Pet industry sent to the dog house by Ontario dog rescue owner: Camp LotsaDogs

Kayla Kreutzberg, Chantelle Henriques, Natalie Sequeria, Susan Steiner and husband

by Natalie Sequeira (photo by Jessica Lee)

Forget everything you have ever learnt about dogs, because you are probably wrong. Follow Whitby dog rescuer Susan Steiner and you could just throw away the high veterinary bills and never look back on the entire pet care industry.

According to Steiner, a raw food diet will stop a dog’s allergies, put an end to its need for most medication and make it healthier. Raw food diets for dogs have been around for ages, but the mainstream pet industry will not advocate for them.

The diet would cut not just vet fees but wheat from a dog’s diet – an ingredient in all commercial food that Steiner maintains a dog is not built to live on.

“It’s a $4-billion dollar industry, and everybody jealously guards their little niche,” Steiner said in an interview Wednesday at Centennial College in Toronto. “They take advantage of you…and I don’t like it.

“If I can keep you out of the pet stores, you could save a fortune!”

Steiner is the owner of Camp LotsaDogs, a boarding and adoption facility near Oshawa.

The camp provides 25 acres of land, including forest, stream and pond. She wants dogs to be what they are, so lets them run around and play all day. An exhausted dog is a happy dog, she says. The camp also runs dog behaviour modification classes and provides homeopathy, reiki and massages.

Love My Dog is the name of Steiner’s raw food brand, which took her about two years to perfect.

People usually think that commercial dog food is better because it is fast, convenient and persistently marketed, but Steiner likens it to McDonald’s.

“It’s processed food,” she says. “There is no way that can be healthy.”

She blames the manufacturers because they know what goes into the food. In one case, she said, the equivalent of motor oil and an old work boot passed as dog food because it met the minimal nutritional requirements.

Asked why people are still afraid of switching their dogs to a raw food diet, Steiner faulted the pet industry and vets. People think that their dogs will get salmonella and botulism, and that they will contract it if the dog licks them.

“Hello!? A dog has antiseptic in its mouth,” she said. “But they don’t tell you that. They still lick their bums and eat poop, so they can kill bacteria.”

Steiner did not start out in dog care. A graduate of Seneca College’s Law Enforcement program, she first became a private investigator. She moved on to rent collecting, working at several businesses before ending at Wigwamen, a Native housing provider.

When her father died, she decided to use the money he left her to spend her time with dogs – although she knew he probably would not approve.

Steiner had once taken her own dog to a daycare. She recalled how he came home limping after getting into a fight, and she realized that this daycare, like many, could not control their dogs. She decided she could do better and came up with a plan to start her own daycare, which evolved into the camp.

“I started the whole thing with owning two dogs,” she said. “And I thought, ‘Oh I know everything about dogs.’ Boy was I ever wrong.”

What she thought would be semi-retirement turned out to be a lot more work.

The camp gets a lot of volunteers who want to spend time with the dogs, but are not always prepared to do the dirty work.

“My back hurts, too, and I have to do it,” she said. “People think that dogs are easy and it’s not. This is serious work, it really is.”

But for Steiner, it is all worth it.

“Seeing…the dogs being happy, watching them change; from the minute they walk in the door, they change within 24 hours into a pack,” she said. “Really it’s…educating [people]. That’s been the most rewarding.

“I started the boarding as a place for dogs not to get hit by a car and just have fun and it really turned into a whole bunch of [things]…It’s endlessly fascinating.”

Steiner hopes to keep the camp running for years to come, but with seven of her own dogs, will not be expanding her own personal pack.

“You can’t save ‘em all,” she says, laughing.

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16 thoughts on “Pet industry sent to the dog house by Ontario dog rescue owner: Camp LotsaDogs

  1. Pingback: FSBONATIONWIDE.COM - do you think dogs are happier as a house dog or a hunting dog?

  2. I sent in an application to adopt one of Sue Steiners dog at Camp Lotsa Dogs Rescue, I inquired about the health of this particular dog and receieved a response that belittled me and left me speechless! I would never had thought that by asking intelligent questions (that I would have asked a breeder/vet/pet store) that I would be made to feel that I was an idiot. Basically I feel that if I hadn’t asked any questions and I would have been “approved ” to adopt this pup and if there issues down the road- too bad! She was hostile and extremely rude! She may get along with her canine friends but she has absolutely no skills dealing with people – unfortunately for the dogs in her care , if she treats everybody the way I was treated , there won’t be too many adoptable dogs finding their forever homes!

    • I had the same experience. I find she doesn’t know how to deal with intelligent questions and her rescue contract is a joke. Demanding access to dogs forever more. We aren’t babysitting her dogs we are bringing ten into our families. Also found her “no children” policy extremely concerning. If there will be children living with the dogs she SHOULD want to see them with the animals to ensure a good fit for both dog and family. This woman is not in it for the dogs. I feel sorry for the animals in her care.

  3. I too sent in an application to adopt a dog and received a similar response as the person above. She was very rude and belittling. I was shocked. It almost seemed as though she doesn’t want her dogs to get adopted by the way she treats the people who send in applications and are interested in her dogs.

  4. I’m tempted to copy and paste the email chain that happened to me – it’s simliar (or worse) than the above. She told me I was crazy, called me dumb, and told me to stop emailing. All because my brother couldn’t make our appointment time but still wanted to see the dog in question (which has been there for six months!) and she told me “i am not prepared to give extra time to someone not a real factor in the decision”! [sic]. My brother lives with me and would have been a primary caregiver of the dog!

    • This was a reply that she sent to my email:

      I had no idea you were. I’m a lawyer dumb ass. what’re you again? oh right nothing. shall I call the cops if you continue harassing? oops forgot, police chief nothing like a sore loser loser AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAA

      enjoy NOT having one of my dog just cuz you’re a moron

      How has this woman been able to run a business treating people like this?

  5. While Sue may not give you the warm and fuzzies, one thing for certain is that she has the best interest of the dog at heart. I bet in her line of work, she has seen many people owning dogs that have no business owning them. Often, it is the dogs that suffer and end up back in a shelter or worse. But if you can get past the personality/style difference, she is a wealth of knowledge and support when you work with her. She helped my new dog socialize with other dogs and we’ve put him on a raw food diet. I’d give her a chance.

    • You might get a different view point if you spoke to anyone who has worked and/or volunteered with her organization.

      She is completely disrespectful. Nobody is immune to her rude and ignorant ways.

      I have known Su for a few years. She helped me in the past with finding a new home for my dog after I felt I had no choice but to surrender her as my life circumstances drastically changed and I could no longer care for my dog. After an innocent misunderstanding on my part she made very crude comments to me about how I ‘dumped’ my dog off on her. My dumping made her hundreds of dollars as she charges a fee for the surrender AND charges a fee to the person who adopts the dog.

      Her reputation says it all. Just mention her name in the ‘dog world’ and you will find many people with the same attitude as others on this page have had.

      As her being a ‘wealth of knowledge’? She certainly is a legend in her own mind.

  6. I have had multiple dealings with Sue but in regards to her food line. I just don’t get a good feeling from her. She treats the dogs in her care quite rough. She says it is necessary but she goes way beyond firm. She bellows at that. As a side note…she speaks to her poor husband the same way.

  7. I have to say that reading these comments is a bit of a relief. I’m still getting harassing emails from Susan. All I wanted to do was meet this sweet little puppy Lola and see if we were a match. Susan instantly began to attack me via email. When I wrote her to thank her for her consideration and wished her luck in finding a home for Lola. She began sending threatening emails claiming that she was going to send my application to other rescues to stop me from adopting. Nothing in the application was fabricated and she did not even ask me about any answers. She instantly accused me of fabricating where i lived, worked and the hours I would have spent with the dog. I have raised and grown up surrounded by lively, healthy and loved animals. I am still in shock over her unprofessionalism.

  8. I can vouch for the experiences these other commenters had – Susan is extremely rude and acts like a psycho. Her emails are atrocious in terms of grammar and punctuation, so they’re illegible half the time, but that’s probably a good thing because they’re totally unprofessional and cruel. Susan decided that my partner and I weren’t “mature” because we emailed her asking about the dog’s particular needs… unsure how she got from point a to b! I think this woman must have some severe mental issues – she is almost definitely not the right person to be looking after all of those poor dogs. It’s really sad that some of those pups could have had wonderful homes and now they’re stuck with psycho Sue probably forever (I literally can’t even imagine who would make it through her insane adoption process let alone put up with all of that BS). Someone shut this crazy person down!

  9. I adopted a dog from Sue. The dog had a tumor in it,s mouth. She presented the dog as healthy. She also said how lovely and clean the teeth were due to her diet. She said she had seen no tumor before. I had it surgically removed. I provided some original art for her to auction off and worked on a photo so that it was attractive and artistic. I was going to provide something else but she was so rude and abusive I have nothing more to do with her. I see she is still using the photo I worked on for her charity auctions. I think she is a very rude and poorly educated business person. Her husband seems very quiet and polite and is the polar opposite of that harpy. The dog has more tumors that I discovered which have the appearance and character of cancers but so far the aspirations at the vet are negative for cancer. I would very closely inspect any dog you adopt from her. The reports from the U.S. vet are not accurate as my dog was assessed as healthy.

  10. As an after thought…I see that Sue’s husband is not given a name in the article and we in the comments are referring to him as Sue Steiner’s husband. This speaks volumes about Sue’s personality. Even though he does much of the work he is treated as a nameless afterthought

  11. I contacted Sue about the food she makes, she started out being very nice and sincere until I asked her if I could come up with my dog to taste a sample. Then she started in about them being in the a buisness and didn’t want to waste her precious time so I ordered the 25 pound pail and when she asked me why I didn’t order less to see if my dog likes it first, I responded saying I dont have time to go there every weeek to pick up the food and also told her I have nothing to lose because she told me if the dog doesnt eat it she will refund my money, well then she went crazy telling me not to email her anymore and she had the right not to sell the food to me swearing in her emails like a truck driver and I even told her don’t worry about a refund and she still refused. Im convinced she all not there and also thinks she’s smarter then everyone else. So be aware of this, my recomendation is to not even contact her, she’s a nut bar that doesn’t stand behind her food. Honestly go somewhere else to get your food, who knows what garbage she puts in it. She needs some serious mental help!!

  12. I also received an email from Susan Steiner belittling me. She actually called me a moron and that we were stupid. Who runs a business this way? I’m sure that if she treats people like that, her dogs are treated the same. I am glad I looked into this person before actually getting an animal from her. I am surprised nobody has called the authorities on this woman.

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