Dr. Fiala questioned where the donated funds were going and suddenly her application says she is going to chain the dog in her yard and her mental health is paraded around on their website??? WTH? "Charities" like this do NOTHING for dogs and everything for their own pockets! The way they have treated this woman and this dog is just plain WRONG!
Please spread the word... Dogs do deserve better and they won't get it from a charity that pulls this kind of crap! Just be aware of where you donate.... cause I know we all have a soft spot where dogs are concerned!
Joel's Facebook Page
SIGN THE BRING JOEL HOME PETITION!
I am reprinting the CNN article here because every time I've linked to CNN the story disappears eventually. Please don't sue me!
Two months after a rescued pit bull named Joel was confiscated from his foster mother, Dr. Suzanne Fiala, while at a doggie day care center in West Seattle, the custody battle between Dr. Fiala and Dogs Deserve Better (DDB) has turned nasty.
Dr. Fiala had a verbal agreement with Kelly Page, a representative from DDB to adopt Joel. Dr. Fiala began to develop growing concerns over the Chip-in donations received by DDB for Joel’s care. A majority of the expenses were paid for by Dr. Fiala with the agreement that she would be reimbursed. When she questioned Page regarding the donations for Joel’s care, their relationship grew cold without any resolution. Once Dr. Fiala signed and mailed Joel’s adoption contract, she emailed her concerns to Tamira Thayne, founder of DDB, which were forwarded to Marie Belanger, the regional representative in Indiana. When Dr. Fiala was finally contacted by Belanger, she was greeted with hostility and there were no plans to investigate.
Prior to Dr. Fiala expressing her concerns, the news of the adoption was posted on DDB’s Facebook page. Supporters of Joel and DDB were ecstatic “Oh Joel Fiala, love it! There is absolutely no better place for Joel to be. You have given him love like he has never known and he went from the edge of death to the luckiest dog in the world!” wrote Ashley George, volunteer for DDB- WA.
On April 14, approximately two hours after Dr. Fiala dropped Joel off at doggie day care, she received a message from DDB saying that her adoption contract had been rejected and that Joel had been seized directly from the day care center. She has not seen Joel since.
According to DDB, the contract was denied because of two slash marks under the statement “will not chain dog.” The words “will not” were crossed out. Dr. Fiala denies crossing out those words.
Given that Dr. Fiala had fostered 10 other dogs prior to taking in Joel, and had been praised by DBB for her compassion and dedication, any reasonable person would have picked up the phone to question whether or not the cross marks were intended. If not, a new contract would have been sent for signature. This never took place and DDB accused Dr. Fiala of intending to keep Joel chained, which goes against the very principal of their organization. Dr. Fiala believes the contract was denied in retaliation for questioning Page’s ethical conduct in handling the donations.
Dr. Fiala decided to fight the DDB for custody of Joel. A Facebook page called Bring Joel Home was created which to date has gained over 2600 supporters from around the world. Since then, DDB has brought up new allegations against Dr. Fiala.
DDB posted an article on their Facebook page written by Dr. Fiala in 2003 regarding her battle with bipolar disorder, with the intent to discredit her mental stability in adopting Joel.
In a book written by Thayne, “Scream Like a Banshee: 29 Days of Tips and Tales to Keep Your Sanity as a Doggie Foster Parent,” Thayne writes about what triggers her “mania” and has considered taking anti-depressants in the past, “as depression runs on both sides of my family.” Her obsession with rescuing chained dogs has sometimes gotten the best of her, but she has since found balance. Dr. Fiala too has found balance, so the claims of her mental stability over an article written 8 years ago are irrelevant.
The other allegations refer to the dogs Dr. Fiala had fostered in the past and were returned. What they didn’t specify is the reason the dogs were returned.
The first dog, a pit bull/staffie mix named Luna, was billed as 'wonderful with dogs, kids and cats.' After proper introduction, Luna almost killed Dr. Fiala’s cat. Dr. Fiala contacted Page and told her she should could not keep the dog and risk endangering her other pets.
Shortly after Dr. Fiala took in 3 pit bull puppies until her son was critically injured in a near fatal accident and hospitalized in intensive care. Dr. Fiala asked Page to take the puppies temporarily while she stayed by her son’s side. Her son was released from the hospital 12 days later and Dr. Fiala had taken the puppies back until they were all adopted.
Next came another dog and her three 4-month old puppies which Dr. Fiala had taken in for a month until her son had to return to the hospital for follow-up surgery. Again, Page took the dogs temporarily for 5 days until Dr. Fiala’s son was released from the hospital. The dogs were then returned to Dr. Fiala.
In her book, Thayne writes about a chow named Cyclone that she had to put down because it attacked her. The only way she escaped severe injury or death was by hitting the dog in the head with a pot and pan. I don’t think anyone can blame Thayne for her actions in what must have been an extremely frightening moment. As sad and unfortunate as it is, some dogs are too risky to be rehabilitated. Dr. Fiala’s reason for giving back Luna is equally justified. As Thayne writes in her book, “I no longer take in dogs that don’t get along with others. With me traveling so much, we have a real need for harmony here. I know my limits and choose to stay within them, for the safety of all the dogs and for my own sanity.”
Thayne also reiterates in her book to always take care of yourself first and move on from your mistakes as a foster. “I harbor only good intentions for my foster dogs. Even though I sometimes make mistakes, I know I did my best; I let go of the consequences and learn from them, but continue in a positive direction.”
Except for Luna, Dr. Fiala did continue in a positive direction by taking all the dogs back when she was able and cared for them until they were adopted.
What about Joel? Taking Joel at a critical time during his rehabilitation was not in his best interest. In an article on DDB’s website written by Debbie Dobson, owner of “Good Dog!” Animal Behavior, she writes, “The process of socializing and rehabilitating a dog who has been confined requires a tremendous commitment – it may take a year or more to see real progress.” Though most dogs are quick to adjust in their new homes, Joel and his sister Julie were mentally scarred and abused as observed by Page. “You can’t raise a hand above their heads without them ducking,” according to Page in an article by Ralph Nichols, B-Town Blog, February 15, 2011. Joel had only been with Dr. Fiala a little over 2 months before he was taken. He was not your typical case and definitely not ready to be abruptly removed from the only real home he knew.
DDB did not take into consideration the consequences it would have on Joel before seizing him. Again, given Dr. Fiala’s positive relationship with DDB prior to this incident, a follow-up to the alterations on the contract should have been conducted for Joel’s sake. If Dr. Fiala did plan on chaining Joel, DDB had every right to take him. But since her intention was never clarified, DDB was hasty and irresponsible in their actions without any explanation or any regard to how it would affect Joel’s rehabilitation progress.
In early June, the first round in court had given DDB temporary custody of Joel. Though it was a huge set back for Dr. Fiala, it was not the end. The judge’s decision was based on temporary custody only for what the law considers ‘property’. Joel will to remain with DDB until all evidence is presented and ownership is determined.
When I asked Dr. Fiala, why is bringing Joel home so important to you, why not just let go? She replied, “How does one explain the bonds of love that make a family? Joel and I share a bond that goes beyond words. Linear measurements of time really don’t apply in the realm of the spirit, the soul, the heart.”
“I know that Joel needs me to feel truly safe and truly joyous in his life. How do I know? I just know. I am a highly intuitive person. Joel and I know one another. I know what makes him nervous – sudden noises and gestures, males in general, large crowds. I know what makes him happy – playing with his doggie friends and my children, chewing on a bone in the sun, knowing that I am nearby. I know his sense of humor – barking like a girl when he is excited, stealing my side of the bed when I get up at night, playing hide and seek when my daughter hides in the closet and he knows where she is the whole time, but he lets her think she is clever, or bringing my shoes out one by one by one. And I know what brings him peace and serenity – sleeping with his head on my pillow, lying close to me when he falls asleep, warm, and with a full tummy. And conversely, Joel knows me as well. He can sense my mood, my sadness, my goofiness or joy in the same manner. He is my best friend. Joel will survive wherever he is. But surviving and living his best life where he is meant to be are very different things. This poor little boy has suffered so much, and I made a vow to be there for him. Asking me if I could move on is asking me to turn my back on him when he needs me, when he can’t speak for himself. And I will not, I cannot, leave him behind.”
Supporters of Dr. Fiala and DDB have been battling it out on various Facebook pages. The battle has turned into an all out war between the two sides with vicious name calling and allegations. Meanwhile, there is a boy out there in a dog suit that would love nothing more than to be back at home with his family and a woman determined to bring him back.