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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) – Ilario Pantano claims the president of a puppy rescue group is harassing him and his family and has thrust his Goldendoodle puppies into a political battle.

Jacquie Yorke, the President of the Doodle Rescue Society in New Jersey, says the Pantano family volunteered to be a foster-family for two Goldendoodles. That was all well and good. But when the Pantanos officially adopted the dogs, York eventually found out they didn’t meet the requirements the society has for adoption.

Yorke tells us when she called the Pantano’s vet, the doctor said another one of their pets was not up to date on heartworm medication, which was an automatic disqualifier. She also says the rules of adoption also state that the family cannot have children under a certain age or be a first-time pet owner.

She says the Pantanos also let Illario’s mother Merry take care of them. Yorke claims she doesn’t qualify either because she was a first-time owner.

So, Yorke asked for the Pantanos to return the puppies. She says the Pantanos refused, and the argument escalated from there. She admits that she left some pretty nasty messages on their voice mail, alluding to Illario’s service in Iraq and his shooting of two Iraqi citizens. She’s also called the Pender County Animal Shelter and the Pender County Sheriff’s Department looking for help.

We asked Yorke why it was okay for a family who didn’t meet requirements to foster the puppies but not okay to adopt them, and she admitted she didn’t have a good answer.

Thursday afternoon, Pantano issued the following statement, claiming York is a liberal political activist out to get him and his family. Yorke contends she just wants the puppies back.


Pantano Family Rescues Puppies and Faces Harassment by Liberal Activists

When Jill Pantano responded to a request to rescue puppies from a litter in Charlotte whose owner could not manage the dozen baby animals, she never thought she would be sued over it. But then politics entered the equation – the silly season has begun early this year!

Jill Pantano, wife of congressional candidate Ilario Pantano, has rescued animals before and was eager to help. The owner of the puppies was paid by the Pantano family and is happy that the dogs are in a good home. Case closed, right? But instead of thanking Mrs. Pantano, radical animal rights activists in New Jersey have cursed her, harassed her, and are threatening a lawsuit – all because of her husband’s conservative politics.

The activist that has targeted the Pantano family is Ms. Jacquie York from Montclair, New Jersey. She has left the Pantanos threatening voicemail messages, has made false claims and false 911 calls to trigger visits from local law enforcement on Pantano’s wife and his mother. Ms. York made these harassing phone calls from 600 miles away in New Jersey with no actual knowledge of or regard for the care that these puppies were receiving with the Pantano family and their two young children.

“These puppies are for my children and their grandmother. They were in need of a home, and we stepped up. We paid for them and are caring for them. My 6 and 8 year old sons have named them ‘Jack Jack’ and ‘Tallulah.’ Now, some New Jersey activist with a political score to settle against my husband is ultimately trying to harm my kids. My two boys should not be paying an emotional price for their father’s politics. It makes me sad,” said Jill Pantano. “This activist has a long history in the animal rescue community of bullying dog owners, picking fights with families, and filing frivolous lawsuits. Now, she has left harassing and threatening phone calls for us and others (which we have saved, by the way) although the language is too profane for my kids to hear. I’m not even comfortable transcribing them.”

Merry Pantano, mother of congressional candidate Ilario Pantano, has sent a cease and desist order asking that the harassment be stopped since the puppies were purchased outright from the owner and the activist group has no claim to the animals and no grounds for further harassment. But that didn’t stop Ms. York and the activists in New Jersey that have now hired lawyers in Raleigh and are threatening to sue the Pantanos in a further effort to smear their name. The Pantanos are represented by a Wilmington attorney and have vowed to fight for their puppies and their children.

Ilario Pantano released the following statement: “The facts of the case are simple: the puppies needed to be rescued and my family stepped up. Now an animal rescue group in New Jersey is trying to deny my children these pets because of who I am. We were simply going to adopt the animals, but when liberal activists in New Jersey found out who I was, my conservative beliefs made me a target. Instead of listening to more of her harassing and threatening phone calls, we decided to purchase the puppies outright from their lawful owner. Why is this harassment and nonsense continuing? Because I am a conservative Christian Republican Marine who hunts, I have been targeted by animal activists that have called my wife and I terrible names and profanities, which we have on a recorded voice mail. This activist has literally threatened to ‘smear my family’s good name all over the internet.’ Sadly, this isn’t about the puppies we bought for my children, this is about the politics of personal destruction. Please pray for my family as we endure yet another round of slings and arrows from folks 600 miles away from Wilmington that seem intent on harassing my family and hurting my children and our good name. I didn’t know that you had to be a Democrat to adopt a puppy. ”


Comment on this Story

  • GuestinIndiana

    The person who made the above comment asks “What is wrong with you all?”. I have to ask how he/she can call himself the voice of reason and then start shouting names at people. The entire issue is not political, unless of course Mr. Pantano choses to make it so. No politics were involved whatsoever. The rescue organization is not a political movement, but they are very committed to rescuing dogs and assuring that the homes they are adopted into are excellent homes and well qualified for the appropriate dog. You find something unreasonable about that? The Pantano family simply needed to do the right thing, be reasonable and honest, and no one in the outside world would have even known about this. Voice of reason? you are way out of bounds here!

  • GuestinIndiana

    What a wonderful example the Pantano’s are setting of not abiding by laws and rules that are created for the better of everyone. Don’t congressmen help make rules? and then expect everyone to abide by them? The DRC has specific rules to protect the pups they rescue. Yes, the rules may seem extreme to some, but you should see the condition of many of the rescue pups! And the rules are there for the protection of all of the dogs, not just the cute sweet puppies. The Pantano family should be ashamed and apologize to their children for such misbehaviour and setting a poor example to follow. Teach your children right from wrong. Give the pups back. You’ve made such an issue of it now that no one wants you to have them. And good homes are out there waiting and abiding by the rules, sending a proper application and having a background check and being ready to pay the appropriate fees. I’m sorry, Mrs.Pantano, but you should have gone about it the right way in the first place. You really should be ashamed.

  • GuestHello


  • Guesty2

    You all sound like a bunch of bickering 5 year olds. Not a one of you is making any sense.

  • Tammi

    You need to stop slandering a good rescuer. I know who you are and you spend most of your free time trying to bring down a good person. I see all of your rants on the internet about Jacquie Yorke. Get a life and do some good in the world instead of spreading lies and false accusations about someone who has rescued hundreds of dogs.
    Why not talk about the real issue here…the stealing of two puppies. The Pantano family claims to be good Christians and yet they have no problem lying and stealing and twisting the truth about what they have done. If they were good dog owners, the rescue would have no problem letting them adopt the puppies. This has nothing to do with politics and ideology. The Pantanos would like everyone to think that. However, there is a good reason the rescue wanted to take the puppies back. Information obtained in the routine vet reference checking found that they took less than good care of their existing dogs. Would you want the puppies to stay in a home where they may get heartworms because they wouldn’t be given heartworm prevention?
    The Pantano family are loving all of this media attention and will talk to anyone who will listen and try to make themselves sound like the victims. However, you ask Mrs. Pantano why she told the rescue if a volunteer showed up on her propety to re-claim the puppies that they would be shot by her sharp-shooter husband?
    Does this sound like a good Christian family or vigilantes?
    Please refrain from commenting on a subject and a person that you know nothing about.

  • Tracy

    Of Course, it was the Pantanos. They thrive on media attention.

  • Tracy

    I don’t even know where to begin with my comments on this article…I guess first, I’d like to say that the author and the editor of this article should be ashamed of themselves for the poor quality and misinformation in this article! They can’t even spell Ms. Yorke’s name correctly and get the rescue’s name correct. It is completely unethical that they would quote Ms. Yorke when she clearly told the reporter who contacted her, “no comment until I have the puppies back into our rescue’s custody safely.” If the facts were checked, they would have found out that a person can not call 911 from 600 miles away. All the quotes you see in this article from Ms. Yorke were fabricated. Shame on you ABC!!
    Secondly, I am a conservative Christian Republican who does rescue. We are not all whack jobs, I assure you. Ms. Yorke is not a nut and not even liberal. She is an independent and is not political at all. Her rescue group is not political either. This is not a political issue, unlike what the Pantano family would like everyone to believe. This is about a first-time foster family for a rescue organization stealing puppies. Yes, it really is that simple. The Pantano family was going to temporarily foster two puppies from a litter of 8 (the article states 12…wrong facts again). It was an emergency situation and fosters were chosen a bit too quickly. However, the Pantano family was under a foster agreement contract, in which they violated the terms of the contract. They gave the puppies to Merry Pantano, who has no relationship with the rescue and they don’t take the proper precautions for heartworm prevention…against their contract. When this information came to light, the rescue asked for the puppies back. The Pantano family refused and stole the puppies. The rescue has all of the proper documentation to prove that they were the rightful custodians of the puppies and paid for all of their vet care. This will come to light very soon.
    When the rescue told the Pantano family that they were going to come and get the puppies, Jill Pantano told the rescue that her husband is a sharp shooter and would shoot anyone on sight when they came to get the puppies…appauling!!
    In his slimy fashion, Mr. Pantano decided to go to the original owner and do a backdoor deal.
    Ms. Yorke is far from a nut. She runs a national rescue that is a 501(c)3 and places hundreds of dogs a year into good homes. Her goal is to place dogs in the best homes so that they won’t ever return to a shelter or be homeless again. The Pantanos violated the foster contract and if they had properly adopted those puppies, they would be in violation of the adoption contract. They are not a proper home. They stole the puppies so that they wouldn’t have to pay a breeder top dollar for two highly sought after mixed breed puppies.
    Ms. Yorke’s only concern is for the safety and proper care of the dogs. The Pantanos have now given out Ms. Yorke’s personal cell phone number to thugs. She is now receiving death threats and fears for her safety. It is a shame that the Pantano family is going to the press with lies to further his political career by claiming that the “crazy liberals” are after him. The Pantano family are not the victims here…they are the thieves in this scenario.
    Shame on you ABC for fabricating several facts and quotes in this article. Please check your sources and facts and print a retraction immediately!!

  • Guest321

    Which side originally brought this to the medias attention?

  • Commonsensenotcommontoday

    What’s the chance of my obtaining a child of appropriate lawn mowing age? I’m tired of having to choose between retired guys from East Meadow who charge by the square inch, or having to hire los tres amigos. “Ustedes rake-o y cortais el grasso then edge-o. Quanto cuesto?”

    Oh, wait….the kids come to LIVE with you?

    Never mind. I’ve had kids and I’ve had dogs…I highly recommend dogs….

    ….but if you parents would stop giving your kids so much money, they’d be out cruising the neighborhood, looking to turn a buck by mowing some lawns!

    1961 Dad: “You’ll have to mow a lot of lawns to get that new bicycle, son.”

    2011 Dad: “Oh, the Playstation is only $350? Sure. Here you go. Here’s an extra $150 for a couple of games.”

    These kids are growing up with no respect for working to earn money. They think it grows on trees and get themselves into financial trouble very early in life because they never had to earn money. Even worse, I can’t find some kid that I can sucker into working harder than a Mongolian coal miner for three hours to earn twenty bucks cutting my lawn!

    I’ll bet you that Ilario Pantano mowed lawns when he was a kid! (Desperate for a tie-in)

  • Das Weibstück

    I do not like Pantano I think he is a nut but we are talking about DOGS!

    Basically this lady is saying that he cant even take care of a dog. Pretty low blow. They fostered them but cant keep them.

    Is this DOG place a “Not for profit”?

    Too bad she cant put her efforts into something more important like CHILDREN who need homes.

  • VoiceOfReason

    Why are people criticizing Pantano? He wasn’t the one who started this drama! That idiot Leftist activist did. Seriously – calling 911 from New Jersey? Leaving hate-filled rants on voice mail at the Pantano home? what is wrong with you all?

    Please do tell, liberals – what would you have Pantano do? Sit down & shut up? Not say one word in defense, and give the puppies back to a bully? I swear liberals will never be content until they permanently shut up conservatives.

  • Foster Adopt

    Anyone who knows this “rescue” person knows there have been rumors for years about her “selling” dogs, lying, stealing, slandering and doing underhanded things like using other rescues papers to pull dogs from shelters. Those of us who know her are in no way surprised anymore by her antics. She has lied about and threatened many people to get what she wants, including an ex-partner or two.

    The Pantano’s were asked to help foster to adopt by one person in the rescue. The Director said no. The Pantano’s refused to give back the dogs. The original owner gave them ownership. The Rescue Director started threatening them. There is no news here. Just business as usual for Jacquie York.

  • Guest44

    “You want the truth, you can’t handle the truth…..” I think Jack did it better. You forgot to call him “son”.

  • Concerned about YOU!!!

    Come on people. I don’t particularly like Pantano, didn’t vote for him and probably won’t in the future. We are talking about buying, paying for and tending to two DOGS. He is not fighting them in a ring, feeding them live cats/chickens or the like, he is probably feeding them legally purchasing dog food, walking/playing with them and cleaning up their poop. Someone in New Jersey needs to have their long distance privileges taken away and I’m not too sure I would want her rescuing animals. I cannot believe this intrusion into someone’s life/home over two dogs! I have dogs and cats, some adopted from shelters, and if they had the nerve to contact me in this manner, you would probably be reading another kind of news story here.

  • GuestLee

    Well, last I heard, this is a comment area where anyone can chime in and comment. You may not like their comment, but….oh well, don’t read it and move on.

  • kryptkeeper58

    kryptkeeper58 – First of all, a lot of these “rescues or adoptions” are run by nutters. They put crazy restrictions on potential adopters.That is why so many are killed at the pounds. (why do you think Angie and Brad goes out of country to adopt?)If this family (NO MATTER THEIR NAME) was good enough to foster, then they should be good enough to adopt! As for the false 911 calls, just let one of North Carolina’s own do that, and see what charges are brought on us. She is no better!! And when did these vets start releasing info about a family’s pet? I would like to know, so we could avoid his practice! Now, as far as these pups being expensive. Please! They are mixed breed dogs. No matter what “name” you put on them, they come from 2 different breeds of dogs. What in the world does the $495.00 fee cover? THEIR ACTUAL SEELING PRICE! This Yorke woman must have sales for these pups for more money. Why else would she be so intent to steal them away from a family? Does she not have any other dogs to rescue? As far as classifying a man into a “type”, WHAT ABOUT HER?? IS SHE MAFIA RELATED?? NEW JERSEY AND ALL??

  • Charles Walters

    He bought the dogs from the owners. The New Jersey WACK JOB has nothing to say about it.

  • Educated Voter

    I got Pantano’s email about this, and I wondered why in the world he made this a political issue involving his campaign. What does this have to do with his decision to run for office? What does this have to do with how he plans to vote if he wins a seat in Congress?

    To me, Pantano seems to take a lot of things personally and use his high profile position to try and make everything political and everything about him. What I want to know is whether he’s going to make the politics of New Hanover County all about him if he gets to Washington. Personally, I’d rather have a Tim Wilkes or even a Breazeale ANY day.

  • RabbleRouser

    When Pantano procured these dogs – on a temporary basis as a foster “parent”, he agreed to the clearly defined terms of the Doodle Rescue Society. Those terms preclude his family’s permanent ownership for several reasons spelled out in the article. If Pantano didn’t like those terms, he should not have procured the dogs from this organization.
    Pantano seems to have an amazing capacity to turn any issue into his own persecution.

    PS – thanks to WWAY for clarifying the specific objections of the rescue society. Other accounts out there failed to do so.

  • Free thinker

    My point exactly. There were no religious quotes in the story itself. It’s the self righteous religious fanatics who post comments afterwards and always have to quote some one or some thing with religious overtones, and to what end?. Perhaps it’s you who should have read my comment more closely.

  • Challengetheworld

    This is not about Democrats and this is not about Republicans. This is about a man who bought some dogs for his kids. I don’t like Pantano, and I think he has no business in politics. But, there is nothing to point out that he shouldn’t be able to give his kids puppies. This woman is whack and wasting tax payer money by bothering the Sherrif’s department and Animal Control. Mis-use of 911 is a crime in this state and should apply to this wackjob.

    I’m liberal and I’m from New Jersey. I’m embarassed to be both right now because of people like Jacquie York.

  • tish

    What religious quote? Breath through your nose and read it again.

  • Guest461

    We’ve all read your incessant posts slamming Pantano every chance you get. You cut the man down as a man, you cut him down as a marine that fought for the freedoms that idiots like you take advantage of to write this kind of crap, you slam him as a politician, a yankee, an American citizen and any other piece of dirt you can squirm up.

    In short, we get your message. You flat out hate the man! A personal vendetta? Don’t get too personal, he can easily KICK YO A$$! Are you part of the McIntyre political body? Most likely!

    Are you a soldier? Were you ever? If so, what was your rank and how many tours did YOU perform for this country? Have you ever had anyone to shoot at you in an attempt to kill you? Have you ever shot at anyone to in an attempt to kill them? Most doubtful and from your rhetoric, likely impossible!!! You couldn’t fight your way out of a wet paper bag during a baseball-sized hail storm!

    You certainly have no credentials to beat Pantano down the way you attempt! You only sound desperate to discredit him! This is the beach and we have a lot of sand here, but there are still a few rocks left for people like you to crawl under…start looking.

  • Guest3130

    I don’t care what your political or religious leanings might be, but C’MON! Pantano is a freakin’ NUT-JOB, and this just seals the deal. What a strange and awkward way to get attention during what he calls “the silly season,” a phrase I find to be condescending. And drag his family through it, too? I just don’t care what my politicians’ religious bent is, and as a matter of fact, I don’t want it to enter politics in any way, shape or form.

    And I, too, found his oiled-down, half-naked pics to be VERY dark & disturbing, and his book to be extremely self-serving – and BS.

  • Free thinker

    Can someone please explain why there always has to be so many self-righteous christians quoting from your book of fairy tales about news stories that have nothing to do with religion. Whether or not you like Pantano, dogs or ‘yankees’ it’s only a news story and no where in it did it elude to anything even remotely religious.

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