Saturday, January 7, 2017

Washington: Sharon Gold, owner of Furever Home, faces renewed scrutiny after years of complaints

WASHINGTON -- Firefighters responded to a warehouse-like building near Tumwater where 18 dogs died of smoke inhalation.

The deceased included three mothers and their 15 puppies.

Thurston County Animal Services said 19 other dogs were found safe in kennels inside the building. Another dog and cat were rescued and treated for smoke inhalation. About 40 animals in total were on site.


Sharon Gold, the owner of the dogs, said she runs a rescue called Furever Home. Gold told KIRO 7 she had just moved her operation to this location Sunday.

“There’s no words to describe, you know – what I feel and what these dogs went through today,” Gold said.

Animal Services said Thursday’s fire was ruled an accident.


Gold said her friend had been helping with laundry and had left the dryer running, which sparked the fire.

She said she has been running the organization for seven years in Washington state.

Other sites say she is hauling in dogs from Mexico and California, not providing them with vet care, dumping sick dogs at the local shelter...

Susanne Beauregard, director of Animal Services, said Furever Homes operates in “less than ideal” circumstances that are difficult to challenge legally. She has become familiar with Gold over the past five to six years as the rescue organization has changed locations around the county.

Animal Services said there was never any evidence of abuse or neglect.

Really? No evidence of abuse or neglect??? According to the reporter who visited the warehouse [for a 2015 article about her 'rescue'], the “stench of feces and urine” inside the warehouse “can trigger your gag reflex.”

And a women who adopted a dog from the group said in the article that “I’ve been to a lot of different shelters. I’ve never seen anything so filthy in my life” and “Anybody that takes care of animals like that shouldn’t be taking care of any animal.”

The dog she adopted had kennel cough, a common ailment dogs can get when they inhale bacteria or virus particles into their respiratory tract and can be caused by “exposure to crowded and/or poorly ventilated conditions, such as are found in many kennels and shelters.”


But despite the fact that, as the article noted, Forever Homes “has been the subject of calls about crowding, dirty kennels, barking and the occasional loose dog,” Forever Homes and Sharon Gold have managed to escape prosecution.

Joint Animal Services director Susanne Beauregard told the Olympian that the reason her office hasn’t filed charges against Gold is because, “We have never found anything that I would deem prosecutable in any of the complaints we have ever received.”

Furever Homes Dog Rescue: 100+ cases with Thurston County Animal Control since 2010

The vast majority of the incidents (93%) happened from 2013 through early 2016.

The reports show Gold dumped 50 dogs at the shelter simply because she had “too many dogs.” She also turned over 18 dogs to JAS for euthanization.

...Gold turned a dog over to animal control because it was a hermaphrodite and “is being attacked by other dogs.” The dog was “covered in feces” and “not in overall good health.” JAS found a home for it.

...In a bite report filed with JAS, a woman said a stray terrier mix from Furever Homes bit her on both hands after she stepped between it and her 3-year-old son.

...An officer who had been at Furever Homes recently wrote “there were at least 100 dogs all running around tougher in filth (feces and urine). Stated the conditions were horrible. (The officer) adopted one of the dogs and took it to be groomer immediately because of the filth and to the vet where she was told the dog has kennel cough.”

...Someone filed a complaint about Furever Homes with JAS that said “sick animals are in the facility and it smells like Parvo/Giaria/Illness and copious amounts of feces.”

...Gold brought a chihuahua with parvo to JAS and asked for her to be euthanized. The report didn’t say whether or not the dog had ever been taken to a vet.

...Furever Homes gets weekly deliveries of dogs indiscriminately pulled from shelters in California or taken off the streets of Mexico. Gold then tries to adopt out the dogs as quickly as possible, usually without a comprehensive medical exam or behavior testing.

Furever Homes rescue illegally brought puppies from Mexico into Washington


The remaining issue of the number of dogs allowed at one location is a matter for code enforcement to handle. It is not known yet whether Tumwater code enforcement will investigate the facility in Thursday’s fire.

“The dog owner in this case would have needed a kennel license in this case from the city of Tumwater. The kennel license is required for any facility that has over four adult dogs or cats,” said Anna Johnson, an animal control officer.

Gold told KIRO 7 she had not obtained that license.


“We just moved here on Sunday. Monday morning, I got an emergency call from my sister in California. I had to fly to California. I didn’t have time to deal with anything yet,” she said.

When Gold found out about the fire, she immediately got on a plane back to Seattle. She spoke to KIRO 7 immediately after returning to the property.


When asked about previous complaints against her, Gold said, “I’ve been called every name in the book. I don’t care. I know who I am. I know what I do. When animal control doesn’t go to save a dog, I do. When there’s dogs that are injured or broken and nobody else wants them, I take them.

"The blind, the deaf, the 10-year-olds, they have no teeth, the three-legged dogs, I still take them. And I find them good homes. I don’t ever give up on dogs. I would go through fire and water for a dog.”

In the 2015 article, it says "Furever Homes charges clients a $350 adoption fee, and Gold estimates CLAIMS that between 20 and 40 dogs are adopted each month."

Los Angeles Magazine article from 2015: When Is a Rescuer a Hoarder?

Choosing to save one animal means leaving another behind.

“I had a volunteer tell me ‘it’s like Sophie’s choice,’ ” says Lori Weise, the founder of Downtown Dog Rescue. “But you have to accept that you can’t save them all, or you’ll go crazy.”

The flip side of the failure is a high as addictive as any drug.  To be known as a rescuer is to receive constant praise: “You’re a saint for what you do! You’re an angel!”

The act of rescuing is one of awesome power. For each animal saved, it’s the rescuer who stood between life and death. It takes being strong and self-aware, with good boundaries, other interests, and a network of sane friends, to avoid succumbing to the despair or getting drunk on the power.

Sanctuary Watch posted this on Facebook on March 6, 2016

“If it weren’t for us, these dogs would be dead.” This mantra stops us in our tracks. And it’s a mantra we’ve heard from rescues trying to justify sub-par living conditions. Furever Homes is a no-kill rescue in Tumwater, Washington that pulls dogs from California and Mexico shelters. Last summer Olympian staff writer Andy Hobbs visited Furever Homes and wrote, "The stench of feces and urine can trigger your gag reflex. After spending the night crowded in cages, dozens of dogs bark in a deafening chorus as they are herded into a small fenced area in the parking lot outside a warehouse on Tumwater’s outskirts.”

At the time, there were 85 dogs at the rescue facility. Thurston County Animal Services questioned the conditions and explained that Furever Homes Dog Rescue floats just about prosecutable offense for animal cruelty. According to Thurston County, Furever Homes has moved locations several times within the county over the last 4 years.

Since last summer, Ms. Gold moved the dogs out of the warehouse to her home, and downsized the number of animals in her direct care. Despite her efforts to scale back her rescue operation, she has continued to draw criticism. Seattle Dog Spot shined a bright light on their rescue practices when a foster home blew the whistle:…/thurston-county-dog-rescue…/

We requested a visit to Furever Homes, and Sharon Gold said we were more than welcome to visit any time. She also made us aware of an upcoming visit with animal control. Following our conversation, Sharon Gold was served with a notice of violation by Thurston County. To be in compliance, she must:

#1. Remove all except 3 pets from the property
#2. Cease the use of the property as a dog rescue operation

At this time, it is unclear if Ms. Gold will discontinue operations or move to another location.

(KIRO7 - Jan 5, 2017)

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