KCBD Investigates: The Good Dog Gang responds to backlash over decision to euthanize puppies

Published: Apr. 24, 2023 at 11:05 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - A local dog rescue is facing intense scrutiny after the founders made the decision to euthanize a dozen puppies.

Sarah and Heather Rothwell founded The Good Dog Gang, which focuses primarily on pregnant and nursing dogs and puppies.

“We are registered as a non-profit corporation with the State of Texas. We are in the process of filling all the forms out for our 501(c)(3) status,” Sarah said.

Since 2022, the Rothwells said they have taken in 1,421 dogs, which includes puppies born in their care.

They said they recently agreed to take in dogs rescued from a hoarding case in the Odessa area.

“We first got a pregnant dog that we named Badger and we also got 12 additional puppies. There was really no way to tell if they were litter mates,” Heather said. “They were vetted by one of our local clinics and all 12 of them did have Parvo.”

We asked Heather if they reached out to fosters to see if they could care for the sick puppies.

“So with Parvo, even after their symptoms are over, they still shed the virus for 21 or over days. We still could not safely put those in other homes,” Heather said.

Heather fostered the dogs and said Badger had puppies in her care.

She said she also agreed to take in another adult female and five additional puppies.

“By the time Badger had her puppies, the 12 ones that we had originally, two had to be euthanized because of severe parvo symptoms,” Sarah said.

The Rothwells said a rescue in Midland found a foster for the sick puppies, so they transferred them, but then the rescue called them again.

“They asked if we could take back 12 puppies. They weren’t all the initial ones that we had. We told them we didn’t have the time or place. We had no resources for it, because we also had Badger’s puppies and Cowgirl’s puppies. They pretty much told us they had nowhere else for them to go. So, we went ahead and took those back,” Heather said.

We asked the Rothwells when they started to see signs of aggression.

They said as the puppies began to recover from Parvo, “their play was no longer play. They were holding each other down by their throats. Badger and Cowgirl did start attacking their puppies when they were two and three weeks ago, so we had to ween those early. Badger killed one of her puppies and severely injured another one,” Heather said.

“We have had a lot of puppies. We understand what normal puppy play is,” Sarah said. “And this was not your normal level of puppy play. This was increasing levels of aggression towards each other, towards us, towards unrelated dogs.”

The Rothwells said they contacted three certified professionals for advice.

“One of them is a certified dog behavior consultant with the IAABCC,” Heather said.

“We described the behaviors they were seeing, we described the conditions they came from, the medical issues they have been through. We did not have someone come out and do a formal evaluation,” Sarah said. “All three of them agreed that behavioral euthanasia was a responsible choice in this case,” Sarah said.

The Rothwells turned to Facebook to let people know they made the decision to euthanize the dogs.

The post has more than 1,400 comments and many people are not happy about it.

The sisters said they are getting ugly comments and threats.

They have reported the harassment to the police, but said they stand by their decision.

“Our morals, our ethics matter and we can’t transfer that to somebody else and make that their problem,” Heather said.

“We can transfer a legal liability for a bite, but we can’t transfer the burden on our heart of having those dogs placed in homes where there is a potential danger to a human life or another dog’s life,” Sarah said.

A group opposed to The Good Dog Gang’s decision has organized a protest.

It is scheduled for Saturday, April 29 at 10:30 a.m. in front of Lubbock Animal Services.