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Last updated:  September 2013

A Near Adoption Experience
By: Kimberly Cavanaugh
Sept. 17, 2008


This was about 5 years ago and we didn't end up adopting from them. I have less than fond memories of the ordeal.  I just happened upon you site and thought I'd share our experience.

Just to start off, I want to let everyone know, that we are not naive or new to dogs or rescues. We have lots of big dog experience, I've worked professionally as a trainer and at a Humane Society.

I found Gentle Giants online. I was touched by the stories and the t.v. show that featured them. I thought..."here's someone who has dedicated their life to this cause. Someone with the time and financial ability to really make a difference."

I contacted Tracy through email and described what I was looking for. After corresponding through email for several days, I made an appointment to see her 8 week old Dane cross puppies that were available.

My husband and I drove for 9 hours to reach Norco. We got a hotel room and set out the next day for our appointment. We were very excited to meet our potential new family member. We reach Burt and Tracy's and rang the intercom at their gate. We wait, and wait, and wait. No one answers! We get out of the car and see lots of people gathered at the house. We keep trying, after all, WE HAVE AN APPOINTMENT! Finally Tracy responds. She doesn't even remember who we are or that we had an appointment! She rings us in and we make our way down the driveway. When we reach the adoption Meet & Greet area, there are three other groups of potential adopters already there. We were actually a few minutes early for our appointment, so I thought they must be just finishing up. OH no! Tracy continues to parade dogs through her disgusting front yard for all to see. She doesn't seem to care what people are actually interested in and tries to get you to take whatever dog she happens to have out that minute. She seems irritated when you remind her what type of dog you came to see. She informs us that there are no puppies and that she never said there were. I, of course, am in disbelief. I'm shocked, stunned, sad, disappointed and angry. We've traveled a long way and spent a considerable amount of money that we didn't have to burn. If I was going to go on a mini vacation, I wouldn't have chosen Norco, CA!

One of the other potential adopters had been there before and said that they thought she told people whatever they wanted to hear, just to get them to come, in hopes that they would go home with a dog anyway.

I was open to adopting the "right" older dog, so we stayed for the show. We told Tracy that we had a toddler at home, so the dog would have to be child friendly. We were told that they were all great with children. (very unlikely) We also mentioned we had two cats at home, so the dog had to be cat friendly. She proceeds to say that you just introduce the dog to the cat and if the dog goes after the cat, you pop the dog with a empty paper towel roll and from then on the dog would know that the cat is a human and there would be no more issues. WHAT!!!

We then decided that not only was she dishonest, she was crazy too. We did NOT go home with one of her dogs.

I'm sickened every time Gentle Giants comes up in a search regarding pets. I've often wondered about the abundance of "Designer" puppies available. I don't pretend to know whats going on down there but I was sadly disappointed with our experience. I just know that she is deceitful and her place was a wreck when we were there. So please...... ADOPTER BEWARE!!!!!



Sept. 19, 2008
Edited to add:

Some of the other people that were there had adopted from GGR before. They had gotten an old dog from her and they had to put him down a short time later. They were very nice people and seemed to be willing to put up with the Wards to save a dog. We kept in contact with them for a while after we met them at the Ward's and the new dog they had taken was very aggressive. I just thought,"Wow! What giving & dedicated people, to take on a dog like that."

When we were there at Burt & Tracy's, this same nice couple felt bad that we had been lied to and had traveled so far etc. so they told us of a friend that also did Dane rescue. This other lady (I don't remember her name) they had met through Tracy but apparently was nothing like Tracy & Burt. This couple said that this other rescue had a black female puppy for adoption. They called her up and she brought the dog for us to meet. Tracy was very angry and wouldn't let this lady (a friend of hers) or this dog, on her property. (I guess she only wanted HER dogs to be saved) So we all drove down the street and pulled off on the side of the road, where we could get aquatinted. We ended up taking this nice female home.

The story ends up being similar to many I read. We were told that this pup was approximately 9-10 months, great with kids, healthy etc. She was very skinny and had a dull flakey coat, but I know rescues can't turn these dogs around over night. It can take time to get them back in shape when they have been neglected, so that didn't alarm me too much. I looked at her teeth and I'm no vet but they were pretty stained for a puppy. I asked about it and they assured me that it was just from eating canned food. I thought it was unusual that an animal that had suffered from neglect was also fed canned food but who knows why people do the things they do. I dismissed the teeth too. The nice people we had met assured us that we could trust THIS lady, so we went home with the new dog.

That first week she was home she was given time to settle in to her new home. She had a bath and her coat looked better but she had chronic diarrhea. I contacted the rescue and was told that it was just the stress of the new home etc. I asked about the possibility of giardia but was informed that she had been tested for parasites and given a clean bill of health. I was still trusting this lady and went along with it. Besides, I had already spent a boat load of money getting the dog home, there was no point in vetting her if she had just been given a thorough check up.  I gave her a couple more weeks to acclimate but the diarrhea persisted. I took her for a check up and brought in a stool sample. The vet told me she was more likely three to four years old and mainly just needed to put on some weight. They'd let me know if they found anything alarming in the sample.

During the few months we had her, I was a stay at home mom, so she spent all her time with us. She was generally very sweet but had absolutely no attachment to anyone. She slipped out the front door on a couple of occasions and just took off like her tail was on fire!! We were very lucky to catch her. We were so careful but she was very determined to get out. I took her to training classes once a week and it seemed that I was having no affect on her. I've trained many dogs and even adopted a completely neglected, fearful dog before this and I'd never come across a dog like her. The trainers from class were also baffled. I had made a promise to this dog and it wasn't her fault that she had a crummy start, so I was going to keep her, even if she wasn't the ideal dog.

Until .............. she started growling at my two year old. Now I have to say, I'm an animal person and in most situations I'm very protective and side with the dog. However, this little girl was taught from day one, how to respect and gently handle animals. She was also always supervised with the pets. However this dog would growl even when the baby was just in her crib. The last straw was when the dog was laying down but not asleep in the living room, my daughter slowly walked up to her and gently stroked the dog. This dog turned and snapped. I was right there to see the whole thing. Nothing inappropriate on the part of the kid in my opinion. So the dog went outside and I contacted the rescue. The lady couldn't believe what she was hearing and was sure that my daughter was pulling the dogs lips over her ears or something. So we made the drive again to return this healthy, great with kids PUPPY.

Now I do realize that a rescue cannot guarantee a dog's health or behavior. However this lady was so angry that we had put this dog through this and basically insinuated that we were crazy and had some how caused the situation. The two experiences really soured us on rescues all together, and I used to work at the Humane Society as a evaluator and adoption councilor!

I'm a bit ashamed to say, we ended up getting a puppy from a breeder.

Boy! I was a bit long winded there. Sorry. You'd think it had only been last week!

Lately I kept seeing GGR popping up online advertising all kinds of designer puppies and it just made me angry. I did a general search for their name, wondering if there was a website warning people about them and "whammo!" there you were. Reading everyone's stories brought it all back. I had really hoped that they would have been shut down years ago but it seems they've grown.

I'm sorry for your horrible experience but I'm glad you were someone who was willing and able to fight back.

Thank you for trying to get the word out.


This comment is from individual person voicing his/her opinion and warning about Gentle Giants, based on what he/she has  personally encountered with Gentle Giants.

Disclaimer:  The words written here are experiences of the author ONLY.   The webmaster and owner of this site believes these statements  to be true and correct, however, does not take responsibility in verifying the accuracy of these statements.  The accurancy of these statements can only be made by the author of this testimony.

Discovering and Disclosing The Truth About
Gentle Giants Rescue and Adoptions
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