COLUMBIA COUNTY, Ore. (COLUMBIA COUNTY SPOTLIGHT) — A Scappoose-based dog rescue organization is under fire from the Oregon Department of Justice for running a “sham” for-profit business while receiving tax-exempt status from the state.

Samantha Miller and her mother, Jeri Miller, who ran All Terrier Rescue Hunters Crossing for nearly two decades in the Chapman area off of Scappoose-Vernonia Highway, are named as defendants in a complaint filed by the state in Marion County Circuit Court in October.

State investigators say through two different dog rescue organizations — All Terrier Rescue, and Rescue Strong Oregon — the Millers used adoption fees for personal use, provided false information on state records, and failed to report millions in revenue to the IRS, while misleading adopters.

The Millers started ATR in 1999, according to the complaint then received tax-exempt nonprofit status from the IRS in 2001. Despite holding regular adoption events outside Columbia County and charging adoption fees, the operation never had a kennel license in Columbia County and rarely complied with record keeping or regulatory requirements, the state says. The Millers are likely now running a similar organization called Rescue Strong Oregon. The state is seeking dissolution of both organizations for breach of fiduciary duties and unjust enrichment.

“As of January 2018, ATR reported that it had adopted out 38,015 dogs,” the legal filing indicates. “Based on its published reports of its activities, ATR has generated over $7 million in revenue since 1999, but has reported a little over $1 million in revenue in its annual financial reports to the DOJ.”

Records show ATR and Rescue Strong agents misrepresent themselves as licensed animal behavior experts or veterinarians and misstate the condition and medical history of the dogs they adopt out.

The Columbia County Spotlight is a KOIN 6 News media partner