Your input is required, please, in the answering the question. This is a difficult article to write on for several reasons. I don’t want to appear to be singling out any particular rescue and would appreciate some reader feedback on what criteria you use before donating money. What factors determine a cat rescue deserves your support? I’m going to give a few examples I’ve come across over the past few weeks. I may be overly suspicious, or my instincts may be kicking in on who to trust and who not to trust. Especially since rescues are making the news for abusing animals in their care.
A few weeks ago I received a personal message from a very trusted source in the cat community that was sent to me reporting an individual saying she’s a fraud. I didn’t think much of it, except less than half an hour later the person trying to raise money tagged me in a post on my Facebook wall. She works on her own I believe, rather than having a 501c3 non-profit. Since my friends turn to me as to whether to trust someone or not, I made a comment on the post that I had received a fraud alert about her and they should investigate before donating.
I quickly received a comment from this rescuer informing me I’d better be careful how I used the word “scam.” I never used that term, and I never accused her of any wrongdoing. The person posting used the term, not myself. Havoc exploded on her page, with people asking for a vet phone number so they could call the vet to be sure the funds were being used as they should. Now she’s gone from Facebook. Poof! She simply disappeared.
As an investigative writer (which I like less and less because of the fallout), I’m informed to keep an eye on certain people in the rescue world. I tend to get very suspicious of people who experience disasters on a daily basis. We all have our problems when we rescue cats. But how many of us are facing a $1,000+ vet bill or home or car disaster and asking for money on a daily basis. There are several people on Facebook right now who are coming up with daily sob stories people are donating to scammers
I came across a fantastic eye-opening article about things to look for in a good cat rescue or a bad cat rescue. The article, written by Alison Hector for Pets Advocates Network, can be found here. Please take the time to read it, as it offers tactics used by scammers, as well as how to recognize a legitimate and trustworthy cat rescue.
For those of you who follow the Julianne Westberry case, Saving Southern Kitties (SSK), founded by Susan Schreck, is one rescue who does everything right. The story of Whiskers and Kathy, two JW survivors, earned them a story in the December issue of Catster Magazine. More on SSK can be found here on their Facebook page. Saving Southern Kitties shows what a good rescue should show on their community page, including
- Photos of cats needing homes
- Information on upcoming adoption events
- Adoption success stories
- The community page is about the cats-NOT the rescuer. If a page is all about the rescuer, you should check them out further before handing over your money.
Personally, it terrifies me when a rescue saves the cat, and the cat is never mentioned again on their community page or rescue website. Where are the cats going? I probably don’t want an answer to that question.
Many bad rescues have a 501c3 non-profit status and are still in operation. On the flip side, there are many good individual and small rescues who don’t have a 501c3 status who are making a difference and saving lives.
Some of the tactics bad rescues use are
- Refuse to answer questions about their rescue and where the money is going
- Refuse visits to their rescue or to the foster homes that help care for the cats
- A real rescue does not have time to for cutesy or heart-wrenching blogs with many details that are irrelevant to specific pets they are trying to get adopted out
- Avoid the rescue if they do fundraisers in memory of pets that are actually still alive or conversely fund raise for pets that are non-existent or already dead
Many more examples are in the Pet Advocates Network article linked above.
The big question is how do you decide who to trust and who not to trust before making a pledge or donation? There are many of you out there who have much more experience in dealing with legitimate and illegitimate rescues than I have. Your expertise is needed on this one, as pledges are down a lot since the Julianne Westberry tragedy. People are afraid to hand over their money to rescue shelter cats, and cats are dying because of this. Please leave a comment below.
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