A group of about a dozen foster families say a good deed has become a frustrating experience in recent months.
PHOENIX — They answered a call to shelter dogs, but for at least a dozen families in Arizona, that process has been filled with expense and little communication. Now the good deed has become a frustrating experience.
In April, Ashley Stockton’s family welcomed Stella, an eight-month-old Doodle whose nest had just been rescued.
“They were filthy, they were matted, they stank,” Stockton recalls. “It was so pathetic, they crammed themselves into a corner and huddled together. I was under the impression that Pawfect Match was a rescue and that I would raise her. I was excited because they would provide the training and help, so I thought this was a perfect situation.”
Pawfect Match is a Mesa pet service whose website says they raise, train, transport, and rehome pets.
The family provides a loving home and a lot of attention. The foster agency provides funds for vet visits, medications, training, and other expenses. Except for some, the experience was far from great.
“The past four months have been very stressful to say the least,” says Laura Studebaker, who is also raising a puppy from the same litter. She says something doesn’t feel right about the situation.
“We’ve spent hours and hours trying to figure out what’s going on and have been kept in the dark,” she said.
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What started as a Facebook request from Pawfect Match’s Renee Wierz has turned into a litany of unanswered requests and unpaid expenses. They say Wierz told them all expenses would be taken care of, but they didn’t.
“We have a dog with anxiety, extreme anxiety and fear,” Studebaker said. ‘She needs medication, we asked for that. She has been able to get a supply for five days. After that she couldn’t fill her prescription anymore.’
“She told some foster families that we couldn’t take the dogs to the vet,” Stockton said. ‘Because she said we didn’t have them. I finally said, you know what? This is neglect and neglect from Renee and we took Stella to our vet.”
Stockton also says that because she has never rehabilitated a dog that had suffered trauma, she asked Wierz for information about training.
“When I realized the training was off because she wasn’t responding to basic texts, I eventually contacted the dog trainer we were using with our other dog,” she said.
Now, four months and hundreds of dollars later, they say the families involved want answers.
“This dog is essentially mine,” Stockton said. “I paid everything for this dog, I have all the papers, the receipts.”
“I’ve approached her several times. She was often out of town, I’m at work, I’ll call you back later,” Studebaker said.
Bretta Nelson of the Arizona Humane Society says this is not standard practice. She adds that organizations usually try to make things as easy as possible for the foster families and pay for things like food, supplies and medical care.
“And they should be able to share records with you, medical records, intake profiles, their age and things like that,” she said.
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With no dog profiles, no medical records, and a lack of communication, Stockton and Studebaker say the situation isn’t right. Especially after they said Wierz reached out with questions about adoption plans. Because even though the women say they were told in advance that there would be a fee to adopt, there’s still confusion about why it’s so much.
“I asked her if she could give us a detailed breakdown of the costs of the dogs,” Stockton said. “She says it’s $1,200 and we don’t understand why a bailout charges so much since we paid for everything.”
12News contacted Wierz several times for an interview. She made a statement via text that read:
“Working with foster dogs to get them adopted costs money. We wish we could give away foster dogs to good families for free. Realistically, that’s not feasible. We pay the vet bills. We’ve vetted all the dogs, another expense. transport and we provide groomers. You are welcome to contact the groomers of all dogs and everyone else involved.”
She also sent us to talk to other groomers she has worked with, saying that “perpetrators not wanting to pay the fees is the real story.” 12News again requested an interview and received no response.
“We’re willing to pay for the dogs,” Studebaker says. “But for us, we just want to make sure that other people don’t go through the grief and stress and general horrible situation that we’ve been through. She cares more about the money than the dogs.”
“I don’t care if Renee wants to keep saving dogs,” Stockton said. “But she can’t work the way she does. She has taken advantage of people and charged people exorbitant prices. I would like to ask her one thing, can you give us clear answers? I want transparency, I want to understand what is going on is.”
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