A kind offer to look after my dog turns nasty

A kind offer to look after my dog turns nasty

A kind offer to look after a dog turns nasty


This is Sophie’s saga. She is a 10.5-year-old GSP Vizsla.

She was 9.5 when given up from her only home in late January last year. A rescue group on Bowen picked her up and brought her to me to meet her.

When I met her, she looked reserved and shy, yet she had just come from her home. The two people and me walked her in my neighborhood, and she did very well.

I had just recently decided I wanted a new companion, and Sophie came along. It was meant to be. I told the ladies I wanted to adopt her.

She went to Bowen Island to be assessed and ready for adoption. It usually takes a couple of weeks, yet it took a bit longer due to a death in the family of the rescue lady. It was March 2 when I went to get her to bring her to her permanent home.

By then I had also had an opportunity to foster a greyhound. This dog, came right from the airport, from Ireland. She was here for a few days before Sophie arrived. They got along so well. I was out walking again, and my neighbours were very happy to see me out.  I had been very sad and was recovering from the loss of my whippet Smyth, who had died at the end of April 2021.

I was a sight to see. People stopped their cars to ask me about both of these lovely dogs. They walked together and also separately as they had a different stride.

I enjoy walking and they both as well as me were getting lots of exercise, and getting to know each other. I felt alive again.


When I adopted Sophie in March, I mentioned to the lady that I had to go to Ontario to help my sister, whose husband had died, and the flight was early April, and I would be gone for 2 weeks. Out of kindness the lady offered to look after Sophie for me. While it would have ben easier to leave her with someone closer to home, I accepted the kind offer, as Sophie had spent the last few weeks with this lady in her home, and with another dog that she had.

By then, the foster time of 3 weeks had gone by for the greyhound and I was given the opportunity to adopt her. Seeing how well the two dogs got along I decided yes, and the two dogs were adopted.

A good friend looked after the greyhound when I went away.

I took Sophie over on the ferry and her stay over, and dog sitting for the lady began. The time and day I would be returning was all set, and I would come and pick her up, yet on the morning of that day, when it had all been arranged, I was told not to come.


And this is where the saga begins

My dog was looked after while I was away helping my sister. The dog sitter would not give her back. The dog sitter was also the owner of the rescue group where I adopted my dog.

Details are important. Something about a devil, or maybe no devil?

Well, when I tell anyone about this the first thing, they ask me is did I call the police. No wait, that is the second thing.

The first thing they do is look blankly at me and say oh. As if to say, well the dog rescue group must have kept her for a reason.

They seem to blame me for leaving her with the dog rescue lady. That I should somehow have known better, and that I have no chance because the dog rescue group has to be right. I get all that from them staring blanky at me and saying “oh”.

The next thing might be they ask if I called the police but often, they are just stuck on the dog rescue has to be right and nothing I can do.

For the call to the police, I say yes, but for advice, and learned that the police do not get involved.

They are usually shocked and do not believe me. It almost feels like they are accusing me of lying, and they know better.

Yet I did call the police and was told it was not a police matter.

The next question or the second one or sometimes the first is do you have an adoption contract. I say no not yet. They glaze over and say oh. And I hear them think-why not, and how do you think you can get the dog back when you can’t prove it is yours.

Yet those that know me and how much I care about any dog, say how terrible that is. They are and have been very supportive and want to listen to what happened, and so, I tell them the story.


If you are reading this you are the supportive kind of person otherwise you have stopped reading and gone away calling me an idiot or a fool for not having the adoption contract, or a liar for telling you the police will not help.

So much I can get from a look, or a pause before response, and the fill in word that is usually “oh”.


I know that my dog would not be with the rescue lady/dog sitter if I had not taken up her kind offer to look after her. Yet I trusted her, I have known for 10 years, and I had no reason not to. I had no reason to think she would not return her to me. No reasonable person would leave a dog with someone who had any rights to keep her. She was dog sitting and she had no rights to keep her.

I am a reasonable and sane person, and I took her kind offer to dog sit for me.

I also know it was foolish of me to not have the adoption contract in hand when I took Sophie home, yet again, I trusted her, and she said it would be sent by email. And I asked a few times. Yet I was not concerned as I trusted her. And I understood from what I knew of her that the contract did not always come with the dog, but always did come at some point.

I know that while having the adoption contract would be helpful in the long run perhaps, it would not have stopped her from keeping Sophie from me. And it would not have meant either, that the police would help.

In my logic and process of elimination or problem solving I remember, then the only fact that is relevant is- this lady agreed to dog sit for me, she agreed to return the dog after the 2 weeks, I have this in emails, yet she did not return my dog to me

What could I do?


As police will not help my only course of action was Civil Resolution Tribunal.

I could not even just walk up to the door and demand her back. She could and would call the police and have me removed for trespassing. And she lives on Bowen Island.

This whole thing sounds so unbelievable. I should be able to just go to the door and get my dog. Yet not. I called the RCMP of Bowen Island where she lives and that is what they told me.

Such a terrible terrible helpless feeling. And all because I took up her kind offer.


A very kind lawyer I know wrote a demand letter that I had delivered to her. Yet the lady on Bowen did not comply. I started the CRT process in May 2023.

I knew it would be a challenge, one might say a David and Goliath sort of battle, as many may without thought automatically side with the dog rescue, as logically why would a dog rescue do that, there of course has to be a reason. As I have said, some people may think the rescue group has the right to keep your dog, and when I told someone about this, I could hear her thinking, you have no hope of getting her back you played into her hand. And I even heard her thinking- she can do this if she wants you can’t stop her, she is the dog rescue lady.

Yes, I believe some do think so.

Yet there was never any obligation to leave her with her when I went away. I chose to.

I know myself. I know that I am responsible for taking the offer of dog sitting and for taking my dog to be dog sat at this lady home

I know I am responsible also for not getting the adoption contract.

Yet I am not responsible for her actions. Her cruel actions. She had no moral or legal right to keep my dog, yet I was left to prove that.



About the CRT process


This is a process through the provincial court, an on-line process. The person files a claim, a person replies, or should, then each has an opportunity to participate in an on line back and forth of submissions going through stages of negotiation, and in some ways like a mediation, where it is hoped that two parties can find a meeting of the mind and the case is settled, and if not the next stage is a facilitated mediation where the parties are helped by way of phone calls, each party having an opportunity to present an offer to settle. If that is not successful then the next step is for each party to submit their argument and evidence, following clearly outlined guidelines on the web site.  Once the parties have submitted, after some time a lawyer of the tribunal is assigned to the case. The information is passed to them and they can make a decision based on what they have been given, then the decision is binding.



The dog sitting agreement was for April 9 to 23 2022. She had my dog at her home ever since and all I could do was go through this painfully long process via this on-line court.

After several weeks starting the process I got a call to start stage 2, the negotiation. Yet there was no negotiation with her, and we moved to the next stage in some time, and even with the help of the facilitator things did not change.

And so, it moved on to the next stage, where we submit our argument and evidence. That was in September, and we were told it would then be assigned to a person to make the decision.

The person was assigned almost 8 weeks later and the decision came out on December 9 2022.

You can even read the decision at the CRT web site. The decision sadly was not in my favour.


Then a reporter wrote about it, I was angry, yet learned that it is public knowledge. He was only reporting about the legal decision.

Then I tried to deal with it in my head, and wrote a letter to the dog rescue lady. The letter was a letting go, and wishing her well.  These are excerpts from the letter.

I have read the CRT decision that came out…….. I am very disappointed and sad that I was not successful in bringing Sophie home to me.

I know I had adopted her…… and that I was giving her a very good home.

Thank you for looking after her for me while I went to help my sister…… That was a very kind offer..

I am sure by now you have been able to wear my shoes and understand my shock when you chose not to meet me and return Sophie to me, as was agreed and expected. I am sure also that you will know, that I trusted you, and of course I would not have left Sophie with you if I did not…..

I am sure you did not plan to become so attached to Sophie as you did. She is an adorable and very comforting dog.

Sophie was and would have been happy here. I would have continued to provide her lots of exercise attention and love.  Also, she would have shared her life with her new friend Sinead the greyhound from Ireland that as you know I adopted in late March. In fact, I adopted Sinead after seeing how well she and Sophie were together, as I had already adopted Sophie then.

Sophie and Sinead had a good 5 weeks together. I am sad for them and for me that, through no fault of mine or either dog, you decided to not give Sophie back to me as was agreed……

If you can find it in your heart to apologize to me for how you spoke to me, and how you decided to keep Sophie, I am listening.

If you can find it in your heart for me to see Sophie, I am open to meeting you or your colleague somewhere when you come over here.

I could have given her all that she needed, yet in the end I could not give her Bowen Island.

This nine months in this dispute has been wearing on me, my health and on that of a good friend. Now it is time to heal, go forward and let go. I have no space for ill feeling in my life.

In the end I know, I chose Sophie as I wanted to give her a home, as she had been discarded by her only known home, of 9.5 years. My home was a good one for her and my heart was opened to her as a new companion. After weeks with you on Bowen now, I am sure she is a happy settled dog and no longer needs a home, she has your home to be in. This is not how it was meant to go, yet I accept she will have a good life with you in your home…..

I truly do wish you and Sophie a happy life. I have known you, and of you for more than 10 years. You have rescued many dogs and made many people happy as a result and I hope you continue to do so.

Sophie, now 10.5 would stay on the Bowen Island home and acreage. She may not remember me now, after only being with me for 5 weeks. I was so very sad yet I knew to pursue this further would take many more months and process and the likelihood of getting Sophie back was minimal. I did not want to give in, I had been wronged, and I wanted that to be recognized, and I wanted Sophie back.  Yet I also knew she would be ok; she had a home. When I first met her, she needed a home, and I wanted her to be with me, we needed each other. Yet now, she has been with the lady for months and was not in any danger. She has a home with an acreage, another dog, and other dogs to visit as well. The lady had four other dogs in another home over there. She also has walkers and helpers. I had to think more of Sophie than me. I was and am still hurting and want her back with me. I had hoped for an apology for how I was treated, yet I needed to write this letter and to free it from my mind. Yet, if you are reading this you can see, it not free.


I wrote to a reporter in the hopes that she would write a story that might help others, yet so far, she has not, and so I am writing this story.

I think this is a human-interest story




You see I adopted dog Sophie from a rescue group lady, someone I had known for 10 years. She offered to dog sit while I went to help my sister in Ontario. That was very kind of her. Yet after the dog sitting, she did not give her back to me and refused to meet or even talk after many attempts.

It was a verbal agreement the adoption. The dog sitting also but we had email correspondence confirming it.

She did agree to meet me but she changed her mind the morning we were to meet, and said she was keeping Sophie because she thought I would not be able to exercise her, my yard was too small, and that I had another dog (I had adopted after I got Sophie). After many attempts to talk to her and a legal letter I filed in the CRT. When I did, her response was that it was a foster, not an adoption.


Also, I thought as there was no foster contract to support her claim that I would be successful, and for lots of other reasons.


I realize the decision is based on a preponderance of evidence and of course the decision maker can only make the decision based on information given to him or her, and may not have a way to determining what is fact or truth.



Of course, no reasonable person would leave their dog with someone who they thought had any right to keep it. I thought that to be a significant factor, yet I was not successful in getting her back.


Yet the decision was based on facts not correct, provided by the other party.



A verbal contract is a legal contract yet it was based on her word against mine when it came down to it. She is a reputable dog rescue person. I am the average good citizen. Standing back, and reading the story of it, as he has to, to make the decision, he has to see from an outsider perspective which is more believable. It was a David and Goliath situation yet I had hoped for the outcome in favour of David (me.


Yes, it was a verbal agreement yet I trusted this person I had known for 10 years. I trusted her to look after my dog. Not to keep her.


I know what has really happened, she became very fond of her and saw this has her opportunity to take her back. In fact, she said on the phone to me and in email, when she would not return her, that she thought adopting her out to someone with such a small yard (typical city lot in New West) was a mistake as she is a GSP, known to need lots of exercise, and she was going to correct her mistake by keeping her. (She is a 10-year-old German shorthair pointer/ vizsla and I was well equipped to give her all the exercise and love she needed.)


Not all dogs can live on Bowen Island.

Not all rescue groups are right

They do not or should not have an almighty power!



Rescue groups rights and powers


They do not have the right to take your dog if they feel like it.

Some groups claim the dog is always theirs, and say they have the right to come and check on it, and it is always their responsibility to be sure the dog is looked after. While that is admirable is it realistic and is it reasonable?

Some agreements have a clause in them that says they have the right to come and check on the dog at any time, and the language is not clear in the reasons.

They do and should have the right to check to be sure the dog is being treated without danger or cruelty. ( i.e. not tied up outside, not fed, not walked etc.)


I will be writing more about this.


Difference between foster and adopt


Be sure you understand the difference and that your understanding of it is the same as that of the rescue group.


The word foster implies temporary. The definition I am familiar with is- to provide a temporary home for a dog who does not have one. It is not a trial adoption. The person is not on trial. Generally, when a dog is looked after as a foster, there is no room for it at the shelter, or it has issues that require it be separate from others, or it has just arrived and has no home yet. It is often the responsibility of the foster person to assess the dog and how it will fit and what the adopted home should be.


When you adopt a dog, you are not on trial, as before you adopt you are approved and you are already assessed.


I will also be writing more about this.




Beware of kind offers. Is there an ulterior motive?




If you rescue a dog from a rescue group there are many things to be aware of.


Should you rescue from a dog rescue, the pros and cons. Look for this in stories to come.