Most of us would feel really good about the decision we made if we purchased a dog from a rescue. That is the experience that many people had when they buy a dog from Hobo K-9 Rescue but there is something they may not know. The group is a registered nonprofit, but they are not what you think.
Behind-the-scenes, you would come to realize that the dogs are not rescued at all. Rather, they are puppies that come from puppy mills, farms that are responsible for breeding hundreds of dogs and keeping the parent dogs in very poor conditions. This is a new scam that is designed to trick people so that they purchase puppy mill dogs.
When The Companion Animal Protection Society heard about this nonprofit last year, they realized that something needed to be done. Hobo K-9 is registered as a 501(C)3 so officially, they are a nonprofit group. They are also located in the same town as the Companion Animal Protection Society, and it was discovered that they were a brokering company selling puppy mill dogs to stores throughout the country. Quite obviously, their suspicion level was very high.
A representative of the company said: “It was apparent that it was a problem because it was literally registered to the same person who runs the largest puppy broker facility that exists in the U.S.”
The representative, Pete (not his real name), traveled to the area in April 2018 to see what was taking place. He drove to the address of the registered nonprofit and saw a sign on the door, J.A.K.’s Puppies.
“When I walk around the back, the door is open,” Pete said. “The key lock is turned so it’s ajar, and when I walk in, you can see from the footage that those women are very upset that I’m in there. They want to know who I am, why I’m there. I was trying to act like I’m a very innocent member of the public who has walked in here and just wants a dog, but they’re telling me that they have no puppies in there. They won’t tell me where the puppies are, and the only answer that they will give to any of my questions is that I have to talk to Jolyn.”
The women were talking about the owner of the establishment, Jolyn Noethe but it seems as if the entire establishment was created to avoid taxes and allow the puppy mills to sell their dogs in cities where they have been banned.
“This whole thing is that J.A.K.’s is allowed to have a separate entity, owned by the same people, to then circumvent the law,” Pete said. “They [J.A.K.’s] will boldly admit that that’s what they’re doing.”
As the investigation continued, Peter also visited a store in Chicago that sells purebred and designer breeds from that establishment. They are one of the stores that say the dogs are from rescues. It is illegal in Chicago to sell dogs from large commercial breeders.
“They [Pet Luv Pet Center] admitted that they’re getting their dogs from Hobo K-9 Rescue, and they were only allowed by city ordinances to sell puppies from rescues — they couldn’t sell from breeders,” Pete said. “So I said, ‘I want to know where these puppies actually come from. If they’re coming from a rescue, they could be coming from anywhere.’ I was told in so many words, ‘No, they come from a breeder. We have to say it’s a rescue.’ So I say, ‘Oh, so they go from a breeder to a rescue to here?’ And the woman just nodded.”
Another store that sells dogs from this establishment is located in Escondido, California. When the store was investigated, they were less forthcoming with information but he could clearly see that the dogs did come from that ‘rescue’. He also saw that the dogs were sold for a large amount of money.
“The workers were just saying, ‘That’s a rescue,’ and, ‘That’s all they know,’” Pete said.
There were also two other stores that are known to sell these dogs from the Hobo K-9 Rescue. Those stores are Shake A Paw in Union and Green Brook, New Jersey and Bark Boutique & Rescue in Temecula, California.
Another organization where these dogs may be going is the East Coast Humane Society, in Venice, Florida.
“East Coast Humane Society had a shady website with pictures of rescues, but they don’t say where they’re from,” Pete said. “Every other week, they go to Petco, and they will adopt out puppies, but you don’t see these puppies on their website though, and they’re for very high prices.”
Aside from investigating the Hobo K-9 Rescue, more than 700 puppy mills across the country have been visited by Peter. He went to Van Wyk Mills, which is one of the mills that is used to acquire the dogs.
“It was dogs spinning in cages, and you don’t see a spot in the pen that doesn’t have feces on it,” Peter said. “I remember these adorable little Rottweiler puppies and their mom wagging their tails, jumping up, trying to get attention … and they’re wandering around giant piles of poop. They’re sitting all over it, and it’s smeared all across the concrete.”
He also saw many dogs with open wounds and they were lacking in medical treatment.
“I saw a German shepherd, and her left ear is swollen and bloody — it’s got a hematoma on it,” Pete said. “She was kind of holding her head to the side. By not treating it, it’s a violation of the Animal Welfare Act.”
It is unfortunate but many of the types of dogs that are sold as ‘rescues’ are actually those that come from this puppy mill.
Fake rescue groups are not a common occurrence but if action is not taken, they may be more prevalent in the years to come.
“When we’re passing laws that prevent stores from selling from breeders … [but allow them to] sell animals that come from a rescue … it has to be an actual rescue — preferably a local rescue that is either a municipal shelter or a shelter that you can vouch for,” Pete said.
When buying a puppy, people should also be extra cautious that they are actually getting a rescue dog and not one from a puppy mill.
“I always feel bad for the average consumer trying to figure this out,” Pete said. “I’ve been to over 700 puppy mills, and I’ve done undercover work for the past 17 years. I know this kind of stuff, but the average consumer has no idea.”
“If you see a young puppy, it’s a red flag,” Pete added. “You see a designer puppy or a purebred, it’s a red flag. If the price is extremely high — higher than a normal shelter would have — its a red flag. When they’re not trying to match you with the animal, [but] they’re just trying to get you to take off and leave with the animal, you have another red flag.”