Comet and Co

Just received this email from the Dutch kennels... I know it's very long - but in the interest of transparency I said I would print it all. My reply also follows. I am waiting to hear Wendy's reaction to this latest email and the reply from the kennels.
I am sure all who donated were well aware that the Sullivans had struggled to pay their bills and had got into quite a mess. Up until today we had received no direct reply from the kennels - my original email to them is also included below.
Oh dear! Looks like another miracle is going to be needed to sort this one out...

Dear Mrs Cuddy,

We regret that with your site "dogstodaymagazine" our animal hotel is receiving negatively publicity. Even more severe, your are giving all animal shelters and hotels in the Netherlands a bad name this way.

We refer to the published article of the dogs of the Sullivan family which are staying in our animal hotel. Reading the comments on your site:
- we are an animal hotel which only interest is making money;
- we are supposed animal friends but we are not;
- the dogs which are staying there are pitiful
- threats to our animal hotel, etc.

(I have removed the two comments referred to above - I had already added a balancing comment making the point that we had not yet heard from the kennels and should not jump to any conclusions)

This comments of people on your site are understandable because they are getting misleading information.

The story of the Sullivan family is published by you without a thorough investigation. You don't have put any effort in interviewing us to get a complete story.

(I had contacted the kennels by email but had not received a direct reply until this one).

We regret that people donated money to bring Pop, Meg, Jess and Comet back to the United Kingdom. We think that with all the untrue stories the Sullivan family is spreading, the dogs will face a miserable future. The money collected will only contribute to that.

First of all we will explain why we think the dogs should not return to the UK:

History until now:

- On July 5th 2009 the Sullivan family brought the dogs to our animal hotel and payed 400 euro in advance (deal was prepayment of 1200 euro a month)
- On July 19th 2009 the Sullivan family would pay the remained 800 euro╒s and see the dogs; nobody showed.
- Mid September 2009 we have still heard nothing from the Sullivan family; after several e-mails they finally payed an amount of 615 euro's in October 2009.
- On November 25th 2009 we finally receive an answer from the Sullivan family that they don't have any money and that they will send some.
- We did not see any money and heard nothing from the Sullivan family until December
2009; they tell us that they will come get the dogs on December 20th 2009 and will pay the invoice of the amount which is not payed yet.
- On 20th December we did not see anybody of the Sullivan family, by checking it seems that they don't have any money at all and by letting their dogs staying in our hotel they put us in an awkward position.
- Due to the pitiful story of the family; we are prepared to decrease the whole amount with 50%: total amount is 7.040 euro minus 50% = 3.520 euro.
- We give them again the benefit of the doubt and give them an ultimatum to pay on January 9 at 10.00 am.
- All above mentioned means that we are letting the four dogs stay for free in our hotel from December 20th 2009 until January 9th 2010.
- The family did until now, not pay for any medical related costs (worms, deflea etc.).

Should the dogs return?

Fortunately we only dealing with a money issue, are main concern are the dogs. We think, if the Sullivan family really love their dogs, they would not be a stranger and should contact us regularly.
We think it strange that, if the family does not have any money at all, how it is possible to keep four dogs.
Three of the four dogs are bitches which are not sterilized; it's likely that the bitches will be used for breeding; Jess already had pups (Meg is a full daughter of Jess), we are wondering what happened to the other pups of Jess, most likely they have been sold.
(Pop has won 4th price once at the dog show Crufts) Therefore we are not happy with the fact that a breeder from Belgian wants to collect the dogs.
A few days ago, we received a email if we want to return the old benches of the dogs which are now in our hotel. Strangely the benches are not big enough for these four dogs, it's not humane to let the dogs in such a small space.
On top if this the Sullivan family claims to love their dogs so much, oh my God!

We are fortunate that we care enough about these dogs and gave them the last six months the love and care they deserve.
We think it's a shame that people have donated money on a false pretences. The reality is unfortunately a different story.

We demand that you will execute a rectification on your website "dogstodaymagazine"
The following information should be added to your site:

- the animal hotel has been taken care of the dogs with lots of love and treated them as their own for the last year;
- the animal hotel has never put down dogs;
- the animal hotel has let off 4.000 euro of the cost which were on the account of the Sullivan family;
- the animal hotel has reasonable doubts not to return the dogs to the Sullivan family since they did not bother to make any inquires to the dogs and they have no financial means to take care of the dogs;
- the animal hotel is afraid that the Sullivan family will let the dogs use for breeding to make money;
- the animal hotel regrets that people donated money without knowing all the facts.

If you are not prepared to execute the rectification, we will put your website for discussion.
You give us and also other animal hotels in the Netherlands a bad name. We are working in a most transparent way and have nothing to hide.
If the negative stories of our animal hotel will continue, we will contact a big British daily paper and tell them our side of the story. We want to achieve to make people more reluctant to donate money for purposes which are not fully investigated and therefore can be false.

We regret that also you are have been mislead by this family. We emailed you the letter which we sent to the Sullivan family with all the facts of the situation mentioned.

(This has never been received, this email is the first direct contact from the kennels. The Sullivans say they never received this letter either.)

On your site you don't report this facts at all, on contrary, you keep important information behind and only report the story of the Sullivan's. If you are neutral in this matter, please report also our story on your site. Quite possible that your foundation is getting financial benefits from this matter.

For us this is no longer a financial matter but a plan to save the dogs. The money you deposited on our account, will be returned if we will decide not to return the dogs. This money can then be returned to the people who donated money for these dogs.

We have serious doubts if we will return the dogs and will take this matter further for consideration and wait first your confirmation of executing the rectification on your website.

We are on Pop's Jesses, Megs and Comets side. They deserve a good life.

Dierenpension Hendrik-Ido-Ambacht

Bas en Petra Horsten

Here's my reply...

Dear Bas

I’m sorry – this is a very long reply. In case you struggle to read all of it – in brief I would say...

1 I am happy to print your email in my blog and will do so now. I would point out that this is the first time you have spoken to me directly and that I did try to make contact with you earlier.
2 We knew the Sullivans had got into a terrible financial mess, they needed urgent help and that is what pet owners here are responding to.
3 From my own dealings with Wendy she appears to love these dogs very much and is very keen to have her dogs home. Please release the dogs, the money has now been paid as asked. We have had offers of pet food etc from pet lovers here to help the Sullivan’s further as they struggle to put their lives back together. We will be keeping an eye on them, so do not be afraid that you are releasing them into the unknown.

Here is a fuller version of my answer which I hope explains everything.

I did contact you direct (see below) – I emailed you for your side of the story on January 7th but I never received a reply from you and haven’t ever received the letter you refer to.

Did you post it or email it?

I forwarded my email to a third party who approached via Twitter – they had a friend in Holland who offered to transalte - and they replied to me with some of the points you are now making. This was received just after we had raised all the funds. It was still not a direct response from you. I forwarded the comments to Wendy for comment and her replies seemed fair. The person who translated did not want to be further involved. Did she forward you my response to her email?

The Sullivans said to me via email that they never received the letter you refer to sent in December.

Here is a direct quote from her email:

“With regards to a letter in December, we have never received it, and in fact they do not even know our address in the UK. He did email a friend on 27th December (this was our regular communication with the kennels), which was when he stated he was intending to get rid of the dogs on 9th January. This was written to her in Dutch, which she then had to translate and forward to us. My husband spoke with her on internet chat and asked her to tell the kennel owner we were attempting to raise the money he was asking for and to not get rid of our dogs.”

Knowing I had not heard from you, I never identified your kennels on my blog and stuck to the information supplied direct from Wendy. Wendy says she had been warned that if she didn’t pay you by Saturday the dogs would be disposed of and you seem to back up this up in your current email.

I was very aware that the Sullivans had got behind in their payments to you and that you have reduced the bill, which is very kind of you.

Someone attempted to post a very defamatory anonymous comment about the Sullivans on my blog inferring that I wasn’t in possession of all the facts. I published a reply asking that person to email me direct so I could be investigate this information if it was significiant, but they did not. I continued to received comments via the blog that I could not reply to as no return address was given.

Now that you have contacted me direct I am very happy to put your points across, if that is what you want me to do – but we already knew the Sullivans had fallen behind in their payments and that you have very kindly reduced the bill. All those that gave knew these were people in a mess with a deadline looming.

Wendy’s husband’s health deteriorated rapidly and they had to return to the UK in a hurry and he has been in hospital twice since returning. His disability benefit ceased, probably in error, and is the subject to appeal at the highest level. Offers of work for Wendy and her daughters never materialised. They were in crisis.

I too asked if they are capable of looking after the dogs. I am told one of Wendy’s daughters has started a new job today and they are appealing the suspension of her husband’s disability living allowance. Here is another quote from Wendy’s email.

“The owners of the kennels were told of our problem with the DLA (Disabled Living Allowance) and that is why they offered to discount the costs. It has been impossible to go over on a monthly basis due to the costs, with the jobs falling through and the DLA problem. Regular contact has been kept via email and web chat through our mutual friend. Our friend even went and took photos of the dogs for us, 2 of which I sent you to use. It was this friend that told us they were intending to dispose of the dogs on 9th January in web chat. Do we love our dogs? Would we have ever bothered to rescue any of them and would we not have just left them in Spain in a shelter, without all the vets bills for inoculations and microchips?”

I hope this explains everything, what a shame we weren’t able to talk directly earlier as I think we all obviously care about the future of these dogs.

Please let me know ASAP what you have decided to do as I am certain Wendy will be devastated.

Best wishes

Here is the earlier email...

From: Beverley Cuddy
Date: Thu, 07 Jan 2010 08:33:47 +0000
Conversation: Comet and co, Wendy Sullivan
Subject: Comet and co, Wendy Sullivan

Dear Sir or Madam

I hope you don’t mind me contacting you. I am Chairman of a small UK charity called Tailwaggers Club Trust and the Editor of a magazine called Dogs Today. I am trying to help Wendy Sullivan and her family raise the funds to pay the last of her kenneling bill.

I wanted to make contact to assure you that everything possible is being done to reunite Comet and Co with Wendy and the rest of the family and was hoping to talk to you to establish if there’s anyway of avoiding the dogs being disposed of on Saturday to allow us a little more time? Also to ask if there is any way you’d consider a part payment ASAP and perhaps releasing the dogs to the chap in Belgium who is happy to look after the dogs free of charge until the bill is totally cleared keeping your costs down as much as possible?

I have written a blog about this sad story but realise I don’t yet know your side of the story first hand and wanted to get in touch to verify all the information. For example, how much is needed to pay?

Here are the links:

You will see the JustGiving link next to the story. It currently shows £330 in donations since we started the appeal on January 2nd. Much of that was raised overnight.

I’d be very grateful to hear from you ASAP as I and many others are very keen to resolve this problem. We are snow bound at the moment but still functioning via home phones and Internet.

The story is capturing the hearts of many dog lovers and while they understand everyone should pay their bills this family do seem to have got themselves into a terrible mess and the consequences of losing the dogs totally just seem unthinkable.

Best wishes
Beverley Cuddy


Anonymous said…
This is so sad.
I am sure all will agree and will work together and sort this out as soon as possible.

I know sometimes this can be difficulties when emotions are involved but what is important is the dogs best intrest so all please try.
In the pink said…
Take heart that your intervention has sparked interest and provoked reaction. The Dutch kennels are now aware that other people care as they do and it may be that will help offset their fears about releasing the dogs. Personally I find it a little worrying that they are saying they might NOT release them to their owner even if the money is paid....did I read that correctly? I would hate to entrust my dogs to anyone who might make judgement from afar! As others have said lets hope this will all be resolved quickly and happily.
Belle From Across the Pond said…
Again, a very old post, and I am quite late to the party... But I had the thought, if you did that here in the states, you could be sued, as dogs are property..
I'm just wondering where the kennel gets off saying (after they received their money), I am not going to keep the money, here, have it back, I['m going to keep the dogs because I don't think you can properly care for them, and your friend might breed the females.
Where does that kennel owner have the right to decide they are going to keep dogs whose care they admit has not been paid for?
I'm sorry, but that has me quite angry.

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