Do people use fundraising websites inappropriately?

Snuggles fraudulent fund raising

SNUGGLES — Does she scratch herself to he point where it is life threatening?

When it comes to cats there are lots of pleas for funds. The fundraising website is growing in popularity. Anyone can post a fundraiser.  I don’t want to be cynical about this but…we cannot make the assumption that every request for funds on one of the many fundraising websites is genuine.

These sites get a hell of a lot of visitors. Millions per day some of them. The website, itself, has to be funded. It probably takes a proportion of the donations. That encourages a website to have lax controls. Cats are very popular on the internet. Cats are more popular on the internet than in real life!

What made me think this dark thought was the request for donations to “Save Snuggles”. Snuggles is a sweet looking long haired calico cat who scratches herself.

The cat’s caretaker, Beth Kululu Berryman, states that she wants funding to declaw Snuggles because it is the only way to save her life. Here is part of the request, verbatim:

I am honestly begging for your help in possibly saving her life. For reasons we have been unable to determine since I found her 2 years ago, Snuggles will scratch at her skin until it is raw..

Sorry, I have great difficulty in believing this because it is so stupid and using “declawing” makes it very emotive. It does not make sense. If a cat is scratching herself you take her to the vet and diagnose the reason, which will be itchy skin caused by an illness such as a flea bite allergy (a typical reason but one of many).

As a cat caretaker you don’t hold your hands up in despair on the internet and ask for money to declaw your cat!

Bizarre — and for me unbelievable. Think about it. It is so easy to post a picture of a sweet cat and plead for money. Where is the evidence? Don’t get me wrong. I am sure most requests for money are genuine. You can normally tell. However, there has to be a proportion of fraudulent requests. The Snuggles campaign seems to me to be one.

There is a lot of fraudulent behavior on the internet. Beware.

Note: I could be wrong about Snuggles. Of course. But if I am wrong then Beth is stupid. Sorry Beth.

Original article/request for a donation.

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Comments

Do people use fundraising websites inappropriately? — 38 Comments

  1. A $$ ploy, for sure!
    As you say, where is the evidence? I don’t see a bald, bleeding or suffering cat.
    I’m not reading any vet statements or any treatments tried. If, indeed, Snuggles sratches herself raw, there is a medical reason that declawing won’t resolve.
    I feel like just slapping this person silly!

  2. As someone who now spends a lot of time helping raise funds for medical treatment for cats and dogs, I’m very careful who I offer assistance to. One red flag is when a donation page doesn’t offer the option of calling in a donation to the vet in charge of treatment. Anyone legit doesn’t mind this and the vets sure don’t mind taking a debit card payment over the phone. There have been several supposedly legit rescues get caught this year for taking the donations and running.

    This is a story I wrote yesterday where we have a case of abandonment and it will likely escalate to misuse of funds. http://www.examiner.com/article/dozens-of-pigs-allegedly-abandoned-at-happy-hooves-pig-rescue-upstate-sc. Also be careful of anyone who doesn’t post photos showing the animal as it recovers from whatever. When I had to get funds I always posted vet receipts after treatment was given to show the money was used for that purpose.

  3. Oh boy that stinks worse than an untended litter box (OK…. no nasty comments please, I scoop litter at least twice a day…but it seemed a good metaphor). I agree that documentation needs to be provided or made available. Plus this is an absurd claim as Michael said. I have heard people talking about having cats maimed…ummm declawed…to save their furniture (do NOT get me started on this…) but I have never heard such a wacky story especially accompanied by a picture of a cat who seems to be very healthy with all fur intact!

    • Yes, if Beth has a picture of her cat she could have shown the sore bits but chose not too because I suspect there are none. I could be wrong so don’t want to be too certain. I’d just like some evidence and a different attitude because declawing is no fix anyway.

  4. The problem is that we daren’t take the chance that this stupid person isn’t planning to have Snuggles declawed if she gets enough money to do so. Hence the anti declaw brigade having to educate her quickly because some people are foolishly donating money to her and if she really does intend to have her declawed then if she gets enough money she might just do so.
    It does sound like a scam but her cat’s precious toe ends might be in danger. By the comments she will either be educated that declawing is cruel or realise her scam isn’t working because she chose to beg for money for cruel surgery instead of begging for money to consult a vet about the supposed itch.

    • Ruth – I agree – regardless of anything it has to be made clear to them that declawing is a bad thing to do – not a word they should be using or considering.

    • She either wants to raise money full-stop or raise money for declawing and is using the scratching scenario as a reason. I agree she needs to be educated whatever she is doing because it is obviously not the way to fix any problem.

    • I have a feeling that this person wants to raise money period. I don’t think she wants to declaw. I think she has used declawing as an emotive subject that will get people discussing it. Just guessing.

  5. It seems that a lot of people didn’t do their due-diligence research. Here’s another fun FACT for you:

    bbb D0T org SLASH charity-reviews/national/animal-protection/alley-cat-allies-in-bethesda-md-107/financial

    They don’t even meet the criteria to qualify for being a reputable charity organization under “Better Business Bureau” standards. While Becky and all her close friends are laughing all the way to the bank to the tune of $5M in assets with a $6M income.

    They all just flew to Hawaii recently for another “cat-conference” because, for some unknown reason, they had to be there to discuss these issues.

    Support yet another organization that exploits the suffering of animals for their own personal financial gain, then try to sleep well at night.

    While you’re at it, for another good laugh, don’t forget to check out how much Becky and her friend pay themselves in just ONE year with everyone else’s money.

    bbb D0T org SLASH charity-reviews/national/animal-protection/alley-cat-allies-in-bethesda-md-107/governance-and-staff

      • It was disturbing to read about Alley Cat Allies. I’ve been fond of their work, and have donated a little. Feeling frustrated. I hope you do a piece on it Michael. I know they have done some good, but folks at the top are taking advantage it seems.

          • Yes. It reflects badly on the basis for what it was originally intended, and there is no coming back from this. I have to say too, after a couple of minimal donations, I get far too many pages in the mail from them. I’ve tried to get it to stop coming, but to no avail. Electronic news is so much better as far as I’m concerned. They have wasted more on postage and paper than I have ever given them.

            • To add insult to injury here’s what they are trying to do to in social-media to back-peddle from everyone now finding out about them, to make everyone think they really are the noble philanthropic “good guys”.

              alleycat D0T org SLASH page.aspx?pid=1562

              $5,000 is only 0.1% of their assets, .08% of their yearly income.

              They might as well just spit in the face of everyone that has ever donated to them.

      • I am eagerly looking forward to reading your article on this very disturbing information. In the many cat communities to which I belong, ACA has a stellar reputation. This is highly alarming.

        Thanks Michael.

    • That’s really upsetting. I do hope Michael does some dectective work on this- it really needs to be investigated. It is of great concern, since until reading this bbb report I assumed that ACA was a stellar organization, doing really good work for cats.

      So many of us donate to ACA, volunteer, etc. Very disturbing report.

  6. Thanks so much for this article. You are absolutely correct- it tugs on the heart-strings. Playing devil’s advocate here: Perhaps it is legitimate; the fund-raising site appears ok in itself- and it is conceivable that this woman pleading for help to declaw her cat had no clue about the surgery or in fact about cats in general.

    This said, I was extremely pleased with the comments on the site- and in the manner they were written. We always do better to educate rather than slam someone on the top of the head. I noticed that after all the excellent suggestions and advice offered by folks who are feline literate, that the cat was put up for adoption- asking someone to take the cat. She sounded rather desperate, in my opinion.

    Your point is well made, Elisa, we always need to check something out carefully, do as much detective work as possible before we part with our money. This particular request was truly off the charts outrageous.

    • I agree Jo, it could be genuine but just misguided. But if she is misguided it is a very obvious case of misguidance because common sense says that the “cure” is not declawing. She does not say whether she has taken Snuggles to a vet. I would like to have that information. Vets have to deal a lot of cats who scratch themselves. It is a fairly common problem (an itchy skin).

      I guess the point I am making is not that Beth is bad or whatever but that the fundraising sites do open a door to fraudulent behavior. It is a case of being savvy and making sure it is genuine.

  7. Just an update. Apparently it’s a done deal and the cat is going to be declawed. That was the most recent post that she made. Her offer of rehoming the cat has disappeared as well. This is very, very sad. It is just breaking my heart.

    • I’m not seeing that onsite, Jo.
      I still see her request to rehome or she will take to a shelter. She hasn’t reached her $800.00 goal, has been bombarded with pleas not to declaw, and has been challenge to produce evidence.
      $170.00 won’t do the deed!
      If she is concluding, then, I say it’s a case of “take the money and run!”

  8. Sorry, but something is amiss.
    After not nearly reaching her $$ goal to have Snuggles declawed for some mysterious ailment, she writes that, unless, someone adopts her, that she will surrender her to a shelter. She, further, writes that she cannot afford to sustain herself, much less a pet.
    Again, I see no evidence of a distressed cat and no copies of vet visits to support her claims.

    I have a pretty good gut when it comes to things like this. My younger years were, well, interesting.
    As they say, you can’t con a con!

      • Now, I’m not sure whether I was looking at the correct post or not.
        Sorry, if I was mistaken.
        In any case, I don’t think she will find any vet to declaw for $170.00.

  9. Thanks Dee. Her name has changed from Beth Kululu Berryman to Sandi White and it is odd she is saying this at all and especially in a comment where a lot of people will miss it.

    • Yes, all very strange. I would have respected her had she just written that she was in dire need of $$ to survive and to care for and keep her cat. Honesty pays off with me. I may have given her a few bucks.

  10. Dee and everyone- this is the post to which I was referring:

    Hello, everyone~! Thanks a million…Hello, everyone~! Thanks a million to those who have donated, and thank you as well to those who have left advice.

    However, I have tried medication, changing food, SoftPaws, destressing her environment, and anything else I and her other humans could possibly think of. None of it worked, and so I am taking the last resort of having Snuggles declawed entirely.

    Thank you for reading, and thank you for your continued support.

    • This is just TOO DREADFUL, any butcher who agrees to FOUR PAW declaw this poor cat is an evil monster, it doesn’t bear thinking about.
      What can we do?
      I can’t believe people are still donating money for this cruel person to have her cat mutilated instead of investigating why she is so itchy.
      I’m in tears, I HATE with a passion those EVIL people!

  11. This is so sad. I can’t believe that this person is thinking of doing this to her poor sweet cat. If this is real and she does want to help her cat, then she should use the money to get her tested and helped for the real problem, which could be allergies or something else. Declawing won’t solve the problem. It might even cause problems much worse than what she’s dealing with now.

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