I’d suggest that the very many rewards that we see put up by local Humane Societies, usually originally $5,000, are somewhat of a sham because they are primarily designed to raise money for the charity.
In the case of Sage the cat who was tortured in Clearfield, Utah, the Humane Society of Northern Utah put up a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the cat’s torture.
Because of the horrendous nature of this poor cat’s torture and subsequent death, money poured in from concerned citizens. One person donated $10,000 and another donated $2,500. The latter person lived as far away as Maryland. The story went viral internationally.
In all, the current amount of the reward stands at $63,000. Nearly all of it, as mentioned, was donated by concerned individuals to help find the person who killed Sage.
There was little chance, in retrospect, of the reward money being used as intended. This is because the perpetrator of the crime lived in the house where Sage lived. It happened behind closed doors. Any witnesses would have known the perpetrator and they are keeping quiet.
There will be no third parties who can provide evidence. The reward therefore is almost certainly going to go into the coffers of the local Humane Society. This is a large sum of money. The motivation for the donations was the particularly nasty nature of the crime. It tugged at the heartstrings of decent, concerned people and animal lovers. Most of these people, I would suggest, would not have made the sort of donations that they made to the local Humane Society but for Sage’s story. The Humane Society’s marketing department know this.
The Humane Society of Northern Utah used Sage’s story knowing that it would be a good motivator to elicit donations from concerned people and as a way of boosting funding.
You can see very many instances on the Internet of initial $5,000 awards from local Humane Society’s turning into much larger sums through individual donations.
My feeling is that rewards for information leading to arrests are a vehicle to raise funds. That is their primary purpose. If, by chance, information is received then of course the reward is paid. However, I do not recall reading about a reward being paid and I would doubt that they are paid very often. This is because cruelty against cats and other animals is often perpetrated in relative secrecy, behind closed doors, in the dark, away from people where there are no witnesses. Where there are no witnesses it is unlikely that there will be a recipient of a reward.
PS-it is hard to criticise the Humane Societies for behaving like this if indeed they are behaving like this because the charity sector is highly competitive. They have to be run like businesses. I just believe, however, that they could be a bit more transparent and honest when they offer a rewards which are probably designed to raise funds.
Note: HSUS is not directly connected to local Humane Societies.