SC Shelter Halts Shipment of Pets to CT

I recently came across this article about a CT shelter director, Fred Acker of the SPCA of CT, who has a long standing relationship with the shelter in Anderson Co, SC.  He pulls dogs from Anderson Co and drives them to New England for large scale adoption events where he sells them for $325 each.  The shelter advisory committee in Anderson Co has raised some concerns about Mr. Acker:

Acker was charged in 2005 with 84 counts of animal abuse relating to a now-defunct rescue he operated under a different name, according to Connecticut court records. All the charges were dismissed, however, except one for not vaccinating one dog, according to the records.

That does seem odd although we see things like this happen somewhat regularly with regard to cruelty charges.  It would be difficult to draw any conclusions from that case.

A court judgment of several hundred thousand dollars also was issued against Acker in a 1999 case not related to animal welfare[…]

I checked into that case.  According to the NY Times, Mr. Acker was president of a now-defunct asset search company:

The company is accused of impersonating consumers, requesting financial data from their banks, then selling that information to credit agencies. As a result, many people’s credit records were tainted, according to the lawsuit.

The Times article relates the story of a whistleblower who felt he was being harassed by Mr. Acker in retaliation for his cooperation with the state in the case.  The details are rather seedy.  Still, it’s not pet related.

Back to the Anderson article:

[A] disturbing the peace charge is pending against him in relation to an incident in June of this year, said officer Edward Risko of the Monroe Police Department animal care and control unit in Connecticut.

I checked that case too.  Reportedly a NJ couple “told police he shoved the wife and yelled insults at them when they decided not to take one of his dogs.”  From that same article:

In 2005, he pleaded guilty to cruelty to animals and received a suspended sentence. Two years ago, he was arrested after a police officer said he spotted Acker straddling a woman in the parking lot of a local restaurant, repeatedly punching her in the face.

Charged with second-degree assault, the case was later dropped after the victim said Acker was just trying to keep her from driving drunk.

Straddling drunks in the parking lot and punching them in the face is the new taking their keys?  I guess?  Not sure what to make of that one.

There are a number of personal accounts people have posted online (racist language warning) about negative experiences they’ve had in attempting to adopt from Mr. Acker.  Of course, there are two sides to every story and in response to this account from a denied applicant, Mr. Acker posted a comment stating, among other things, that the “character of the neighborhood” in which the applicants lived did not meet with his approval.  That does sound kind of snooty, I have to say.  I mean, we have a modest home but it’s across the street from what most people would assume is a condemned property.  I still think we’re good dog owners though, whatever someone else’s view of the character of our neighborhood might be.

I’ve written many times about my support for moving shelter pets to locations where they will be more readily adopted so I wanted to see specifically what Mr. Acker had to say about that:

“There’s a huge surplus in the South,” Acker said. “The answer is humane relocation.”

Acker said that for the last two years the group has put on the Shelter Pet Expo, people from surrounding states like Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire have driven into Connecticut and waited in line to see the dogs.

“These are quality adopters,” Acker said.


Acker said the primary reason there are fewer animals in New England Shelters is cultural differences. More people spay and neuter their pets and far fewer animals are allowed to roam on their own and reproduce.

“The irresponsibility factor is substantially lower,” Acker said.

Um, ouch.  We have “quality adopters” here in the South too.  And while I would agree that far more low/no cost spay-neuter clinics and humane education services are needed than what we have at present, it doesn’t mean we’re irresponsible.  We have lower incomes.  We need greater access to services.  But we love our pets.

From the same article:

“If you’re looking for puppies in a municipal shelter [in the Northeast], you can’t do it,” Acker said. “By the same token, there are families looking for puppies for their kids.”

Acker said many shelters in Connecticut are occupied by older dogs or breeds like pit bulls that are not popular with families.

“Primarily they’re full of dogs that are considered less adoptable,” Acker said.

But isn’t that a challenge faced by every shelter director – to make less adoptable dogs more adoptable?  Isn’t our goal to save every life, not just the highly adoptable ones?

A rescue source provided me with the following shelter pet numbers from the CT Department of Agriculture:

The latest numbers (for fiscal year 2009-2010) haven’t been tallied yet. So I asked for the previous two years of information:

For fiscal year ended June 30, 2008:
– 20,160 animals were impounded in municipal pounds in Conn.
– 2,332 were euthanized, the remainder were redeemed by their owners, adopted, or pulled by shelters for adoption.

For FY ended June 30, 2009:
– 19,791 were impounded in municipal pounds
– 2,549 were euthanized. The remainder were redeemed by their owners, adopted, or pulled by shelters.

I have no way of knowing if the roughly 2500 pets killed every year in CT shelters are all medically hopeless and suffering, nor do I know how many, if any, of them are “older dogs” or “Pitbulls” or “less adoptable” types.  But I’d like to find out.  Anyone with anything to add on those stats?

On balance, Mr. Acker and his group have their supporters.  For example,  Best Friends appealed for volunteers to assist at one of his $325-per-dog adoption events earlier this year:

Best Friends posted this appeal for volunteers to assist in a large adoption event hosted by the SPCA of CT this spring.

At present, Anderson Co is putting the brakes on allowing additional shelter pet transfers by Mr. Acker while they “look into Acker’s record”.  I’ll be interested to see what they ultimately decide.

29 thoughts on “SC Shelter Halts Shipment of Pets to CT

  1. I’m in CT and I’ve heard about Acker. A LOT about Acker. I’ve never met him, nor do I wish to meet him. Some of the stories scare the heck out of me.

    Not only does he charge $325/adoption, he has a non-refundable application fee. He also offers an “early bird” special to people who are willing to pay a premium to view and adopt animals a day prior to the event.

    Our municipal shelters, at least in the larger cities of Bridgeport and New Haven, are full each and every day with dogs of all sizes, from puppies to seniors. To the best of my knowledge, both of these shelters have excellent volunteer organizations who are trying their best to move the animals out and into homes and to help transform the shelters into no-kill facilities. But they’re not there yet, and they do still have to euthanize for space.

    I’m not against transporting animals, because every animal deserves a chance. I would just like to see people like Acker tell the truth – that there ARE animals available in CT, and plenty of them.

    And a word about the “quality adopters” we supposedly have in Connecticut. Take a look at my post from yesterday ( Yeah, our adopters are such high quality, Fred.

    1. Non-refundable application fees work well to weed out poor people. Cos we don’t deserve pets. As an experienced bargain hunter, I am accustomed to “early bird specials” meaning the customer gets extra DISCOUNTS. I’ve never come across an early bird special where the customer gets to pay extra. Sheesh.

      1. What, you’re looking for a sale? This is supply and demand! Remember, there’s a shortage of animals here in the Northeast.

  2. We hare killing adoptable dogs here in the northeast while Acker trucks them in by the hundreds. The dogs are not traceable so when your Southern dogs end up being killed in our shelters, we can’t prove it. However how many adoptions do not work out? Where do the animals go? Not back to SPCA becuase he can only have 40 dogs on his property. So what happens to them??? These animals are sold just like at a pet store. Big money for Acker and big stroking for his enormous eog

    Be careful where you send your dogs. Try microchipping them so we can send them back when Acker’s sales fail

  3. I am so thankful to read that this shelter has stopped dealing with Fred Acker. Because of this man and his practices I have learned one thing about animal rescue, there ARE worse things than death! The conditions at his shelter are quite deplorable, there is no attempt at preventing cross contamination of sick animals. They think cleaning is getting a rag and a bucket and using the same rag and bleach water to clean all the cages. There were many times that there was no cat food or litter for days and employees would use there own money to get it. If you can’t pay to properly feed and care for the animals SHUT YOUR DOORS. People who worked there would routinely wonder why there was no money because if you look at the number he sold at a sale time what he charges, there should have been plenty: 300 dogs X 345= $103,500.00 people. And he has a sale every 3-4 months. Where is the money going?
    At their mass dog and cat sales, the families DO NOT get anything close to a clear picture of the dog’s personality as most of the dogs get to Connecticut days before the event. The is no quarantine of these animals, so often there are cases of parvo showing up during the event, and some of them get passed to customers KNOWING they are sick. I have seen dogs bite people because no one knows the true personality and behavior problems that these animal may have, and some have turned out to be quite dangerous with children and had to be surrendered to town facilities to be put down. I know this because when I was out wearing the SPCA of CT shirt I was confronted twice by 2 different city shelter workers. The days after an adoption are the worst, because when dogs come back Fred is known to get confrontational with people by swearing and being very nasty to them. Again, the dogs that came back had some serious aggression issues and no responsible person would allow a family with kids to adopt such a dog, but this was done regularly at this “rescue”. Oh, and that air conditioned van they use: the AC on works up front. Not so much on the dogs and some came back in sad shaped and didn’t make it. See, you need some really good A/C when you have airline carriers stacked 3-5 high.
    Yeah, then there is the fact that Fred would keep dogs hidden in a Bridgeport garage and the vet’s office on rte 25 in Monroe, all so he could get around his 29 dog limit he was allowed at the shelter. These dog would live in crates all day and get out twice for 3-5 minute walks. Sometimes they would have to stay on the bus and get driven from parking lot to parking lot to avoid the police. Sound like good conditions for an animal?
    As for the assault charge on the female employee, he spent plenty of time on the phone with her, badgering and intimidating her to drop the complaint and she did to get him off her back.
    All this is only the tip of the iceberg as I could fill pages on what I saw while there. And yes, I made complaints, nothing gets done about them. I guess slime is good at slipping through the cracks…

  4. I know this is an old thread, but I wanted to comment anyway. Several years ago, I went to a large animal welfare conference. As part of the conference, some representatives from northern shelters toured our local shelter. They were shocked to discover that not only did we have puppies here, but that we killed puppies on a regular basis (this was before no kill in Austin). They are far ahead of us on low cost and incentive spay/neuter and have few puppies that enter the shelter.
    This is all great, but the unintended consequence is that the shelter is all pit bull, pit bull, black lab, pit bull, yellow lab, black lab, pit bull, pit bull. So, people only go there if they want a lab or a pit bull. Both of these animals are wonderful dogs and can of course be marketed, but the problem there is some people cannot have pit bulls or black labs for whatever reason (apartment weight restrictions on dogs, cannot afford insurance on pit bulls, etc). Therefore, unless a person wants a pit bull or a lab, they don’t go to the shelter. I have no opinion on Acker but this is why I do think it is a good thing to import Southern dogs who would almost surely die.
    I even saw a symposium up north where they are running out of KITTENs and are having a summit to see where they can get more. We regularly trap beautiful feral kittens – siamese, maine coon mixes – highly adoptable – but more often than I would prefer we have to TNR them due to lack of fosters with time to tame feral kittens. I’d LOVE to be able to send some up north.

  5. We are not running out of kittens. Our shelters are full of unwanted adult cats that were once kittens. Adult cats are killed here due to lack of space in shelters. We are overwhelmed with adult cats that I presume were born here and owned by irresponsible people who let them breed, dump them outside, leave them at shelters etc.

    When is the South going to take care of their own problem by stopping the birth of unwanted animals? If we did it up here, it can be done. The South exports its problem and doesn;t have to deal with it. We need more outrage at the fact that these animals are born. Do you have any idea how many imported pets end up dead as adults in the shelter up here? They do. There will never be enough homes for all the animals being born. Other states need to be outrage and give a d*mn about stopping the problem instead of shipping it somewhere else. Have a look at this video that spells out a lot of facts about the Rescue Ruse.

  6. By the way – all you Southern shelters that shipped dogs up here to Acker – he has been in the press lately saying he will need to kill dogs because he has too many. He is not saving your dogs. He is selling them for profit and killing the ones he can’t sell.

  7. I am in Louisiana – born and raised here. Even here in the deep south some shelters do not have young puppies available for adoption. Not because there is a shortage of unwanted litters of puppies but because the shelters kill most of the young puppies as fast as they come in. The reasons are that puppies need a lot of care and cleaning and get sick too easy. It is easier to just kill them as they arrive.

    I am glad many people are working to send puppies up north where they at least get some chance.

    1. Did you hear me – they end up dying in our shelters when the cuteness wears off. Stop the endless supply of pets if you give a hoot. We did it up here.

  8. Keep sending him dogs for his 400 plus puppy adoptathons – guess what – you aren’t saving them. The rot in his kennels and die in our shelters. and all the brokers get rich

  9. @CTResident, I agree that CT already has plenty of cats. Cat rescues have that figured out, too–they’re fostering and adopting cats locally, not shipping them north. In order to ship pets north, you need receiving rescues–those are few and far between for kitties.
    Acker’s mega-adoption events aren’t as simple as you’re making them out to be either. He pulls some dogs from southern shelters, yes. But he also has the participation of quite a few rescues who quarantine, vet and transport their dogs to the adoption event. They usually go with the dogs to handle the adoptions–and take any who don’t get adopted back with them. Some rescues DO agree to send the dogs to Acker and let him keep them if they’re not adopted, but I know more rescues who handle their own adoptions and just use Acker’s venue. Many, if not all, of the adoptions work out just fine. People are willing to line up for hours to adopt family dogs because the shelters are NOT full of them. Sadly, they’re full of pits and pit mixes who don’t appeal to everyone. As for Acker getting rich from the adoption events, I seriously doubt it. Some years he can’t even afford to host them. Acker has been smeared on the internet for years and most of the rumors (which I’ve checked out pretty thoroughly) are groundless.

  10. Seen some of Acker’s dogs who have been dumped in shelters for behavior issues. They die.

    We know Acker (and others who do the same ) and he is not the savior of animals some want to believe he is. SOrry, but you need to stem the tide and stop exporting your problem and thinkng all the animals went to wonderful loving homes. Not reality. Those of us up here in the shelter see the reality.

  11. I don’t know anyone who thinks Acker is a savior of anything. We’re not idiots in the South. Rescues who participate in his adoption events generally use the same policies, standards, and contracts as they would anywhere else. A few dogs go back to Acker; a few go back to the originating rescue. So what? The majority of the dogs get adopted and most of the adoptions work out. Just as they do anywhere else.

  12. Oh, and one more thing–we’re not exporting our problems. We’re exporting adoptable puppies and dogs.
    The rescues I know who participate in the adoption events hand pick the dogs who go there, socialize them, vet them, and care for them until the adoption is finalized. They don’t send dogs with behavior problems or health problems. Judging by how many adopters show up, these dogs are meeting a real need.

  13. I really hate the North vs. South tone this post has taken. If one thing is for certain, we’re united in our mission to rescue and rehabilitate unwanted animals, and reduce this population overall. Let’s keep that focus.

    It is a different world up here and that’s no one’s “fault.” Economically, CT has been fortunate to fund – however sparsely or generously – their animal control facilities and rescue organizations. We have the H.O.P.E Clinic, a reduced cost spay/neuter facility, and organizations who will offer reduced cost S/N services to help reduce the population of certain breeds (OPIN in Stamford for Pit Bulls, for example). We’ve made a lot of headway, I think, and we’ve been extremely fortunate. And, we should be thankful for these things, not cocky about them.

    Being able to educate the public about spay/neuter and decrease the unwanted animal population is key. It’s one of the hardest goals to achieve EVERYWHERE, not just in the South, everywhere. I’m constantly meeting people here in CT who haven’t altered their pets for various reasons, whether economic, cultural, etc. Please don’t “blame” it on Southerners or any other groups of people for that matter.

    Now, about Fred. His adopt-a-thons are at first glance a wonderful thing. But here in CT, we don’t just have Pit Bulls and black Labs in our shelters – not true at all! We have many, many, many “desirable,” adoptable pets in our shelters, located in the kennel runs right next to the PBs and black Labs. Thousands of these animals are euthanized every year in CT because people like Fred are importing animals from other states.

    That doesn’t mean those imported pets don’t deserve good, loving homes. But it also doesn’t mean our desirable, adoptable pets, Pit Bulls and black Labs included, don’t deserve good, loving homes, either.

    My argument is that Fred is using rescue as an excuse. He’s been talking about building a new shelter for years now, but no one has seen any movement on that front.

    Our shelter asks for $200 to adopt a dog or puppy – that doesn’t even cover half of what we spend in vet and vax fees for a dog who enters our shelter. Fred asks for what, $350-400 per dog at these events? And why? Because he can. We want to find our pooches a home; he wants to make money.

    He rarely, if ever, quarantines his animals prior to events. Can anyone say Parvo? This ugly, fatal disease has hit our shelter more times than I care to say, just in the last two years, because of poorly managed super-adoption events where animals are imported and not properly vetted and quarantined. And why? Because Fred doesn’t take his animals back. If someone decides a day later that they don’t want Fluffy, Fred doesn’t care. Who picks up the pieces? Other shelters like ours. Who unknowingly takes in the Parvo or kennel cough or giardia? We do and we pick up the costs associated with them. Keep in mind that we’re a no-kill shelter, and we’ll do everything we can to save a dog or puppy with Parvo. Euthanization is NEVER our first choice.

    He treats potential adopters like dirt, using foul language, profiling them, and outright denying them applications just because he feels like it.

    He stacks crate upon crate of animals in awful conditions, in a building that is just short of being condemned. Not too long ago, his town wanted to limit him to 29 animals at any one time. I kinda doubt that’s now the case, but I don’t know for sure.

    I don’t doubt a bit the sincerity of the folks on the Southern end of this argument who want to save these poor animals, find them great homes, and give them the chance they deserve. I do, however, doubt Fred Acker’s motives, big time.

    I know there has to be a balance between shipping animals to places who don’t have adoptable pets, and I’m sure those pockets exist. CT just doesn’t happen to be one of them, believe it or not.

  14. As a volunteer in a rescue in SC, we do ship pets up to the northern states from time to time. Most times it’s because we have an adopter (who we have screened and dealt with personally) for the dog, and sometimes, it’s because a rescue we work with up there has public interest in a specific breed or puppies or whatever. If the interest fails, the dog gets stuck back in the van and transported back down to us. Either way, we guarantee that none of our dogs gets euthanized.

  15. We have a new law here in connecticut thst will affect all trsnsports Time for south to stop exporting problem and do something to stop the endlrss flow of dogs up hrre spay/neuter your petd

    1. We’ll get right on that, thanks. I mean, we Southerners always been able to afford to neuter our pets, and we have plenty of access to low/no cost neuter anyway, plus transportation to and from the clinic, and we’ve got education aplenty – but we always just figured “What the heck – why not let our pets have litters twice a year and take them to the shelter so they’ll be transported to CT?” But now that there’s a LAW IN CT, obviously we’ll have to change our ways.

      1. I’m from CT – what’s this new law? I’m not at all familiar with this one.

        @YesBiscuit – thank goodness you’re going to keep your dogs in the South. We were getting a little crowded up here, what with the millions you’re breeding and sending just for us! :)

        By the way, my Oliver is a good old Southern hound. And I happen to love the little devil very much. It was by chance that we met following an adoption event. He became very ill, and I was fortunate to be one of his caregivers. I ended up adopting him and he’s since crawled under my skin.

        That’s not to say that we have a lack of adoptable dogs here in CT, but let me tell you, I wouldn’t trade that vanload of hounds for the world! (I know, I’m probably contradicting a previous post, but too bad!)

    1. Fred has so many dogs that are sick and be ignores them cause there not adoptable once he found out he can make money on small dogs he went nuts and tried to get them all over the world he yelled at me for giving a dog a flea bath he said just leave him in the crate he never shows any big dogs anymore its all about the little ones he can make money on we need to do everything we can to have this man shut down.for anyone one who thinks Fred Acker is a nice man please google will be shocked at what a jerk and a bully he is

  16. Fred buys dogs down south for 35 bucks already spaid and nuetered and then adopts them for 395 tell me hes not a crook.hes a piece of crap I called the real ASPCA and they are now trying to do somethi.g about him

  17. ok folk… Acker is back in court again this March… WE HAVE GOT TO STOP THIS INSANE Skirting OF THE LAW!…. please please consider.. signing the petition against him ….
    and PLEASE SHARE with fellow animal lovers..
    If you would like to view the new Pending Criminal charges against him please visit our CT Judicial website at:

    NEXT COURT DATE: 3/12/14

    BIG THANKS to all whom have signed the petition

    I ask that you make an educated decision before you consider signing this petition. There are numerous articles on line and you can always go straight to the Connecticut judicial web site – criminal case look up and do a search on Fredrick Acker.

    Please join this campaign:

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