Q & A with Patty Hegwood of BFAS

Regarding the recent incident of a dog death at Best Friends, I contacted Patty Hegwood, Director of Animal Care at BFAS, for some clarifications on the information that has been put forth regarding the circumstances of the case. With her permission, I’m sharing the exchange below. My questions are in italics and her responses are in bold.

1.  What is the standard of care for housing sanctuary dogs with known aggression issues?  Is it double fencing? Something else?
Answer to No. 1:
All of our runs at Dogtown are designed to provide a secure environment and since we operate a sanctuary that houses upwards of 1,700 animals, we are always re-examining our facilities, including fencing and borders, to see if changes are needed. A dog with aggression issues may be housed in a variety of fencing environments, some of which include double fencing and some of which include single fencing in a variety of thicknesses. As a result of the incident, we are planning to take a close look at the enclosures that house our more aggressive dogs to see if we can make improvements.

2.  While you did respond at length to Holly Smith’s comment on your blog, I felt you really didn’t answer her specific allegation that “The dog died because there was no double fencing and the care givers were warning the management that this could cause a serious problem.” Could you please clarify in a simple yes/no format whether Holly Smith’s assertion (that caregivers were warning the management that the lack of double fencing could be a serious problem) is true?

3.  Regarding the comments on your blog from “Vicki McDog” (“I worked at BFAS and I know how hard it is to get a request for fencing or whatever for the dog’s completed.”) and “Marti” (“Many of us tried so hard to get double fencing put on all the lodges. But management said that there was no money to do so. Again and again, we saw dogs with chewed off ears, tails, legs-all wounds done thru fences. (Example: Nicole got her lip totally damaged because a dog in the next run pulled on Nicole’s lip and tore it to pieces.) We begged, we cried for double fencing, but the answer was always the same, “No money.”)
You responded to these in your post from yesterday by saying, “
For the record, there has never been a request for fencing that has been denied due to lack of funds, period.”  Could you clarify/expand on that?  Are both of these people mistaken or lying or…?  Has there ever been a request for double fencing for aggressive dogs that was denied for some reason other than lack of funds?  Has there ever been a request for double fencing for aggressive dogs that was not denied per se but perhaps postponed for an extended period?  I think you can see what I’m getting at here – basically trying to reconcile your assertions against these other assertions.  If it’s a matter of wording, let’s clear that up.  If it’s your contention that these people are lying, let’s call a spade a spade.
My answer to both 2 and 3 above
Some employees, both past and present, have differing views on the best way to house dogs and some have weighed in through the social media pipeline. While we always need secure environments for dogs with aggression issues, we also make it a point to keep in mind that we don’t want barriers to adversely affect the emotional well-being of our animals. So we are always trying to find that delicate balance in using the right materials for and combinations of fencing, but still allow our dogs, as much as possible, to interact and become more social.

Some ex-employees, I’m sure, are not aware of changes that have been put in place in recent years to monitor our animal care spaces. Many of these ideas for change came from the employees themselves through a mechanism that’s in place for such suggestions from caregivers all the way to upper management. For example, for quite some time now we’ve had regular bi-weekly team meetings to discuss various aspects of Dogtown, and what improvements might need to be made to address things like medical, training and maintenance needs, including fencing and enclosures.

Regarding your question on previous requests for additional fencing, in my blog last week, I said that there have never been any requests for fencing that have been denied because of lack of funds, and that’s true for all the years I have been at the sanctuary. It is possible that quite a few years back, under different management and budgeting levels, improvements may have been put on hold. But that certainly has not been the case in the last four and a half years.

The assertions “Again and again, we saw dogs with chewed off ears, tails, legs-all wounds done thru fences” and “We begged, we cried for double fencing…” are exaggerated misrepresentations.  It is certainly true that there have been some injuries through fences, and it is those incidents that have given rise to changes to more secure fencing methods, but ‘again and again’ gives a completely erroneous impression.

4.  Can you clarify the housing the three dogs were in the night of the incident?  Were they each in regular dog runs similar to other dogs at the sanctuary who do not have aggression issues? What preventive measures were in place that night and were they the same as every night or, for example, is there usually a nightwatchman who patrols specific areas but he was out sick that night?  In other words, did BFAS have 3 dogs with aggression issues in runs w/out double fencing, left unsupervised at night so that if they got out, serious injury or death might result?
Answer to No. 4:
The dogs were in their regular, separate runs with fencing of various kinds that has always been adequate for our needs. As you know we’ve had 22 of the Michael Vick dogs in our care since early 2008. They are part of a canine population that is usually between 400 and 500 dogs. We use many types of fencing, depending on the dog, the type of housing (individual or group), the terrain, and other factors. It is also true, despite some ill-informed postings to the contrary, that the holes that were made in the fencing that night could also have been made through double-fencing.  That being said, although we couldn’t have predicted it, something here was clearly inadequate, so we are in the process of determining what changes are needed.  One possible solution would be to reinforce areas that house our aggressive dogs with thicker, stronger wire.  Should we find this to be necessary, we will make the immediate changes and send out an update.

Running an animal sanctuary as large as Best Friends (more than 1,700 animals on any given day) is no small task and our experience tells us that there is no such thing as being incident free. Most of our animals come to us from abused and abandoned backgrounds. They have emotional or medical issues that challenge us every day. Our constant is keeping the safety and well-being of our animals and staff at the forefront, and at the same time striking a comfortable balance between absolute physical safety and enriching opportunities for social interaction and a strong emotional life.

I want to emphasize that checking fencing and barriers is something that’s a constant process. Beyond the approximately 50 caregivers at Dogtown, we have three dog experts who live right beside the dog areas at the sanctuary. In addition to this, we now have an all-night patrol as an extra security measure.

26 thoughts on “Q & A with Patty Hegwood of BFAS

  1. Congrats on getting a response. I guess there are a lot of questions about the actual incident that may never have solid answers but it sounds like BFAS really are trying to learn from whatever mistakes (admitted in public or not) were made.

    I’ve always liked watching Dogtown – its the only show that really shows what fosters go through, and what is medically possible if rescues didn’t have to weigh decisions by financial means. Good luck going forward.

  2. While we thank Patty Hegwood for the response, it seems to include a few items that are not very clear. Within this context, I suggest the following questions might be raised. As the text is long, I’ve tried to key them to the numbered responses. After (many) others have also responded, I suggest it might be good to summarize people’s opinions and questions, and request another response from Patty Hegwood.

    1-“a sanctuary that houses upwards of 1,700 animals”

    This, and especially the actual number of dogs there, may have long been an item of contention. For instance, although Dogtown has ALL dogs entered on a computer, repeated phone calls will return widely varying numbers. Exactly how many dogs are there today?

    3-“While we always need secure environments for dogs with aggression issues, we also make it a point to keep in mind that we don’t want barriers to adversely affect the emotional well-being of our animals.”

    I would REALLY like to see an explanation of that statement. Does it imply that double-fencing will make a dog feel unhappy? Or does this have more to do with the perception of some that extra barriers are “unsightly”? As barriers are obviously to separate dogs for safety and restrict their interaction, how can they also be tools for social training?

    3-“Some ex-employees, I’m sure, are not aware of changes that have been put in place in recent years to monitor our animal care spaces.”

    Yet many ex-employees have remained in contact with friends at BFAS, and some are partners of your current employees.

    4-“Beyond the approximately 50 caregivers at Dogtown, we have three dog experts who live right beside the dog areas at the sanctuary.”

    Giving others a label does not an expert make. Isn’t it true that one of your experts is promoting “friendly dog-association” to reduce aggression and that this has recently resulted in a death for a non-sanctuary dog? As you claimed expertise and this bears directly upon that and the current incident, could you please explain what was attempted and happened in that instance?

    4-“In addition to this, we now have an all-night patrol as an extra security measure.”

    Are you now publicly stating that an all-night patrol is happening, and when did this actually begin? We have seen the job posting from BFAS that seems related to this.

    4-“…we have three dog experts who live right beside the dog areas at the sanctuary.”

    May we ask who they are? We know that at least one of your advertised experts lives in Kanab.

  3. Thank you for contacting Patty and clarifying her points of view. I do hope that things are going to be better for the animals as she suggests.
    I’d be curious though about the conditions of three dogs involved in the incident. As someone mentioned in BFAS blog, I’d like to see the full document of Bean’s Post Mortem (if anyone finds it too sad or graphic, he/she can simply choose not to read it), along with the current medical reports for Denzel & Tug with photos/videos just like they do in Guardian Angel program. Seeing their (hopefully) happy faces will relieve lots of people who’ve been worried about them, I think.
    I wish all the best for the animals there.

  4. I am totally disgusted with Best Friends and the way they have handled this whole unfortunate incident. At no time has BF stated that they will keep the public updated on the progress/changes to the runs or their environment. They have been evasive and non committal at best. If there is a “silver lining” to this BF incompetency, it is that we are seeing their “true colors”! I’m sure the brain trust at BF would much rather be dealing with more important issues, like, raising more money.

  5. Hi, I came over from another blog in which this sad incident was mentioned. Great blog, by the way! You did a wonderful job with your follow-up questions for Patty.

    As this is such an important issue, both for the animal welfare in general and for myself personally, I’d like to offer my 2¢ worth from a different perspective than what I read in all the comments:

    John Garcia at BFAS is their resident rehabber for these more reactive dogs. He and a number of us around the country are stepping into a new arena (pun intended) in dealing with these most-dangerous dogs. There are no manuals, no training courses available to teach us what to do. I know – I’ve taken Jean Donaldson’s and Dr. Petra Mertens’ advanced aggression courses and found nothing to help me in my efforts. Cesar Millan is the best resource for this rehab work.

    BFAS stands alone, however in one respect in dealing with these challenging dogs: the rest of us operate quietly in the background without notoriety. Oh, occasionally one of us will get a write-up, but we shy away from the limelight – unlike BFAS – because it’s our nature. That’s what makes us do this work. We love challenges and the sense of accomplishment when we return a dog to a calm, balanced state. We can then turn this animal over to someone else for training. BFAS has grown from publicity and now feeds off it – the spotlight is a dangerous companion when rehabbing challenging dogs. Must stay focused, right? Big, sharp teeth…

    We all are learning under different environments. Cesar Millan ran the Dog Psychology Center during his rehabbing days. Steve Markwell in Washington runs a sanctuary and does not rehome his dogs. The same with Alan Papszycki in upstate New York. However, others like myself, Brandi Tracy, Tia Maria Torres and Leah Purcell all rehab dogs with the goal of finding them homes. That raises the stakes, for obvious reasons.

    I am the odd man out because I don’t have a formal facility like the rest – I work in a small apartment in a large rental complex with kids running around. Typically, I take dogs from judges willing to give them one last chance instead of issuing a court-ordered death sentence. As you can imagine I have had some pretty scary dogs in my place. The video on the blog referenced below shows my last dog being rehabbed.

    We are learning the hard way, by trial and error. Whether in a fancy huge complex like Best Friends in Angel Canyon, or in my little apartment, we are trying to figure out how to navigate these uncharted waters.

    I would like to encourage all your readers to read my latest post on our blog (link below). In this post entitled “Training Fosters To Rehab” I cover some important aspects of what is involved in all this. In this post I list some of the more accomplished rehabbers in the US. The problems our dogs present are significant and we need to learn how to deal with them. Why? Because this problem with dog fighting and macho gang thugs using these animals for ugly purposes is growing quickly. Killing them is not the answer, rehab is.

    Link to blog = http://www.arc-na.org/training-fosters-to-rehab

    What did BFAS do wrong? In my opinion the problem is not one of failed housing. Sure, they probably could have done things differently (pitties are renowned for jaw strength. Wire caging?) I believe their problem stems more from conceit. Not blatant, in-your-face, obnoxious arrogance, but the kind that comes from thinking they’re the best in the world.

    Technically speaking, what I’ve seen in videos and pictures leads me to believe BFAS could do well by holding a conference with the rest of the rehabbers in this country. They could learn much from us. Most of us ONLY handle aggressive dogs. It’s what we do, and we do it well. Frankly, I’m far more impressed with Alan Papszycki’s or Brandi Tracy’s accomplishments than with BFAS and Vick’s dogs. For the most part, Vick’s dogs appeared rather easy to rehab. The few that got into trouble needed a different environment from the sound of it.

    Brandi Tracy, by herself, handles 20-30 potentially very dangerous LARGE dogs that can make pitties look rather timid! Her powerful wolf hybrids are housed in a special sanctuary behind concrete footings, a tall wood fence, and electrical wires running around the place. They don’t get out to rampage!

    Alan Papszycki, well, judge for yourself in this video of 70 aggressive dogs hanging out together = http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_BUAFmyPDbc

    Steve Markwell up in Washington State is becoming another great source of knowledge. Watch this video and his wonderful attitude = http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=be1YeAFCYHM

    If I have made my point you will understand that BFAS is not the only game in town. I get that impression, though, in reading their material. I would encourage them, as I have repeatedly but unsuccessfully tried, to contact the rest of us so we can learn from one another. Maybe then these unnecessary tragedies won’t happen and their image won’t suffer like this. Anyone know Patty Hegwood? Love to hear from her…

    1. Thomas, thank you. In your blog you make excellent points on the difference between training and rehab, and the effect of a shelter environment on your efforts. I’ve also seen the same resistance as you noted from other behaviorists and found many rescuers much easier to work with. Though some time ago, the training of fosters you noted was an area that BFAS simply refused to consider, no matter what I said and tried.

      On your BFAS comment, I agree that is much of the problem here, and many of the issues I’ve raised on honesty and competence have risen from that. Years ago, I found John Garcia very open, honest and eager to learn, having a good sense of canine behavior. Over time, however, he seemed to be more and more caught up in the general BFAS issues, as were so many others.

      Between your post here and all your blogs, I found only one item where we disagree. IMO, there do exist a few people at BFAS with that blatant, in-your-face arrogance. I’ve made the statement previously that “The Dog is Always Right”, but their “right” is more important to them. Still, there remain other good people there, who do what they can, people who I dare not mention, lest they become targets (sigh).

      BFAS has in the past turned away others with your views, and has always insisted on controlling the publicity. Perhaps, in a better world, BFAS would open and accept what those like you can offer, rely on your experience and knowledge while providing the focus and publicity needed to bring in donations to support both their efforts and yours. In that, both the animals and people would benefit, and as their successes mounted, HSUS and PETA issues would begin to fade. IMO, of all the large groups, BFAS is the one most capable of doing this, and HSUS and others can best be changed by something better appearing. We need only to reshape BFAS into what they claim to be.

      In the meantime, I have picked and poked at issues there. Occasionally I find a small change for the good. But my efforts will never fully change them and I would much prefer to work on building and improving. In that, the role I taken on is to try and sensitize people to the issues while pushing back on the conceit at BFAS. Perhaps making a large enough opening so that you and others may one day be able to bring about that change, and the exfrienders can fade away.

    2. Thomas,

      I applaud you and the other individuals you spoke of for your efforts. But, sadly, I wouldn’t be looking to BFAS for any type of support, help, etc. BF looks at you and others that are actually trying to help rehab. animals and find them homes as C O M P E T I T I O N! In their eyes you are competing with them for the almighty donation and publicity! You, my friend, would also be ‘stealing’ the spotlight which BF soooo dearly craves!

      As for the Vick dogs at BFAS, not sure how much hands on rehabbing they get? It sounds as though BF has them around as ‘show pieces’:(

      Keep up the good work!

    3. I’m sure the use of foster homes is absolutely essential in reducing the number of animals killed because of behaviour problems. Even if the fosterers aren’t necessarily more expert than good normal homes, they can provide a patient, safe environment where timid cats or dogs learn to trust humans again.

      We use a behaviour consultant for difficult animals and her opinion is that it’s almost impossible to do proper evaluation or retraining in a kennel environment simply because many animals behave quite differently in a quiet one-to-one situation.

      1. Rosemary, your behavior consultant is a wise woman (I’m asssuming it’s a “she” as most animal welfare people are women).

        It is the rare shelter person who will openly admit that shelters are terrible environments for rehab work.

        That is precisely why I’m trying to introduce this new model. It moves this vital work out of that negative environment and into the loving arms of friendly volunteers working in their homes.

    4. Thank you for sharing your video and your own experiences. We have a lot in common, you and I – my rescue specializes in “aggressive” dogs as well (I use quotations because most of the dogs labeled in a shelter environment are not what I would consider “aggressive” but rather lacking in self confidence and direction). We also work with a small area, I have a three bedroom home and three dogs of our own, so space is at a premium.

      I have offered my services to our local shelter with no avail. I suspect that you were turned away from BFAS for the same reasons I was turned away from our local SPCA – I have no problems touching a dog or giving a leash correction. This, as you know, is more than frowned upon at most shelters who have donors to answer to.

      Subsequently, our local SPCA has a purely positive training class that is provided at a reduced charge to new adoptions. It happens to have a single criteria for “passing” – which is to show up. More of my training clients come out of this program than any other in the city.

      I don’t think that it’s a coincidence that this organization who refuses to step outside its comfort zone even when it will benefit their charges began as a religious cult. It’s not a matter of theory or results – it’s a matter of beliefs.

      As the ever incredible Chris Rock said in Dogma:

      “I think it’s better to have ideas. You can change an idea. Changing a belief is trickier. Life should be malleable and progressive, working from idea to idea permits that. Beliefs anchor you to certain points and limit growth. New ideas can’t generate. Life becomes stagnant.”

      Of course, he also said “That tiger didn’t go crazy, that tiger went TIGER!”

      I think both quotes are equally true…

      And by the way, I think the work you are doing is incredible, and I know the patience and commitment it takes from first hand experience, so my hat is off to you, my friend. What we do is never easy, frequently heartbreaking, and extremely trying – and I doubt either of us would give it up for the world. ;O)

      1. Kim, first let me acknowledge your great heart and wonderful contribution to animal rescue. Truth be told, I am just one of many hundreds (maybe thousands) of dedicated rescuers who quietly deal with behavior issues every day in our homes. I have a friend, Karen, in South Dakota who has up to 10 unruly rescues (most “untreatable” bully breeds pulled from awful shelters) at any given time living with her in her nice home. God bless her and her husband! Think they know something about rehab work?

        The reason I mention that is because there are people who are far more skilled at rehab, through their own personal experience, than any fancy animal behaviorist I’ve studied.

        How could these scientists in lab coats be skilled at hands-on work? Most work in shelter environments and don’t have the time it takes to “dial back” an angry, out-of-balance dog. Most of that mysterious work involves simply building trust in an animal who had it beaten out of him. Right? Not much mystery in that. You’d think, though, by the industry’s attitude that only PhDs can do this “mysterious” work!

        The real mystery comes into play, as you well know, when we move into the area of real aggression – not the silly behavioral stuff behaviorists call aggression (as you state it really is not aggression at all). That’s where we begin to dive into uncharted waters.

        I took Dr. Petra Mertens’ (a leading animal behavior scientist) 2 advanced courses on dog aggression and walked away with nothing useful at all. A lot of pictures of facial and body positions and a bunch of definitions, but nothing to show me what to do. She even had lots of pics of her “snarky” dog! Good grief, if one of the leading behaviorists in the world can’t tame her own dog, why am I studying her stuff?

        Regarding the Chris Rock quote: that was incredibly eye opening for me. I had never thought about the difference. Very important. I didn’t know he was such a deep thinker, either. Ideas vs beliefs, great stuff. Thanks for sharing that with us.

        And thank you once again, Yesbiscuit!, for letting me ramble on like this. You’re very patient!

      2. Tom, I’m starting to wonder if we’re related…perhaps through some rescued dog?

        As my dog mentor once wrote,
        “As soon as any dog trainer or behaviorist starts showing me pictures of dog body language and definitions, I quickly find that I am late for an appointment.”

        He then gave me my pet phrase “The Dog is Always Right”, showing me the work it takes to really find out what the dog is saying. And this from a guy who knows all the academic stuff that those experts supposedly study. He feels there are many good behavioral studies out there, but most of the practitioners don’t really understand and misuse them.

        Unfortunately, you cannot pick a good person to teach you unless you already know enough to know if they know what they’re doing…in his case, the dogs gave me the answer.

        Gotta run now. Some of my teachers need grooming…

      3. Thank you Thomas – only those involved in this work really knows what goes into it. Your whole self.

        Quick clarification about the Chris Rock quote – it was merely delivered by Chris – the line itself was written by Kevin Smith. :O)

        It’s always baffled me how many “experts” own dogs who have serious behaviour problems. And these same “experts” drone on about the difficulties in living with said dog – usually while preaching about how to deal with similar cases.

        Would you take advice from a mechanic whose cars were always breaking down? The problem with the “expert via education” certification is that these people graduate with very little hands on experience. In addition, as we all know, it’s not about knowing what to do and when to do it – it’s also about having the “chops” to put it all together into the dance that we call rehabilitation.

        The first dog I ever shared my home with knew 60 commands by the time he was six months old and the only experience or knowledge I had was a beat up copy of Barbara Woodhouse’s No Bad Dogs I found in the basement of our first home when we moved in. He was an incredible dog and we went on to shoot a movie with him. It was at that point that I decided to really educate myself, and have spent over a decade researching every viewpoint I could find on the subject.

        While the knowledge I gained from these books is invaluable, it doesn’t come close to the knowledge gained simply by working with dogs.

        Those of us who do hands on work with dogs labeled “aggressive” learn best from the dogs. Do it right, get a positive result. Do it wrong, get bit. This gives us a great motivator to learn quickly. ;O)

  6. Something we have to remember…it’s not like Best Friends WANTED this tragic event to happen.

    Is it an important issue? Yes, because it involves the safety of the animals at the sanctuary.

    But, keep this in mind….while we’re giving all of this attention to a No Kill organization that screwed up and proved that they are imperfect, the killers in PETA, HSUS, ASPCA are, as we speak, PURPOSELY getting animals killed, by murdering them, either themselves, or by giving a ‘shelter’ recommendations to kill.

    Nothing wrong with asking questions re: this case. A precious soul died.

    But lets keep in mind the fact that the traitors responsible for 5 million precious souls being murdered in ‘shelters’ and by their own hands every year, are doing so, even at this very moment, as we discuss the fencing at Best Friends.

    Food for thought, that’s all.

    As for ex employees of an organization having bad things to say about their former employers, what else would one expect? For them to say that “The group that fired me, or got rid of me are awesome, and I am inadequate at my job and deserved to be let go”?. Rarely do you hear that. We have to consider that they are EX employees, which brings to mind two questions:

    1. Why were they fired/let go? Did they do something wrong?
    2. Could they possibly be holding a grudge for being fired/let go, thus they *might* be giving us negative disinformation about Best Friends, that isnt true.

    Of course the possibility exists that they were fired for trying to help animals and that the sometimes arrogant ‘experts’ who sometimes run Animal Welfare Groups, got mad at them and fired them. And then the ex employees decided to tell the truth about what went on.

    It’s hard to say because it’s a “He said”, “She said” situation.

    It’s best not to jump to conclusions until we have all the facts, and somehow determine who is/isnt telling the truth.

    The Warren Commission is a prime example of that.

    But, somewhere, Ingrid Newkirk is seeking her next victim. Let’s try to focus on and prevent that a little bit, while we wrestle with this case, ok?

    Yet another PETA stooge has created a website slamming Nathan Winograd and No Kill supporters. We need to face these issues and blame those who purposely kill animals, and Best Friends did not purposely kill that poor dog.

    Yeah, I know…I’m an “Undercover Best Friends employee, trying to take the focus off of BF”. Uh Huh. Believe what you gotta believe.

    Truth is, we should, while seeing to it that the animals at BF are sufficiently protected,we must, more importantly remember our mission-No Kill. One precious soul being killed is a tragedy.God bless the poor dog who was killed. But there are also Five million other precious souls being killed….proper term: murdered….. every year and we need to stop that. To do that we need to spend our time confronting PETA, HSUS, ASPCA and kill ‘shelters’, not a No Kill sanctuary.

    PS Lots of credit to Yesbiscuit for scoring an interview with one of BF’s chief employees.Good job!

    1. Matt,

      Once again, you make the perfect example of the simple fact that if an individual does not agree 100% with whatever BF is doing or saying, then immediately they are labeled as ‘disgruntled’, a ‘hater’, or someone trying to ‘tear’ down a ‘great’ organization. As happens so often when a BF supporter/employee responds to a post with a dissenting view, they never seem to address the issues. In this particular post, Matt, you clearly have issues with PETA, ASPCA, and HSUS! You also appear to be upset with the Warren Commission as well?

      I never said that BF WANTED this situation to happen. But, IT did! BF had professionally trained fighting pit bulls housed in runs with single fencing. They also had them co located in the same areas with other dogs with ‘issues’. It also appears that these dogs were not secured inside their kennels for the night either. A blind person could see that these are the ingredients for a potential disaster! And, when something finally did happen, all the ‘experts’ at BF are looking at each other, saying “we never expected that to happen”. Incompetence or just plain ignorance. You choose, Matt.

      Matt, before you decide to rant again, I mean post, please try to address the issues not your personal agenda. Thanks!

      PS Thank you Yesbiscuit for providing such a valuable service! Keep up the great work!

    2. In my opinion, both Matt and dwf gave fair replies and I respect both their opinions. Here, I believe Matt is just missing a more certain knowledge of certain details and history at BFAS. As to what BFAS really wanted and why this incident happened, I’ll just agree with Thomas Cole’s earlier post.

      Matt: Most “Undercover BFAS” ghosts are easy to spot. You have a history here and have never sounded like them. I spoke before of the difficulty in finding the truth in
      and I can well understand your comments here. On PETA and others, I do agree with you but feel the only long term approach that will work is to replace them with something big and better that can work against them, and that could one day be BFAS.

  7. Patty,

    If, in fact, what you say is true then I for one am very happy for the dogs there at BF. It is good to hear that the caregivers no longer have to fight tooth and nail to get improvements for the animals safety, emotional needs, and medical needs also. Still, I just have to ask…..What took soooo long?


  8. Good question Vicki. Don’t worry, you are so much more believable than Patty. She either evades the answers or tell out right lies. YB, I hope your leg does not hurt too much. It is certainly getting pulled by Patty’s answers. Anyone who believes that Patty has answered truthfully, will get what they deserve.Unless forced into it, there will be no changes at BF. They are already talking about how they can let this all blow over and then do nothing about the fencing. How sad that Beans died for nothing.

  9. I am a first time reader to this site. I would just like to comment on one thing:
    Vicki McDonnell, who wrote above, was one of the best dog caregivers I have ever met. (She was not “fired” from BF. She resigned after working almost five years as a dog caregiver.) She was so passionate about the dogs’ well-being at BF; she was an inspiration to me (someone who volunteered at BF for over 10 years). I can’t say enough good things about Vicki. I are eternally grateful to her.
    Thank you for allowing me to say this one thing.

  10. My apologies for not knowing who the main players are here, as I’m a newbie to this wonderful blog.

    To exfriender, thank you for that heartfelt reply. You highlighted some great points. As for the few BFAS employees who do fall into that “special category,” I would find it hard to believe that a large organization would not have some of those employees! Even though BFAS’ general personality seems to have taken on a different feel over the last few years, I still see them as a true leader and a huge benefit to our cause. I’ll just let that part end with an encouragement to them to seek a means to share knowledge with others in this new and challenging field.

    Matt, based on your emphasis on No Kill, I suspect I know which shelter you run. I love you and your partner (if you’re the Matt I think you are) for the great work you’re doing. Your zeal for leading the nation to no kill has to be commended. I didn’t include you in that short list of rehabbers and probably should have. You guys, again if I have the right person here, certainly have had more experience at this “dangerous dog” rehab than has BFAS.

    I know your background with BFAS and how they stepped in to help “rescue” your shelter. I think BFAS is doing the same thing now in New Jersey? I would never fault a wonderful group like BFAS for their general work. They put HSUS and PETA to shame.

    Please understand that my comment was directed at the sole, narrow issue of rehabbing real challenging cases. I, like you, am a real cheerleader for no-kill sheltering, or as BFAS calls it, No More Homeless Pets – right?

    I hope my original comment does not reflect any animosity towards BFAS in general. I think that is to my credit: I applied for a job there as a simple dog handler a few years ago and they turned me down. Guess I didn’t measure up to their standards. I’d like to think it was their loss. But I hold no ill will towards them as a group.

    My final thought would be directed towards Gregory Castle. I think my comment about BFAS’ conceit is really meant for Mr. Castle. He’s a warm, generous man, but I think the limelight has clouded his direction. I’ve tried repeatedly to get him to respond to me and not once has he ever personally taken a moment to do so. In all humility, I realize I don’t have the word PRESIDENT after my name, but that is an indication of something missing in Mr. Castle, don’t you think?

    Great blog, really enjoyable group of followers, too!

      1. yeah, exactly. He is a multiple repeat felon and that is the main issue for the courts. But at least he is getting time.

  11. To Kerry –

    Thanks Kerry. My mistake. Everyone, never mind what I wrote to “Matt.” Wrong guy!

    For those who don’t know, Kerry is Matt’s partner at Pets Alive, a wonderful shelter/rescue/sanctuary in New York. Check them out if you don’t know about them. Great people!

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