Santa Monica Observer - Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

Letters Karma Rescue


March 4, 2014

Sandy Banks' March 4, 2014 column in the Los Angeles Times about a dog Karma Rescue recently saved deserves a response from our group.

Since its founding in 2003, Karma Rescue has found forever-homes for over 2,200 homeless dogs in Los Angeles. Our activities should send a clear message about our mission: An education program sends volunteers to juvenile prisons and Los Angeles schools to educate kids about becoming animal allies in their communities. Our spay/neuter program sterilizes 250-500 dogs per year for free. An outreach program, Project Coco, has helped homeless dog owners get medical care for their beloved pets, dispensed food to dog owners and shelters, and helped to bring resources to owners who need help.

Unfortunately, the recent publicity and prolonged social media assault surrounding the adoption of "Kami" has disseminated misinformation about our organization's practices. In this press release, we hope to state our case clearly for the record and affirm our commitment to helping homeless dogs in our community. Though this has been a sad experience for everyone involved, our aspiration is that something good can come of it: more people will microchip and tag their dogs. Our rescue offers free microchipping and spay/neuter to anyone who contacts us. These minimal simple, cheap, accessible precautions prevent these sorts of situations from happening in the first place.

Here is a timeline of events:

- On February 13, a Rhodesian Ridgeback was impounded in the West Valley Animal Shelter. She had neither identification tags nor a microchip. When impounded, stray dogs are held for five days in order to allow their owners time to find them. They are on display in the kennels and their photographs are displayed on the city-wide L.A. Animal Services (LAAS) website.

- After a mandatory hold in the shelter, LAAS can destroy the dog, release it for public adoption, or turn over its legal guardianship to a rescue group. Any animal is extremely vulnerable at this time because the shelters are over-populated.

- On February 19, the dog in question was taken off "hold" since she was not claimed. The shelter put her up for adoption, though she could have been destroyed at any time after that.

- On the morning of February 20, Karma Rescue representatives went to the shelter. After being introduced to "Kami," Karma volunteers fell in love and took over her legal guardianship. She became a new member of the Karma Rescue family.

- The dog, now safe from being euthanized, was spayed by the shelter and placed at NKLA's West Los Angeles Adoption Center.

- On February 21 at 6:03 p.m., Karma received, and approved, an adoption application for Kami, and requested the applicant family have an in-person meet-and-greet with her. That family met Kami at NKLA and took her home that day.

- At 6:54 p.m. that evening, Karma Rescue received an e-mail containing a second application for Kami from "Rosa Torres." However, this application was not reviewed until after the adoption was complete. Karma received a voicemail at 4:57 p.m. from "Rosa Torres" in which she claimed to be the dog's owner. Karma had not been aware of this voicemail until after the adoption had taken place.

- At 9:00 a.m. on Saturday, February 22, Karma contacted "Rosa Torres" to let her know Kami had already been adopted. She was also informed that had she contacted the organization sooner, Karma would have been in a better position to reunite her with her dog. During the aforementioned telephone conversation with Ms. Torres, she was also informed that Karma had spoken with Kami's adopters, the dog's now-legal owners, to apprise them of the situation.

- At all times, Karma has acted legally, in good faith, and with the best interests of the dog as a priority. LAAS and the LAPD have confirmed that there has been no illegal conduct on the part of the rescue.

Although our organization, as a rule, does not participate in mud-slinging on the internet, it has been monitoring various social media outlets regarding this situation; notably absent are any comments from Rosa Torres, the only name Karma had been given via voice-mail and on the adoption application for the former owner of Kami. There has since been no further contact from Ms. Torres. Now, online, a woman named "Lexi Quinn" claims ownership of the dog that she calls "Raffiki."

"Lexi Quinn" has commenced the social media assault against Karma Rescue. There have been inflammatory, misleading, outright false online postings regarding Karma Rescue and the events surrounding Kami's adoption. Ms. Quinn has enlisted allies to her "cause," and followers have threatened to organize pickets at Karma's adoption and fundraising events. Among the many defamatory on-line statements made about Karma is that it has engaged in a pattern and practice of discrimination. This is, of course, a particularly insidious and exploitive way to solicit support.

After a decade of devotion to the cause of reducing dog overpopulation and propagating spay/neuter education, the proliferation of false accusations and the spread of rampant misinformation breaks our hearts and dampens our power as an organization that can effect good change for the animals and their owners in our community.

We would like to address the part of Banks' article where she says we require a "$300 'adoption contribution.'" This part of the article might mislead a reader to think that we are selling rescued dogs. To the contrary, we do not believe that dogs should be bought or sold in general. We request a $300 donation from every adopter, but always waive this fee if the adopter has limited resources and needs to spend that money on supplies for his or her new dog. A month of boarding and food for a rescued dog starts at $450 per month. Medical bills frequently escalate that monthly cost because most of our dogs have come from either the streets or shelters where they have been exposed to physical hardship.

Although we have done everything we can to ensure that this one particular dog is in a safe and loving home, we regret any pain that these events have caused. We will continue to advocate tirelessly on behalf of the animals of our city and the people who love them.

Karma Rescue


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