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The Courage of One

September 30, 2009

We receievd this today from Catherine and with her permission have posted her comment as a post on its own. Once you have read her heartfelt letter you will understand why we made this decision.

I apologize for the length of my comment, but I have been shocked into reality and feel obliged to share my experiences (and perhaps try to unsuccessfully excuse or explain away my impassiveness) with Beverley Rutland and Rutland Manor.

My heart is completely broken and I have been inconsolable for days now. Tegan Park Shania is the mother of my stud, Tegan’s Logie, born August 2, 2006. Is this the same Shania?? Please, NO! To say I had no idea how bad the conditions were or are at RM would be to admit that I have not done my own in-depth research and have unquestionably believed what Beverley has posted in response to what I believed to be an attack on a strong Christian woman who had contributed so much to this amazing breed; who had so much knowledge to share and affection for her beloved Labradoodles. I could not bring myself to read all the allegations against Beverley and the heartbreaking claims of neglect. I was convinced that Beverley’s daughter, Angela, was fostering all of this out of bitterness and resentment brought on by the hostilities of their family breakup which unfortunately played out for all to witness. Besides, where were the pictures, the documented proof from the accusers? It was all just rhetoric after all, wasn’t it?

I have been trying since May 2008 to have Beverley fulfill her contractual commitment for a replacement breeding puppy for a puppy I bought from her in February 2007 (born in March 2007) which has been evaluated to have severe hip dysplasia. I contributed the continuous delays to all the personal struggles she was going through. There was a question about supporting documents I provided which has been resolved for months. Just be patient I reminded myself.

In a recent visit to RM website to once again check on the “honeymooners” and upcoming litters in hopes of finding the parents for my replacement puppy, I discovered all of her dogs (breeders and puppies) had been removed from her website. Again, I believed that she was only updating her site and the pages would be up shortly with all of the wonderful identifying information she used to have on each of her breeding dogs which for some unexplained reason she had removed months earlier. A thought crossed my mind that with all the additional breeding dogs she had just previously listed on her site, she must finally be getting back on her feet and making a comeback – good for her I thought.

My emails about when to expect the return of her dogs to the site went unanswered. My email expressing my concern about Beverley’s well being went unanswered, but it was the weekend after all. I knew I would hear in a couple of days, but I was anxious to make certain all was well.

Because of all the prejudice and gossip, I didn’t want to ask in any kind of breeder’s forum or discussion group what was going on at RM, so I did the next best thing that would be quick and easy and I could certainly pick what I wanted to read – I Googled Beverley Rutland. Perhaps there would be a “legal notice” posted that would explain (like, God forbid, an obituary).

What I found was “”. The first thing that caught my heart was “Save Shania”. Oh my God. I looked through the site further. I see the pictures. I see the documented proof. I am face-to-face with FACTS. My heart is absolutely shattered.

In a desperate attempt to be consoled, I called my son to tell him what I had discovered. Rather than console me, he reminded me that the evidence had always been there, but I just didn’t want to see it – didn’t want to admit that someone I had so blindly and completely trusted, respected, defended, sang praises about, prayed for could in reality represent everything I abhor about animal cruelty. He reminded me of the FACTS I had witnessed first-hand with my own documented proof (all of which I have no doubt RM will attempt to explain away):

Fact 1: February 2007, I was in my third year in Iraq and anxiously awaiting birth of my first breeding girl from Rutland’s Kia and Tegan Park Sono Famoso. (Rutland’s Kia is the sister of Rutland’s Kelby, who I fell in love with at first sight.) Ready to start a new life when I returned home. An email from Beverley let me know that Kia had her babies – ten babies, but unfortunately Kia’s first four puppies had died from dehydration. Kia’s milk had not come in and it was “brutally” hot that day. Beverley said she had an errand to run and had to leave Kia alone for only a short time, and Kia wasn’t due for another day. When Beverley returned, she found the four dead pups with Kia in labor. (Proof – email from Beverley.) I am so very thankful for my beautiful and loving Rutland’s Kia Aly.

Fact 2: In April 2007, I decided to include a stud in my breeding program and Beverley offered three to choose from, all around a year old. I selected Tegan’s Logie, from Tegan Park El Grande and Tegan Park Shania, born August 2, 2006. When he arrived in May 2007, his coat was matted, one ear was infected, he was very thin. He suffered from severe separation anxiety and was temporarily put on medication to help him while he was being properly socialized. He is no longer on medication and has become quite the social butterfly easily adjusting to any situation. (Proof – pictures, letter from my vet describing Logie’s condition dated day after Logie’s arrival.) Tegan’s Logie was purchased from Rutland Manor. He is an amazing dog and a real love.

Fact 3: When Tegan Park put the breeding dogs up for auction, I discovered one of them was Tegan Park Lady Gwenevere. I had tried to talk Beverley into selling gorgeous Gwennie to me when I saw pictures of her in 2007 playing with her brother King Arthur when they were a few months old. They were going to keep her for breeding. I bought Gwennie through the auction. When she arrived, her coat was thin and matted, her teeth were brown with plaque and her gums swollen, both of her ears were infected, she was very thin and she had puncture wounds on the top of her head. I was devastated. (Proof – pictures, letter from my vet dated day after Gwennie’s arrival, email correspondence with Tegan Park and Rutland Manor. Gwennie was moved to Tegan from Rutland at the time of the split between them and was purchased from Tegan.) Lady Gwenevere is the most astonishing dog – smart, loving, beautiful and a wonderful mommy. I am blessed to have her in my life.

Fact 4: In March 2007, Tegan’s Delly’s Branna was born to Tegan Park Delightful and Rutland’s Kelby. She arrived in May 2007 with Logie. Branna was tested and evaluated to have “severe” hip dysplasia in May 2008 and was spayed in September 2008. I have been in discussions with Rutland Manor since May 2008 to provide a replacement puppy as contractually provided for. I have been on a waiting list for a “suitable puppy” since that time. (Proof – emails.) Branna was purchased from Rutland Manor.

I was surrounded by the reality, face-to-face with facts and photographs based on my own puppies and dealings, but I didn’t see the truth – no, I chose not to see the truth. I wanted to believe Beverley. I needed to believe Beverley. I should have listened to my heart. I should have listened to my instincts that there was something not quite right. I should have researched on my own. I should have …. But I didn’t.

After I read through “Saving Shania”, I was compelled to read further. What are the allegations, accusations, claims? Are these in fact rumors and gossip by people bent on destroying such an esteemed woman, my mentor? I emailed Beverley pleading for answers to the allegations; to dispel the rumors; for reassurance that my faith and trust in her had not been misplaced. I needed to hear directly from Beverley. I had been successful for months in avoiding all of the rumor mills with more “he said”, “she said”, name calling, etc., until now. The allegations with documentation and pictures were compelling enough to strike at my very core – enough to need to hear from Beverley. I was not quite convinced, but now there were doubts that I turned to Beverley to put to rest with facts, answers and reassurance.

I’m not sure why I think I am special enough to Beverley to warrant the kind of respect straight answers deserves, but I tried.

Beverley responded almost immediately. I read through her email over and over looking for specific “answers” and for “reassurance”. She told me “the allegations are a mix of outright lies, intentionally twisted information, partial truths skewed around, photos that were taken in the middle of a night time criminal trespass by a well known animal activist… .” I sent a second email asking for answers to very specific questions: “What about the “de-barking” surgery on your dogs? Will your dogs be able to return? Under what circumstances? What about the back-to-back breeding allowing more than 2 litters in an 18 month period? They have posted names and dates. Where do your breeding dogs live when they are with you? How do they spend their days and nights? What kind of socialization and interaction do they have?”

Again, why am I so special to deserve straight answers when I am sure there are so many others asking the same questions; others who love, respect and admire Beverley personally and professionally as I do, but who need the same reassurances as I.

Beverley again responded immediately. “if you think that what you have read and ‘seen’ on these hate websites is as you put it ‘pretty compelling and convincing’ then there is no point me trying to discuss it with you any more. You have no idea how hurtful those words are.” “I can no longer continue these emails with you.”

No answers.

I have no doubt that I have hurt her. That was not my intention. I just needed to have something definitive from Beverley herself. It is what it is or is not. Seems simple enough to me. If it is, respond “yes” and if so inclined, explain why. If it is not, then for crying out loud simply say “no” and get on with business as usual. No need for “he said”, “she said”, name calling or finger pointing.

What I “feel” at the very core is betrayal by Beverley Rutland: betrayal to those who believe her beloved reputation as “Grandma Beverley”; betrayal to her own achievements over the past decades as a breeder, researcher and developer of the amazing Labradoodle breed; betrayal to the ethical and moral behavior of every human being to any living creature; betrayal to those she did or could have mentored and shared her invaluable knowledge; betrayal to the love and trust of the dogs in her care; betrayal to her responsibilities to those who purchase her puppies; betrayal to those who have defended her; betrayal to the opportunities laid out before her and wasted; but perhaps the most despicable betrayal of all is that of her betrayal to God’s gift of the Spirit given for the purpose of building up others in a life of faith using the knowledge, skills, talents and abilities she has gathered.

As Anna Sewell, an English novelist wrote: “My doctrine is this: that if we see cruelty or wrong that we have the power to stop, and we do nothing, we make ourselves sharers in the guilt.” It is time I do my part – do what is right, not what is easy. I am watching. I am listening. I am researching. I will speak out.

I am asking Beverley to do what she knows is right. Retire and let loving, caring breeders and families adopt her dogs. Let them live the life they deserve; the life she has bred and developed them for – respect, kindness, love and devotion.

I have much to be thankful for with my dogs, all of which have come from Beverley. I owe a great deal to Beverley for the knowledge she has shared through her website. I will always be grateful and blessed for having known her. I will continue to hope for the best for her personally. And I will continue to feel the heartbreak and pain she has caused.

“He who is cruel to animals becomes hard also in his dealings with men. We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals.” – Immanuel Kant, German Philosopher

15 Comments leave one →
  1. heike allison permalink
    September 30, 2009 9:26 am

    I know where Kia is!! She is one of my breeders dogs. She continues as a breeding dog here in US. You are sooo brave Catherine to come forward with the truth about what Bev has done and is willing to do to one who asks the hard questions. You are sooo right, she has betrayed those have been her ardent supporters who ask the hard questions. If debarking dogs, back to back breeding, underage breeding, breeding a pound puppy is right in her mind, not to mention shania and her breeding after a mastectomy is ok, she is no more than a puppy farmer at best.

  2. Carole Grundy permalink
    September 30, 2009 9:36 am

    I’ve read your message, Catherine and I so understand the pain you are going through. When we buy a dog we are aquiring a new family member and there is an enormous feeling of gratitude to the person who has sent you this lovely dog. It takes great love for the dogs in your care to expose the reality of their condition on arrival and how their breeder has behaved.

    Your story of thin, injured dogs arriving in poor matted condition and found in some cases to bear genetic problems, PRA and HD in particular is one I have heard from many breeders.

    This is all about the dogs, all of us who care for these wonderful companions have the duty to speak out. I just pray for the dogs still at the mercy of Rutland Manor.

  3. Anonymous permalink
    September 30, 2009 10:31 am

    Poor, poor Kia. It’s hard not to think how helpless she must have felt, all alone in the sweltering heat, trying desperately to nurse her dying puppies 😦 Why on earth wasn’t she up in the air conditioned house??

  4. Rachel permalink
    September 30, 2009 10:36 am

    Congratulations to Annette
    Tamaruke and the amazing Catherine 🙂
    This is not the end of the Labradoodle, there are ethical breeders out there who have the courage to speak out on behalf of this amazing breed that we all love.
    Beverley I beg you please desex and rehome your dogs, retire with dignity. You surely know in your heart that what you have done is simply wrong.

  5. Lisa Ryan permalink
    September 30, 2009 12:25 pm

    I feel Catherine’s pain – being deceived by someone you trust or admire is painful. Catherine’s honest assessment is however very powerful because it is honest and and recognizes that the cruelty and abuse of these dogs is not a once or even a twice off – it has been going on for years. I have no idea how dogs with ear infections were not detected but an ear infection in a dog is a dangerous and painful condition. If these dogs that were being sold were let go in these shocking condition, I can only imagine the condition of the ones who are left at the factory to work and die or are sold off to the highest bidder at Auction.

    Catherine’s account about Kia is distressing. Any breeder knows that from the date of mating the gestation period is 63 days, however a bitch can go several days early and sometimes later. You NEVER leave them alone. Given that Beverly locks her breeding dogs in together, I’d seriously question that she would ever know when a litter was due as she would never know the exact mating date. This is why matings MUST be supervised. How distressing for Kia.

    There are too many examples here in just one testament of continued abuse and lack of any care for dogs full stop and it has continued for many years and will continue unless Beverly Manners and Rutland Manor is shut down for good.

    This is only about $ and is only about puppy farming.

  6. Andrea permalink
    September 30, 2009 2:52 pm

    The tears are still flowing as I try to type, thank God for people like Catherine

  7. September 30, 2009 4:01 pm

    I appreciate the supportive emails, but please understand I am not courageous. Doing the right thing should not be considered a courageous act, but one of socially and morally conscious decision making. We all have different viewpoints of the world and it is those viewpoints that provide the foundation for our ethical actions. We need to be careful when we assume that others know what is “right” and “wrong”, realize that what seems like a black and white issue contains much gray area. What happens to others when we judge them, but are uncertain of all the facts? Perhaps there is no longer the capacity for that person to make the right choices. Perhaps a hand outstretched to help rather than forming a fist of outrage is what is needed – “Help thy neighbor”. I tried to live by that philosophy, but have become lazy allowing others to step forward while I sought comfort in ignorance and apathy.

    Reading the allegations about Rutland Manor jolted my moral compass back to life. Not just because of the alleged cruelty and merciless behavior toward the dogs, but what about Beverley? What has happened to cause such behavior in one that has lived a life of love and devotion to her dogs? I have not only deserted my responsibilities toward these amazing animals, but toward my neighbor, Beverley. What could I have done (what should I have done) to help before everything reached such a volatile point that anyone who now touches the issues or truly wants to help do what is right is badly burned and so retreats pushing further away those who need our help, love and support to face reality. I finally asked Beverley the hard questions about de-barking, breeding practices, living conditions. I wanted and needed direct answers. I did not and still do not want to believe this could happen, but only Beverley would be able to reassure me. That didn’t happen. Nothing but more heartbreak and pain for everyone.

    So as much as I would like to believe I am a courageous person, I’m afraid it is not courage. It is what I should have done all along – make morally conscious decisions and stand by them – help my neighbor, 2-legged and 4.

    Thank you very much for your support.

    • October 1, 2009 3:52 am

      Catherine, just reading your comment now has brought tears to my eyes and I do feel some of your pain! You are a courageous person to speak out for the dogs and you “have made morally conscious decisions.” It takes courage to realize that someone you have genuine concern for such as Beverley, has not behaved accordingly or immorally. Also, like you have stated, the Rutland Manor case has many gray areas and is not so easy to digest. But your kindness and focusing on the dog’s welfare, is why you are now speaking out. If only this was just a bad dream and not reality!

  8. September 30, 2009 10:51 pm

    I applaud you Catherine, thin matted dogs do not come from reputable Breeders…neither do they arrive with ear infections
    It takes courage to publicly speak out.
    There must be others out there who have experienced problems with dogs bought from RM, yours can’t be the only dogs to arrive at their new home in poor condition?
    I hope they will take courage from your post and step forward ,
    For the sake of the dogs…I hope so.

  9. Louise permalink
    October 1, 2009 4:12 am

    There is ‘right’ and unfortunately also ‘wrong’ in this world. The individual who does not treat others as they themselves would wish to be treated is committing wrong.
    A warm home and comfortable bed, adequate food, love and respect are the basic rights of all domesticated animals.

    When an individual has the self -awareness to personally aim for such an environment, whilst concurrently depriving other living beings & when profit is the motivator – then their behavior is evil.

  10. heike allison permalink
    October 1, 2009 7:59 am

    You can all be rest assured Kia is doing well and is being taken care of properly and in a loving home, away from the pits of RM. Like you Catherine, I KNOW there are many other breeders with RM/TP dogs that have arrived in similar conditions. The sire of my wonderful dog was one of them, poorly socialized and possibly abused at the hands of his previous owner TP, he now lives well in guardian home. It is never easy to realize the person you supported and defended could really do such things, especially when you thought you held the same moral values. But real friendship wouldn’t ask you to suspend your values in order to defend their immoral practices for the sake of their livelyhood. Standing up for what you believe to be an injustice on these helpless dogs comes at a price, just ask Debra. But in the end, doing what you know in your heart is right, and saving even one dog from being a breeding machine just to put money in her coffers, well it is worth it for me. I am sad too that I lost many friends over this, but at least I can sleep at night knowing I have defended the DOGS rights over her rights. So, yes you are brave to speak out.

  11. October 1, 2009 12:14 pm

    Can I clarify that the above post from “Linny” is from me UK linny…..not your home based Australian Linny.

    Hope this takes the heat off you Linny.

  12. Linny, Australia permalink
    October 2, 2009 12:14 am

    Thanks Linny UK. I don’t mind the heat, but I can do without the spam 😉

    Best wishes,
    Linny, Australia

  13. heike allison permalink
    October 2, 2009 3:17 am

    Catherine, an update on Kia for you. Kia had her last litter in june of this year and was in the loving home of my breeder Sheila, she lived IN her home with two other dogs, one retired girl and another who is two now and has NOT been bred yet. She had nine beautiful pups and returned to her guardian home about twenty minutes from me. She is now going to her forever home and “I” have put my name in the hat!!!! Talk about Karma, to be able to give her a wonderful forever home is a dream come true.

    • October 2, 2009 3:38 am

      How special is that!! I’m so happy to hear that. Thank you so much for the update. If you get a chance to visit her, or if she is lucky enough to become a part of your family, please give her big hugs from her baby girl, Aly, and kisses of appreciation and gratitude from me for my beautiful lover-girl, Aly.
      Now if we can do the same for Shania. For all of the RM sweethearts.

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