and neighborhoods own dogs in communal living and the dogs belong to the community who cares for them and shares the ownership of them.
Communal feeding stations are installed all over most villages to allow the dogs to eat whenever they want. Middle easterners view westerners who put leashes on dogs, tie them up, or confine them alone by themselves in fenced yards or isolated in homes while their owners work long hours as crazy.
Many of them believe dogs should be free to visit from home to home, accepting handouts, food and treats from whomever they choose and roaming and playing at will. Free to be and act like a dog. Just because a dog is loose in the middle east does not mean that it is free to be taken and resold by some Westerner who believes dogs should be confined to houses all alone.
If you were a dog, what would you prefer? The western idea of confining a dog inside a house all day long while your "owner" works somewhere else, or playing outside with your buddies all day long getting petted and pampered by an entire village?
The free roaming dogs in Turkey and other areas of the world are perfectly happy with their lives and are well cared for. They don't need to be rescued by westerners who feel better about themselves if their dog has a sob story attached to it.
Just where are these alledged purebred Golden Retrievers really coming from? Let me give you a clue, it's not the streets of Istanbul.
That's all a con. A real feral street dog would not be purebred, they would be skinny, mangy, starving, with fly-bitten ears, flea infestations, scars from rough living, dusty and dirt covered, and a shy and skittish temperament that would never willingly approach a human.
In short, not a single one of these supposedly stray Golden Retrievers is actually what they are portrayed as. Every single one of these imports is deceitful to the people who are buying these dogs.
These groups claim that Golden Retrievers were some sort of status symbol in Turkey ten years ago and that's why they have all suddenly been dumped but none of them claiming this have ever been to Turkey.
They are peppering the media with things like, "experts say" these dogs used to be status symbols. Really? What experts? Who are these unnamed experts? It looks like this entire fad can be traced to one single woman in Atlanta, Georgia with a good sob story and a highly profitable rescue. Now groups all over America are jumping onto the bandwagon to grab up these dogs for resale.
These dogs are being shipped into Minnesota, Iowa, Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, Texas, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Colorado, and California.
A group called Golden Retrievals who used to import shipments of dogs from South Korea jumped on the bandwagon to push the idea that the middle east is filled with stray Golden Retrievers to cash out on these huge financial windfalls.
After rescuing out of South Korea, we know that these dogs are very loving, very sweet. They're very loyal and just glad that someone is out there to feed them and love on them," Linda Ripps. Really?
Nice smarmy marketing statement but remember, Rips is talking about shipments of supposedly feral dogs she's never met before. How does she know they are loving and sweet? She's never met them. Other rescuers chiming in to claim that these dogs were rescued from the forests of Istanbul.
Have you seen Istanbul lately? Who believes that 18 stray purebred Golden Retrievers with sterling temperaments, well socialized and well trained were just wandering wild in some forest in Istanbul? Video's show these dogs obese and fetching balls for their so-called rescuers. A feral dog off the streets would never act like this. Rescues from New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania chipped into together to ship in a plane load of dogs.
The Goldens were left struggling to survive among numerous dog packs, scrounding for food in garbage cans and dumpsters," LIGRR president Melanie Mayo said. "Goldens are known for their gentle temperaments so they don't fare well when faced with dog fights."
Multiple groups are importing these dogs into Los Angles, California and Colorado. Golden Retrievers are being shipped into Miami, Florida and multiple other cities. GREAT Rescue of Northeast Florida has shipped in dogs and is asking for your cash.
Everglades Golden Retriever Rescue shipped in a plane load to south Florida. Ellen Pavlik, the president of Joshua's House Rescue in Lecanto, Florida bragged that she has a waiting list for these dogs. Gold Ribbon Rescue of Texas shipped in 18 dogs. "We went through Luxembourg, through Luxembourg to Miami, then to Houston, and arrived at midnight last night," said Gold Ribbon Rescue's Emily Tuczkowski.
What a waste of time and money. If these dogs are so in need, why can't Europe take them in and cut the transport time in half? It gets even better, Gold Ribbon Rescue claims that there are no Golden Retreivers in need anywhere in America.
And yes, of course, Gold Ribbon wants your money. Besides asking for $600 to buy one of these dogs, they also are fundraising off their entire operation. Golden Retriever Rescue of Colorado just shipped in a load in February 2016. Knoxville, Tennessee ships in Goldens. Adopt a Golden Atlanta is shipping in repeated plane loads of dogs.
They brag that they are operating the largest "Operation Turkey Dog" in America and their website contains a legal warning threatening to sue anyone that questions their story while they shill for donations of $500 and $1000 each. The Pet Lodge in Alpharetta, Georgia shipped in a plane load of them many of them six month old puppies.
Retrieve a Golden of Minnesota shipped in a plane load. One thing these rescues have in common is the same cookie cutter fake back story on the dogs and constantly shilling that they need more money to save these dogs. Please give us money!
Every single group is fundraising off these dogs to fill their pockets with all tax free profit. They say,"It's incredibly sad there are so many goldens on the streets there but we are doing our best to save as many as we can. To continue our mission wefll need financial support. Please consider giving and share with people/companies who might also want to help."
"Our shelter volunteer colleagues in Istanbul want a better life for these dogs and have confirmed there could be anywhere to 300-600 more abandoned Golden Retrievers that need our help. Adopt a Golden Atlanta will continue to bring these precious Goldens over from Turkey, but continual financial support is needed to bring them to safety in Atlanta.
The rescue scam is so bad that a group in Southern California promoted these dogs as being dumped former "status symbols" that they were selling off as Valentine's Day presents.
"SCGRR will be bringing in 10 dogs from Istanbul on Valentine's weekend; February 13th, 2016! We hope this will be the first of many."
Apparently this is a case of do as I say, not as I do. How is that not hypocrisy? How is it not a status symbol for some wealthy American to buy a supposedly rescued dog as a Valentine's Day present? SCGRR is offering these dogs for sale for $600-$800 each.
They charge $200 extra for a dog that is under one year old. Let that one sink in. They want you to believe that these so-called purebred dogs were dumped ten years ago, so why aren't all of the dogs ten years old or older? Why are so many of these groups offering puppies for sale?
Instead of giving to these groups trying to cash in on American's ignorance of foreign dogs, how about you stop supporting the scam and instead give a home to an American born dog?
The story took an interesting turn recently when the Turkish media started investigating the high numbers of reportedly stolen and missing Golden Retrievers in their country. One report alone lists 331 cases of missing Golden Retrievers.
Dogs that had owners.
America already has a bad reputation abroad, what could be worse than a wholesale effort to steal the dogs of Turkey and ship them into America as fake rescues? The only way to stop fake rescue dog sales is for more Americans to stop supporting them. Do not give money to these rescues and do not buy these dogs from them. Somewhere an entire village is cursing Americans for stealing their dogs to make themselves feel better.
In Part 2 of this continuing series, hundreds of thousands of foreign dogs, sick with disease, are being imported into America to sell off by retail rescues, many of whom hide the true backgrounds of these dogs.