An Albany lawmaker is calling for In Our Hands Rescue to lose its charity status after learning the animal adoption group pays breeders for "designer" puppies and charges up to $1,500 to families who want to give the dogs homes.
"In no way are they a not-for-profit," said New York Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal (D-Upper West Side). "We've contacted the Attorney General's Charities Bureau to investigate this particular organization because it appears they got a 501c(3) under false pretenses."
But In Our Hands defends its practice of paying fees to cruel breeders so they won't euthanize puppies that may have slight imperfections. Most of the puppies adopted by In Our Hands are so-called "doodle" dogs including Goldendoodles, Sheepadoodles, Aussiedoodles, Jackapoos, and Akipoos.
Jennifer Lamb, the President of In Our Hands Rescue told the I-Team it is accurate to call her payments to breeders — ransoms.
"If we do not pay that, these dogs would be dead. There is no doubt about it," said Jennifer Lamb, the President of In Our Hands Rescue.
Lamb said only a small portion of her $1,500 adoption fee goes to the breeders. The rest, she says, goes to veterinary care, boarding the animals, and transportation. She has declined to name the breeders from whom she gets the puppies.
The New York Attorney General's Office did not immediately respond to questions about whether or not it has opened a charity investigation into In Our Hands.
Rosenthal has sponsored a bill that would ban the for-profit sale of dogs, cats, and rabbits at pet stores. If that bill became law, she says most In Our Hands adoption events would be illegal.
"What they're trying to do is make a lot of money by fooling customers and interacting with these puppy mills," Rosenthal said. "My bill would not allow anyone involved with a breeder, anyone who is a broker, anyone who offers anything other than rescued animals or shelter animals from showcasing those animals in pet stores."
Lamb said the In Our Hands website discloses that the organization pays fees to breeders in order to save dogs and she called Rosenthal's bill ill-advised.
"If you're going to change the law, then have a safety net for what's going to happen to these breeder dogs," Lamb said. "If I'm not taking them, where are they going to go? You're going to denounce me? I'm still saving these lives."