Santa Clarita Valley animal experts warned pet owners Monday about people falsely identifying themselves as animal trainers or as part of a rescue operation.
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Los Angeles County volunteers reported a Canyon Country resident “owner-surrendered” at least 18 dogs to the Castaic Animal Shelter over the past two years while operating Baldwin’s K9’s Training & Rescue. The listed owner of Baldwin’s is Vincent Broeske.
Broeske declined to be interviewed for this story.
However, dog owners reportedly entrusted the care of their pets to Broeske for various reasons, never suspecting he would turn the dogs into the Department of Animal Care and Control for possible euthanization, according to an animal shelter volunteer who kept records of the pets turned over to the shelter by Broeske.
Several of the shelter officials who spoke to KHTS AM-1220 did so on the condition of anonymity because they said they were threatened with termination if they talked to the media.
Jamie Hartz, of Acton, brought her three dogs to Broeske last year.
“I lost my house when I had my child and moved in with mom,” Hartz said. “I could only have one dog at the house so I was looking for rescue help. (Broeske) told me he was a 501c3. I said I did not want to give up the dogs, I needed foster (care).”
Hartz drove the dogs to Broeske’s home where she signed a foster agreement, she said. “The house seemed nice and clean. He had a kennel facility in the backyard.”
She thought everything was fine and called him regularly about the dogs, she said. She paid him to have two of her dogs fixed and vaccinated. Hartz typed Broeske’s name into Google one day and saw pictures of her dogs on various rescue websites.
“I Googled his name and phone number — I should have done that before I gave him the dogs,” Hartz said. “Some of the rescue pages he put my dogs on threatened to euthanize them. To get the dogs back, he said I had to fill out an adoption form and pay $300 per dog.”
When Hartz went to pick up her dogs, she found that Broeske had let two of them breed and did not fix or vaccinate the dogs, even though she paid him to, she said.
“I had a feeling he was going to take them to the shelter,” she said.
After Hartz picked up her dogs, she called Animal Control and they said she had her dogs back and there was nothing they could do.
Shelter officials recommended to pet owners that they ask trainers and rescues for their credentials before leaving animals in their care.
Officials said people should get references from where the trainer has been trained, make sure they are a rescue with a 501c3 credential, or talk to veterinarians who trainers or rescues may have worked with in our region.
The resident reportedly has been soliciting himself as a dog trainer for Baldwin’s, but does not have the credentials to be a trainer or a rescue, according to multiple sources.
“I’m really confused why people would leave their dogs with someone who doesn’t have credentials,” one official said. “There have been some cases of rescues who take the dogs and money but ship it to the shelter.”
Out of the 18 dogs the officials recorded, 14 were adopted, two were “put to sleep,” and two are still at the Castaic Animal Shelter, an official said. The most recent euthanization was Prince, a young pitbull terrier on July 22.
“I’m very careful with choosing the rescues I solicit,” the official said. “I know there are a lot out there that aren’t reputable. It’s fairly common.”
Roberts said she wants pet owners to know about situations like this so they don’t have cases similar to Hartz’s.
“The more dogs he dumps, the less chances that these dogs have to survive,” said Jordan Roberts, a volunteer at several rescues in the Los Angeles area and one of the administrators for a Santa Clarita missing pets Facebook page. “Two owners didn’t know he dumped their dogs.
“People are trusting this man, and he is not who he says he is,” Roberts said. “If he cannot adopt the dogs out, he takes them to the shelter.”
While some say these types of actions are immoral and have violated contracts with local rescues, no crime was committed, according to officials.
There are no laws against bringing in a certain amount of dogs or owner surrendering a certain amount of dogs to a Los Angeles County Shelter, said Betsy Webster, spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County Animal Care and Control.
“If I donated money to a rescue, I would look them up, see if there are compliant and do my research,” Webster said. “I do not know (Broeske) or what his story is, but there will be people out there trying to get your money.”
There are also no laws requiring animal trainers to have a license, Webster said.
“We’re looking for animal cruelty and neglect when we investigate a case,” Webster said. “We would rather have dogs surrendered to us. If someone surrendered 20 cats, we’re glad that they bring them to us.”
The Best Friends Animal Society has Broeske on a “do not adopt” list, Roberts said.
“A situation like this, the shelter was designed to be a safe haven for stray dogs, or lost dogs when we have people who are doing these things,” the official said. “It’s costing lives and taking space for dogs who need temporary shelter.”
Photos courtesy of Jordan Roberts.
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Source: Santa Clarita News