Rocco. Former fighter, forever lover.
A lucky dog whose owners trained him based on his needs, not their politics
A few months before Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Utah got hold of a
They cold-call emailed me and offered me a bunch of money to do something I normally do for free.
Seems that their hundreds of paid staff were not able to handle or train the herds of pit bulls they had brought back from Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina. They said that they couldn't house the pit bulls, that these dogs didn't do well in a "sanctuary" environment. (Swamp pits must be totally different from the high-news-value and lucrative Virginia pits that they very quickly snapped up.)
They wanted to pay professional trainers to take these dogs off their hands, train them, and place them in homes. The email was full of praise for my well-established prowess as a trainer at the top of the profession.
M'Kay. And the catch is?
I had to promise to use only "positive" training techniques.
Never mind correctly defining what "positive" means. I knew what they meant. They knew what they meant. And it had nothing to do with the training needs of any real live dog.
They were sending dogs to be out of sight, out of mind. (Katrina dogs were no longer a good direct-mail pitch.) Since this charity spends money like a sailor in port -- private plane, anyone? -- the money was the easy way to make the pit bulls go away. Part of the pretty story for the donors about Spike going to live on the Farm was that only "positive" dog trainers were going to fix these animals that their expert in-house staff could not handle.
I wrote back, telling them to look me up when they got their heads out of their colons. Or something to that effect. I also told them that they were guaranteeing that they were going to be sending money and dogs to liars. Because anyone can lie and claim to be using nothing but cookies 'n' love, while the reality is quite different. Seen it. I told them that they were going to be selecting out all the truthful, ethical trainers -- the ones who would refuse to lie about using balanced training methods, or would refuse to promise something that they could not guarantee would be the right thing to do.
They did not respond.
But others took them up on their offer.
One of them was Don the Dog Guy. They sent him 28 pit bulls.
"He was paid $1,000 for each dog he took for training and placement. He claimed to have placed the dogs and sent convincing photos and wrote stories about the dogs for our Web site," [BF spokesman] Polis said. " Don actually was quite popular with the trainers here and had somewhat of a following on our Web site."
Where are the 28 dowried dogs that Best Friends gave to Don Chambers now?
"...just three were placed in homes. Ten were euthanized at the Lorain County Kennel. One died in a dog fight. One died of untreated heartworms. Three died and were tossed into a trash bin. Six are unaccounted for. Best Friends took back three of them.""Euthanized at the Lorain County Kennel" means, Chambers took the dogs to the pound to be killed.
Read the whole story here
But, you know, no one could have predicted such an outcome from offering money to people in exchange for them telling you what you want to hear.
Who could have foreseen that the levees could fail?
No one. Of course.
Posted edited after more time with the Googles:
Video of Don Chambers and one of the Katrina dogs
Used the Wayback Machine to get to his last known website
Second edit, another article in a more local paper:
The Morning Journal