Update by user Oct 09, 2011
Original review posted by user Sep 20, 2011
I am a long time German Shepherd owner, often adopting rescue dogs with "baggage" because I love to watch them blossom. I recently adopted just such a dog from Westside, an adorable little timid girl who needed supportive socialization. She also needed to be treated for a variety of medical problems, brought up to a normal weight and have her blood work normalize. All of this came out of pocket (no problem there). She quickly found her way into our hearts.
Our little dog was also not spayed when we adopted her (which I agreed to pay for out of pocket). As her spay deadline approached our vet was unwilling to spay her because she was still in recovery mode. The following month there was a freak accident where she injured all four paws, our vet agreed that it was inappropriate to spay until her feet healed. Then she went into heat.
Anyone with any experience in dogs will tell you that spaying while a dog is in heat is inappropriate if it is possible to wait and allow time for the dog's reproductive system to return to pre-heat condition. Our little girl was confined during her heat and as expected, did not become pregnant. Our vet felt 6-8 weeks would be an appropriate time frame post heat for optimal long-term health. Westside balked, apparently the health of this little dog didn't matter as long as they could check off the "we spayed her" box.
As her next spay date neared, our girl, along with 2 other dogs in her obedience class got kennel cough. The head of Westside called 3 well-respected vets who had hands-on knowledge of her illness liars and demanded that we spay our sick dog immediately or return her to Westside. I could not believe what I was hearing.
Westside further layed on the guilt trip accusing me of causing the death of dogs because Westside's ability to pull dogs from the shelter was allegedly being suspended. A call to the head of the sheltering system assured me that no such threat was made to Westside. We had obtained valid, overlapping veterinary deferrals which we passed on to the shelter in question (as well as many phone conversations with the very nice man who heads the shelter), yet Westside expected us to submit our little dog to major abdominal surgery at times when it was not in the best interest of her long-term health to do so.
Apparently Westside knows so little about dogs that they do not understand that our girl is unable to become pregnant until she goes into heat again, sometime in the next 4-6 months. Which begs the question, why the rush to meet an arbitrary timeline? To yank a naturally timid dog from its secure home and shove it into the cold concrete runs behind a damp beach vet hospital is not an appropriate solution as that course of action would not be in her best interest health wise, stress wise and would set our little girl's behavioral rehabilitation back many, many steps - if Westside ever allowed us to have her back, which we doubted.
Our little girl was spayed, before her regular vet recommended it, by a high-end ($$$) surgical center experienced in working with sick dogs for one reason only - to prevent Westside from taking her and placing her in a far worse situation in order to check a freakin' box on a form. I tried to be honest and forthright with both Westside and the shelter she was pulled from. The shelter director understood, Westside chose a different path. I would never consider adopting from them again.
Updated 09-17-11 because of the hate mail I received from a supporter of Westside. I have absolutely no complaints about my beautiful little dog. She is a joy to be around and we are working through her issues as they come up. She has made a great deal of progress and I am so very proud of her. I can't wait to see what our future together holds. My complaint, is with certain individuals at the top level of management of this rescue who seem to have absolutely no problem jeopardizing a dog's physical or emotional health in order to force elective surgery on a dog not yet recovered from illness to meet an artificial timetable. I've had 6 rescue GSDs, and fostered a couple dozen dogs and puppies. I've rehabilitated dogs with behavioral issues, the kind that take more than time to heal. The kind that take a plan. MOST BUSINESSES do not treat their customers like this or they would quickly find themselves out of business. I've dealt with 4 other local GSD rescues and found all of them to be caring and professional. Problems do happen and most rescues are very good at addressing them, but NEVER, in all my decades of experience with rescue here and out of state, have I been treated as unprofessionally as I have by the management of Westside German Shepherd Rescue. WGSR has not bothered to even acknowledge that they received our dog's spay cert, despite being asked. They have also not withdrawn their demand that we return our precious little angel to them. Buyer beware.