Days after Santa Clarita Valley residents were warned of people falsely identifying themselves as animal trainers or as part of a rescue operation, animal experts offered advice for pet owners seeking help from rescues.
The discovery of a Canyon Country resident who reportedly “owner-surrendered” at least 18 dogs to the Castaic Animal Shelter over the past two years while operating Baldwin’s K9’s Training & Rescue has prompted discussions about how to avoid similar, seemingly false organizations.
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Pet owners who might be entrusting their animals with a trainer or rescue should first take into account how “open” they are about their facility, said Nancy Anderson, founder of the Santa Clarita-based dog rescue, the Brittany Foundation.
“There’s some rescues that I have been to in the past and they won’t allow you through the doors,” she said. “That’s kind of a red flag for me. If you can’t see the conditions the animals are living in, then that might not be the place for you to be looking at, or it might require some additional investigation.”
Anderson cited the fact that the Brittany Foundation is “open to the public” and staff regularly “invites people in” to see the entire facility, including the geriatric area where special-needs senior dogs are housed.
If the animals seem active and healthy and the facility looks clean, “Then that’s a good sign,” she said.
Another important thing to look for is a rescue’s 501c3 status, which indicates the organization is a non-profit and can usually be verified online, said a St. Bonnie’s Sanctuary official.
Rescues also commonly require anyone releasing their dog into rescue officials’ care to sign a release agreement, which clearly states the pet owner is giving up their rights to the animal so the rescue can put the animal up for adoption, Anderson said.
Jamie Hartz, of Acton, reportedly brought her three dogs to Vincent Broeske, the listed owner of Baldwin’s K9’s Training & Rescue, last year after she lost her house to have them fostered at the facility.
Broeske allegedly allowed the dogs to breed after Hartz paid him to have them fixed and refused to give them back unless Hartz filled out an ‘adoption’ form and paid $300 per dog.
Out of the 18 dogs Broeske reportedly surrendered to the Castaic Animal Shelter, 14 were adopted, two were “put to sleep” and two are still at the shelter, according to shelter officials.
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