International adoption pioneer in trouble in California
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, January/February 2007:
SAN MARCOS, Calif.–Mina Sharpe, 25, who founded the
Taiwan Abandoned Animal Rescue Foundation in Taipei at age 12, may
be charged with violating probation, after San Marcos animal control
officer Tunis VanBerkum on December 9, 2006 found her keeping 16
dogs and two rabbits in allegedly filthy conditions in a
The animals were surrendered to the Escondido Humane Society.
Earlier in 2006 Sharpe was convicted of keeping 18 dogs in
unsanitary conditions at her former home in Carlsbad, and was
ordered to find other homes for all but two of them.
The Taiwan Abandoned Animal Rescue Foundation was among the
first organizations to arrange international adoptions through the
Internet, and among the first to send animals to the U.S. by finding
travelers who were willing to transport animals as part of their
While PETA, the World Society for the Protection of Animals,
and the Humane Society of the U.S. urged Taiwanese pounds to kill
animals with sodium pentobarbital instead of leaving them to die of
starvation and neglect, as was common because of the Buddhist
prohibition on killing, Sharpe argued in a March 2000 guest column
for ANIMAL PEOPLE that international humane organizations working in
Taiwan should instead build on the no-kill ethic. Sharpe asked the
global humane community to help establish high volume, low-cost pet
sterilization in Taiwan, and to promote shelter adoptions.
Sharpe also had a catalytic effect on humane work in
Thailand, where her rescue of an injured dog in 1998 won extensive
media attention and helped to stimulate public discussion about how
Thai neglect of strays was falling short of the Buddhist cultural
Sharpe and her family relocated from Taiwan to Carlsbad in
June 2000, bringing along 30 dogs for U.S. adoption, at cost of
$10,000. The dogs were placed with the aid of U.S. organizations
including the Arlington Humane Society, near Seattle, and Pets
Alive, of Westchester, New York.
Sharpe continued to import dogs from Taiwan for U.S.
placement, but never registered TAARF as a U.S. nonprofit
organization, and gradually fell out of contact with her allies and
supporters. Pets Alive founder Sara Whalen told ANIMAL PEOPLE that
her understanding was that Sharpe had retired from rescue several
years before her arrest.
Sharpe remained in occasional contact with ANIMAL PEOPLE
until April 2005, when she was sent yet another of many personal
reminders about the necessity of obtaining nonprofit status and not
taking in more animals than she could place.