It’s no secret that a sad dog story, properly promoted on social media, can bring in some pretty huge donations — for an animal shelter, a rescue organization, or an individual.
Whether your dog needs life-saving surgery, or even an intense diet regimen, you don’t have to be a nonprofit organization to ask the public for help — and you shouldn’t have to be.
But with the rise of social media, and online fundraising tools like GoFundMe, IndieGogo, and all those other I-would-like- some-of-your-money-please websites, there are likely more bucks than ever before being donated directly to individual dogs in need.
With all that unmonitored money pouring in, what ensures that it’s going to the rightful place — namely, helping the dog in question? What ensures any surplus won’t end up going to the dog owner’s kitchen remodel? What’s to guarantee that the sad dog story is even true in the first place?
In a word, nothing.
Just as the Internet has made us all published journalists, photographers and autobiographers, it has given us an easy route to becoming professional fund-raisers.
What gets lost in that transition is knowing who we can trust.
We can only cross our fingers and hope that those engaging in outright fraud get caught, that those soliciting funds to help a dog don’t get too greedy, and that money sent in by good-hearted people seeking to help a dog actually goes to helping a dog.
It’s a fuzzy area — legally and morally. What accounting, if any, does a private citizen raising money to help a dog owe those who contribute?
In Oregon, at least, the answer seems to be some, at least in the view of the state Attorney General’s Office.
Since January, the office’s charitable activities section has been looking into how Nora Vanatta spent, and is spending, all the money sent in to help Obie — the 77-pound dachshund she adopted and whose weight loss program became a much-followed story.
Vanatta, a veterinary technician who lives in Portland, never purported to be affiliated with a nonprofit, but she did seek and accept thousands of dollars from people around the world who were inspired by Obie’s story.
Vanatta initially fostered Obie, after reading about him on the Facebook page of Oregon Dachshund Rescue.
After Obie’s story went viral, the rescue sought to get the dog back, and filed a lawsuit. The case was later settled, and Vanatta was awarded permanent custody. (Obie is down to 22 pounds.)
Meanwhile, money — Vanatta won’t say how much — continued to come in, $15,000 of which Vanatta says was spent on lawyers she hired to fight the custody battle. Some of it went to pay for $80 bags of specialty food Obie required, and a $1,500 skin-reduction surgery.
Since January, Vanatta has been answering questions from the Attorney General’s office, which began looking into the matter after receiving complaints about how she was spending the funds, and is now in the process of working out an agreement with her.
“They wanted everything – copies of every penny in, every penny out,” she told the Oregonian.
The Attorney General’s office won’t identify the source of the complaint, and it says no wrongdoing was found in how Vanatta has spent the funds so far. (Apparently, nobody in that office full of lawyers had any problem with all the money that went to lawyers.)
But the office does disagree with how she plans to spend the rest. (Obie’s PayPal account was closed last year.)
Vanatta says the office objects to her using the money to help individual dogs with medical needs, which is maybe a little ironic given the money was raised to help an individual dog with medical needs. The Attorney General’s office frowned upon her giving $2,000 to a family she met at the Tualatin veterinary clinic where she works to help them pay for their dog’s back surgery. Instead, the office wants her to give the money away to established nonprofits, and wants to set a deadline.
The case raises lots of interesting questions, and some disturbing ones.
We’re all for the attorney general keeping an eye on such fundraising drives; slightly less for that office dictating what good causes should receive the remainder of the money, and when.
We agree with Vanatta’s reasoning on that: “I strongly believe you do not have to be a nonprofit to do good,” she said.
What bothers us most, though, next to Obie’s previous owners letting him get so morbidly obese, is how much of the money donated has gone to lawyers — $15,000 on the custody case, another $11,800 for lawyers to represent Vanatta in the attorney general’s investigation.
Obie may be becoming a slimmer dog, thanks in part to donations from the public, but, as always, lawyers — gobbling up the bulk of the donations — just keep getting fatter.
Posted by John Woestendiek September 19th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abused, accounting, adoption, animals, attorney general, campaigns, charitable, charities, crowdfunding, dachshund, dog, dogs, donations, dying, foster, fraud, fundraising, gofundme, internet, investigation, money, monitoring, nora vanatta, obie, oversight, pets, raising, rescue, sick, social media, surgery, trust
A pit bull being shown at an adoption event at a PetSmart outside Atlanta on Sunday got loose from her handler, attacked a smaller dog and was repeatedly stabbed by the smaller dog’s owner.
Clara, a pit bull who was being fostered and who was taken to the event in hopes of finding an adoptive home, was euthanized due to the severity of her injuries, the local humane society said.
The smaller dog, a West Highland terrier, spent a night in an emergency vet’s office and was released to her owner Monday.
As reported in the Times-Herald, Clara, who has been living in a foster home, had been brought to the event by the Newnan-Coweta Humane Society in hopes of finding her a permanent home. The Westie belonged to a customer in the store — one who, according to witnesses, had a low opinion of pit bulls.
Witnesses say the smaller dog growled at the larger one when they walked past each other inside the store. Shortly after that, Clara pulled free from her handler and ran at the smaller dog.
The Westie’s owner tried to pull the pit bull off his dog, kicked her and stabbed her several times with a pocket knife. While doing so, some witnesses said, he was repeatedly screaming, “F—ing pit bulls!”
Clara was holding the smaller dog by the scruff of her neck or ear, and both dogs were still, Reeves said. “Clara wasn’t clamped down on the dog. Mike was able to put his hands in her mouth,” she said. “…They were just standing there. It could have easily been broken up.”
After the man started stabbing the pit bull, his son screamed for him to stop. Clara is believed to have been stabbed up to six times.
PetSmart staff also attempted to break the dogs up using air horns and spray bottles.
Sandy Hiser, with the Newnan-Coweta Humane Society, said that once the dogs were separated, Clara’s wounds turned out to be worse than originally thought. She sat back and was wagging her tail when it was noticed she was bleeding, and making a gurgling noise when she breathed.
Hiser said Clara’s injuries were “so extensive that if she did pull through, it would have impacted her quality of life.”
Police responded but no charges have been filed. Hiser said an officer told her that the man “had a right to defend his dog.”
The case is still being investigated by Newnan’s animal warden.
One witness said she heard the Westie’s owner complaining about pit bulls even before the attack.
Clara was being returned to the store from a trip outside when the man said, “If you bring that f***ing pit bull near me I’m going to stab it,” said Erin Burr, who was attending the adoption event.
According to a Facebook page set up in hopes of getting Clara adopted, she’d lived over half her life in a boarding kennel. It also notes she had problems being “dog tolerant.” Posts note that the page was started after she was banned from an earlier adoption event.
(Photos from the “Clicks for Clara” Facebook page)
Posted by John Woestendiek September 3rd, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adoption, animals, clara, coweta, dog, dogs, euthanasia, euthanized, foster, georgia, humane society, newnan, pets, petsmart, pit bull, pit bulls, pitbull, pitbulls, rescue, shelter, west highland terrier, westie
Like any steamy romance novel, this story features a damsel in distress, a hero, and a happy ending that shows that love — even when it’s lost — can still come back and conquer all.
The damsel in distress, in this case, is a black Lab named Lady, who walked across 30 miles of Kansas to reunite with her former owners, only to be spurned by them.
The hero is Helen Rich Rosburg, a chewing gum heiress, animal lover and writer of romance novels.
According to KCTV, Lady hadn’t had a stable living arrangement for several years.
Her owner died in 2012, landing Lady in the animal shelter in Sedan, Kansas.
She was adopted by a family, but surrendered back to the shelter because she didn’t seem to get along with the family’s puppy or other little dogs.
She was adopted again this summer, by a woman in Independence, Kansas.
But, the KCTV report says, Lady apparently wanted go back where she came from. Despite her age, and arthritis, she walked 30 miles back to Sedan.
The family that first adopted her declined to take her back, and so did the woman in Independence.
Lady was living at the Chautauqua County Animal Shelter when her situation and photo were shared on Facebook.
“The senior lab walked nearly 30 miles to come home,” Cindy Barclay Powell wrote on Facebook. “Is there anyone out there who can give this girl a home? She may not have many years left. She is spayed, house broken, leash trained, mellow, having problems walking (so her travels back to Sedan amazed me).”
The post was shared nearly 7,000 times and Lady’s story was picked up by Examiner.com last week.
Rosburg runs a rescue and sanctuary for neglected and abandoned animals out of her farm in Odessa, Florida.
On Thursday, she had a private jet flown to Kansas to bring Lady there.
Rosburg says Lady will lead a pampered life, and will join the cats and dogs living inside her home.
Posted by John Woestendiek August 5th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adoption, animal welfare, animals, Chautauqua County Animal Shelter, dog, dogs, facebook, florida, former owners, helen rich rosburg, helen rosburg, kansas, lab, lady, owners, pets, rejected, rescue, sanctuary, shelter, spurned
It’s always nice to read about a happy reunion between a family and their lost dog — except maybe when the dog being reunited is one you thought was your own.
The Miller family of Tyler, Texas, lost their dog Reese, a Maltese, seven years ago. They were visiting family outside of Dallas when the little white dog ran off.
Dinah Miller said she never stopped searching, and hoping Reese would return: ”Every time you hear a bark, you think, that sounds like Reese,” she said. “We drove. We searched. We looked over fences. We peeped everywhere we could without getting shot.”
Last weekend, the Millers learned Reese had been found on a road in Tacoma, Wash., more than 2,000 miles away. The family received a call after a check for a microchip revealed they were the dog’s registered owners.
Reese was flown to Houston, and Dinah Miller reunited with her Monday, KHOU reported.
How Reese had gotten to Tacoma, and where she’d spent the intervening seven years, were mysteries Miller thought would go unanswered — at least until another owner surfaced.
Kelli Davis of Spanaway, Wash., said her family adopted the dog at a shelter in Mesquite, Texas, near Dallas, six years ago, and named him Harley.
Davis and her family later moved from Texas to Washington.
She said Harley recently escaped after her 2-year-old daughter unlatched the front door.
“We were running down the street trying to find him and she was crying, ‘My Harley ran away,’” said Davis. “Every day we have gone out and printed fliers and walked around the neighborhood several times a day calling his name.”
“Harley is my daughter’s best friend. That’s her little buddy. They do everything together,” she said.
Davis said Harley was listed as an owner surrender by the Texas shelter he was adopted from. When she called that shelter to find out if they had ever checked the dog for a microchip she was told that information wasn’t available. The shelter said it purges its records after five years.
“I don’t know what to do. We just lost a part of our family,” said Davis.
Miller, meanwhile, says she sympathizes with the family in Washington, but she’s keeping Reese.
(Photos: At left, “Reese” reunites with Dinah Miller and her family; at right, “Harley” when she was a member of the Davis family)
Posted by John Woestendiek July 23rd, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adopted, adoption, animal shelter, animals, dog, dogs, family, harley, lost, maltese, mesquite, missing, ownership, pets, reese, rescue, returned, reunion, tacoma, texas, washington
Returning a dog you adopted to the shelter he came from isn’t always a shameful thing.
Sometimes, sad as it is to see, there can be valid reasons for doing so, and, given it is done right, it might turn out best for all involved.
This Denver man clearly didn’t do it right.
Daniel Sohn, 31, is scheduled to appear in court on July 2 to face charges of animal cruelty and neglect after ditching his dog at the Denver Animal Shelter — twice in one day, 7NEWS reported this week.
Sohn, in an interview with the station, disagreed with term “ditch,” and said he took the dog to the shelter to “give him a choice.”
The dog, named Bronson, was adopted by Sohn in October.
According to 7NEWS, he took the dog to the shelter to surrender him, but on two different visits the same day, he balked when he was asked to fill out the required paperwork.
At one point, he ran out the door to his car. His dog followed, and a witness snapped a photo of the dog chasing the car down the street.
Witnesses said his car hit the dog at one point.
7NEWS reporter Molly Hendrickson tracked Sohn down at his parent’s home in Aurora.
“Yes, that is my car and my dog,” Sohn said when shown the photo that had been taken of the dog chasing the car. “I actually dropped him off and he followed me because we have a bit of a bond.”
He added, “Well, I didn’t ditch him. I actually dropped my dog off at the shelter where I did pick him up at. I actually gave my dog a choice if he wanted to be with me or possibly find an owner he might feel better with.”
As for striking the dog with the car, Sohn said, “I didn’t accidentally hit him. He jumped in front of my car but I felt he was triggered to do so as if, like, he was a mechanism of the surrounding people.”
Sohn left with his dog, but he says Bronson later, on a trip to Los Angeles, jumped out of his car at a gas station in Beverly Hills. He hasn’t seen him since.
“He’s a stray and some dogs just stray and he’s probably onto the next owner,” Sohn said. “Is he still alive? I’m sure he is.”
Posted by John Woestendiek May 29th, 2014 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: 7News, abandon, adoption, animals, car, charges, chasing, court, cruelty, daniel sohn, date, denver animal shelter, ditch, dog, dogs, hit, interview, neglect, news, pets, photo, photograph, report, returned, shelters, surrender
This public service announcement from the Shelter Pet Project totally captured the attention of my dog, Ace.
He was laying with his back to the television, watching me eat, when the jangling collar led him to turn his head a full 180 degrees to see what was going on.
Ace generally ignores television (I’ve yet to achieve that), so I was surprised when, about the time the dog knocks on the screen, Ace got up, walked over to the TV, sniffed a few times and then gave the dog’s image a big lick.
I guess that’s a paws up from him.
And I give the series of announcements, which feature former shelter dogs and are intended to encourage adoptions, a big thumbs up, too.
Jules — the dog in this one — was adopted by a family in 2010, and has since become a world traveler, going as far away as South Africa.
You can see the full series of announcements here.
Posted by John Woestendiek May 2nd, 2014 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: ace, adopt, adoption, ads, animals, awareness, dog, dogs, jules, marketing, pets, psa, public service announcement, rescue, screen, shelter, shelter pet project, shelters, television
Hank, the former stray dog who has become the unofficial mascot for the Milwaukee Brewers, has gotten his own house inside Miller Park.
The dog, adopted by the team after he wandered into their spring training camp in Arizona, will use the house for appearances, photo opps, and perhaps to get some rest — in between his duties – when he’s inside the stadium.
While Hank goes home at night with Marti Wronski, vice president and general counsel for the Brewers, the team considers him the fan’s dog. So he needed someplace cozy to stay during games — a home base, so to speak.
The “Hank House” is a one-bedroom, Cape Cod-style, with an attached yellow slide. It was built by the Brewers architect.
“It took about two weeks to construct, and I think people will have fun with it,” Brewers COO Rick Schlesinger told WISN. “People just love Hank (and we’re) trying to make it a more habitable environment for him at Miller Park. And I think he’s going to like his house very much.”
The doghouse will be moved during the season to various parts of the stadium, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Hank, who has been a huge hit with Brewers fans, will soon be starring in a video, and, along with all the Hank merchandise already available, a bobblehead version of him is expected to go on sale in September.
(Photo: Top, Hank’s new doghouse inside Milwaukee’s Miller Park / WISN; bottom, Hank in Arizona, by Morry Gash / Associated Press )
Posted by John Woestendiek April 23rd, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adopt, adopted, adoption, animals, architect, arizona, bobblehead, design, dog, doghouse, dogs, hank, hank aaron, mercandise, miller park, milwaukee brewers, pets, phoenix, rescue, spring training, stadium, stray