Tuesday, April 11, sixty-five dogs were living with Phyllis Bryant when she committed suicide today in Pinal County AZ. Kathy Painter of Shih Tzu Fanciers of Southern CA (STFSC) and the American Shih Tzu Club (ASTC) soon receives word that the county seized 58 Shih Tzu, from Bryant's premises after her death.

     Kathy Painter, president of the Coalition of All Breed Rescue of AZ (CABRA), and active in the rescue programs of both the ASTC and STFSC, begins rescue efforts Friday, April 14 Painter receives word that 58 dogs will be released to her, and the County waives its normal adoption fees, that would have totaled more than $4,000.

      At this point, the rescue effort begins to rapidly expand. By telephone, the availability of money from both the STFSC and ASTC rescue funds is assured. Permanent placements and foster homes are quickly found in Southern CA for dogs with serious problems.  

      Since ASTC national specialty is three weeks away and within driving distance of AZ, Shih Tzu rescue organizations across the country are contacted so that if needed, volunteers attending the specialty can return home with some of these dogs and place them in their areas. The response is overwhelming; concerned breeders everywhere offer to help. In fact, by the time the rescue operation ends, almost every dog could have been adopted at least twice!

     Saturday, April 15.  The actual rescue begins.. Fortunately, most of the dogs are in relatively good health. Only one does not survive. Several need intravenous antibiotics for bacterial infections; most have guardia and ear mites; two have an eye removed, several need bladder stone surgery and one has a benign mammary tumor. Most are small, young females. Once properly fed and groomed, they are cute and, tails wagging in true Shih Tzu fashion despite everything they have gone through, are eminently adorable.

      KPNX-NBC News in Phoenix arrives at Painter's home late in the afternoon to film the volunteers at work on the rescued dogs. The story is the lead on the 10 p.m. news and runs Sunday twice, Monday and Tuesday. As a result of the news broadcasts, CABRA hotline workers received between 500-600 calls. Each caller was interviewed. Those that pass the interview were given appointments for the following week.

      The Week of April 17. When potential adopters arrive, the rescue volunteers interview each of them extensively. Those accepted are asked to select a specific dog and leave a $50 non refundable deposit. Dogs chosen are scheduled for spay/neuter by a local veterinarian. DVM. The new owners are told they can go back to the doctor for treatment if any problems develop over the next two weeks. STFSC (ASTC if needed) will pick up the cost. 

      Shih Tzu Rescue saved these dogs once and will save them again if necessary; their placement contracts state that they are to be returned to Rescue if things don't work out at any point in their lives.
      Prologue. Is your club prepared to handle such a rescue? Although getting publicity certainly helps, you can't count on the kind of news coverage received by this story. 
It's hard to take on a task this large unless you know that a backup system is in place. In this case, there was a local group actively involved in rescue. STFSC Rescue has placed over 600 dogs since 1991, including four rescues involving over 12 dogs. Through experience, they learned how important it is to:
      a. Develop good relations with local shelter personnel;
      b. Spay/neuter before placement;
      c. Make sure dogs are tattooed for identification.
      d. Insist dogs are returned to rescue if they ever need new homes again.
      They developed methods for screening  potential adopters, located low-cost veterinary care and made their operation largely financially self-sustaining, albeit with a heavy reliance on volunteers. Many  of their procedures are now used by other local rescue groups.
     STFSC was instrumental in establishing the ASTC Rescue Fund, which is used to help local clubs start a rescue program or to provide immediate emergency help for an individual dog or a large group rescue. Fund money was spent to purchase Carol Lea Benjamin's book "Second Hand Dog" in quantity for use by local clubs. The fund was started in 1993 with a $2,000 donation from actress Zsa Zsa Gabor and $1,000 from the ASTC treasury.

By: JoAnn White. Excerpts courtesy AKC Gazette
Ms. White past ASTC president, has been the AKC Gazette Shih Tzu breed columnist for many years. She is a freelance writer and editor based in Tuckerton, NJ.  

If you wish to contribute to the STFSC rescue program, or donate a gift for our funding raising raffles, please email us or send your gift or check to:
7387 Peace Rose Street, Las Vegas, NV 89131
All donations are tax deductible.
Members of the ASTC are already acquainted with Bryant, who had been charged with animal cruelty in 1991. During 1992 Bryant was persuaded to release 12 dogs to STFSC member Kathy Bilicich-Garcia. The dogs were malnourished with rotting teeth, ulcerated eyes and maggots on their hindquarters. Two had to be put down, but the others were placed in homes by STFSC.