Main Line Animal Rescue Refuses to Return Lost Pet to Owners

Many people looking to add a pet to the family are open to the idea of getting one from a rescue group.  It’s got a built-in feel good that people enjoy.  And a satisfied customer is likely to refer friends and family in future.  In these ways, rescue groups have got a good thing going.  In fact, they would have to work hard in order to negate the positivity inherent in their work and turn it into disdain.

Unfortunately, there are too many rescue groups doing exactly that.  They discourage people from adopting by employing restrictive screening protocols, shut poor people out of the opportunity to rescue by selling pets for large amounts of money and/or sell lost pets whose owners want them back because the rescue deems the owners unworthy.  That’s a lot of effort to shoot oneself in the foot.  And it’s widely accepted that unsatisfied customers tell many more people about their bad experiences than satisfied customers.  Homeless pets continue to be homeless and so-called shelters continue to kill, citing the long debunked “not enough homes” reason for the killing.

When a PA family’s beagle accidentally escaped his home last week, the owners immediately began searching for him.  The Kreksteins left their contact information with both the police and the local SPCA.  Their dog Flash was microchipped and they were reassured that if any animal group scanned that chip, they would receive a phone call.  And they did – from Main Line Animal Rescue, the place where they’d adopted Flash two years ago. But it wasn’t about getting their dog back:

The Kreksteins say the organization’s executive director, Bill Smith, then sent them an email letting them know that Flash would not be returned to their care because the family violated the adoption agreement. The message said the family failed to call the animal rescue and notify them the dog was missing and said they were not properly caring for him.

The Kreksteins are understandably outraged. They love Flash and consider him a member of the family. And they want their family member back home with them. Main Line Animal Rescue is refusing to reunite Flash with his family because the owners have been deemed unworthy due to the failure to contact Main Line to advise Flash was lost.

Rob Krekstein says the family technically broke the adoption contract, but that he doesn’t consider his dog “a contract.”

“I didn’t rent the dog. The dog lives in my home. It’s a member of my family,” Rob Krekstein said.

Smith said The Kreksteins know what they agreed to when they signed the contract.

Apparently what they agreed to was to make a homeless pet a part of their family, to love and cherish him, and to allow Main Line Animal Rescue to abruptly tear their family apart if the group ever determined the contract hadn’t been followed to the letter, regardless of circumstances. Now everyone knows. If you adopt from Main Line Animal Rescue, don’t get too attached, don’t fall in love with the pet and definitely don’t consider him a member of your family because one mistake and Main Line will smash that bond to bits. Tell all your friends.

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

29 thoughts on “Main Line Animal Rescue Refuses to Return Lost Pet to Owners

  1. If you look at the many comments after the article, the ONLY commentor in support of MLAR is Bill Smith himself, and he gets hammered by others, particularly when he disses another customer by name in a comment. That’s a big no-no, and it shows the arrogance and egocentricity of this man. There was a case several years ago when he and some of his “volunteers” talked authorities into letting him “take” a couple’s aviary birds (breeding pairs of larger parrots) when they were having some difficulties. He was furious (and yelled in court) when the court took them away from him and sent them (with the owners’ approval) to a sanctuary where they would be kept until or unless the owner was able to be in a position to get them back. This man is one of those who *uses animals* to *control and punish people* and to bolster his own ego .

  2. Absolutely. There are some good homes for animals for people that don’t have money but love to give, food water and shelter. Not all agree on cats going outdoors, doesn’t mean someone shouldn’t have a cat because they let it outdoors. We don’t want to see tethering of dogs, so a yard is a good place but dogs sometimes have a mind of their own and dig holes under fence or go through holes in the fence. Takes time to figure out how an escape artist does it to correct it. I actually worked as Animal Control and had a Beagle in care. The pens for them to go out do not have anything over top of them, the beagle climbed the fence, up out and over. When the family came to pick up the beagle, I asked them if they knew how it got out, they had no idea. I then told them the beagle climbed the fence, so they could make the adjustments they needed to. Never picked the Beagle up again. Thank you for posting this article, I have sent it out on my facebook page.

  3. And by extension, they give all rescues a bad name. Because people are now hesitant to sign a contract for an animal in case it all goes wrong…

  4. There are a lot of rescue groups that have adopters sign contracts saying more or less that the rescue still owns the animal – of course the rescue won’t pay for care if the animal gets sick, but they’ll sure take the pet back if the adopter does anything that could possibly be construed as not 100% perfect pet guardianship. A few years ago I was looking into adopting from one of the smaller rescues here in Austin, and for some reason the woman from the rescue told me about how they had had an adopter they were unable to contact for follow-up, so they went by his house, and when they found the dog tied up in the yard, they just took him back. I’m not a big fan of leaving dogs tied up outside, but for all they know the guy was leaving the dog out there for 10 minutes. They didn’t even try to find out, just took the dog back.

  5. Obviously this rescue is in the wrong here. That being said, there are many great rescue organizations out there. I volunteer for one such place and if it weren’t for them not only would many puppies be dead (they rescue alot of pregnant labs), but help to prevent people from buying puppies from breeders by adopting out to many families that were looking at purchasing. I am extremely fortunate to live in a state where almost all of our local shelters do not kill and have high adoption rates. Bringing in rescues from the south has not displaced the local dogs, there is enough demand to adopt and altering is very common. Not all rescues are bad.

    1. I think many people would like an explanation of how it is that the rescue you volunteer for just happens to “rescue alot of pregnant labs” . . . How does this come about? Is this a business plan? To purposely breed a popular breed of dog and claim the puppies are “rescues”? Does this rescue have appropriate facilities for raising “alot” of Lab puppies – considering that Labs are known for large litters? I’m confused – did you misspeak somehow?

      I don’t know if you realize it, but you have just admitted that your favorite rescue group is as arrogant as Bill Smith, with a goal “to prevent people from buying puppies from breeders “. These families were considering purchasing from breeders? This is also confusing, how does the rescue group know this, are they trolling somewhere? If this rescue group demonizes breeders and vilifies people for choosing to purchase a well-bred puppy from the breeder, they are as arrogant as Bill Smith, and just as controlling – if not more so.

      True, not all rescues are bad. Not all breeders are bad, either – but your comment suggests that you believe otherwise.

      It really does seem as if a high percentage of rescue groups are in it for the wrong reasons – the urge to punish and control others and expect to be patted on the back for it. It seems necessary to these people that MORE dogs suffer rather than fewer, in a kind of reverse “value added” system. This, to pretend that people who get a pet from a rescue group are morally superior to people who decide that they want a dog of a specific breed or type, size, energy level, grooming requirements, coat type, with a particular temperament and drive.

      People should carefully read these adoption contracts and run the other way if the adopter is called a “guardian” rather than an owner, or it says anywhere that the rescue group can take the dog back at all, for any reason. Really, this is bad, and there’s no good reason. If someone is mistreating the pet, neglecting it, there are existing remedies in law that deal with abuse, neglect or cruelty. Taking a dog back for a minor slip-up or an accident isn’t legal. Bill Smith clearly puts his ego above the welfare of Flash. I’m sure the dog has been traumatized by being taken away from a family that loves him. People shouldn’t be forced to essentially ‘rent’ their family pet. Frankly, I don’t think any contract that says such a thing will hold up legally. The Kreksteins should contact an attorney.

      1. I agree, that was a really weird post that raises a lot of questions. Brenda, where are all of these pregnant dogs coming from? Are they local, or are these some of the “imported” dogs? If local, then what is your rescue organization doing to work towards accessible spay/neuter options in the community? And why are “oops” pups considered somehow superior to intentionally bred ones? And how, if these “oops” pups are diverting adopters away from breeders, are these “imported” dogs not diverting adopters away from locals? Is the demand limited or is it not?

      2. I am stunned at the outright vilification of a rescue you know absolutely nothing about. They pull these pregnant labs that are to be killed with a belly full of puppies. And they work very closely with respectable and responsible breeders who assist with information and help when needed to ensure that all goes well. The current litter they have is cared for around the clock with a human in the room to ensure the babies are nursing well and doing fine. They don’t make a dime from their adoption fees and are only able to continue rescuing with donations. They aren’t “trolling” for pregnant mommas to make a quick buck. I live in an area where demand is high because spay/neuter programs have worked wonders. They do not vilify breeders but instead help to promote thoughtful adoption. I personally, do NOT believe in breeding, especially when there are millions of healthy, adoptable dogs killed every year in this country. With that said, I do believe that there are responsible breeders who will take back a dog for any reason, but they are in the minority. To see a rescue work tirelessly to make a minuscule dent in that number and then be vilified for it by people like you really pisses me off.

      3. I think maybe the problem is that you’re not explaining things very well, and it seems like you keep contradicting yourself. If spay/neuter programs have worked wonders in your area, then where are all of the pregnant dogs coming from? And in your first comment you do imply that there’s something wrong with buying from a breeder, and now you’re saying you’re not vilifying breeders, you just disagree with what they do.

      4. The pregnant dogs (that would otherwise be killed with a full belly of puppies) are coming from other areas of the country. And they do rescue others as well, not just pregnant females. They are not displacing any of our own shelter dogs and we have very low kill rates in my state with high demand for adoptable dogs. I DON’T agree with breeding while there are millions of healthy, adoptable dogs killed every year, that doesn’t mean I vilify or attack breeders. I have and always will, promote adoption first. I’m intelligent enough to realize that not everyone is going to adopt though. If I know someone that has decided to get a dog and for some reason will not adopt, i try to at least steer them to a reputable breeder instead of a puppy mill/backyard breeder pup.

      5. Ok, still confused. They’re not displacing any of your local shelter dogs, but they’re displacing dogs from breeders? Honestly I just can’t make heads or tails of your demand/supply equation.

      6. And I can’t make heads or tails of what you’re confused about. There is a high demand for healthy, adoptable dogs from people who do not want to purchase from a breeder. There are a limited supply of healthy, adoptable dogs in our area (great spay/neuter policies & education). If you still don’t get it, I don’t know how to make it any more clear.

      7. So you’re now saying that all of these adopters had already decided not to buy from breeders? Then what is the rescue doing to “help to prevent people from buying puppies from breeders”?

        You cannot have it both ways. Either these puppies are displacing other dogs or they are not. I suspect that they are, because I don’t know of anywhere in the US that truly has a demand for dogs that outstrips its supply. I do know of plenty of places that talk about the high demand for “healthy, adoptable” dogs, while they’re killing dogs that are treatable/trainable and could become healthy and adoptable.

        If you’re really claiming that your area has such a high demand for dogs that imported dogs don’t displace local shelter dogs, I would love to see the stats for your local shelters. Would you happen to have those available?

      8. I am done debating you. I have debated people like you before and there is absolutely nothing that I can say or show you that would change your mind – whatever that is because I sure don’t know and frankly don’t care. I can sleep at night knowing that I have done the best I can in support of a great group and possibly saved some lives in the process. I hope you can do the same.

      9. So you’re saying you don’t have the numbers? And yes, I can certainly do the same, in a house full of wonderful unhealthy unadoptable dogs.

      10. Did I say that? Did I? I actually do have the numbers but as I said, I’m done debating you because you’re the type of person that will either say I’m lying or the shelters in my state are, or god knows what else. It’s people like you with your snarky, holier than thou attitude that pits people against each other in the world of animal welfare and nothing ends up getting better because of it.

      11. You made a claim that imported dogs are not displacing local dogs, and I asked for numbers to substantiate that claim. You haven’t even given me the numbers, but you’re pre-emptively claiming that I’ll dispute them, and at the same time claiming *my* attitude is the problem. That is, quite frankly, bizarre behavior on your part.

  6. Neither are all breeders, Brenda. There would be far fewer dogs in shelter and rescue situations if people researched traits they could live with in a pet, then got the RIGHT pet instead of the free pet, or the politically correct, but temperamentally unsuitable pet. The most important thing a new owner can do is get the dog they can keep for its entire life because it meets their needs as far as grooming, exercise, and personality. A person who hates brushing a dog shouldn’t get a collie, or a lab, or a husky. Those breeds have double coats that require laborious brushing during shedding seasons. They should get a breed that has a single coat, or one that can be clipped professionally to avoid brushing chores. People who think, “Oh, a German shepherd has a short coat, so it must not need much brushing”, gets one and later dumps it in a shelter because they hate the hair. If someone lives in an apartment complex, they don’t’ want a dog that does a lot of ‘talking’. Shelties and beagle are frequently talkative pets. That can get the dog dumped in the shelter if in an unsuitable home.

    I’ve been in sheltering and rescue for nearly 30 years, and I assure you that if a new owner is careful about getting a dog that fits their lifestyle from a responsible breeder, instead of one because they feel sorry for it being in a shelter, it is far less likely to end up in a shelter, or back in a shelter. Responsible breeders will take their dogs back for any reason at any time, so there’s no reason a properly bred dog goes into a shelter situation except a new owner’s failure to hold up to their obligation.

  7. Brenda, sounds like you’re doing good work with a good group. And labs and lab mixes are one of my weakness, lol. I’ve run into good and not so good rescues, more good than bad but that’s just been my limited experience and luck.
    On the other hand Main Line sounds horrid. Dogs get loose, it happens. These people were doing their best to be responsible and find their dog. Shame on Main Line for being so wrong headed.

    1. The group that I work with has actually been through the very same experience with a far different outcome. When an adopter’s dog got lost, they did everything that they could to assist in helping find the dog and posted him all over their FB page. When the dog was found, they cheered and the dog went home to it’s family. Unfortunately, there are really shitty rescues out there. I am fortunate to work with a really good one.

  8. I think that rescues that put a clause into the contract stating they must be notified if a dog runs should have a legitimate reason to do so – such as they will mobilize volunteers to help search for the dog. That way they let the adopters know that the group is a resource for help (and happy adopters hopefully help the rescue in the future). If the rescue isn’t going to help the adopter get the dog back, then no, they have no business saying they should be notified.

    1. Regardless of what the “notification if pet gets lost” clause in the contract says, rescues need to be understanding and sympathetic to the fact that owners tend to get emotional when faced with a pet who has run off and are unlikely to remember the details on a piece of paper they signed years ago when adopting the pet. In this case, Main Line needs to appreciate that they adopted a pet to someone who loves him as a family member. That trumps any contract technicality concerns.

      1. I totally agree with you – Main Line is run by a power-mad jerk, and not giving the dog back to the owners is completely wrong. I was just saying that IF a group puts that request for notification in their contract, they should explain to the adopter that they want to be a helpful resource in case the dog is lost, and not use it as a way to both not help and to punish the owners. I’ve helped a number of greyhound owners whose dogs have gotten loose. The group sends out a call for assistance and people show up to help search. That’s what that part of the contract should guarantee to the owner – help, not harm.

  9. I heard from a lawyer that most parts of adoption contracts are usually unenforceable by law. The points in the contracts basically just serve to make people think about their adoption decision. Hopefully this is the case here, and the owners can fight to get their pet returned to them!

  10. Rather than advocating breeding bans, individuals should educate the masses on how to spot unhealthy animals and who to report the situation to . A majority of those who purchase from breeders have a particular trait in mind or have simply experienced the invasive methods that constitute pet adoption. As aforementioned, individuals don’t relish the idea of allotting their information to strangers. To remedy these negative thoughts, I would strongly suggest that rescues and shelters strive to build a better relationship with their community.

  11. Sick of these thefts; it’s becoming more and more common. It’s not rescue when a pet is not returned to its known owner. It’s crime.

  12. Brenda, you spent a lot more time being defensive than you did explaining your, to be honest, questionable claims. I am sure your rescue is a ‘good’ one in your mind, but you slipped up more than once, letting your real face out in public. It wasn’t sarahjaneb tripping you up, YOU are the one who stated clearly “help to prevent people from buying puppies from breeders by adopting out to many families that were looking at purchasing” as if that were evidence of what a great rescue it was. You also stated, more than once, “I personally, do NOT believe in breeding, especially when there are millions of healthy, adoptable dogs killed every year in this country.” Clearly, you thought/think this was right, but now that others question it you want to try and take it back, and blame people like sarahjaneb, claiming they are just too stupid to understand you. No, we understand just fine: you cannot have your cake and eat it too. You cannot act as if placing a dog from rescue is more noble than producing healthy, happy puppies that are well socialized and carefully bred from health tested parents, and then insist that isn;t vilifying breeders, and claim that others are just too stupid to get it when you point out that statements like that kinda ARE vilifying breeders.
    I am the director of an all species incorporated rescue, have been for over 15 yrs. I kicked OUT several members from our groups for espousing similar views. It is wrong headed, and you need to get over your anti-breeder bias and understand that breeders are your allies not your enemies. If you cannot do that, then you are not just being divisive, you are giving families bad information. There are a LOT of placements that should *never ever consider* a dog from rescue or a shelter, yet people who make noises like what you just did routinely insist that shelters or the rescue should ALWAYS be the first stop for people who want a pet. That is more of the extremist feel-good stuff like what H$U$ and PeTA squirts out. It gets in the way of people making good decisions about selecting pets that are a good fit for their level of knowledge and their situation. People listen to this and respond to the message that they are doing something ‘noble’ to rescue a pet, and ‘selfish’ when they buy one that fits their needs. The monetary costs are not particularly different, but the cost to the family might be quite a lot, esp in a rescue gone wrong. And the guilt trip hung on people who buy pets from breeders is very real, and it is very WRONG. I wish that you could put your acrimony, your need to be ‘right,’ and your bias behind you, and do more than lip service to the concept of putting the animals first. If you could do that, then you would clearly see that there are many, many situations where a rescue or shelter dog is a REALLY bad choice. As someone who has spent a life time finding perfect fits, rehabilitating dogs with ‘baggage’ from first homes gone wrong, and who is currently living with several animals who were simply unadoptable because they are just plain unsafe to go anywhere else, I have to tell you that the current climate where rescues and shelters continue to behave as if wanting a pet of your own choosing is wrong and bad, is actually hurting a lot more than just the shelter dogs themselves.

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