Sham Rescue Accused of Animal Abuse, Money Scams, and Breeding Rescue Dogs


Warning – this story is frustrating, crazy, and 100% outrageously true.

We recently found out that a rescue that has appeared on iHeartDogs.com before for some shady practices is in very, very hot water with the state of Oregon for a list of violations that is downright unbelievable. All Terrier Rescue (ATR) appeared in the news in late 2017 after refusing to return a dog who had gotten lost for a short time, claiming that the family who had adopted it was neglectful. It’s unclear if the family ever recovered their dog, but not long after other complaints came against the rescue. There are so many things wrong with this “rescue,” we’re going to put the important stuff in bold if you prefer to skim.

Plus: puppies to keep your blood pressure down while reading.

(All of these claims were made by the Oregon Attorney General – not iHeartDogs – after investigations by the Oregon Department of Justice. You can read the complaint from the Attorney General by clicking here.)

Multiple complaints from angry adopters came out against them around the same time the story about the lost dog hit the news. People claimed that when they attempted to adopt a dog they were told they’d have to foster first. Fostering required signing a strict contract and paying the rescue a fee of as much as $350. If you broke your contract you could say bye-bye to both, your foster dog and your cash.

The problem was that you could break your contract for doing normal, responsible dog-ownership type things. One person claimed that the dog she wanted to adopt but was forced to foster got sick shortly after she brought her home. When she contacted ATR about it, they told her to take the dog to a hospital nearly an hour away from her home or pay medical expenses herself. She agreed to pay the cost and planned to take the dog to a more convenient veterinarian, but was then told by ATR to take the dog to an unknown home for treatment.

In the statement filed with the Oregon Department of Justice, the foster says she felt trapped.

“Given it was her dog, I had no choice. A few hours later we called to check up on the puppy and were informed we’d ‘violated our contract’ by taking the dog to the vet and they were taking the dog back. We would forfeit our forced donation of $320.”

Another hopeful adopter/forced foster claimed a similar story – she had taken her dog to a local vet instead of driving an hour to the home of an unlicensed veterinarian as she was instructed to do by ATR. Her dog was taken from her as well and her forced donation forfeited, but the dog was later returned after she gave a second “donation” of $300.

Complaints like these were gasoline to the dumpster fire that was All Terrier Rescue. The state of Oregon opened an investigation and found so many violations it’s insane. In October of 2018 Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum submitted a 20-page complaint against the people responsible for All Terrier Rescue (ATR) and their second organization, Rescue Strong Oregon (RSO). And it’s a doozy.

All Terrier Rescue had been in business for nearly 20 years, founded by Jeri Miller and her daughter, Samantha Miller in 1999. They filed for tax exempt status and ran as a 501(c)(3) rescue for years. In 2006 the Department of Justice found that there were only two directors on the board – Jeri and Samantha – though the state requires a minimum of three to operate a nonprofit. A third was later added, but when questioned by authorities, she couldn’t tell them what her role within the organization was, or what her duties were.

From the beginning, Jeri and Samantha kept no financial or accounting records and had the rescue’s money mixed up with their own. Investigators found that they had used money from their non-profit rescue to pay bills, buy groceries, personal vehicles, and even a house while falsely telling adopters that all adoption fees were 100% tax deductible. 

The Department of Justice handed their findings over to the IRS and in 2008 ATR lost their non-profit status. However, in 2013 ATR recieved a letter from the IRS stating that they had been a non-profit since 1999, which didn’t mention the incident in 2008. The Department of Justice believes the letter was a mistake, but ATR continued to operate as a non-profit anyway.

All Terrier Rescue did not have an official facility. Most of the dogs were kept at Samantha Miller’s home – often, more than 50 at a time. Neighbors complained about the smell and noise coming from her home. She applied for a kennel license but was denied for multiple reasons, including health and welfare violations, zoning violations, and being inconsistent in saying why the dogs were there. She once claimed that all 53 dogs in her home at the time were her personal pets. She attempted to appeal but was denied again immediately.

That did not stop her from keeping pets in her home. Potential adopters were never allowed to see where the dogs were kept, and were asked to meet in public – often in parking lots – and to bring cash. If that sounds sketchy, it’s because it TOTALLY IS.

When brought before a court Jeri and Samantha claimed that it was right for them to take funds from the rescue for living expenses since most of the dogs are kept in their homes. When an inspection of Samantha’s home was requested, where most of the dogs are kept, she refused, saying it was private, personal property. To keep a license, animal rescue organizations keeping 10+ animals are required to submit records for every pet in its care and allow inspections of its property. ATR refused to do both or only submitted partial records.

When the request for documents and an inspection became demands, Jeri and Samantha attempted to dissolve All Terrier Rescue. They claimed there were no assets and we wish that was where it ended. It is not.

Samantha, Jeri and Tori Head, who had helped with ATR, then formed Rescue Strong Oregon, which, according to the Attorney General’s complaint, is

“simply ATR operating under a different name.”

Tori Head filed the documents to register RSO as a for-profit instead of a nonprofit, which was said to be a mistake. She also filed the documents with false information, claiming that RSO was run by a woman named Morgon Beach – an alias used by Samantha Miller. They also used a vacant address that had once belonged to an animal hospital, but did not belong to them. The animal hospital claimed that they had worked with ATR and RSO, and were familiar with both Millers, but had never met Tori Head or anyone named Morgon Beach.

RSO later tried to use LegalZoom to get the status changed to a nonprofit. “Morgon Beach” was the person communicating with LegalZoom to work on the issue, but it was Samantha Miller who paid them. The lawyer who represented ATR was listed as their agent, but when he was summoned to appear before a court for RSO, he claimed he had nothing to do with that organization. 

Rescue Strong has been making false claims to their potential adopters too. Aside from using the word “rescue” in what is clearly just an organization selling dogs, they also falsely claimed that Tori Head is a certified veterinary technician. Though she was trained as a veterinary assistant, becoming a certified vet tech requires more education and training than she has. RSO also claims that Samantha Miller is a licensed animal behaviorist and trainer, but she has never actually held any such certifications or licenses. 

Their website states that the dogs come unaltered – no spays, no neuters. Adopters are expected to pay a deposit for their dog, take him to a vet at their own cost, and return for some reimbursement. But what’s to stop a wannabe breeder from just leaving their dog intact? They stand to make a lot more selling puppies than what they’d get on a refund for a spay. RSO should know exactly how much one makes selling pups.

It also begs the question: where are they getting their dogs from now if they’re unaltered?

From Rescue Strong Oregon’s Website

The Attorney General also says that though RSO claimed that all adoptable dogs were fully vaccinated, many were found to have been sick or missing vaccines. Often, Rescue Strong Oregon couldn’t provide proof of vaccinations. 

This isn’t all of it. There are also financial discrepancies where thousands of adoptions they claimed and the revenue they said they received just doesn’t add up. Not claiming a salary yet taking money from the rescue, and claiming no revenue for years, then, suddenly thousands in one year. Etc.

Whew.

The complaint was filed in January 2019, with the hope that Rescue Strong Oregon will be dissolved. But so far, RSO continues to operate and is outright selling dogs on a Facebook page I will not name here. The dogs are sometimes shared just to the page (which, at this time, is public) or sometimes posted to Facebook Marketplace. This is not how a legitimate rescue operates.

UPDATE:

Since we first shared this post 3/5, we found several stories online from people who claimed the dogs they got from All Terrier Rescue/Rescue Strong Oregon were in extremely bad shape, sick, and that ATR/RSO encouraged them not to see a licensed veterinarian. Some claimed that they saw physical abuse of a dog firsthand by ATR, another said she had proof ATR allowed dogs to breed while in their care.

So far as we know, the organization has not been charged with animal abuse or negligence. These stories cannot be verified and are ancedotal – but there’s a lot of similarities. Again, none of these allegations are made by iHeartDogs. These are short exerpts from the full stories that can be found by clicking here.

From 1/19:

“When she opened the back, our puppy’s crate had slid and ended up at a 30 degree angle so the puppy had to try to stand on the back of the crate. Luckily, it had not fallen off the crate. … We were told our puppy had diarrhea from “just being dewormed.” 12 hours post adoption, the emergency vet told us our puppy had the worst case of giardia they had ever seen plus coccidia and untreated bite wounds. … The e-vet also estimated that our puppy was 28% underweight for the size, bone structure, and body condition. The e-vet and staff did not expect our puppy to survive.”

From 10/2017:

“Not even 12 hours after bringing our new family member home, we were at the e-vet. … The puppy has diarrhea at the adoption event and Samantha Miller said it was due to “just being dewormed” and to “give some cheese.” … Turns out the puppy had not been recently dewormed but has the worst case of giardia the e-vet had ever seen and coccidia. The puppy was 3 lbs underweight and the vet estimated only half the size it should have been at that age. … Samantha Miller stated our puppy’s mother was caught by All Terrier while giving birth. We even saw the mother, a pretty dog with extremely unique markings. She even had a unique name. Imagine our surprise when, about a year later, we went to a pet store and our dog’s mom was there with a new litter of puppies. One puppy looked just like the one we adopted and another looked just like one of our puppy’s littermates. We asked the people at All Terrier if that was our dog’s mom. They said no then said the dog’s name, the exact same name they gave to our dog’s mom. I went home and printed out the Petfinder picture of this dog and compared it to the picture I had kept of our dog’s mom. The markings were the same. … One encounter I witnessed her hitting a rescue dog for not going potty when she took it to the parking lot.”

From 7/17

“I just saw one of the girls that works for this rescue punch a dog twice because he started fighting with another dog. As soon as this was over the same girl started singing to another dog that “nobody wants him” i need to know where to go from here because these dogs are being mistreated.”

From 1/19:

“Upon meeting him, Robbie seemed like a friendly, quiet pup. Afterwards I figured he must have been partially sedated. … Two days later I took young Robbie to my own vet and she quickly diagnosed him with a broken hip. After further exam and x-rays, a specialist said the injury was about a month old, half-healed, and it was too late for setting it right. Robbie also had mange mites around his eyes. When I called ATR to ask for more information about this pup they could not tell me anything. … At first he was terrified of all people and pee-d submissively if you spoke to him. He hid in his crate and would bite anyone attempting to attach a leash to his collar. Actually he would try to bite me when I even tried to pet him. He was too nervous to eat unless provided with a place where he could hide and eat. He would run and hide as soon as he saw a leash.”

From 4/18:

“When the dog continued to cough, not eat or drink for 24 hrs, I called ATR. I was calm and kind but the woman I spoke to was rude and condescending. … She said her cough would go away and she would be able to eat again. They said give her some Tylenol and whatever antibiotic you have laying around. Well, she didn’t get better. I contacted me friend who is a vet and she the dog needs to see a specialist. But I was spooked from their insane contract. I drove 90 minutes in traffic to get the dog meds from their house. They said angrily, do not get out of your car. She shot the dog and gave me a bag of unmarked meds. So weird.”

From 2/18:

“My first red flag came when the woman working the event picked the dog up by the collar. What I mean by this I mean, she bent over, looped a finger under his collar and lifted the 14 lbs. dog into the air. She didn’t even do this quickly; she did it as though he was a piece of luggage, and the poor little thing was HUNG for a few moments. I reflexively gasped and reached out to support the dog’s butt, but she pulled him away from me. My son and I were livid after seeing how she manhandled the poor animal.”

From 9/17:

“I read through the fostering paperwork and instantly had concerns. I then asked about the no taking the dog to the vet policy and knowing many dogs have kennel cough and wanting to protect both mine and the new pup I asked if I could pay to take him to their vet. I got told no because most vets are not familiar with rescue dogs and they pick apart every little thing that could be wrong with them. This was said by one if the employees on a threatening way. … After signing everything the owner came and Sat in a chair across from me and said “I have been told you are being confrontational with my employees”. She then went on the bully me and threaten me if I take the pup to the vet she would take the puppy. And if I did not agree to her rules she would take the dog from my kids and put him back in the pen and he would be gone in 10 minutes. She went on to say if i did anything against the contract they would show at my house with the police and take the dog back. She made me look her in the eyes and say I agree.”

From 5/17:

“A day and a half after I brought her home, she began acting odd and was shaking and crying. I took her to the emergency vet, as it was a Saturday, and she was diagnosed with Parvovirus. … The woman I spoke with began screaming at me and blaming me for exposing my dog. Then she was furious that I had taken the pup to the vet and that only she knew how to treat dogs with parvo… That veterinarians don’t know what they’re doing. She wanted me to leave the vet and drive from Vancouver, WA to where she was at in Aloha, OR so she could personally treat my puppy.”

Keep your fingers crossed that the state of Oregon can resolve this issue soon. They’ve been trying to shut down the Miller’s dog-selling business for years. Let us know what you think about this situation on Facebook.

H/T: PamplinMedia.com

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