Uproar after U-Haul billionaire surrenders sick dogs to rescue

GILBERT, Ariz. — When Shelly Froehlich learned a cancer patient hoped to send six Rottweiler puppies and their mother to her animal rescue in Arizona, she says she quickly agreed and, assuming financial hardship, waived a $600 surrender fee.

It was a move she quickly came to regret after getting familiar with the purebred dogs—some of whom were injured, all of whom were sick—and their billionaire owners, Joe and Sylvia Shoen. As she’d told Froehlich by phone, Sylvia Shoen was indeed a cancer patient.

But she’d failed to mention that her husband was the son of U-Haul’s founder, with an estimated net worth of $2.7 billion, and that her dogs were inbred, had hip dysplasia, weren’t up to date on shots, and tested positive for parasites a week before their April arrival at the rescue. Some had suffered roundworm and mange, or been hit by a car, per the Arizona Republic.

Froehlich of Rotten Rottie Rescue in Gilbert says she tried pressuring Sylvia into footing the medical bills, which included surgeries, vaccinations, and getting the mom spayed. “Don’t force me to put them out of their misery when you can give them a good life,” she wrote in one text. “You probably have a hand bag that costs more than what [surgeries] will cost.”

When that didn’t work, “I used social media to shame them into doing the right thing,” Froehlich says. Her Facebook post about the situation was shared hundreds of times, and ultimately Joe Shoen paid $15,310 to cover surgeries for two of the dogs.

The U-Haul president isn’t happy about it, though. “This woman encouraged people to act in a vile manner,” he tells the Republic, which mentions users’ promises of boycotts and bad reviews of U-Haul. “I’ve apologized to her several times,” Shoen adds, claiming his dogs were well cared for and did not have worms.

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