Remember when the Pound used to be first come, first serve? How Shelley Rizzotti games the system to cherry pick her “rescues”


What a racket the Animal Shelter and this woman have got going.

It’s absolutely outrageous how the current adoption set-up at the Pound lends itself to this kind of commercially exploitative behavior. Regular folks can’t get the animals they want like they used to.

From a current Facebook page on the topic:


Imagine going to an animal “shelter” and seeing a dog that immediately captures your heart. When a staff member tells you that the new love of your life isn’t available for a few days, and tells you to come back on the available date, you begin preparing for the homecoming of your new pet. You buy a new bed, bowls, toys and whatever else your new companion will need and you go to the shelter a couple more times to visit him/her.

]Now imagine that you show up at the designated time and are told that instead of paying the adoption fee for your new dog and taking him/her home, you’ll be pitted against other people in an “auction”, which quickly devolves into a bidding war with participants who have seemingly unlimited funds to outbid you. Rather than pay the $102 adoption fee, you go home empty-handed and heartbroken because an animal “rescue” group has paid more than $500 for the dog you had your heart set on.

Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? Who would think that an animal rescuer would actually compete for a dog (or cat) that other people want? You thought animal rescuers actually rescue the animals nobody else wants, didn’t you? Alas, no, not in the City of Los Angeles. Los Angeles Animal Services (LAAS) prefers to pit people against one another in a bidding war, and allows animal “rescue” organizations to bid against members of the public for high-dollar animals. ***It’s important to note that Los Angeles Municipal Code Section 53.12 sets adoption fees for animals from LAAS, and does not make any provision for auctioning them off to the highest bidder!

Here it comes. We’ve always wondered how she did it:

Enter TAPS (The Animal Protectorates), one of the more aggressive competitors against the public for shelter animals. Because TAPS solicits donations from the public, it has the advantage of using other people’s money to buy dogs (and cats) at much higher prices than many people can pay, or should pay, under the law. How can an organization claim to rescue animals when in fact its leader is pricing the public out of real adoptions and leaving other animals at LAAS facilities to die? The animals TAPS (or other “rescues”) buys at auction would have homes without them, so the net benefit is zero in terms of lives saved.

According to a Facebook post from early 2016, the president and founder of TAPS, Shelley Rizzotti, paid over $700 for a dog, knowing that the woman and her son really wanted that dog. That’s not an isolated event – not by a longshot. Ms. Rizzotti continues to acquire dogs from LAAS animal facilities, directly or indirectly, by outspending real adopters. When LAAS recently changed its policies to prohibit its “rescue” partners (New Hope Partners) from bidding on dogs at auctions, Rizzotti apparently simply quit the New Hope Partner program. Interestingly, TAPS is still listed as a member of the Best Friends NKLA Partner program.

It seems like LAAS “management” should have caught on to that ruse, doesn’t it? Not so fast, there is a crucial piece of information missing…..Ms. Rizzotti, aka, Shelley Rios, is married to the kennel supervisor (Sergio Rios) at LAAS’s West Valley facility, from which (not coincidentally) TAPS has bought and continues to buy a lot of dogs and cats for considerably more than the price set by the law. Very often, the public may not even see some of the high-dollar animals. When they do, they’ll likely have to bid against her/TAPS. Real adopters don’t have the advantage of using donor money to bid, so they get aced out of the process and go home empty-handed. Who needs rules when your husband lets you do whatever you want, conflict of interest or not?
• November 6, 2016 TAPS paid $367 for a yellow Lab
• November 12, 2016, TAPS paid $512 for a chocolate Lab (Rizzotti’s friend reportedly did her bidding for her that time)
• November 17, 2016 TAPS paid $511 for a chocolate poodle puppy.
*** These are just a few examples. There are countless others.
A week later, TAPS had the nerve to go to Facebook with an emotional plea for donations to cover $1,500 in medical expenses for another of TAP’s dogs! I wonder if anyone would have felt compelled to hand over their hard-earned money if they knew that TAPS (Rizzotti) had squandered at least $1,400 buying dogs THAT OTHER PEOPLE WANTED right before cyber-begging for more money.

Here’s the kicker:

As if it’s not enough that TAPS outspends real adopters to buy highly desirable animals to stock its “rescue” retail store in Burbank, Rizzotti somehow knows exactly when those animals will be available. Could it be that her husband, Sergio, is feeding her inside information about which high-dollar animals have come into LAAS and when they’ll be available for her to buy? It’s got to be more than coincidence that she’s there to buy those animals the minute they should be available to real adopters. That seems like it could create an ethical conundrum for Mr. Rios, or at the very least, the appearance of impropriety. It might in another organization, but much of the “management” at LAAS doesn’t seem the least bit concerned about ethics or legalities.

We’ve long suspected that she got tipped off from someone about the more elite of the available stock. Apparently we’re not the only ones.

A number of people are crying foul over this to LAAS higher ups, but that hasn’t put an end to it, or even slowed it down for that matter. In an apparent effort to pretend that her husband, Sergio, isn’t playing favorites with her “rescue” organization, Rizzotti regularly goes shopping for animals at LAAS’s Harbor shelter and South LA shelter and others.

How is this really rescuing animals? When there are multiple people who want the same animal, that animal doesn’t need to be rescued! That dog or cat is one of the lucky ones that would go to a new home that day. Rescue is supposed to be about finding homes for those animals that are otherwise going to be killed, not stocking a retail store with the most attractive merchandise. This is just the type of thing that drives potential adopters to buy from breeders and avoid adopting from shelters and animal rescuers. When most people think of doing the right thing, i.e., “adopt don’t shop”, they’re probably not expecting a bidding war with prices in excess of $500. And it contributes to the public perception that shelters only have pitbulls and chihuahuas available for adoption.

Of course. It’s just so awful. These animal rescue people are commercial parasites now.

Ironically, Ms. Rizzotti is an attorney and runs an organization called Animal Law Guild whose stated goal is to make the world a better place for animals through legal advocacy. Might I suggest that for next year’s Animal Law Guild conference, Ms. Rizzotti consider adding a segment on Ethics in Animal Rescue?

Ethics? Who’d write the curriculum for her? She couldn’t.

We’re so glad this Facebook woman is speaking up here. We’ve been hearing a number of stories lately about how it’s impossible now to just go down to the Burbank Animal Shelter and get a nice family pet. Lots and lots of disappointed kids.

Who the hell comes up with these new shelter ideas? It’s all about privilege and favoritism now, and money, and making things a total pain in the ass for everyone else.



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34 responses to “Remember when the Pound used to be first come, first serve? How Shelley Rizzotti games the system to cherry pick her “rescues”

  1. E.

    Rizzotti is in a profit making sham that she pretends is a non profit. Sherry is one miserable woman who set up a non profit to make profits. Many have turned away from the protectorates because they are not about saving the most unwanted animals.

  2. Tye.

    The dog pound speaks woof woof woof they want you to only get a dog from them and they overcharge for them

    • Jennifer Jean

      If this Shelley woman is bidding on dogs at the pound,
      she should step down from her position.
      Is this really true?
      She should just open a dog a dog store and admit
      she is only after the money!!!

      • semichorus

        Does the Burbank Animal Shelter allow dealers to bid?

        Several of the LA shelters have “no dealers” policies. As should Burbank.

        • LA Animal “Services” has a policy against its “rescue partners” (New Hope Partners) bidding at animal auctions, but it exists on paper only. To bypass that policy, TAPS just relinquished its New Hope Partner status and continues to outbid the public for animals.

  3. Tye.

    The crazy protectorate people are out and about so lock your doors and protect your pets from these craZies

  4. Nancy

    I have never understood this asking for donations and then charging for the dogs thing. If it is about finding homes then the dogs should be free

  5. chad

    That’s a well-written, convincing piece. Well done.

  6. Anonymous

    These protectorates do not care about animals they care about themselves. They are a group who want to control everyone and make a profit doing it. Our shelter should ban them from ever entering the facility.

  7. Anonymous

    Think about it:

    The BURBANK ANIMAL SHELTER is run by the Burbank Police.

    Shelley Rizzotti set up the Burbank Police Foundation to pay off the police, and brought in the dogs to help with her Woof and Hoof.

    She got control of the shelter and first pick of whatever she wanted by creating yet another non profit that pays them off to get control.

    • Anonymous

      This is so unfounded. Shelley doesn’t even adopt from Burbank Animal Shelter. Whoever wrote this up, is lonely and disgruntled, and uninformed. ugh. what a waste of time and lies. sucks to be them.

      • semichorus

        They must have gotten wise to her. No one’s talking about Burbank anyway.

        Love the “lonely and disgruntled” explanation. I’ve noticed before that these phony personalizations are how “TAPS” handles criticism.

  8. Anonymous

    True Shelley it shows that Dr Gordon does not care about dogs the way you do after all he never tries to make money off of them, in the words of Ms Espinosa ” SHE’S NUTS”

  9. Anonymous

    Sorry Shelley you are a representative of Nobody and Espinosa was correct you are a nut

  10. Ryder W.

    outrageous that shelters allow this to occur…we thought this was all about philanthropy, good will, and more importantly, what’s best for the animals themselves.. and doing it in the name of a ‘non-profit,’ using other people’s money to box-out legitimate families from adopting a pet, just so they could make more $$$$…. and then cherry-picking ‘which’ dogs will reap the largest return, and leaving other adoptable dogs behind, because their breed doesn’t attract the top dollar…shameful, and absolutely disgusting!!!! surprised her TAPS isn’t being boycotted by now..

    • Anon

      It is not about the dogs it’s about a profit with these people, a tax free profit at that

      • semichorus

        I’m curious how her “rescuing” animals that are already in big demand helps them. Or the other ones.

        She’s so completely full of crap, isn’t she? If she were rescuing strays on the street that would be one thing, and admirable. But what she does is cull out the desirable ones from the pound and then makes money on them.

        It’s just awful, and I’m glad that lady wrote about it. I’d long suspected that this was the “protectorate” practice.

        • M.B.

          Shelley Rizzotti takes the highly desirable animals because she can sell, I mean, “adopt” them out quickly. This is why she often takes animals on the day they’re available for adoption because if she doesn’t “rescue” them immediately, they’d get adopted right away. She competes with the public, and does not help the public or animals.

  11. Anonymous

    If it wasn’t true it would be hard to believe it’s true.

  12. Anonymous

    C’mon, Semi–de rich white folk need their conscience soothed with purebred $1000.00 ‘rescue fur babies’. Let the snot nose barrio loser ninos pick over the mange ridden mutts. It’s only fair!

  13. chad

    Those videos evoke a creepy Stepford TAPS feel. Kind of cultish too.


    Does “SMELLY SHELLEY” take money donated to TAP’S……
    Then bids up on the high quality dogs at local animal shelters
    (pounds) ? Sells them for top dollar? Runs the money through her business and then take’s the money???
    If that’s whats going on? She’s a real ” Douche Bag ! ”
    Shelley should be removed from her position!
    Sounds like TAP’S is a total rip off !

  15. Anonymous

    The part that surprises me is that TAPS never makes a statement to clear up the gossip. Disregard for Burbank jabber will surely put a dent in the reputation of this rescue. I have personally been told that very few dogs (acquired for TAPS) come from the Burbank pound. I’d love to know if this is a mistruth. Surely, it’s a benefit to the city if they are rescuing hard to place dogs and giving them exposure. Bidding on pure breds in Burbank (and other cities) is breaking every code of animal rescue.
    How many dogs has this rescue bid on and why?

    • Anonymous

      Over and over again we notice that doing business in Burbank is great for the people who have major connections. They are beholden to no one and don’t ever defend their actions.

    • semichorus

      They’re not going to respond. No one is.

      Whether it’s the Leader, or My Burbank, or the “City of Burbank” Facebook page, or any of the other facilitators in town, and their shills and defenders, there’s been a concerted effort lately to completely ignore any issue of concern that comes up here. A freeze out of sorts, which much of the time involves censorship.

      Ultimately this doesn’t work of course, because thank god we have outside legal interests looking in.

      I can’t believe either that none or few of their dogs come from the BAS. It’s just done quietly.

  16. Disgusted in Burbank

    This woman is a sick narcissist paying top dollar for dogs to stock her high end pet store. Rents on Magnolia are very $$$ expensive (for a non profit especially) and so is the mortgage on her 2MM dollar house. Her latest husband’s/victim’s income is listed online at $65,000 a year she only married him to get her “rescue” dogs at a deep discount. When she’s done using him for all he’s worth (not much) she will move onto the next.These two are living off donations and filtering the money thru a nonprofit. Total racket. She should go to jail like her father. She’s a sick woman. Please leave Burbank Shelley Lynn.

    • Anonymous

      She has her law office in back…making the animal front a cheap way for office space in back. UGH! ….it truly is disgusting.

  17. Anonymous

    Shelley’s law office as of 2015 has been the TAPS store. She announced this on the link below. But, on all her law website and other location listings her address is not stated. Hmmmmmmm???????

  18. Anonymous In the search box place “The Animal Protectorates” You will see some income amounts for the org. Not sure what the time table is on the amounts.

  19. Wildblues

    Are you aware that they take senior dogs into hospice care and foster them for the remainder of their lives. They rescued severely injured dogs and get them Vet care and rehabilitate them.
    You are wrong in your assessment of this group.
    They work tirelessly for the animals they get from the shelters , the shop is immaculate and the staff and volunteers are fabulous care givers to animals.
    They’ve bottle fed litters of kittens and puppies and they’ve done several hundred adoptions in their 2 years in business.
    Shelley is a delightful person that cares about the animals she brings into the shop.
    I appreciate her honesty , tenacity, intelligence, compassion and her true love of animals with a promise that they’ll never end up at shelter again.
    Stop hating and start appreciating those that do good in our community. Grateful goes a lot further than hateful.

    • JK

      Thank you for someone finally stating the truth! ugh. the rest of this post was so hard to read. people are so misinformed.

  20. Disgusted in the Rancho

    word on the street the pet store everyone loves to hate is going to be forced to close its doors soon. despite exorbitant fees to adopt. ms. rios also forced to sell her 2MM house it seems. perhaps she is finally being driven out of town?

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