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From: "kathyflarey" <madaboutdogaglty@...>
Date: Thu May 2, 2002  4:45 am
Subject: Forwarded message about Rondout Valley Kennels
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From: Nancy Skluth [mailto:nancy.skluth@...]
Sent: Tuesday, April 30, 2002 10:04 AM
Subject: The truth about Rondout Valley Kennels

LeJasunipromer@... on 04/30/2002 08:11:18 AM

To: nancy.skluth@...
cc: drfoot4u@...

Subject: The truth about Rondout Valley Kennels

Dear friends, fellow shelter workers, and animal lovers:

My family and I have been preparing this statement for weeks now. We
writing this letter in an effort to inform rescues and shelters
of a great injustice being done in the dog world. We spent the last
years of our lives working for Sue Sternberg at Rondout Valley
Kennels in Accord, New York. Most of you have heard of Sue, for
those who haven't she is an internationally known dog trainer and
behaviorist. She is also the developer of the temperament test which
is implemented in shelters everywhere to determine the adoptability
of shelter dogs. Before we continue, let me just tell you we are not
bitter ex-employees.

We think Sue Sternberg has some wonderful programs. Her radio show
is informative and her knowledge of behavior is unsurpassed Sue was
not only our boss, she was an extension of our family If she heard a
noise in the middle of the night, she called us. If we had a problem
we needed help
with, we called Sue. The incidents leading up to the termination of
our employment at Rondout Valley Kennels are serious. We never
believed that euthanizing dogs would be more important to Sue than
our relationship
with her. We were wrong.

The incidents leading up to our dismissal at Rondout Valley Kennels
are serious. We feel everyone should be aware of them. We have met
a lot of you at Rondout Valley Kennels, at APDT conferences and at
Sue's seminars.
Those of you who know us know we are honest, caring people.
Everything we are about to tell you is true and factual, based on our
personal experiences, not hearsay or second-hand information.

In the years we worked for Sue Sternberg, we not only believed in her
temperament test, we believed in her. We truly felt that Rondout
Valley Kennels was the best place to surrender a pet or to bring a
homeless pet
into. The loving care and attention given to the shelter dogs was
incredible. We treated them as if they were our own. Presently, the
shelter workers have told us that they're afraid to attach themselves
the adoption dogs. They get less personal attention than they did
before because they feel they need to distance themselves from the
dogs in order to avoid more heartbreak.

The temperament test is a valuable tool. It was designed to flush
out aggression in a potentially dangerous dog. It was also helpful
in determining what behavior issues the dog may have so he could be
on a program to help or manage the problem. The test was also
helpful in determining how a dog should be placed (i.e. no children,
experienced home, etc.)

When a dog was temperament tested, if he was found to guard a rawhide
but not his food, he was put on a program. To try to rectify the
guarding, a puppy with signs of dominance was put on a program to put
him in his place.
I can give examples of both of the above.

Flo-Jo is a beautiful Labrador mix who was at Rondout years ago. She
never guarded food or toys but she did guard rawhides. She was put
on a program and was adopted out to a couple who were aware of her
issue. She is very happy to date.

Baby Jake would be an example of a puppy with an issue. Baby Jake
was an 8 week old Lab mix who had been a stray in Kingston with his
litter mate Baby Remy. Baby Remy had no issues. Baby Jake had
dominance, food bowl, and possession guarding issues just to name a
few. Baby Jake was put on a
program and placed in a family where he and the family are very happy
with each other to date.

I'm giving you these examples so you can see how things have changed.
Incoming puppies with dominance or food bowl issues are euthanized.
They are no longer placed on programs. The most recent example of
this is Scotty. Scotty was a beautiful 7 week old Boxer PitBull
mix. He was found
in a box outside of a supermarket and brought to Rondout by the
family that
rescued him. He came complete with toys, a bed, blankets, biscuits
and everything else a puppy could possibly want. They were not able
to keep the puppy, so they brought him to Rondout. The father
consoled the two
children as they cried when he handed Scotty over. He had nothing
negative to say about this puppy.

Scotty was temperament tested by Sue and labeled dominant aggressive
and promptly euthanized. No program, no chance...what makes this a
particularly bad situation is no staff member saw the temperament

Another example was Rita. Rita was a beautiful Treeing Walker
Coonhound. She was at Rondout Valley Kennels for 2 days before a
Live Long and Prosper seminar. During the seminar she growled over a
rawhide. She
was never re-tested, never put on a program...and euthanized the next
My family does Coonhound rescue and we had brought Rita to Rondout.
I will have nightmares over Rita forever.

Those of you who attend Sue's Live Long and Prosper seminar that's
done at Rondout Valley Kennels are probably unaware of how the demo
dogs come about and how they end up. For approximately 2 months
leading up to a Live
Long and Prosper seminar, Sue begins to gather dogs to use as
examples. The
more aggressive the dog, the better! These dogs sit in the boarding
kennel in what the staff has labeled "death row". They have a red
dot on their cage which means "caution", therefore they do not go out
to the exercise
yard, and are not given the extra attention and love the adoption
animals should receive. An example of this would be Bandit, a 10
month old Husky.
He was surrendered due to divorce. He had horrible food bowl
aggression, he sat in the boarding kennel for 3 weeks: unexercised,
just waiting for his turn to be used as a "demo dog" at Live Long and
Prosper. After he served his purpose, he was euthanized.

The last Live Long and Prosper that we attended, a horrific 14 dogs
euthanized when the seminar ended. Sue took them all at once, in the
Kennel Van, which she dubbed the "death mobile." This was one of the
most devastating days, the staff was asked to bring the dogs out to
the crates
in the kennel van through tears of absolute devastation. To this day
we remember their names: Ely, Rebel, Seymore, Shamrock, Clover,
Wacka, Demon-Seed, Nella, Chloe, Champ, Bandit, Storm, and two last-
surrenders who weren't even brought down to the adoption kennel.
One of the reasons we were able to work at Rondout for so long was
Sue's policy. If a dog failed the temperament test, and was
unadoptable by Sue's standards, staff members were able to take the
dog home or privately
place them. Sue's main concern was always liability. Over the years
we have
adopted many of these dogs and also placed plenty of them. The dogs
we placed privately have had no problems to date.

I don't know what brought about the change in policy, but as of
September, the staff was not allowed to take home or place any dog
Sue found unadoptable. (If Sue found a dog to be unadoptable, it was
going to die.)
If we questioned her, her reply was always "I'm a professional." The
staff was no longer able to contact a rescue group. The staff was
not even allowed to contact the people who surrendered the dog
originally, unless
it had been expressly written on the surrender contract.
frequently we were aware of a person wanting to be contacted, but we
forgot to write it down. One very recent example of this was
Valentino, a beautiful Beagle. From day one, Sue did not like
Valentino. He passed the
temperament test and the staff routinely dressed him up in sweaters,
t-shirts, and carried him around. Sue found him unsocial" and
altered his cage card to read: "I am not a pet, I do not like
people." We st! ill have this card. Valentino did not like to have
his feet touched, he wouldn't bite down, but he would make a lot of
noise if you touched his feet. This was only on isolated occasions.
The Rondout Valley Kennel Receptionist/Dog-Trainer said that she felt
he would never bite. He was basically telling you to leave him
alone, and trying to get away from you, not get "at you" for touching
his feet. On this particular day, Sue had scheduled Valentino and
another dog Sasha for euthanasia. The receptionist/Trainer and I
pulled his file. The trainer said that she remembered his owners
saying to call them before euthanasia, however, she had neglected to
write it down. She called his owner anyway, and was instrumental in
preventing his eut tell you about Sasha. Sasha was a beautiful, yet
high-strung long-haired
Shepherd mix. She did not do well in the shelter environment.&nb!
She had been placed in a home with a woman who had no problems with
her, other than she did not have the time to care for her. The
Receptionist/Trainer and Sue temperament tested Sasha, and Sasha
She was put up for adoption. She would play too roughly with Sue's
Japanese intern, however, she would not repeat this behavior with any
other staff member. Sue thought this was enough to substantiate
On this particular day, we had managed to move Valentino out. Sue
returned late, actually missing her 5 oclock veterinary appointment
to euthanize the two dogs. The trainer told her of Valentino's
rehoming, and asked her to please take Sasha out in the field with
her and demonstrate what Sasha
was being euthanized for. The Japanese Intern was also present.
demonstrated the rough play with the intern, and would pay no
attention to the trainer or Sue. Sasha was promptly euthanized. The
trainer told me the next day, she felt she had sacrificed Sasha in !
order to save
Valentino. She said Sue had become very angry about Valentino being
rehomed, and she felt "Sue needed to kill a dog that day." (as of
this time, Valentino has been placed in a family with a 13-yr old boy
and a
cat, with no report of any aggression incident)

The temperament test has been revised. What was once a tool to flush
out aggression in a potentially dangerous dog was now a weapon that
condemns the average dog. A basic tooth exam, one of the first parts
of the
temperament test, that was done five times for five seconds in a row
is now done repetitively until a dog resists. Any sign of resistance
is a sign of dominance. This dog is now unadoptable, and he will
die. I feel this is borderline abusive. If a person pokes you in
the arm over and over,won't
you eventually say "stop it!" This is the best comparison I can come
up with.

If a dog ignores Sue, it's labeled dominant aggressive. An example
of this is Lady. Lady is a 5-yr old Shepherd mix. She was a
surrender to the Town of Rosendale (frequentlly Sue works with the
local dog control officers, temperament-tests the dogs they have, and
will take the dogs for adoption if they pass the test. If they fail,
the dog control officers have the
option of taking the dog back, or allowing Sue to euthanize them.)
We watched Sue temperament test Lady in the Kennel office. She had
no issues, however she was preoccupied with looking out the window
into the agility field. (possibly owner-searching) She ignored Sue,
Sue labeled her
"dominant" and "independent" based on this, slated her for euthanasia
unless the dog control officer wanted her back. The dog control
officer took her back, and placed her herself and has had no problems
to date.
>From September to January, 9 out of 10 dogs coming in were labeled
dominant aggressive and were euthanized. How is this possible? Sue
would temperament test the dogs in the office, and the staff would
watch. The
Shelter Receptionist/Trainer, who has studied under Sue for years,
also watch the tests. If the dog would fail, which was usually the
the trainer would say how unfair the test was, or how she didn't see
the "look" Sue said she saw (in the dog). Some of the dogs she felt,
just needed a program. Unfortunately, she would never voice her
opinion in Sue's presence for fear of losing her job. She still
works there, we voiced our opinion...we don't.

The trainer has also designed her own version of the temperament test
small dogs. This way she could tell Sue that she temperament tested
the dogs and they passed. She just didn't tell Sue that they passed
her own test. They never would have passed Sue's test

Recently, I read an e-mail from someone who described Sue's staff
as "cheery." I'd like to know the last time they were at Rondout.
The last few months we spent there were filled with crying and
employees who
became physically ill as a result of the euthanasia. One of the best
Rondout had, quit after four years because of the amount of senseless
euthanasia. (her goal is to one day open her own sanctuary and
rescue facility for animals of all types) This particular worker on
the day of
a rabies clinic, walked into Sue's office to take care of some
quarantined cats, and was horrified to find the bodies of several
dogs that Sue had the veterinarian that was running the rabies clinic
euthanize, while he was there. The staff wasn't even aware of what
was going on. To date, all
employees of Rondout Valley Kennels have voiced their disapproval to
us on
Sue's ideas, and none of Sue's workers support what she does...what
that say about her euthanasia policies?

The first red flag that I saw was when I was having two Pit Bulls and
a German Shepherd mix transported from Long Island where they were
slated to be euthanized. I felt they would be given a fair chance
here. When I
told Sue about it, she said "don't get your hopes up, there are no
adoptable dogs in Long Island." I thought she was kidding...I've
since learned otherwise. When these dogs arrived, as my daughter was
unloading them
and bringing them into the kennel, Sue passed her and said "don't get
attached." Needless to say, these dogs were all euthanized. I don't
feel they were ever given a fair chance, they were labeled
unadoptable before
they even arrived. The second red flag was all the lying that was
being done. On many different occasions, most related to Sue's
training wheels program, people were being convinced to surrender
their dogs to Rondout
Valley Kennels so that they could be rehomed. Sue never had any
intent! of rehoming any of these dogs. One example would be a
backyard breeder who had many Great Pyrennees dogs. She did not keep
these dogs in good conditions, many were underfed and neglected Over
the years she
had surrendered plenty of these dogs to Sue and they had been
placed. On this particular occasion, she surrendered 5 or 6 dogs to
Sue; Sue promising the dogs would be rehomed. These dirty,
malnourished, neglected dogs were dirven directly to the vet and
promptly euthanized, they never came into the shelter and got a bath,
meal, or a warm place to sleep. What makes this
particularly horrific is the staff was directed to lie whenever the
would call and check on the dogs. We were told to tell her that they
were placed, and they were fine. The staff never even met them.

Another example would be a man in Sullivan County (I don't remember
his name) who had many dogs on his property, mostly tied to dog
houses The man had very little, basically all he had were these
dogs The local shelter would call him when a dog was going to be put
down, and he would take them. He cared for these dogs the best he
was able to...they knew nothing else. I personally visited these
dogs and this man; at the point that I was there, the dogs had toys
and bedding in their houses, along
with water and food (most of the toys were supplied by training
wheels.) Sue
,in conjunction with AWAN, (Animal Welfare Adoption Network) visited
this man and convinced him to surrender some of his dogs, under the
pretense that they would be rehomed. Sue drove these dogs directly
to the veterinarian where they were promptly euthanized. When I came
in the next
morning, I played the messages on the machine, there were at least
from Holly o! f AWAN, begging Sue not to euthanize the dogs, she had
foster homes for them. They never had a was never
intended for them to have a chance.

What started out to be a wonderful program - going into the
community, handing out training supplies, and giving advice - turned
into a program talking people into surrendering their pets, and the
pets being
euthanized, and most of the time the people were unaware of the fate
of their dogs.
What gives Sue the right to play God? Why should she decide who
lives and dies? What gives her the right to lie to people about the
fate of their pets, because she decides that they would be better off

Recently somebody sent out an e-mail saying that I was a caring
person, but I allowed a dog named Agnes to suffer needlessly, I feel
I have to tell you about Agnes' story. We all loved Agnes. She was
part of Rondout years ago, and returned to us when her owner died.
She was a big old Dobe Shepherd mix, about 12 years old, we all loved
her dearly, and treated her as if she were our own pet. In Agnes'
last days, she developed a
heart-ailment which caused her to be weak in her hind legs. She was
not painfully arthritic, she was weak. She had been put on a new
medication and the veterinarian asked us to wait a week or two to see
if she
responded to it. While Agnes was in the office, she lunged for a
small dog, my
daughter grabbed her collar to prevent her from hurting the dog,
Agnes twisted and fell and dislocated her hip. I was not there for
this, I was not even aware of it until the next morning when I found
Agnes on the
floor of! my office, unable to get up. Sue had been aware of it We
the veterinarian and were going to bring Agnes right in, however it
was too
painful for Agnes to be lifted. All of us together decided it would
be best for Agnes to be put down. The veterinarian gave me a choice
of 1pm or after 7pm when he would be able to come and euthanize Agnes
at Rondout.
My husband went to the vet's office and picked up pain-killers to get
through the day. We asked the veterinarian to come at 1, or as soon
as possible, so Agnes wouldn't have to suffer too long. Sue called
the veterinarian and asked him to come after 7, then she called the
two film-makers who had been doing a documentary on Sue and Rondout
Valley Kennels. She kept Agnes allive on the floor in my office, in
pain, as each of the staff members came in and sobbed over her. This
poor dog had her
last hours spent with bright lights and cameras in her face, just so
Sue could have a "dramatic" documentary. My family and I protested
and had nothing to do with this, even the veterinarian had asked me
why she had him come so late. I didn't respond.

About two weeks before we were fired, Sue and I had a conversation in
her office. She told me she needed me to back her up when she
decided a dog needed to be euthanized. I told her I didn't think I
would be able to do that, because I had problems with the reasons she
chose to euthanize dogs...I offered to quit. She asked me to give it
a month, I tried. It was two weeks after this conversation that we
were let go. Here's how it all came to a head...

A New Hampshire Humane Society picked up a lot of dogs from a county
shelter in Virginia. They were bringing some to us. First of all,
Sue was pissed because "they were only giving us the fuc**g hounds"
(her words).
She left before they arrived, so I waited for them. What I didn't
know was that Sue had instructed her Japanese Intern to put the
hounds in her house so I wouldn't see them. This way if they were
unadoptable by her standards, they would be euthanized without me
ever seeing them. Just for
the record, Sue herself told me, Karl (my husband), Christina (my
daughter), and the women from the New Hampshire shelter this was the
As the dogs came in, one seemed a little too hyper. I asked the New
Hampshire shelter if they would consider taking this dog with them
and giving us a different dog. The way Sue had been lately I knew
she would
not like this girl. Then the shit hit the fan. Sue arrived and
became enraged that I would send the dog elsewhere because she
wouldn't like her.
At this point Sue sent her intern into the house to get the dog,
jerked the dog around on a leash and angrily proceeded to temperament
test her outside of the New Hampshire shelter van after this poor dog
had been in a van for 7 hours. This goes against everything Sue says
about temperament testing.
She broke her own rules to make a point. I'm 100% sure she sealed
this dog's fate. The poor thing never had a chance. After the
spectacle, Sue went in her house, and we went home. When we showed
up for work the next day, Sue greeted us at the car and said "guys, I
need you to take the day off. I need a break. If any of your girls
are working in the afternoon, have them take the day off too." She
also sent the kennel
Receptionist/Trainer home. I thought she knew of the trainer's
involvement in rehoming Valentino, but she must have had another
reason for sending her home. We were called in the! next day and
fired. I was fired for my inability to agree with her euthanasia
policy, my husband and children were fired for being related to me.

Sue will not tolerate opposition. Years ago when Sue wanted to go
non-profit, her biggest concern was that a board of directors would
have the final say over how the shelter was to be run. Her way
around this was to assemble a board of directors made up solely of
family and life-long friends. In a nutshell, people that would never
challenge her. We were her euthanasia opposition, we were fired.

At a recent seminar in Vermont, Sue was quoted as saying her goal is
to euthanize 75% of the dogs in the Northeast. I find this statement
disturbing, to say the least. Recently I had a conversation with a
friend and fellow trainer of Sue's about this comment. She said she
felt the number was too low, if she had made the statement, she would
have made it 85% of the dogs in the Norhteast.

Apparently, this has been Sue's goal all along. She has nicknamed
herself Hitler, and is basically having her own Doggy Holocuast,
practicing "genocide" on all Northeastern dogs, right under all of
our noses.
Just remember, Sue has a goal, and I have never known her to change a
goal, what she is doing is very dangerous for animals everywhere,
especially in the Northeast.

Dedicated Advocates for Animal Welfare,
Ann, Karl, Jennifer, Christina, Dana Naumann

We would like to dedicate this e-mail to all of the defenseless
animals who were wrongly euthanized at Rondout Valley Kennels:
Arlo, Rita, Butch, Bear, Joey, Bo, Regis, Bandit, Sasha, Pepper,
Deegan, Lucky, Swan, Selma, Damien, Bessie, Domingo, Alfredo, Scotty,
Sugar, Seymore, Chew-Baka, Rocky, Dominick, Goofy, Layla, Doobie,
Rebel, Travis, Shamrock, Champ, Otto, Cisco, Zeus, Xi, Gracie, Bart,
Emma, Butler, Jeeves,
Calhoun, Betty, dozens of others never even brought to the kennel,
and too many others to name (especially the 20 from this past


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