Allegations of improper care launched against All for the Dogs

CAYUGA—Two months ago The Press reported on All for the Dogs, a start-up rescue on Shawn Bacher’s Cayuga farm seeking volunteers. Last week, a social media post by Anna Mroz raised serious allegations against Bacher and his rescue. 

Mroz, a former volunteer and one of three Board of Directors members, alleges that Bacher was taking in more dogs than he could properly care for. As a result, Mroz and another board member, Joanna (last name not included by request), left the rescue, dissolved its not-for-profit status, and went public with their concerns.

Mroz began researching rescue best practices after first agreeing to volunteer and took a full record of the dogs in residence.

CAYUGA—Darcy is one dog that was in the care of All for the Dogs in Cayuga, as shown above through the door of a crate. Seeing that she had an injured nose and was underweight, another rescue went undercover to adopt Darcy.

“I noticed that 90% of all dogs in care are unaltered (not neutered/spayed) … and that he was adopting out dogs unaltered, which was a big red flag, as that only perpetuates the problem of animal overpopulation and puts the dogs at risk of being used for breeding,” said Mroz. “I also noticed that the dogs were filthy, they smelled horrendous…. As dogs in the kennels don’t have an opportunity to go outside to do their business; they defecate where they eat and sleep.”

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Joanna added, “I noticed dogs did not always have water bowls in their kennels; therefore, when we walked them they would stop for one to two minutes to drink dirty rain water or eat snow.”

Mroz and Joanna believed their best chance to improve conditions would be incorporation so that a Board of Directors could influence the day-to-day operations.

“A lot of what Shawn was doing seemed wrong in comparison to what other rescues were telling me. Additionally, many rescues were filing complaints about Shawn,” said Joanna, noting that Mroz acted as a driving force for change and encouraged Bacher to keep intake levels regulated.

Joanna said things took a turn for the worse when she visited the rescue on April 2, recalling, “I saw four medium sized dogs in small crates … barely big enough for the dogs to turn around in. I immediately noticed one dog named Darcy was shaking, bleeding, and her nose was all scratched up.”

Mroz was seeing more concerns as well, “Dogs have very limited time outside…. The conditions are a breeding ground for bacteria, viruses, and parasites. Dogs were moved from kennel to kennel whenever it was needed, with multiple dogs in a kennel in some circumstances.”

The pair further alleges that Bacher ignored critical best-practice guidelines, including ensuring all dogs had their full core vaccinations and entered a 10-day quarantine on arrival.

Mroz noted “within days” of arriving, a dog could “be rehomed with a hefty $640 adoption fee when there was no care provided and it was unaltered, which seemed like a quick way to make a buck.”

The two also noticed an increasing number of dogs despite no kennel space being available, leading to more dogs in crates and limited resources.

CAYUGA—A former volunteer shared this photo of the kennels inside All for the Dogs.

“Having dogs be in a crate for more than 20 hours a day is not humane,” said Mroz. “We had told him that there is going to be no more intakes until all the dogs are in a proper size kennel.”

Joanna put photos of Darcy in her crate with her injured nose on social media, knowing it would elicit pressure: “Shawn was not happy, but I did it for a reason. I wanted to see what he would do…. He just kept dismissing me.”

She said that a few days later, Bacher asked her to bring Darcy to a Walmart parking lot to be handed over to an adopter, adding, “Later the next day, I discovered that Shawn knew nothing about the adopters.”

She knew this because the adopter was actually working covertly with another shelter, Tyson N Friends. Brian Ferreira, owner of Tyson N Friends, said getting Darcy was easier than taking candy from his niece. Darcy’s previous owners told Ferreira that the dog’s aggression issues were explained to All for the Dogs when they surrendered her.

“Darcy had attacked another dog and almost killed her,” said Ferreira. “(Bacher) didn’t give a sh*t about behaviour – he knew Darcy was going to go to a home with two other dogs. Darcy is dog-aggressive, period. She will kill a dog.” 

In addition to not properly reviewing Darcy’s adoptees, Ferreira said she was turned over without the medical paperwork provided by the previous owners.

When questioning Bacher about Darcy’s condition, noting weight loss and a damaged nose, Bacher told Ferreira she had allergies, but Ferreira said, “That’s bull. That’s cage fighting, that is anxiety…. You need privacy dividers. You can’t have dogs with access to each other’s nose and paws.”

Ferreira detailed another adoption he was privy to, in which Bacher adopted a mastiff with a “massive bite history” to a family with children. “That is insane.”

Darcy is shown here in the care of Tyson N Friends.

Victoria Young posed as Darcy’s adopter. She shared, “There was no information regarding an interview to assess my suitability, no reference check, no house check or vetting reference that I was asked to provide…. Within one day Shawn informed me that his volunteers Anna and Joanna would bring Darcy to me.”

Young agreed that photos of Darcy from her time at All for the Dogs show clear signs of distress, adding, “When I asked about Darcy’s diet, Shawn advised that she ate raw steaks from the grocery store and sometimes kibble…. Dogs need proper nutrition.”

Young also noted that when Darcy was handed over, the volunteers did not question whether she had filled out the proper paperwork.

In another case, a puppy born at All for the Dogs went to Fur Warriors Dog Charity. Mroz explained, “On April 11, 2023 I dropped by the rescue to drop off some donations … and (Bacher) had told me that he had to take one of the puppies from the litter because it looked weak and wasn’t getting enough food. I took a look at the puppy and he seemed very lethargic and had difficulty standing up.” 

Mroz contacted Fur Warriors founder Ashley Dasilva, who picked up the puppy to provide care: “The next day the pup was tested positive for: round worm, hook worm, whip worm, and giardia (which can be very contagious and transfer to humans) and was on an IV for dehydration.”

A video showing the puppy’s stool, rife with worms, caused shock when posted on social media: “Worms are common in small puppies, but the amount he had was alarming…. He has worms in his poop as long as his body, which tells you his insides were infested.”

Mroz was let go from the rescue and Bacher began countering the claims of improper care on social media.

Dasilva said she tried reaching out to him, asserting, “He argued with me saying the animals are fine and refused to act.… The issue at hand with his rescue is the blatant negligence even after issues arise. Things happen in rescues all the time, but it’s how we deal with it that makes us reputable.” 

Dasilva noted the mastiff adopted to a family despite its bite history as an example, stating, “He had an adopter lined up before he even met the dog and it was adopted the same day he took it in…. To intake a behavioural dog and do nothing to assess the issues or correct them is beyond dangerous and is setting up homes for severe injuries, and setting a dog up to be euthanized.”

The Press spoke with Bacher about the allegations against his rescue.

“I’m the rescuer. It’s my rescue. I’m the CEO and founder,” said Bacher. “It got to a point where, yes we are full, I’ll give it that.”

He said he has been approved by Haldimand County to operate, with County bylaw officers having visited the rescue as recently as April 24 for a “surprise inspection” alongside the Niagara SPCA. Bacher claims he passed the inspection “with flying green colours” and will be obtaining a kennel licence from the County. 

The SPCA did not respond as of press time for information on any visits made. However, Haldimand County responded, “The matter has come to our attention and it will be investigated. There has been no licence issued by Haldimand County.” 

Following a request for clarification on whether or not a staff member had visited the site, and what was found if so, the County added, “Haldimand County’s Enforcement Services and staff from the Niagara SPCA, along with their Executive Director, performed an unscheduled inspection of the kennel. As a result of the inspection, the SPCA will be giving their approval as required to obtain a kennel licence from Haldimand County pursuant to Haldimand County’s Animal Control Bylaw. The animals observed were healthy, well taken care of, vaccinated, and the facilities were acceptable. The Niagara SPCA have minor recommendations which will be followed up by Animal Services. An application for a kennel licence has been submitted and is currently pending final approval.”

Bacher said “all the hate started” when Mroz left and asked why any issues were not brought up until then, noting that Provincial Animal Welfare (PAWS) had also recently visited and given him a green checkmark. A request for comment from PAWS was directed to the Solicitor General’s office, which had not provided a response as of publication.

“I haven’t done anything wrong. I’ve followed everything that animal control has made me do,” Bacher said. “I have nothing to hide.”

Currently, Bacher has 24 dogs and 13 puppies on site. He plans to continue the rescue, despite the allegations: “I’m not just going to stop because of one bad apple.”

He said he felt personally attacked and is concerned for the “beautiful animals” who “deserve good homes, which will now be harder to find.”

On the sick puppy, Bacher said he was personally bottle feeding it due to his own concerns with its health, adding, “Anna asked if she could take the puppy home…. A week later it’s with Fur Warriors and I’m being accused of it having giardia. Who’s to say that you didn’t give it to the puppy? I’m just going to let the vet do their job.”

Bacher added that he works with Green Heron Veterinary Services based out of  Dunnville and that April 24 a veterinarian confirmed the kennel is clear of giardia. 

“All of the animals that are here right now have been vetted by municipality law,” he said, adding that all dogs have been vaccinated besides the puppies that are too young. Bacher sent a photo of several vaccine passports stamped with contact information for Green Heron and with various names at the top. While much of the descriptive information on these passports, such as breed and sex, has been left blank, the County confirmed vaccinations are in order. 

The Press contacted Green Heron, but they declined to comment as of publication.

Bacher said all kennels are fully cleaned every three days, adding, “When I spoke to animal control they said that was more than enough.”

He also argued that the dogs get proper nutrition through a raw food diet, stating, “They all had steak dinners this morning, from a butcher. They eat better than you or I.”

Ferreira countered, “He’s feeding them steaks. That’s not proper health…. A dog needs more than that…. Darcy’s gained weight – eight pounds since she’s been with me … and that’s because I’ve given her a proper diet.”

Bacher declined to comment on the allegations from Fur Warriors and Tyson N Friends: “Why would I waste my health and time to get mad at people who know nothing about the place other than hearsay?”

He also disputed the claim that he was flipping dogs for profit, noting he is currently living on an allowance of $115 a week to cover just food and his phone bill: “I get less money than someone on welfare…. There’s no profit. We have a standard adoption fee of $500. That covers vet bills, bedding, hydro, heat. There’s a whole range of bills that need to be paid here.”

Mroz said that the next steps in their effort to get their concerns addressed falls on the lap of the SPCA: “At this point in time we have been working with an animal officer, and it is an ongoing investigation, as such we are limited as to what we are to disclose,” she said.

As noted above, the SPCA is on track to clear All for the Dogs to continue operations, with only “minor recommendations” for changes.

The Press will provide further updates on this story as available.