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:
OUTBIDDING ADOPTERS AT AUCTIONS FOR SHELTER ANIMALS – IS THAT REALLY ANIMAL RESCUE?
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.