We recommend checking out the
following links:  (a site that lists rescue groups and
shelters throughout the United States)  (the American Kennel Club)  (the United Kennel Club)

A Few Articles Debbie Had
(many more have been published
in other publications but don't have active internet
links) :

Articles Published About Her

Philadelphia Inquirer

Posted on Fri, Apr. 17, 2009
Annette John-Hall: Most important: A
loving home for your pet
By Annette John-Hall
Inquirer Columnist

Let me just toss this out like a used-up chew toy:
My dog is not a rescue dog. Nor did I adopt her
from a shelter.
No, I bought Angel, my heavenly, year-old puggle,
from a backyard breeder. Paid good money for her,

But before all of the Oprah-lyte anti-puppy-mill
crusaders chain me up to the doghouse next to
Michael Vick, let me say my guy is reputable; he
doesn't run a puppy mill or a breeding assembly

You could tell he loves his animals. Really. After I
decided on Angel, he grilled me so hard you would
have thought he was the reporter. Gave me her
shot card, showing me the puppy vaccines he had
already administered.

And did I mention that it was Angel who chose me?

The thing is, with animals, as with people, we don't
get to choose whom we fall in love with. It just

Am I proud that I didn't adopt a dog? Not

But at the same time, I don't get the righteous
pit-bull indignation over the choices people make.

Which is why I refused to follow the lead of all
those off-the-chain animal activists who protested
that Bo, the First Dog, was not a shelter dog.

Boy, did people have their tails bent out of shape
this week.

President Obama reneged on his supposed
pledge to adopt a rescue or shelter dog, they
growled, some going so far as to say the donation
the Obamas made to the Humane Society was
blood money.

Puppy love
God forbid the Obamas would just get the dog
they loved, the one that Sasha and allergic Malia
fell for.
I mean, really. Does everything have to be so
doggone political?

(Though I have to admit an ebony-and-ivory puppy
was truly unifying.)

West Chester dog trainer Debbie DeSantis is too
diplomatic to step into the mess.

"I don't think there's anything wrong with buying
from a breeder who cares," DeSantis says
carefully, "but at this point, I just want to be able to
rescue one so the shelter will be able to take
another one in."

DeSantis has been on an awareness-raising
mission for years. These days, she says, you can
find any kind of dog - pure- or designer-bred, like
my Angel - in a shelter. And she uses the Internet
to help dead-dogs-walking connect with foster
owners through rescue groups.

Which was how DeSantis came upon Mikey. Seven
years ago, the SPCA in Media, where she used to
volunteer, called. It had an abandoned Lhasa apso
scheduled to be put down. Could she take him?

Bitten and matted
"He had been bitten by dogs on the street. He was
matted from head to toe," DeSantis remembers.
"He was making this raspy sound; I thought he had
been de-barked. But he had a cold, a runny nose."
Talk about issues.

Three years ago, Mikey, whom she guesses is
about 9 years old, was attacked by a dog running
loose. He was bitten again and went back on
antibiotics. Later that year, DeSantis felt a lump on
Mikey's foot. Cancer.

"Radiation three times a week at Penn," she says.
"I don't even want to tell you how much it cost. We
didn't take a vacation that year."

Mikey had plenty of behavioral baggage, too.

Today? Mikey is the prize of her pack, which
includes two Shetland sheepdogs, another Lhasa
apso, and a golden retriever. And a husband, of

Mikey's not just well-behaved. He has also won a
slew of awards in obedience competitions.

And he has a bag of tricks that would make any
mommy proud.

Strutting his stuff at a strip mall in Broomall, Mikey
lets out a dramatic wail and falls dead when
DeSantis points and "shoots" him.

"They're just blanks," DeSantis teases. Which is
Mikey's cue to pop back up.

He can also "say his prayers" with paws together
and bowed head. When DeSantis ends with an
"amen," Mikey lifts his head with reverence.

He's 15 pounds of pure performer.

I can hardly get my Angel to sit. But I wouldn't
trade her for the world. Just as DeSantis couldn't
be happier with her precious find regardless of
his hard life.

"He's such a special little character," marvels
"All I did was rescue him."

Contact columnist Annette John-Hall at 215-854-4986
or Read her work:
Stay tuned for more