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Arizonans raise concerns after allegedly adopting sick pets from local animal rescue

Posted at 5:20 PM, Mar 29, 2017

Multiple Arizonans are speaking out over concerns about their pups being critically ill after being adopted from a local animal rescue.

Angel Gonzalez said he recently attended HALO Animal Rescue's adoption event hoping to give a dog a new chance at life. While there, he found and fell in love with a dog named Remy.

However, less than a day after he arrived home with his new companion, Remy fell very ill and needed to be taken to an intensive care unit.

"Ten hours later, we wake up to go to work — he has stuff running out of his nose...won't eat, won't drink," Gonzalez described.

Remy was diagnosed with a severe case of Pneumonia. 

"...They basically told us he probably won't make it through the night, but for $700 they can try," Gonzalez said.

About $2,200 later, after all the adoption fees and medical bills, Gonzalez said his dog was released and OK to recover at home.

Unfortunately, Gonzalez is among many people who has reached out to ABC15 with complaints about sick dogs.

A woman named Jessica told ABC15 a similar story to Gonzalez's. She said she had to take her dog to the vet just hours after arriving home. She attempted to reach out to the rescue on multiple occasions to request a refund for her adoption fees but she was turned down by HALO. 

A search of their Yelp page also revealed similar stories from disappointed people who adopted dogs from the rescue.

"Cindy D" said her daughter adopted a months-old pup from the rescue and in less than two weeks after bringing it home it fell very ill, costing them $1,000 in vet bills due to a respiratory infection.

Another woman, "Amanda M," said she adopted a sweet dog from the rescue and the same day she brought the pup home she discovered it had worms.

"Amanda M" later posted an update and explained that her dog was also diagnosed with kennel cough and should have been given antibiotics from HALO but didn't.

HALO spokesperson Heather Allen spoke to ABC15 over the phone and explained pet ownership comes with "responsibility."

"We're not trying to pass off sick dogs to anyone," Allen said. "We want to send home happy and healthy pets. We try to be very clear — very clear that from this day forward you are responsible for this animal."

On HALO's website, it states that they invest thousands-of-dollars in veterinary care for the animals, but there is a limit.

"We don't run every blood test on every animal," Allen said. "There's just no way for us to be able to afford to do something like that."

Allen added that often times the animal will appear to be fine, but later become sick. She explained this is common with respiratory ailments — especially if an animal has spent time in a shelter-like environment.

"They're just like people, you know," Allen said. "They can be fine today and feel awful tomorrow."

Gonzalez said he still has questions for the animal rescue.

"Yeah, we signed that paper, but what is the adoption fee for then," Gonzalez said. "They don't clean the dog...if they can't guarantee us a healthy dog, or at least help us when the dog is dying pretty much ten hours later, what is the point?"

ABC15 learned that there is no government oversight when it comes to animal rescue groups; they typically patrol each other. It's best to check the reputation of the animal shelter beforehand.