What You Need to Know About the Latest Shelter Scandal



A multimillion-dollar nonprofit pet rescue in Colorado was hit with a $15,000 fine for multiple violations that put pets in danger. National Mill Dog Rescue, which has a high profile and a strong social media following, imported dogs into Colorado without the proper paperwork and vaccinations, failed to produce medical records for its pets, transported cats and dogs without a license, and had dogs injured in dogfights at its facility.


The Pet Animal Care Facilities Act agency (PACFA), which is part of Colorado’s Department of Agriculture, is responsible for regulating shelters and breeders in the state. In an interview with The Huffington Post, which published an investigatory piece about National Mill prior to the fine being administered, the agency’s manager said the huge fine is a warning to other nonprofit shelters and rescuers.


PACFA was first alerted to National Mill’s possible wrongdoing by the rescue’s former marketing director in January. The $15,000 fine mandates that $7,000 be paid immediately. The state can demand an additional $8,000 if National Mill fails inspection or violates additional rules during a one-year probationary period. The nonprofit will experience multiple unannounced inspections during this timeframe. PACFA is also launching a separate investigation into whether the rescue’s founder has been practicing veterinary medicine without a license.


According to Nick Fisher, PACFA’s manager, the number of animals coming into Colorado has increased from 17,000 in 2013 to 45,000 in 2018, with most of them being rescues. Regulations that monitor shelters and keep pets safe are more vital than ever.


“Rescues and shelters have such a positive connotation that everybody should get their dogs there,” Fisher said. “But a lot of the stuff we see happening with these rescues and shelters is pretty bad. Our hope is that other rescue groups look at what happened to National Mill Dog and say, ‘Well, I better get my act together, because if I don’t and somebody files a complaint on me, I’m going to be in trouble.’”


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