Dec 4, 2012 - Shelter & Rescue    5 Comments

Rescue Without a Cause

Throwing puppies from a moving car is the kind of sick behavior you’d expect from a deranged teenager or hardened criminal, not a self-proclaimed animal rescuer, but that’s what Sheriff Heath White of Torrance County says happened last November:

Torrance County Sheriff Heath White said that, in the recent case, [Debra] Swenerton was caught in the act — tossing the dogs one by one from the driver’s side window of her vehicle — by deputies who had been alerted by the puppies’ owner.

To make matters worse, authorities suspect that this isn’t an isolated incident — that Swenerton has been dognapping for years, and may be tied to nearly 60 reports of missing dogs:

Edgewood animal control officer Mike Ring said the arrest of 59-year-old Debbie Swenerton ‘really cracked the case’ of some 60 dogs that have gone missing over the past few years.

Ring believes that Swenerton stole the dogs and then gave them to shelters, saying that they were strays she had rescued. He added that there is a possibility that Swenerton belongs to a larger group of animal activists that are concerned over the treatment of pets.

Furthermore, according to Torrance County Undersherriff Martin Rivera, Swenerton repeatedly called in cases of dog abuse on owners who were taking perfectly fine care of their pets. Assuming she is behind at least some of the disappearances, it really makes you wonder what kind of conditions these missing dogs were being “rescued” from. Vigilantism is bad enough, but to “save” a perfectly well-cared-for dog, a dog who is likely a well-loved family member, and give them to a shelter that could be using resources on animals who actually need help is obscene.

Thankfully, the puppies in this instance survived with minimal injury, but you can’t help but wonder about the rest…


Is she really a prisoner in her own home?


  • Joe

    Strange we do not have any comments on this. This is actually the norm for most rescue crazies, they steal dogs, lie when making reports and then if they do not place them quickly they kill them. The People from Colorado are amous for this and many other places. Rescues are in it purely for the money. Masters at tricking people to buy a second hand dog that more than likey has numberous health problems and can be dangerous to the new owner and to family members as well. There is a better way to do this,,, and it all starts with microchips on all animals and accountability laws passed with teeth for those who fail in the care of their dogs. We have plenty of jails for these scum bag rescue people… Lock them and those who fail to maintain their animals up. You would not be allowed to abandon you car on the I-5 would you withoutn haveing some legal problems so why not for an animal?

    • Pssst hey Joe . . . Rescues that are truly the definition of rescue are NOT in it for the money – do your homework and usually if the rescue is dead ass broke but has happy healthy dogs then yeah they are doing their job. Sadly plenty of nutters have jumped on the “rescue” train but that doesnt make them rescue

  • Gary marshall

    Would you happen to have an address for this woman?

  • JimAndersen

    In my experience, rescuers that lean towards the animal
    rights (AR) philosophy tend to have a rather different definition of the word, “abuse” than most normal people. They see an abused animal when mainstream people see a happy animal.

    Look at all the controversy caused by the AR’s over circus
    elephants. Ringling Brothers treats its elephants better than most people treat their house pets, yet we constantly hear about circus abuse. I know a number of AR’s, and I constantly see them misinterpret animal behavior because they ascribe human behavior to animals known as to “anthromorphize” animals.

    I listened to an friend, who leans AR, tell a story about
    walking his dog on a remote trail. His dog suddenly stopped in front of a rattlesnake, which was coiled on the trail and rattling, while facing the dog. The man collected his dog and took a different route to go around the snake but his comment about the event was this: “wasn’t it considerate of the snake to
    warn us not to come closer?” Imagine that – a considerate rattlesnake! This type of misinterpreting animal behavior is common among AR’s.

    We’ve often heard about stolen dogs from people’s yards and we suspect AR rescuers. I’ve even heard a story from one of them about a failed attempt of stealing a dog in order to find it a “better” home!

    I feel many of my outright AR “friends” don’t have both oars
    in the water even though some of them are intelligent people.

  • Deb

    You said it yourself: “self proclaimed animal rescuer”. There is nothing indicating that this is a rescue. This is an individual who is deranged and should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Stop trashing legitimate rescues. I have not found one shred of positive information about established, organized and documented rescues on your site. What about the pure breed rescues who are made up of breeders (who you cater to) for the good of their breed. I have worked with many! Oh yeah, except for the hound breeder who when asked for help with rehoming a 1 year old beautiful specimen of her breed told me “just put him to sleep.” Well, good thing I didn’t listen to her because I ultimately found a home for this dog and he is loved and well taken care of.

    Face it, there are crazies all over this world in all kinds of endeavors. Please stop painting rescues with such a broad brush