The topics of pledging toward animal rescues, fundraising, and deceit go hand in hand these days. Please forgive me for being long-winded a bit in this article, but I thought it would be interesting to write on whether the act of pledging to save a cat or dog in a shelter should be abolished, as well as to ask for advice on how to choose a recipient for a pledge or donation. Especially since so many crooked rescues are being exposed as scammers.
Michael wanted me to explain the pledging system. I wrote this article in August 2014 shortly after Julianne Westberry was arrested and charged with animal cruelty for abandoning cats to die in her Belton home. The trust we lost in the animal advocacy community has never recovered from her deceit of taking pledges and not using them to help the cats.
I recently posed the question of what would happen to animal rescue should the pledging system end. There have been a lot of difficulties faced by legit animal rescues when people who pledge refuse to honor their agreement if a rescue they don’t approve of steps up to save the pet. One rescue told me that out of $200 pledged for an animal, only 10% was collected. Pledges often remove their pledge from a cat or dogs Facebook thread. Taking a screen shot of each pledge can be helpful, although it’s difficult to collect from someone not wanting to pay.
Some rescues don’t want the hassle of collecting money after the pull and would prefer to raise funds once the cat or dog is actually out of the shelter. A few rescues have reported that people who pledge to them are contacted by individuals and told not to honor their pledge because the rescue is “bad.” A lot of times there’s no documented proof and a lot of speculation. One cat rescuer from a Northern state reported his reputation ruined by someone he had never heard of who lives in another state and whom he has never met.
And sometimes the rescue is a bad one. I won’t go into specifying any rescue names, as these can be found by going to Google and entering “bad animal rescues”. Over the past year I’ve kept up with animals housed in horrible conditions, turned loose to fend for themselves or the pledge money was paid and the animals either were not saved or the funds not used for the animal it was intended for, or the animals were killed and buried. I could go on and on with all I’ve been asked to watch.
The same holds true with the fundraisers. Be very careful who you give your money. A lot of rescues hold fundraisers to supplement their pledge money. Sometimes this is necessary, as a very sick dog or cat can run up hundreds if not thousands of dollars in just a few days. The reputable ones post vet receipts and photos, hopefully ending with an adoption photo once the patient has healed.
Being a 501c3 is not a guarantee the rescue is legit. Personally, I’d rather donate directly to a rescue after thoroughly researching it. I don’t have money to give away to people who may be using it to take a vacation. Or to bail hubby out of jail (yes, that happened, and I had to do a quick pull of the article back in 2013 once I was sent the arrest record on hubby).
Animal advocate Tami Desmond said it best:
“If the same rescue ONLY pops in to pull animals with high pledge $, those rescues need to be monitored, IMO. Vet bills, pics in foster homes, adoption pics, and other follow-ups should be made public. We have ALL seen what can happen when a so-called rescue is only in it for the money. The animals are the ones who suffer.”
Unfortunately, individuals must also be watched. We all learned that lesson with the Bart the zombie cat case where money was raised to pay for vet expenses already being covered by the Humane Society that had Bart in their care. The person who started that fundraiser showed pictures of an expensive cookout on Facebook about the same time.
I’ve brought up the topic of fundraisers in the same article as pledges because a lot of the time because those who pledge to rescues also help out individuals suffering a hardship. It’s scary when a person does a fundraiser and never posts a veterinarian receipt or anything else showing where the money went. Warning bells go off in my head anytime I see this happen.
PayPal is now shutting down accounts of people who are taking in fraudulent funds.
I’d hate to see the pledge system go away. I think it helps the rescues who are doing what they’re supposed to do. Since so many rescue founders contacted me about not being paid after the pull, it appears the pledge system isn’t what it used to be and rescues are learning to work around that.
Some feedback would be appreciated from PoC readers. What determines who you “pledge” to or support with their fundraiser? Your advice may save someone from handing over their money to a scammer. Please comment below.
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