Minions are trying to censor me from talking about their schemes

Posted May 17th, 2016 in Community, Rescue, Shelters by Josh

So the reaction to my latest article has been predictable and tyrannically swift. I’ll continue to point out what is being done and you can continue making up your own mind.

Lisa Cowan immediately dropped in on my Facebook page to fill up the thread with her personal drama regarding Desiree Golembieski. You can see that here. She told me that was not her IP address. She threatened to sue me. She sent me countless private messages with attachment after attachment and then threatened to sue me there as well. When I responded to her on my SwayLove Facebook wall she actually reported me to Facebook and they have since barred me from using the website.

Here’s the messages that have apparently gotten me barred from Facebook:


As you can see, I broke no Facebook guidelines.

Moving on, Jer Edelman has sent me 34 Facebook messages since this morning. I’d had not a single solitary interaction with her before this. She also posted on my website that she is in Colorado and that my IP mapping was bullshit. Little does she know, her telling me that she is in Colorado further explains something that I couldn’t link anybody back to up to that point. The alias “Chen Ling Chen,” which uses the email address, was randomly responding from (you guessed it) Colorado. Here you can see a response from this alias on 5/12 and then another response from Jer Edelman this morning.

Peep just a sampling of what Jer wrote me in private message:


Who speaks like that? She’s admittedly on vacation with her family and yet she’s been trolling my website for days while using fake aliases and blowing up my email box this morning. Also, she was silly enough to include a screenshot of a text message that she received from someone talking about my past relationship with my girlfriend. I’d be willing to bet $1,000 this was written by Kyle Schwab, and as always, he is giving Jer what he believes to be inside information on me because he’s continuing to hide behind women. They do his dirty work for him, it’s patently obvious. Kyle is also more gossipy than any female and is certainly arrogant enough to proclaim to know how my personal bills shook out. The fact that he’s never met me or my ex-girlfriend? Those are minor details. In regards to my job, I certainly have one. I feel no need to prove it on here so that these deranged people can then start attempting to get me fired. I’m at least somewhat hip to their games.

Within the last 24 hours I’ve also learned that Sharisse Wright is sharing in the trolling, as her and Jer Edelman share faux email accounts as well as login information. Sharisse is also in San Diego and was probably behind a few of the comments that I originally attributed to Jer.


Above is just a minor example as to how cliques roll. I included JJ Nielson in this screen because I actually know her in real life and we were friends for years. She now refers to me as “the blogger.” Just thought that that was cute. Notice how her post completely ignores the pretty basic original point that I was trying to make when it came to any shared involvement by LAAS. Much like this communication, the point that I was making has purposefully been bastardized and ignored.

Regarding the IPs, anyone that feels compelled can certainly look into static IPs, VPNs, etc. Those with a technical background will know what I am talking about and what is possible when using those tools. These people were busted and now they are using every trick in the book to pivot or straight up shut me down.

That brings me to Kyle. He put out a few posts passive-aggressively talking tough. See below. In a separate post he stated that he’s never had anything to do with animal control (city or county), yet in reality he has bragged over the last many years online that he’s been an unofficial animal control officer forever. I vividly remember another post where Schwab and then cohort Nicole McCurry bragged that they’d soon be “cleaning up the valley” of animal hoarders and abusers. Apparently this is all unrelated to his now newfound perception of himself.


Breaking down a web of harassment and how it may give insight into other things

Posted May 17th, 2016 in Community, Rescue, Shelters by Josh

This past week I wrote on my website about Rachel Kennedy and the raid by LAAS on her Lucky Puppy Rescue. Just a day earlier Rachel had reached out to me to thank me for merely asking on Facebook what seemed to me to be a fairly obvious question.


When we did speak on the phone we talked about what happened with the raid itself as well as what went on leading up to this situation. I had a lot of questions and I asked them and she answered them. But with or without speaking to Rachel, some obvious questions should jump off the page.

I proceeded to write what I wrote. Within what I wrote there’s a lot of questions being asked. I asked these questions from the standpoint of seeing Los Angeles Animal Services’ proportional culpability. They played a role here. Rachel is to blame for having as many dogs as she had. For sure. But she also got the majority of those dogs (and countless other dogs that have since been adopted) from the city shelter system. There is a process that they follow. There is absolutely no way that someone in some position somewhere with the city did not equally have a hand in creating this situation. That’s the crux of my article. That’s the crux of what I wrote.

I did not write what I wrote to unequivocally defend Rachel Kennedy as a human being outside of this incident. I do not know Rachel. Was I criticizing LAAS within what I wrote? Hell yes. The criticism was specific.

But see, some people will hear you criticize anything and then just immediately jump to brand you as being anti-that. Am I anti-LAAS, anti-Best Friends/NKLA or anti-city in general? No, no and no. Yet it seems far easier for some if we just put people onto teams. From my observations, a good number of people in rescue seem to operate on all-or-nothing mentalities. You disagree with them on something like mandatory S/N or TNR or low-income pet ownership and you’re all of a sudden branded an “idiot” who gets tuned out on all other issues going forward. Further, hypocrisy will sometimes creep in (and principle out) because some people would rather defend their friends and remain in cliques as opposed to having a little friction on something and remaining friendly anyways.

I say these things because there is a lot of this going on all of the time. This goes on in general and it’s certainly going on with this situation. This situation is complicated and it is layered. It is not Rachel/good, city/bad; or Rachel/bad, city/good.

Within the last 6 days I’ve come to learn much more. I apologize in advance but this is where everything gets convoluted. I’ve taken lots of time to document what follows as thoroughly as I can.

Everything leads me to the response to my article.

The same day that I published, some in the comment section and elsewhere online began to speculate who was behind what happened to Rachel. Kyle Schwab’s name came up. Kyle Schwab is allegedly Rachel’s ex-boyfriend and has been involved with other individuals prior to them too being raided by LAAS. Kyle’s name was coming up so much even before me writing what I did that I just outright asked him if he was involved. He told me to call him and so I did. We had at least an hour long phone conversation which happened before I published what I wrote. He did 90% of the talking, which was mostly cordial, but also felt the need to threaten me twice. Near the end of our conversation he got very agitated when it was clear that I wasn’t swallowing his perspective on all the things we were discussing. Still, nowhere in what I actually wrote do you see Kyle Schwab’s name.

Fast forward about a day and a portion of the comment section began to fill up with what were clearly anonymously created troll accounts. They were all countering the notion from others that Kyle was involved and then personally going after me for allowing an open comment section on my website. They got nastier and nastier as they kept posting. Very little of what they ever said was about the specifics of what I had written. Instead it was deflective and aggressive commentary meant to make sure that everyone knew that I was a moron with poor investigative skills who couldn’t write.

One of the first anonymous accounts that showed up was created to impersonate a woman named “Desiree Golembieski.” About 5 hours later I was actually contacted by the real Desiree Golembieski asking that I take down the impersonator posts. I verified she was who she said she was and then took them down. This fake account continued to repeatedly post and I’d delete each new entry. The next fake account to show up was “Derla Golemshauer,” followed by an impersonator account for “Kim Keswick” (another real person), followed by “Chen Ling Chen.”

What they didn’t initially know was that my website automatically tracks IP addresses. I eventually told them it did and that they should knock it off. They continued. Well, I’ve since taken their IP addresses and mapped out exactly where each account was posting from. Some of the accounts were being shared by different people. It’s quite elaborate but also quite pathetic. At the end of the day, these are grown adults hell bent on personally spinning and degrading what I wrote as well as insulting me for simply daring to defend Rachel Kennedy.

But why? That’s always the question, right? Sometimes there isn’t an answer that makes sense in the moment but with the help of others it’s sure to get clearer and clearer as we go along.


Through IP mapping I’ve been able to pretty clearly decipher that the people repeatedly posting on my website under fake aliases were Jer Edelman, Marcy Janes and Lisa Cowan. The IP geography of each closely resembles where each woman lives (which I’ve confirmed from others while not posting further zoomed images for their own privacy). Not coincidentally, these ladies are each known to harass people online and off at the behest of, you guessed it, Kyle Schwab.

Equally non-coincidental, Desiree provided me with the IP address of Jer Edelman, who used to have access to Desiree’s Facebook account back when they were actually friends. They then had a falling out, Jer tried locking Desiree out of her own Facebook account and has been (along with others) harassing her ever since. The IP address that Desiree gave me points to the same exact location as 3 of the troll accounts posting anonymously on my website. Imagine that. Equally non-coincidental, Rachel told me that Kyle considers Jer Edelman to be one of his best friends. Rachel’s never met her. Equally non-coincidental, Desiree told me that Jer Edelman has had it out for Rachel Kennedy for a while now. Equally non-coincidental, Jer Edelman apparently put up a very cryptic Facebook message just a week or two prior to the raid on Rachel Kennedy, claiming that someone was going to be getting theirs or something to that effect. And equally non-coincidental, I’ve actually heard voicemails that were sent to me that cement Kyle and Jer’s tumultuous alliance. I won’t get into it further, but they exist.

For the record, I personally had no idea who any of these women were until this past week. I’ve admittedly been away from SwayLove and not doing nearly as much as I used to. Yet as they posted anonymously they continued to speak about me in ways that were definitely childish but also highly insightful. Insightful because it sounded like Kyle Schwab, they were talking about me as if (to them) they knew who I was. Again, I don’t know any of these women. However, Kyle has been my “friend” on Facebook for years and we spoke on the phone just days ago about this very situation.

Here’s all the evidence from my first post:

The back end comment section (ordered from earliest to latest).
The back end comment section with IP mapping linking different comments to the different women (ordered from earliest to latest).
The comment thread prior to me deleting it (conversation format).
The comment thread with IP mapping linking different comments to the different women (conversation format).

My initial reach out to Kyle, 5/9.
Kyle’s text message to me, 5/12.
My response to Kyle’s text message, 5/12.

^As you can see, Lisa Cowan makes a brief appearance to call people “idiots” and wants everyone to know that the landlord called animal control. Whether he ultimately did or didn’t, it’s far more complicated than that.

Jer Edelman wants you to know that Rachel is crazy and she seems to have a pretty unhealthy obsession with Desiree Golembieski. She doesn’t like Marla Tauscher (neither does Kyle) and keeps bringing her up. Jer’s the one directly defending Kyle even though I hadn’t ever said his name. She constantly talks about me as if she knows me, but yet she doesn’t. She keeps sarcastically talking about my “personas” and my outlooks on life (reeks of Kyle). She constantly calls me a hypocrite and in no way understands how I use the term “selective enforcement.” She repeatedly overlooks my simple point about LAAS to instead praise them and let them off any hook that they may be snagged on. She thinks that she knows everything there is to know about Rachel’s situation (reeks of Kyle).

Marcy Janes is the longer-winded one who writes up comparative examples that are nothing more than red herrings. She doesn’t quite understand the concept of selective enforcement (neither does Kyle) and likes to take personal shots at me (my appearance, my age, my writing style, my lack of investigative skill). She wants you to know that I’m a conspiracy theorist (Kyle’s big on referring to this as that also), and she wants you to know that I hate the shelter system and have a personal vendetta against everyone who’s trying to make it better. She also wants you to know that I’m purposefully harming the entire rescue community by what I’ve written (even though I’m simply defending an actual rescuer). She wants you to know that I don’t rescue or foster (even though I’ve fostered many), and that I do nothing to help homeless pets. She’s equally condescending and arrogantly dismissive (so is Kyle). At one point she tells me to “stick to selfies” and “be quiet and look pretty.” Again, I don’t even know this woman! She is by far the nastiest one. She also keeps embedding YouTube rap videos from the mid-nineties (Um, Kyle?).

Jer and Marcy heavily speak in Orwellian inversions (so does Kyle) and they are both big on guilt by association (so is Kyle).

Whewwwww. I’ll once again apologize for the craziness of this post. But I needed to move this muddled nightmare off of my Rachel article and give them their own spot to further condemn me.

My take: By using conduits in the form of other females or fake profiles that he can hide behind, Kyle Schwab can then say whatever he wants and not have it visually come back on him directly. This allows Kyle to have plausible deniability while he savages other people from behind the scenes. That’s what I’ve gathered, and this is based on afar observation over a long period of time, my own conversations with Kyle, and the similar content regarding what these aliases say when compared with how Kyle expresses himself.

It’s my opinion that Kyle Schwab and his named minions most definitely had something to do with why Rachel Kennedy was raided by LAAS. I can’t prove the level of their involvement but I can certainly prove that they’ve been attempting to harass me through anonymous means simply for attempting to tell Rachel’s side of the raid (which had absolutely nothing to do with them from Rachel’s perspective). I’m also learning that they’ve done this to many other people. They harass and they intimidate and they threaten in order to keep people silent. Why these women specifically? Hell if I know. Based on something that I heard with my own ears, Jer Edelman seems to be blackmailed by Kyle. I do know that people are legitimately scared of Kyle Schwab because he seems to have some kind of an unofficial link with animal control and has shown that he, for whatever reason, remains above their enforcement of law.

What is actual selective enforcement? Giving someone a verbal heads up and a week or two to get your proverbial house in order prior to animal control dropping by on a complaint vs. animal control showing up unannounced and proceeding to raid you outside of due process. That’s selective enforcement. Knowingly allowing one person to have 20+ dogs while another person cannot. That’s selective enforcement. Knowingly looking the other way on sterilization requirements while enforcing it upon others. That’s selective enforcement. Not citing holier-than-thou rescuers for breeding or selling puppies while using the department to cite others. That’s selective enforcement, as well as deeply hypocritical.

I’ll end stating that people should sincerely learn how to be themselves and dare to stand on their own feet while taking accountability for their own situations. These kinds of callous actions (detailed above) by petty, emotionally irrational grown adults are what in actuality give everyone else involved in “animal welfare” work a bad reputation with at least a portion of the general public. It’s no fairer than any other negative stereotype that exists but it does exist because there are people in existence that surely act unstable, crazy and/or cruelly. I can’t explain why some people behave this way. To me this is not how human beings should behave. All I can do is attempt to coalesce what I’ve gathered into a readable presentation for you to then make up your own mind. Be better to each other and find a level of empathy because we all could benefit.

Los Angeles Animal Services has totally screwed over Rachel Kennedy and here’s why

Posted May 10th, 2016 in Community, Rescue, Shelters by Josh

As many of you well know, Lucky Puppy Rescue in Studio City as well as the home of its owner was raided on Friday, May 6th. This was reported on numerous television stations after Los Angeles Animal Services confiscated over 60 of her dogs from both locations. On the surface it sounds bad, it sounds neglectful, it sounds irresponsibly insane. Not so fast.

I had immediately taken interest in this story because after watching the different news packages it didn’t make any sense whatsoever. Even the television anchors were kind of perplexed when attempting to explain the justification behind such a move. There was no neglect or abuse claims, this was simply a permitting issue. Add to that, animal control departments are oftentimes known for their selective enforcement of laws, meaning they’ll take down one person for something that they’ll let 20 others slide on. It stunk of either retaliation or being a manufactured show raid. For what reason? I have no idea.

The media coverage, which has only given you a glimpse into this story, has been pretty fair thus far. However Los Angeles Animal Services is going to use this quick and vague coverage to their full advantage while they craft a public narrative that makes them look good and Rachel bad. I’m going to cut them off at the path and try to break this down a little further before LAAS can pollute people’s minds with half-truths.

Make no mistake, what happened here is a total travesty. Rachel was used by the department and then burned in a blindsided manner that I would never wish upon my worst enemy. As someone who actually cares about both people and dogs, I’m highly offended that this happened and I want answers to the obvious questions. I’ve never personally met Rachel but I spoke with her today and I will certainly defend her against what is being done to her by this department and certain members of the animal “welfare” community. Someone needs held accountable for this completely immoral and disgraceful decision by the department and Los Angeles as a community should not tolerate such a thing being swept under the rug.

This is what you should know before anything else:

Rachel Kennedy has spent upwards of $186,000 on shelter fees alone in the last calendar year. Her non-profit Lucky Puppy Rescue was trying to get New Hope rescue pull rights with the city, which allows you a greatly reduced rescue rate when pulling an animal, for years but was never given this allocation until roughly 2 months ago. In the meantime, she had simply been publicly adopting each animal at full price and with her own money as they needed rescued. The staff at the East Valley city shelter was fully aware of this. They even encouraged it and would suggest to her that she take countless other animals as their need grew greater.

For example, 2 ½ weeks ago Rachel rescued 10 dogs from the East Valley shelter. One mother and her 4 babies, and then 5 other little dogs. Days before that she rescued a dog named Dalton that had been hit by a car and was missing an eye from the accident. Again, this dog came from East Valley.

Rachel told me that there were many instances (more than 5 times) within the last calendar year where she would outright adopt between 10-20 dogs from East Valley in a single visit. This was done while working with Veronica Perry, the rescue coordinator at the shelter.

Now I’d note that unless you have a kennel permit, you can only have 3 dogs and 3 cats within the city of Los Angeles. This is the law for everyone. The Los Angeles Animal Services department raided Rachel Kennedy by complete surprise on Friday, May 6th, 2016. It was due to this exact permitting reason.

Take a step back. Any dog that leaves any shelter goes out with paperwork. This is rescue or adoption paperwork, this is medical history paperwork, this is licensing and spay/neuter and microchipping paperwork. As a New Hope partnered rescue or an off-the-books rescue you are further required to show paperwork back to the city when those rescued animals are eventually adopted out from your organization. Rachel Kennedy had been doing this for years. She was providing the city with the appropriate paperwork back, but more importantly they were providing her with individualized paperwork every single time that she saved a dog from a city facility. They cannot claim ignorance. They cannot claim uninvolvement. They knew and they allowed this to go on, even encouraged its going on. This is an indisputable fact.

So let’s look at Friday specifically. Animal control officer Tamralyn Shepphird along with others came to Rachel’s residence at around noon and let themselves onto her property by opening and advancing through the gate that is at the front of her yard. This is trespassing, especially knowing what followed. This visit came by complete surprise to Rachel which is why she let them in her home to begin with. She knew that she was far over the legal limit and she knew that they knew that she was far over the legal limit. This wasn’t initially threatening. She viewed these officers as friendly extensions of the very shelter that she had been working hand-in-hand with for years.

There was no warrant written or served.

At the same time they were advancing onto Rachel’s home, they timed it so that others would be showing up at her retail facility in Studio City.

Just for further context, Rachel generally keeps around 25 dogs at her rescue facility/retail store at any given time. They are watched by a staff that is there 24 hours a day. The rest of the dogs, who were either serious medical cases or hospice dogs, stayed within her 5 bedroom house. Why did they stay at her home? Because staff with LAAS (including animal control officer Tamralyn Shepphird and rescue coordinator Veronica Perry) have told her that she cannot publicly display dogs who have ongoing medical issues or are sick. To that same point, the hospice cases were being lovingly normalized to her home environment because that is what Rachel wanted to give them in the end. The staff and thus the department clearly knew this. This was not a secret. This was a well-known fact.

Pissed yet? Or just confused?

That morning Rachel had brought 10 of the dogs from the rescue facility to her home to give them bubble baths. The floor was a little wet and she had towels placed down in different spots to counter the water trails. Her house is separated by 5 rooms that are setup to accommodate different groups of dogs, mostly smaller dogs. None of these dogs are crated and they go outside to play and relieve themselves in her huge backyard that is fenced.

Once animal control entered the property it soon became apparent that they weren’t there for a friendly visit. As imagined, many of the dogs were scared. Just try to envision it. Rachel put the few dogs that she knew to be more dominant towards strangers outside in her backyard so they’d avoid the officers.

For the next nearly 6 hours animal control were in her home and the majority of the dogs were locked inside as they did their “investigation.” As the animals peed and defecated it was photographed for evidence. This will likely be used against Rachel if the department dares to publicly suggest the dogs were being neglected. One dog, a blind and deaf cocker spaniel named Magic Mike, wore a diaper which fell off amidst this chaos. Officer Shepphird immediately took photographs of the poop that fell out of Mike’s diaper. She snapped pictures of him stepping in it and then of his paws with poop on them.

Do you see where this is going?

Along with the 60+ dogs that were taken, Rachel’s 3 personal dogs were also taken as well as her roommate’s 3 elderly cats. As you can imagine, Rachel is totally devastated and feeling equally confused and betrayed.

Over the weekend she attempted to go to the East Valley shelter to visit the impounded dogs, not to mention her own personal dogs. She brought them food and their medication. Officer Shepphird told her that she could not see them, wouldn’t even tell her which shelter they were at (they’ve been spread out), and wouldn’t confirm or deny that the dogs were receiving their proper individualized care. Some of the dogs needed insulin shots, some of the dogs are dying from cancer, etc. Rachel’s food was also refused. Veronica Perry and other staff members who had worked hand and hand with Rachel for years would no longer even speak to her. This is the same Veronica Perry that would send Rachel emails about dogs in need and sign off on the adoptions of dogs in bunches.

Rachel estimated that from the hundreds of dogs that she has rescued within the last few years alone, that 80% of them have come from the East Valley city shelter in Van Nuys.

And here’s a little legal note. You cannot seize someone’s dogs if there is no clear abuse going on. If so it would allow for an emergency seizure. Otherwise, there needs to be a pre-seizure hearing that takes place first. This is all part of that tricky little thing called due process. Something that both the city and county of Los Angeles routinely avoids in numerous differing forms.

So that is what you need to know before you look at this through whatever prism you choose.

Was Rachel Kennedy technically over the city limit? Hell yes, way over. Did the city department, certain shelter employees and their animal control officers know about this for years? Hell yes. Did LAAS continue giving her dogs while knowing this fact? Hell yes. Does the paper trail prove this fact? Hell yes.

It seems like a total setup. Why? I don’t know! Don’t ask me to justify the cruelty behind these actions that were taken against Rachel. The irony in all of this is that they’re likely to blame Rachel for cruelty, while her dogs sit in concrete cells away from any sense of normalcy that they had prior. Dogs that were majority hospice cases and battling medical issues, pulled from the very same shelter/department that raided her. Included in the raid was a brand new mother with 20-day-old puppies. Included in the raid were Rachel’s 3 personal dogs and Rachel’s friend’s 3 personal cats. The level of unbelievable here cannot be described properly.

So it begs the questions… Why was Rachel Kennedy raided? Why would any city shelter give her more than 3 dogs if they knew that she was already at her limit and not properly permitted to add more? Why did staff look the other way when certainly having to file all of the appropriate paperwork that is involved in these transactions? Why is the same staff now ignoring Rachel, acting as if they are void of empathy or decency? Why is the department dead set on demonizing Rachel while ignoring all accountability and responsibility in regards to helping create this situation? Who is calling the shots on this weaponized selective enforcement? Finally, why does the city continue to ignore due process of law?

I’m well aware that I’m likely to be disparaged by people who may need to blindly defend a system, shelter or person from what they feel like is a personal attack. I don’t know how it could be framed that way, especially after what you just read, but it’s inevitably going to end up that way coming from the perspective of some. That is fine. I simply can’t watch this happen and not say something. Silence perpetuates the ills that we all can recognize in our own heart of hearts. Rachel clearly got in over her head. That is apparent. She is a bleeding heart. That is apparent. But they burned the fuck out of her and that is an absolute fact. This cannot be defended. Please try. Critics of what I wrote here likely won’t respond to anything that actually happened and instead seek to character-defend. That’s one of the problems within the animal “welfare” community, too much focus on personalities and not enough on consistency or principle, but I don’t want to get sidetracked here.

For the record, I actually like many of the people at East Valley. They have a hardworking base that is dedicated to trying to save lives. I know this because I know some of them, including Veronica! I don’t know why this happened. But what can’t be justified, even a shred, is the aftermath and the attempt to dismiss accountability that is very likely to come. No way, no how will that happen.

I’ll end responding to the notion that Rachel abused or neglected these dogs. Look at any amount of evidence already in the public domain. It seems like a lie and people in the know shouldn’t be able to espouse such a concept on the fly and after the fact.

L.A. Times article reveals the attitude of select rescuers towards the homeless

Posted September 24th, 2014 in Community, Discrimination, Rescue by Josh

Last week I read a piece in the L.A. Times that really bothered me. It was entitled “Hounding a homeless man into giving up his dogs” and was written by Gale Holland. There were a few local animal rescuers quoted within the article (Jennifer Pryor and Wendy Smith) and their way of dealing with this situation was both ugly and embarrassing.

The article centered around Gerrick Miller, a man living on the street, and his dog Sugar, who had just had a litter of 10 puppies. Shortly after they were born a rescuer (Smith) began videotaping the puppies and prodding others to drop by and photograph Sugar. Los Angeles Animal Services then began receiving email blasts accusing Miller of “operating a puppy mill for profit.” That accusation is just patently ridiculous. Further, the “rescuers” demanded that the department confiscate Sugar and her 10 puppies. Brenda Barnette, head of LAAS, replied that the dogs could not just be seized without cause, which is absolutely correct.

Just think… Do we really need a group of self-righteous animal rescuers deciding who should be able to have dogs and who shouldn’t? How subjective and outrageously draconian would that process quickly become?

Meanwhile, Smith continued videotaping Miller and his dogs, as well as different interactions that he had with a bicycle officer. Her video was then sent to Pryor and used as evidence showing the city’s “inaction.” Mind you, there’s no evidence of the dogs being treated poorly or being abused, and there’s no evidence to show that Sugar didn’t absolutely love Mr. Miller. Regardless, Jennifer Pryor let it be known that she was outraged that Barnette didn’t cite Miller for “breeding without a permit” or for “breaking the city’s spay and neuter law.” Wait, you mean the law that isn’t even enforced across the board? Why should a homeless person be targeted by a law that no one else in the city is targeted with? Where in the hell is your empathy?

Here’s an idea… How about promoting the concept that the city start policing their own ranks before harassing the most vulnerable members of Los Angeles? For example: How many animal rescuers are blatantly violating the pet limit within the city, but then turning around and calling other people hoarders? Any? I know that this number isn’t zero. How many animal rescuers are publicly condemning the concept of breeding but then privately breeding toy dogs on the side for profit? Any? I know that this number isn’t zero. Shouldn’t the department be focusing on them foremost? If a law, any law, is going to be enforced then it damn well better be enforced equally and consistently. Meaning, it damn well better affect everyone and not just target certain classes or types of people. That way we can all have a stake in seeing if it’s a decent law or a terrible one, and then have an honest go at communicating about it.

Jennifer Pryor is quoted in Holland’s article as saying “the homeless have become a serious problem of abuse and contributing to pet overpopulation.” Shame on you, Jennifer Pryor. That is a total misrepresentation steeped in exaggeration and completely barren of specifics. Whitney Smith chimes in that “if people are struggling, homeless and have addictions, another responsibility is not appropriate,” and that “it’s very easy to give a sob story for homeless, but the endgame for the animals isn’t pretty.” One of them also claimed that “homeless people breed Pit Bulls to sell as fighting dogs.” Ugh, total nonsense.

Below is a man that my girlfriend met when she happened to be carrying 1 of my cameras in her car. He would usually be very near to where she would exit for work, and he absolutely cherished his dog.


Dianne gave him a new leash, and he gladly accepted it and used it immediately. As you can see in the top photograph, he was using a pretty large chain. Should he be demonized for having a chain? Absolutely not. Offer him something to use instead. Dianne was very touched by the connection that this man had with his dog, and he was so proud of his pet. I could cite many more interactions like this and my point is that you just have to treat people like you want to be treated…

Just last week we drove up to San Francisco and made multiple stays throughout Big Sur. It was here where we’d see a woman walking alongside Hwy. 1 with her recyclables attached to her bicycle and her 2 dogs (below). We had to see her about 5 different times in the span of a few days. On our way down we pulled off to talk with her and then met her again at the general store where she was pulled off to get cleaned up. She was making her way to Carmel because she had been offered a job on a farm. Her name was Lisa and she had a little scruffy dog named Sandy and a Pit Bull named Baby. They were both adorable and loved their momma very much.


Anybody advocating to take these dogs from their people are authoritarian monsters who should be a million miles away from crafting any kind of policy.

Is there a homeless person out there somewhere in America that is being abusive or sending a dog to a dog fighter? I don’t know, I’m sure there might be. But does that represent 99+% of the people living on the streets with pets? Hell no! So instead of all of that bad energy, where’s the offered resources? Where’s the helping hand? Homeless people are people without a home, but they are still people. How about you give them something else to remember you by other than condemnation and judgment?

Also, when does the collective blaming stop? People do it to different breeds of dogs all the time. People do it to low-income communities all the time. People do it to folks out living on the street and right here is a grand example of it. And these are all just issues linked to a dog issue. Sadly, my fear is that in reading the condescending statements from Pryor and Smith, many uninvolved readers might now move to typecast all “animal rescuers” or “activists” as control freaks or bullies towards the poor. See the perpetuated cycle when people group-blame? It promotes and greases the skids for further group-blame. Obviously they should stop the selective enforcement and move whatever mountain to end that load of hypocrisy. But until that environment manifests itself homeless folks should be the last people Jennifer Pryor and Wendy Smith should be out targeting. Yet they are always the first because they are the easiest to target and least likely to have any recourse to defend themselves. Most importantly of all, the vast majority of these people very deeply love their pets. That love is being reciprocated. So many of these pets were homeless themselves prior to striking up a bond with whatever person. In comparison to you, think about how much more time and attention goes into keeping a pet with you 24/7. To downplay these connections, to look down upon this reality, to take away this possibility is just utterly outrageous and offensive.

Thankfully the article does include a few voices of reason. First, from Genevieve Frederick from Pets of the Homeless

A quarter of the nation’s 600,000 homeless people keep pets. Shunned by many, ignored by most, homeless people live lives of piercing loneliness. These pets provide them with something they need to feel human: unconditional love, loyalty.

And then from Claudia Perez, a skid row rescuer…

The problem is they stereotype all homeless people. Gerrick loved his dogs.

Notice how in Holland’s article it’s revealed that Perez is actually the person that convinced Miller to relinquish the dogs. She told him that they’d all be fixed and vaccinated, and that the shelter would hold them as his. She drove him to the shelter to see how they were doing. None of that access is by coincidence, as he trusted Perez and that’s directly due to Perez NOT judging him or treating him like a 2nd class citizen. Jennifer Pryor and Wendy Smith act in the opposite ways, and make up the “they” that Perez is referring to in the above quote.

The article ends by stating that Gerrick Miller was oddly arrested a few days after surrendering his dogs and is now serving a 1 year sentence in a drug rehabilitation program. Sugar’s puppies will very likely be adopted or rescued. Sugar’s future is unknown but she is most likely still at a city shelter. If you happen to have her ID# please email it to me on Facebook.

Parallels: NFL cheerleaders and the shelter system

Posted July 2nd, 2014 in Parallels, Rescue, Shelters by Josh

So this past week I was watching Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel and there was a story that Andrea Kremer did on NFL cheerleaders that I found especially interesting, mostly because of the system structure and how I found it to be eerily paralleled with that of the shelter and rescue worlds. Bear with me as I lay this out and then I’ll get to my point soon enough, if you won’t already have seen it coming for yourselves…

Kremer interviewed Lacy, a girl who’s been cheerleading her entire life and is now a member of the Oakland Raiderettes, cheerleading squad for the Oakland Raiders. Her 2013 Raiderette agreement outlined how they’d be paying her a paltry $125 for each home game. Lacy stated that in the moment that was a secondary concern compared to the excitement that she felt after making the team…

So I get the contract and it’s like, where do I sign? I was over the moon.

Being a former cheerleader for the Golden State Warriors, Lacy viewed this Raider job as the pinnacle of her profession. Andrea Kremer described her life as “young women growing up wanting to be them and grown women fighting every year wanting to join them.” It was made abundantly clear that there were an endless array of girls lined up and waiting to fill any void left by someone who may have taken issue with any portion of the job. Regarding the lackluster money, keep in mind that the Oakland Raiders payroll is close to $125 million per season and the NFL is both the most popular and wealthiest sports league on the planet.

With the season now behind her it’s detailed how they practiced 3x a week, did 9 months worth of photo shoots and team meetings, as well as 9 months worth of workouts. They were paid for none of this. Each girl made barely over $1,000 for the entire season, much of which was soon gone because they had to come out of pocket for all of their own expenses (hosery, eye lashes, makeup, tanning, nails, amongst other things). Lacy soon learned that this wasn’t the exception but practically the rule for all of the other NFL teams as well…

You don’t make money. You’re better off serving beer and hot dogs in the concession stand than you are performing on the field as a cheerleader.

Then we meet Alyssa and Maria, 2 members of the Buffalo Jills, who cheerlead for the Buffalo Bills. They didn’t even get paid for their home games. They both went into debt to cheer, 1 girl using her student loan money to pay for the $650 uniform. These girls had to routinely perform a “jiggle test,” equating to jumping jacks in very little clothing, so that their coaches could see if their body was “tight enough” to be on television. Either Alyssa or Maria (it wasn’t made clear in the piece) actually failed 1 of the jiggle tests and they were actually held back from cheering for numerous games…

We’re just thinking, who are we to question this contract? We just made the Bills cheerleading squad.

They spoke about how the squad leaders wanted “total control.” Some of the “glamour requirements” that are present in the Buffalo Jills handbook speak to such an accusation…

11) Never use a deodorant or chemically enhanced product. Simple, non-deodorant soap will help maintain the right PH balance for your vagina.

12) When menstruating, use a product that is right for your menstrual flow. A tampon too big can irritate and develop fungus. A product left in too long can cause bacteria or fungus build up. Products should be changed at least every 4 hours.

14) Do not be overly opinionated about anything. Do not complain about anything.

Other requirements for the Jills ran the gamut of having to attend fundraisers in skimpy clothes, getting auctioned off at these events and then having to ride golf carts around while sitting on the laps of men, and being routinely groped and touched in unwelcome ways. This exchange was both obvious and sad…

The glamour requirements, is it really about how you insert a tampon? What do you think it all comes down to? Control. Why do it? For the love of cheering.

The cheerleading squads, which are owned or contracted out by the teams and not the league, generally make below minimum wage. By contrast, the team mascot usually makes between $35,000 and $65,000 a season. Lacy is now suing the Oakland Raiders for failure to pay minimum wage…

I just felt I had to do it, no one’s done it. What if no one ever does it?

This has prompted more lawsuits (Bengals, Jets, Buccaneers, Bills), and Alyssa and Maria are part of the lawsuit that’s currently going forward against the Buffalo Bills and its squad manager Stephanie Matheson. Here’s how Matheson views the situation…

These girls were never made to do anything they never wanted to do. We were creating a team of well-rounded young ladies and they could have resigned at any time. They are told right up front what is expected of them. If you think it’s going to be too much you don’t have to do it.

Matheson said that she oversaw and ran the cheerleading squad by herself, and with no financial support from the Bills, which is why she didn’t have any resources to actually pay her cheerleaders. The Buffalo Bills lawsuit has “forced” Matheson to suspend the entire Jills team “indefinitely.”

Shockingly, the Raiders and the Bills, as well as the NFL, declined to be interviewed for the segment. Also worth note: This season the NFL will allow fans to use their cell phones to order up cheerleaders to their seats. WTF!? -Dead-

Now before I go into the many directions that my brain was firing on while watching, why has no NFL franchise player put a stop to this/shined a light on this? Someone making $20 million a season could easily bankroll his entire franchise’s cheerleading squad for the year and probably receive the world’s most powerful PR while doing it. How has this not happened? Maybe because they’d embarrass their team/employer? But I mean, this entire story is embarrassing! Also, allowing drunk fans to order cheerleaders to their seats? Wow. Just wow. Anyways…

So, after reading #14 from the Jills handbook you should probably know where I’m going with this… “Do not be overly opinionated about anything. Do not complain about anything.” This type of a statement always seems to coincidentally find its way into shelter volunteer applications and rescue partner “contracts,” as well as other types of papered agreements that serve to grant people a certain level of access. This could not be a bigger red flag.

Viewing the story as a whole, the normal question is WHY? Of course, why would you put up with x, y and z? Well, the girls already answered that and I think their answer would serve to represent many other people (in many other forums) as well. Love. Love for whatever you may be interested in.

With that, if people truly love something, anything, why must others sometimes feel the need to take advantage of them while holding what they desire in front of their nose like a carrot? This is so relative to the sheltering system. Do you know how many people enter their jobs with great attitudes and aspirations, only to be desensitized and covered in red tape? You shouldn’t have to shear off half of your principles just to do something that you love. That goes for anything. You shouldn’t have to make internal deals with your conscience in order to justify staying around for the access to the animals. The access is the cheerleading job in this parallel.

Just as potent, animal rescuers have all the dirt on the most poorly run shelters, not compassionate managers, and blatant violations of basic operating procedures. Yet many will not talk. Why? Because they have a certain level of access and they don’t want to be retaliated against, thus having their access taken away. Some are surely shills for the system, but many others dislike whatever system but have made an internal barter of silence in order to save as many animals as they can save. I totally understand this point of view! It makes perfect sense to me. But it also allows the injustices to keep happening, and that can’t be ignored in the context of how do we change (insert here) system. Why doesn’t a cheerleader for the Raiders rock the boat? Because there’s 500 other girls who would gladly take her place. To hell with feminism and women’s rights, proper pay, decent work conditions or general respect. That’s why.

Some will say: “Well, they signed the contract.” To that I say, so what? Wrongs are wrongs, violations are violations, indecency is indecency. None of that gets repackaged or justified simply because you “signed a contract” not to say anything. To hell with that cowardice, minion way of thinking.

Speaking of minions…

In this HBO segment Stephanie Matheson represents herself like a total sellout in every aspect. Her flippant and dismissive attitude of compartmentalization and abandonment of any cause is quite literally what’s wrong with this country. Way to lead by example Matheson! Dismissive literally defines her person… Telling the girls that they could leave at any time, and that they know “what is expected” from them. What do you think goes into the process of interviewing/hiring someone to be an animal control officer with the L.A. County Department of Animal Care and Control? Hmm. Then, when her girls get the courage to file a lawsuit attempting to address the many wrongs that they all face (including Matheson), Matheson fails to stand beside them and instead suspends them indefinitely! Sound familiar? I know Carson shelter volunteers that have been forced out, just like I know Rancho Cucamonga volunteers that have been forced out, and this isn’t a rare concept. Control.

What gives rescue an undeserved bad reputation is the sweeping judgment of some involved participants

Posted March 6th, 2014 in Rescue by Josh

I want to preface what I’m about to write by saying that I genuinely like and support Karma Rescue, think that they do great work, and have literally nothing against them. It’s just that in this specific scenario I fundamentally believe them to be wrong, and want to use this incident to make further social points.

Seems like everyone has heard at least something regarding the situation swirling around the Rhodesian Ridgeback named Raffiki. She escaped her backyard (was possibly stolen), found her way into the arms of a civilian who then took her to the West Valley shelter, was rescued and then promptly adopted back out to a new family, and all before her prior family could even locate her.

It’s quite the sad circumstance, and for all parties involved. That much is clear, if nothing else. You can read up on it here, here and here. Karma Rescue released a statement, which is here. Karma’s former Marketing Director, who resigned over their handling of this, released another timeline meant to refute Karma’s timeline, which is here. Raffiki’s Facebook page is here.

What I want to focus on in my writing is the aftermath. The public reaction. The outrage. The judgment. The hypocrisy. All the rest of it. As you could imagine this has elicited a vast amount of commentary, some of it coming from the animal rescue community itself, and a lot of which has not even remotely been helpful.

Some examples, taken from the comment section of the L.A. Times article as well as from Karma Rescue’s Facebook thread addressing the issue:

The fact that you totally downplay the first owner’s irresponsible behavior – no spay, no chip, no tag – is bad enough. But then you make it sound like class wars because the rescue said Torres wouldn’t qualify as an adopter anyway. I do rescue as a volunteer and one of the things I do is a home check on potential adopters. I have seen far too many large dogs in small homes. I have seen far too many sick animals denied vet care because owners don’t have enough money for themselves, let alone a large, hungry dog. You don’t like that fact? Tough, neither do I. But I’m not here to make someone like Torres feel better about herself by giving her a dog to placate her child. I do my work to ensure an animal goes to an appropriate home. That doesn’t mean a luxury home, just an APPROPRIATE home. I re-homed a cat last year to a couple living in a tiny cottage. I would never have approved them for a big dog, though.

Never let Torres ever again have an animal. Keep Raffki where she is, safe and cared for properly.

This is the way I see it: Mistakes were made, feelings hurt, but the dog is safe and will be loved, thanks to Karma. The 4-year-old will recover and hopefully learn about responsible pet ownership.

You guys did everything right. First, if the owner would of done her part, none of this would of happened. Second, she would of spent endless hours looking for her, like the rest of us pet parents would of. Third, her dog was saved from certain death. This lady should be grateful. I’m sure she is sad, but her sadness comes from selfishness and poor her. Not the dog. It really should be shame on her, but we don’t need to go there.

If someone who genuinely loves their pet were to lose them they would search tirelessly. This looks like attention seeking on the supposed owners behalf.

I’ve had dogs all my life. Now 59 years old. NEVER lost one. Never cruel to one. And never without a tag and collar.

Whoever the owner was, they were clearly irresponsible for not tagging/microchipping, losing, then not even bothering to check animal control for their “beloved” dog. They don’t deserve the dog back! As far as their behavior… Like your rescue name suggests… Karma will take care of them in the end!

At least her dog wasn’t put down by shelter when she NEVER showed up to claim it. Probably didn’t want to pay fees.

Torres clearly cannot afford to properly provide for herself and her son, much less an animal. Torres needs to get her act together, work to make a decent living for herself and her son and then when she can properly provide for animal which includes spay/neuter, microchipping, and providing an I.D. tag then she can adopt another animal.

I stand with Karma Rescue. Despite the smear campaign that was initiated by the dogs “owners,” it was obvious that Karma did nothing but save a dog from a likely grim future at the shelter. Plus, what proof is there that the dog actually belonged to those people in the first place? No chip, no collar. More importantly, not fixed! This is an unpopular opinion, but given how many unaltered abandoned dogs I have come across in my years of doing rescue, I don’t feel a lot of sympathy for people whose dogs get out that have shown that kind of irresponsibility.

No tags, not spayed, no chip, lives with her parents with her son. Sounds like she needs to get her priorities straight before she takes on the responsibility of a dog. The cycle of poverty continues…

Yeah, I don’t think poor people should be allowed to have dogs either.

Jesus. This harkens back thoughts of something that I wrote in December of last year. My point then was that these types of paths one verbally goes down, and they go down it because their mind is thinking it, is 1 of the main reasons why we have so many immovable road blocks in the roads of breed prejudice issues and shelter reform issues.

I love this community very much, but at times it is also extraordinarily divisive and irrational, to the point where emotion is almost always fueling 90% of the verbiage being supplied by “supporters.”

From what’s been made publicly available it seems that Raffiki was impounded at the West Valley shelter on 2/13. She was wearing no identification and had no microchip. The shelter customarily held her for the 5 day stray hold and then at some point on 2/19 she was made available for public adoption. In the “morning” of 2/20 Raffiki was officially pulled by Karma Rescue, spayed, and then sent to the NKLA adoption center in West Los Angeles on that same day. The dog was given the name “Kami.” At 4:57 pm on 2/21 Rosa Torres, Raffiki’s owner, left a voicemail with Karma Rescue. At 6:03 pm Karma “received, and approved, an adoption application for Kami, and requested the applicant family have an in-person meet-and-greet with her.” Their release goes on to say that the approved family “met Kami at NKLA and took her home that day.” At 6:54 pm Karma received a 2nd adoption application from Rosa Torres, where she was claiming to be Raffiki’s owner. Karma said that “this application was not reviewed until after the adoption was complete.” They also claim to have been unaware of the voicemail until “after the adoption had taken place.” At 9:00 am on 2/22 Karma called Torres to let her know that Kami had been adopted. Their statement from the release states that “had she contacted the organization sooner, Karma would have been in a better position to reunite her with her dog.” They also apparently spoke with Kami’s adopters to “apprise them of the situation” prior to speaking with Torres. Going further, they also mentioned that both LAAS and the LAPD “have confirmed that there has been no illegal conduct on the part of the rescue.” This would obviously imply that they went out of their way to ask both departments and, if smart, likely did it before speaking with both Torres and the new adopters.

The release goes on, below the timeline portion, to kind of imply that the owner of Raffiki is using a fake alias to engage in “mud-slinging on the internet.” They mention how Rosa Torres has been “notably absent” from the online fray. I don’t know if this is true or not, but I find it pretty disturbing that amidst this and other public statements they are actually defining what has played out as a “smear campaign” being pushed by the dog’s prior owner. Not only is that incredibly unfair but it’s just a formulaic cop-out in the face of what many would deem to be some legitimate criticism.

Some will argue that Raffiki could’ve hypothetically been killed at whatever point on 2/19 when she was taken off of her stray hold. This is true, albeit extremely unlikely. There’s multiple layers to this, and let me try to give my perspective on it… L.A. City shelters keep dogs, on average, far longer than any L.A. County shelter does. I’d pretty confidently claim that it’s rare for any city shelter to immediately euthanize a dog that has just been made available, and that goes for any dog. Further, this dog was either a purebred Rhodesian Ridgeback or Vizsla, and a puppy at that. These dogs do not come into the shelter often, as there’s not many of them, and when they do I think it’s safe to say that they don’t have much trouble being adopted and/or rescued. This gives far more credence to the thought that this dog was absolutely going to be given some time. Karma did a great thing in rescuing any dog, that isn’t in dispute by me at all. But don’t give the not-knowing public the impression that you were saving it from an impending death either. Even if the dog had personality quirks not best suited for such an environment, or could have developed kennel stress over time, it wouldn’t have garnered the dog an immediate death.

Going back to their press release: Did anyone else notice that they conveniently didn’t hear a voicemail, or get a 2nd application, even though those events directly sandwiched (66 minutes prior, 51 minutes after) a 1st application that they were all over? I say “all over” because they received, approved, requested that the family meet the dog, had the family drive to meet the dog, the family met the dog, and then the family left the NKLA adoption center with the dog, and all from 6:03 pm to 8:00 pm of that same day. All of that happened in 117 minutes. The NKLA adoption center closes at 8 pm. Karma Rescue also isn’t an organization run by 1 or 2 people, and instead run by many different people doing many different facets of their business. Just saying. They certainly could’ve missed the voicemail, as I personally miss, and sometimes willingly engage in the prolonging of listening to my own personal voicemails. I get that. But how is your organization able to be so proactive about 1 application, to the point where the adoption is completely done in less than 2 hours from the original point of contact, and yet you claim not to have heard or seen the attempts at communication coming from Raffiki’s owner?

I pass no judgment onto Karma for the quickness of their adoption, or for potentially not doing a home check, or for their internal choices when it comes to which dogs to take and not take from a shelter. I completely realize that those are in-house decisions and they are individually made amongst the people that have the right to make them, which is Karma Rescue and only Karma Rescue. I’m with you… But I mention all of this because many of their own supporters have been unbelievably judgmental towards Raffiki’s original owner. Yet these are probably many of the same people that would relentlessly grill someone else over not doing a home check, for example.

So many people have taken extreme issue over the collar, and the tags, and the microchip, and the not being fixed, and the getting loose. They say that this characterizes Rosa Torres as “x.” First off, people don’t know if this dog was wearing a collar or not. Collars fall off. This didn’t stop many from rampaging on and on about it anyways. There’s many pictures showing that the dog was definitely wearing a black martingale collar. It did not have tags on. That was a mistake, for sure. But a mistake that many people make! Do you know how many times my own dogs, who are sterilized and microchipped, don’t have their collars on? After baths they routinely go at least a full day without wearing their collars, as they are either wet and/or getting cleaned and drying.

There’s also conflicting information out there regarding “when” the best time to get a pet sterilized is, and plus, the option also exists not to do it. It’s freedom of choice. I personally advocate for voluntarily spaying and neutering, but people can’t act as though everyone who doesn’t do it is either not responsible or some kind of a criminal. Who’s to say she wasn’t waiting for a certain age, or didn’t already have something in the works? The dog was still a puppy. Certain information coming from many respected sources in the field of medicine show that there are health concerns linked to both sterilization (age-related) and microchips, as well as vaccines for that matter. I’m not cosigning all of the information, just saying that it exists. A claim coming from Torres states that she had Raffiki’s spay surgery scheduled for 3 days after she went missing. I don’t know if that’s true, but it’s kind of irrelevant in the face of the point that I’m trying to make.

I can personally speak to vaccines, as Sway developed Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia from a secondary rabies vaccination. This disease ultimately killed her, after battling with it for over 2 years. Neola, my current dog, developed mast cell cancer in the exact spot of her last rabies injection. I absolutely do not do any kind of booster shots and only give 3-year thimerosal-free rabies vaccinations to my own dogs. Neola gets no vaccine due to a medical waiver. Does this make me in any way “irresponsible”? Many of you judgmental pricks would apparently say yes! Absolutely! Take his dogs!

Regarding how Raffiki got loose in the first place… Dogs do unfortunately get loose sometimes. It is many times recklessness and carelessness that allows this to happen, that’s not being debated by me. But sometimes they simply get loose 1 time. Sometimes a gate is left ajar, sometimes they jump over or go under the containment, and sometimes they could even be stolen. According to Rosa Torres her family’s backyard was surrounded by a 6 foot fence. It is possible that the dog was stolen. No one knows either way, do we?

At the end of Karma’s release they say “we request a $300 donation from every adopter, but always waive this fee if the adopter has limited resources.” That’s great, and compassionate, and I hope that it’s at times true. We all know why the donation is deemed necessary, and we all know what it’s meant to represent. There’s nothing wrong with asking for some kind of financial contribution to serve as a representation of a transaction and a token of responsibility. But what about all of the judgmental commenters who support Karma, are out reaming Torres, and also saying things to the affect of x-person shouldn’t have x-dog because they don’t have x-amount of money? Karma’s own statement on their policy refutes your judgmental way of thinking! Listen!

But then there’s these quotes from Karma: 1) “The application did not meet the qualifications that Karma looks for when adopting a dog to a home.” 2) “Had she been a little more diligent, we would have spoken with her.” … Let it be known that this is not just a random person that they are speaking about, this is the owner of the dog! The mother of the 4-year-old boy who is Raffiki’s best friend.

More diligent? Oh, now we are talking about diligence… Why is no one, Karma and many of their supporters included, concerned with the lack of diligence shown by the East Valley shelter front desk? Did the staff check their own computer system when Rosa Torres went into her local shelter? It’s a Ridgeback or Vizsla puppy! If she went into a physical shelter and asked the staff about her lost dog, which she did on numerous occasions, why did no one tell her to go to another shelter? Even the neighboring shelter? Why did no one check their Chameleon shelter software by the breed of the dog? Neither of those things ever happened. Regardless of whether that’s typical staff behavior or not, I think that it should be going forward, because to me that’s a basic helping hand and the minimal effort that one can make at the front desk if someone comes in looking for a lost pet. How is this not already protocol? Any desk officer not having the time to do a simple software search, especially for a breed that rarely comes in, is not acceptable in my mind. That’s their job and it’s just common courtesy on top of everything. She wasn’t even advised to go to the West Valley shelter. She went into the East Valley shelter and wasn’t even advised to go to the West Valley shelter, where Raffiki was ultimately sitting. That may seem like common sense to most of us, but for people outside of this world none of it is, so to not have everyone on any staff know to minimally explain things so basic is a huge failure for any shelter. This is not a vilification of the East Valley shelter. Tons of people would do the right thing, make and effort, protocol or not. But whomever Rosa Torres spoke to apparently made no such effort at that time. Why is this not a focus of Karma Rescue?

To make matters even worse… Karma’s Marketing Director actually resigned over the poor playing out of this situation. She’s went public, her name is Jessica Gary. She not only stated that Karma absolutely did know about Rosa Torres, because she personally told them, but that Karma Rescue made the decision not to return Rosa’s call and email. Further, they then adopted Raffiki/Kami out to this new family without a home check and with full knowledge that the family already had another dog who was not neutered! While Karma implies that Rosa was irresponsible for not having Raffiki spayed… While many of their supporters applaud Karma on cue, and are quite vicious in the most judgmental way possible towards Rosa Torres… But the judgment, and the philosophies behind the judgment, isn’t consistent, is it? That’s massive hypocrisy.

If the goodness of humanity couldn’t prevail in the private handling of this situation, amongst the affected parties, then that’s just depressing as hell to me. The last thing that should come out of this is the alienation of the new family, who chose adoption. That’s to be applauded by all, I’d hope. But I’d also think that, knowing the circumstances now, they’d be up for facilitating this dog’s return. Apparently that is not the case.

Here’s another point, regarding the legalities that Karma now seems to be hiding behind: They claim that they are not able to legally do anything, which to me seems like an attempt to shift the focus off of them… Well, have you ever seen a rescue contract before? Anyone’s? They almost all universally say that x-dog will come back if this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this or this happens. Right? So if they think that they can just randomly snatch up someone’s adopted dog months or even years later then why isn’t that line of thinking consistent in this case? I see that as wanting to have it both ways. You can’t hide behind legalities now and still claim that you can delve in and take a separate person’s legal property if they don’t meet “x” condition later.

So to me it’s JUDGMENT and HYPOCRISY giving “rescue” its undeserved bad name and reputation. Not Rosa Torres, not Sandy Banks of the L.A. Times. There’s plenty of good going on, and we all see it each and every day. We each know countless people that are fantastic human beings, people that inspire us, make us want to do better. But the problem is the judgment and hypocrisy that, at times, runs rampant through what is genuinely a fantastic premise… Adoption, and rescue, and shelter reform, and saving lives, and giving 2nd chances. These are all beautiful things. This is the community that is the community needed to facilitate these things, and move these ideas forward. So when some making up this community are also the ones always caught up in not being consistent, and further, being downright irrationally cruel to one another, well, that’s what has the biggest negative impact on these goals in my own personal opinion. Those ugly characteristics have to keep a certain amount of people who are on the outside willingly remaining on the outside.

Raffiki’s owner going public about this incident is not meant to give all rescues, or all shelters, or even Karma specifically, a bad name. It is to make a further genuine attempt at getting her son’s dog back, since private attempts didn’t work. To those unilaterally implying that going public on a specific situation has the potential to do x-amount of sweeping damage to some entire vague premise (such as rescue), and thus becomes a valid reason to keep quiet instead, well that’s to basically discourage people from using the avenue of communication and publicity in the face of a wrong. It instead promotes the opposite, which is to do nothing and take it. This creates an environment where morally wrong things just endlessly happen, perpetuating each new thing on the back of the prior thing. Karma’s poor handling of this entire situation has been the biggest contributing factor to why this is the mess that it is. They can’t pass that buck and others shouldn’t be excusing it by giving the impression that Rosa speaking out about this very specific circumstance somehow does this massive amount of damage to the rescue community (and the premise of adoption) as a whole. I’ve seen this point try to be made repeatedly. It’s not true, even if certain people want to unfairly use it against the community as a whole. I might even now be criticized by others under the same premise, and while using this article as their evidence. But all people have to do is actually read what I’ve written to know that it’s not true. If people are to treat everything with kid-gloves then there would be no progression in society. We can all be better. We can all treat people better.

Everyone is capable of thinking before they speak. Everyone is capable of putting themselves in the other person’s shoes. Everyone is capable of respectfully disagreeing on things. That’s not to say to never be emotional, or passionate, or even critical… All 3 of which I am on numerous issues. Trust me. But I at least attempt to pick my spots, and it’s usually backed by information and not just stooped in layers of petty judgment or the need to give my forever unwavering allegiance to something.

I love Karma Rescue, would happily be the first to say it, but I also believe them to be very wrong here. They’ve shown a stunning lack of compassion and empathy for their fellow man and have pretty flagrantly disrespected the bond between dog and human. This is someone’s dog, a child’s dog. Once it was discovered that this dog was someone’s animal that should have been the end of it. Instead they willingly have seemed to ignore this fact and chose instead to violate both the law and a pretty basic standard of ethics. This woman was out looking for her dog from the time it went missing. She made a considerable effort. You cannot blame her for not knowing every nook and cranny of the animal sheltering world. She literally had 6 days to physically locate her dog prior to it being shipped to NKLA’s adoption center. Yes, it could have hypothetically been killed, but it wasn’t, and Karma knew she was actively looking and knew that she existed. And they chose not to do the right thing, and then lied about it, and then blamed Rosa Torres for leading a “smear campaign.” And so many people just allow it, and defend it aggressively, and toss judgment around like snow balls in a school yard. C’mon people!!

I write all of this fully realizing that I have my own fans and followers, amongst them many people that would likely defend me just because it’s me and for no other reason than that. I get that, and I appreciate the support that that would represent, but I honestly wouldn’t want that kind of support and I don’t need that kind of support. I’d instead wish that each person took the time to, at some level, critically think about the issue at hand before coming to my defense or coming to whatever conclusion that they came to. I’m not infallible and neither is anyone else. We should all want to be held accountable, and strive to reach the best versions of what we could potentially offer and be. But instead it seems that many people simply carry the water of whatever person or organization that they are a fan of or familiar with. This really isn’t that helpful, as it kind of “dumbs down” the communications for lack of a better term.

What does this show? Is this because some in our society are getting more apathetic and too lazy to go the non-irrational route, instead just firing off emotions before looking further into something? Is it because many of us, at the center of whatever issue, are incapable of defending ourselves in any kind of a transparent way? Or are people’s emotions and allegiances that fragile that the mere unalignment on a singular issue potentially risks the throwing havoc onto entire relationships?

I’m now over 5,000 words in, which is ridiculous, so I’ll end my commentary while happily acknowledging some of the fantastic comments that I found during my search for the opposite:

Responsible owners lose dogs. Gates get left open by visitors. Doors get opened a fraction of a second too long. Tree branches fall unseen on fences, and dogs escape. RESCUES and SHELTERS have lost dogs. Veterinarians have lost dogs. Leashes break. Collars slip off. Microchips can be a health issue, and migrate or some brands can’t be read by some scanners. All your Utopian suppositions are invalid.

Too much discussion is wasted on whether the dog was tagged, microchipped, spayed or not. All of that is irrelevant. The bottom line is: A family lost a dog, somebody else found it and later knew who the dog belongs to. They just have to return it. That’s not only the legal but the moral thing to do. No questions asked. That’s it. Anything else is irrelevant.

It’s easy to sit on a soapbox chastising others for the treatment of their animals. When you do not know the circumstances you should not pass judgment. Just like everyone has very strong opinions on raising children the same exists with raising a dog. Instead of just saying someone is doing something “wrong” show them a different way. People can’t learn another way if they are never kindly shown.

Microchips are not the only answer folks. If someone finds your pet and decides that they like it and want to keep it, all the microchips in the world won’t get your pet back. If the finder doesn’t request that the animal is scanned, or if you move or otherwise don’t keep your chip subscription perfectly up to date and pay required fees, then a microchip is useless. Ditto for collars and tags. If someone wants to keep your pet, then they will just throw away any existing i.d. tags. It is ultimately up to people to do the right thing. I hope the ironically named Karma Rescue gets a little karma in return.

Holy crap. These are animals that need love, not an upper income tax bracket.

This is pissing me off to no end. I’m involved heavily in animal rescue and this reeks of moral judgment. Not fixing, not microchipping, etc. is all really annoying and borderline irresponsible, but making a moral judgment about it and deciding it gives you ground to STEAL someone’s dog is disgusting. How about educating? Encouraging?

To all of the holier than thou commenters who somehow think that this could never happen to them, think again. I am on the board of a non-profit that works very hard to help reunite lost pets with their families. We are thrilled to be able to assist 1,000+ families recover their dogs. It takes a combination of hard work, luck and a supportive, non-judgmental community to do so. This is 1,000+ dogs that do not go into the rescue system allowing other dogs to be saved. If we were to serve as the final arbiter as to what families were fit or not fit to have their dogs returned to them – there would be an uprising just as you see in this case. When the first phone call came in identifying the owner, why did Karma Rescue not do the right thing and return the call? This is a huge red flag! If they truly felt that Raffiki’s family was unfit or that she was somehow abused, then why weren’t appropriate authorities contacted? This situation is appalling and Karma Rescue behaved in an arrogant and myopic manner.

Oh, and Eva, I volunteer at a shelter, too. Whoopity doo. That gives you zero credibility to me. I’m just aware that in the life of a dog, crap happens, and I’m not willing to punish every single pet owner that doesn’t live up to my expectations, especially one with no history of problems before, arbitrarily determining who does or does not get to keep their dog based on my personal whims. It’s not fair to the dog, it’s not fair to the owner, and if only 20% of lost dogs nationally are recovered by their owners each year, I’d rather help that become 21% than 19%… You obviously don’t feel the same.

The constant circle of violation and inaction

Posted December 29th, 2013 in Rescue, Shelters by Josh

I’ve seen people say similar things to what I’m about to write about in many different instances over the last 3 years. Yes, it’s a problem. But how do you go about dealing with it, and what are the consequences of doing nothing? Read on.


This is Amber and she was killed by the Carson shelter on Friday morning, directly after the holiday break. What makes Amber’s death even more heartbreaking is that she was surrendered by the family of her prior owner, after her owner tragically passed away. For me, personally wrapping my mind around that type of a betrayal is pretty difficult. Amber was a good dog.

Today I log into Facebook to see someone posting that “a rescue was working on a plan to get her out.” Further, the person that posted this was completely familiar with the Carson shelter and their incompetent ways of doing business. I say this because if she’s aware of said “rescue” and their “plan,” then she should have made sure that part of their plan included what I’m about to detail below…

My question is: What does “a rescue was working on a plan” mean exactly? Did they let the shelter know? Did they call and place verbal notes on Amber’s account or state to the staff an intent to adopt or rescue her? Did Amber have an IP (interested party) or a CTA (commitment to adopt) that was placed on her account? Was there a temperament test requested? Rescues should know the processes when it comes to this shithole shelter. If none of that was done then the rescue didn’t do much of anything. And if they did those things and the shelter still killed Amber instead then this rescue needs to go public with the details and consider suing the L.A. County DACC. End of story. People need to take action if their rights and their ability to rescue a dog were violated. California state law says that a rescue has the right to pull a dog, any dog, so long as they take the proper steps to do so.

People will vaguely mention these types of things after the fact, aligned with rage against the violating shelter, but yet there is nothing more that is ever done. Whether this actually happened with Amber is unknown to me, as I don’t know the actual steps that were or weren’t taken, but I know for a fact that this scenario has happened many times before (and will happen again).

The hard truth is that this will continue to be a regular occurrence until someone does something when it happens, thus the constant circle of violation and inaction.

In Amber’s case: Who was the rescue? What steps did they take? Was the shelter in violation of killing a dog that this rescue notified them that they wanted? First and foremost there needs to be specific answers to those questions. The rescue just can’t sit in anonymity and silence and then expect it not to happen again. That does nothing but continue to allow this to happen again and again. Whether they want to acknowledge it or not, their inaction sets further precedent for it to happen again.

Please consider adopting this holiday season

Posted December 24th, 2013 in Rescue, Shelters by Josh

Merry Christmas. Please consider adopting this holiday season.

For individual dog information go here to match video images with album pictures.

Dogs in this video are currently at the Carson shelter, located at 216 W. Victoria St., Gardena, CA 90248. Phone# 310-523-9566/527-5158.

Fake outrage and disproportionate action

Posted December 21st, 2013 in Rescue, Shelters by Josh

On December 19th I posted a photo that I had taken a day prior at the Carson shelter. It showed the dead carcass of a large dog laying across the top of 1 of their 3 intake cages, with 2 other dogs filling the neighboring cages after just being surrendered or picked up as strays. As expected, this immediately drew the ire of most people. You can see the photo below…


I posted the picture for 2 reasons. 1) Because it was highly unacceptable and spoke to many things that so often define the attitudes of select individuals that work at the shelter. And 2) As a social experiment of sorts. I knew full well what this picture would do, as I see similar reactions all the time.

Keep in mind, I was only at the shelter to visit with the dogs and photograph them for eventual networking. I do this because I want their adorable faces to be seen, and I want people to know that they are there and exist, and I want people to consider saving a life and adopting their next pet and family member from a shelter.

As I posted the picture of the dead dog I was also in the middle of editing and then uploading the many photographs I’d taken of the shelter dogs… This is always a process, as on any visit I come home with over 50 different dogs that I’d met that day. Instead of mass-uploading the pictures untouched I try to personally edit each photograph and then add an embedded informational tag that includes all of the relevant information for that specific dog. This takes me many hours, so the album began filling up throughout the day. By the end of the afternoon my new Carson shelter album consisted of a total of 69 pictures of 48 different dogs.

So back to my 2 reasons… The 1st should be obvious, as the placement of a dead corpse in the intake area is pretty damn unacceptable. Dead dogs shouldn’t be sitting out in the presence of other dogs or kids, both of whom were there on Wednesday to witness this.

Carson’s intake area is literally right as you enter the gate of the actual kennel facility, which lies directly behind the office and administrative staff, and numerous families with children were forced to walk right by this dog. Just as important are the dogs sitting next to the body, which were just surrendered and very likely already scared to death. In my opinion this type of stuff shows a lack of care and respect for the “sheltering” profession, the visiting public, and especially the animals themselves.

Some proposed the thought that maybe a member of the public simply stacked the animal there and left. My response to that would be that regardless of who put the body there, they were obviously instructed where to leave it by someone on the staff. A person just doesn’t drive a dead dog all the way to the shelter just to leave it anonymously on an intake crate. If they happened to be a concerned citizen they would have first went into the office and asked an employee what to do with the body. And if it wasn’t a concerned citizen then why would they even drive a dead dog’s body anywhere in the first place? That doesn’t make any sense to me personally. We can sit here and guess all day about who put it there–whether a member of the public or an AC worker or a staff member–but the entire circumstance just says a lot about a lot of things, none of which are good.

My 2nd reason for posting the picture is ultimately the reason why I now write this post. Almost 3 days after both the picture and my album were posted there’s things that have happened (and not happened) that just leave me shaking my head. As I write these words the picture of the dead dog has received 301 comments, been shared 804 times, and had a “total reach” (which Facebook classifies as “the number of people who saw your post”) of 35,860. By comparison, my Carson shelter album has received 6 comments, been shared 77 times, and had a “total reach” (throughout many different postings) of under 5,000. If I added up all of the comments on all 69 photographs inside of the album they would not equal the 301 comments that are currently on the single picture of the dead dog atop the intake cage. For someone that goes to the shelter to bring you the faces of these amazing dogs, in hopes that they be seen and considered, this is endlessly frustrating. Discouraging is a better word for it, especially when viewing the absolute frenzy that’s so often whipped up by pictures such as that of a dead dog. Many times it’s not even thoughtful commentary or action either, but rather some paragraph of curses and/or already answered questions. People threaten to do this or that, ideas are thrown about, but very few people ever do anything.

Further, there are more comments on the dead dog’s photo that are specifically criticizing me, the person who took the photo, and for “not doing anything” for the dog, than there are total comments on my Carson album’s link. There are photos inside of this album that, after almost 3 days, have not received a single lick of interaction at all (tag, like, share, comment). These are living dogs that depend on the networking! All of this matters to me, as this is how Facebook functions and the interaction is needed in order to push and promote these photographs into the viewable space of people’s Facebook walls. The algorithms are already less and less featuring fan pages, so minimal acts could have an effect, especially when added up. Yet live dogs are going basically ignored by the majority of people while so much enthusiastic traffic is being driven to me over 1 photograph, which is of a dog that is not alive.

As you can tell, I do not know how to deal with this. Other than voice my frustration in the most constructive way that I can. Many of you may not find it constructive. I apologize. I’m trying to be honest, while not being too critical, while also taking on a topic that demands I think critically. This is not directed at anyone specific, and I appreciate any help that can advance these dogs into a good home. But please consider the observation I’ve made.

Much of this same topic could be applied to the recent breed-discriminatory language coming out of Pasadena as well. You’ll see so many people against it online, up in arms, aghast over the gull of certain politicians, yet I’ve been the only public speaker on the topic at the last 3 City Council or relevant Committee meetings. This is the time to come! Not the hour before they vote! I only get 3 minutes to speak each week. No matter how good (or bad) you think I am at speaking on behalf of all of our dogs, I only get 3 minutes per meeting and that barely allows me to scratch the surface. This issue is so much bigger than that. Please help me oppose discrimination and please help me promote and network these amazing shelter dogs.

Neola’s 4 year adoptiversary

Posted August 28th, 2013 in Inspiration, Rescue by Josh

4 years ago today I adopted my beautiful baby Neola from Pit Bull Rescue San Diego. I love you Pola! Thank you for carrying on Sway’s legacy and loving me unconditionally while you do it.