A recent CNN report raises questions about Operation Baghdad Pups, and the charity that oversees the program, SPCA International.
CNN, whose sister network presented a positive and heartwarming portrayal of the program last year, found that SPCA International spent nearly all $27 million it received in donations to raise more money through a direct mail company.
The report also said SPCA International “misrepresented” Baghdad Pups on its tax filings, and that it hired an officer for that program with a “questionable background.”
Two immediate thoughts:
One, in an ideal world, which of course we’re not in, it would have been nice of CNN, or even its less probing sister network, HLN, to do its digging before tugging at our heartstrings to the extent we cough up money.
Two, with animal charities becoming big business, where should the line be drawn when it comes to how much of the money they rake in actually goes to helping animals?
A charity needs to spend money to raise money, of course, but Bob Ottenhoff, president of the charity watchdog group GuideStar, told CNN that the SPCA International’s tax records raise “a number of red flags.”
“No. 1, there is an enormous amount of money going into fund-raising,” Ottenhoff said. “It’s not unusual for a nonprofit to fund-raise. In fact they need to fund-raise. But this organization has an enormous amount of fund-raising costs, certainly relative to the amount of money being spent.”
Of the $14 million raised in 2010, SPCA International reported it spent about $60,000, less than 0.5%, on cash grants to animal shelters across the United States. About $450,000 — about 3% of the total raised in 2010 — went to bring back animals from Iraq and Afghanistan as part of its “Baghdad Pups” program.
The CNN report seems to make much of the fact that most of those animals weren’t actual members of the armed services — but, from our coverage of the organization, it never seemed to making the claim that they were.
Baghdad Pups is a program that “helps U.S. troops safely transport home the companion animals they befriend in the war zone,” it states on the website.
As CNN put it, “the charity admitted that only 26 of the nearly 500 animals transported to the United States from Iraq and Afghanistan were actually service animals. The rest were stray animals … And those 26 service animals were not attached to military K-9 units but belonged to Reed Inc., a private contractor that built roads in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
While dogs abandoned by contracting companies have been a concern of the program, stray animals, as I understood it, were what the program was all about — seeing that, in cases where they bonded with soldiers, they had a chance to come home with them.
While the CNN report may have been barking up the wrong tree in that regard, it was on the money in other ways — namely, in looking at what happens to the money.
SPCA International funneled nearly all the donations to Quadriga Art, one of the world’s largest direct-mail providers to charities and nonprofits. The payments to Quadriga Art and its affiliated company, Brickmill Marketing Services, were for publicizing the organization and helping it raise more funds.
It is the same company hired by two veterans charities that spent tens of millions of dollars for its services, triggering a Senate investigation last month. One of the charities,Washington-based Disabled Veterans National Foundation, collected nearly $56 million in donations over the past three years yet paid Quadriga Art more than $60 million in fees, raising questions about whether it should retain its tax-exempt status.
SPCA International is still $8 million in debt to Quadriga Art, according to a spokeswoman for the direct-mail firm.
Lat week’s CNN report also brought up previous problems Operation Baghdad spokeswoman Terri Crisp encountered while working on behalf of animals.
Crisp, who appeared on CNN’s sister network, HLN, last year with two dogs rescued from Iraq, is the former head of a California-based animal rescue charity called Noah’s Wish. It took in $8 million in contributions to support its work “rescuing and caring for the animal victims of Hurricane Katrina.” An investigation by the California attorney general was looking into whether that money was being used for that purpose when a settlement was reached in 2007.
Crisp, while not admitting to any wrongdoing, agreed to return $4 million in donations, and to not ”serve as an officer, director or trustee or in any position having the duties or responsibilities of an officer, director or trustee, with any non-profit organization” for five years.
Posted by jwoestendiek July 18th, 2012 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: afghanistan, animal welfare, animals, armed service, baghdad, bringing, charities, cnn, contractors, direct mail, dogs, finances, fund raising, fundraising, guide star, hln, home, investigation, iraq, K-9, k9, noahs wish, non profits, nonprofits, operation baghdad pups, organizations, pets, pups, quadriga art, reed inc, rehoming, report, rescue, saving, shelter, soldiers, spca international, stray, strays, terri crisp, troops
One hundred and twenty-seven human lives were lost, but a dog miraculously survived a massive bombing in Baghdad Tuesday – even though the building she was chained to collapsed.
The dog was first spotted chained to a roof railing after the Tuesday bombing, standing on a wall ledge over the collapsed home.
The owner of the dog, Farouq Omar Muhei, returned to his destroyed home and was reunited with the ginger-colored mutt today, the Associated Press reported.
“Lots of neighbors thought I was dead,” he said after his dog, Liza, was carried down to the street.
Officials initially said Muhei and his family were among the victims. But, to the surprise of neighbors, already marveling over the dog’s survival, he returned with his 14-year-old son, Omar, after being treated for cuts and other injuries. They were the only family members home at the time of the attack.
Only a few portions of the home remained standing — including one section of the roof where Liza was chained. The dog’s water bucket was by her side, but was empty when Muhei’s brother, Fuad, climbed over the rubble to unchain the dog. The dog, waiting calmly, yawned as Fuad approached.
Once carried down to the street and reunited with Muhei, 46, the dog — who he purchased as a puppy six years ago in Baghdad’s main pet market –shook with joy and lapped water from a puddle, according to the AP report.
“After we crawled out of the rubble of our home, I said to my son, ‘the dog is dead’,” said Muhei, who sells candy and small items in the local market. “But my son said, ‘No, I saw her.’ I came back today to rescue my dog.”
Posted by jwoestendiek December 9th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: baghdad, bombing, chained, collapsed, dog, family, farouq omar muhei, home, iraq, killed 127, ledge, leveled, liza, miracle, reclaimed, rescued, reunion, reunited, roof, rubble, saved, survived, survives, victims, wall, war
“While human beings in Iraq were killing each other in huge numbers, they ignored the dogs, which in turn multiplied at an alarming rate,” the New York Times reported last week.
Now stray dogs are such a menace that municipal workers are hunting them down and slaughtering them — about 10,000 in Baghdad just since December.
“With fewer bombs going off and hardly any bodies being dumped anymore, the dogs are perhaps the biggest problem on the filthy and rubble-strewn streets of Baghdad. Packs of strays scare schoolchildren and people who get up at dawn to go to work. They gather at open-air butcher shops where customers choose their meat from flocks of live sheep.
“Some people believe that the dogs spread disease, not a difficult case to make in a society that generally shuns dogs as pets, believing them to be contrary to Islamic edicts on personal cleanliness.
“Thus a relative peace has changed priorities, and not just in Baghdad. The holy Shiite city of Karbala was so overwhelmed with stray dogs last year that officials there offered 6,000 dinars ($5.30) for each animal caught and handed over to the municipality. The dogs were shot and buried en masse.”
In Baghdad, dogs are killed with rotten raw meat laced with strychnine. On the outskirts of town, articularly around the city’s sprawling garbage dumps, the dogs are shot. By the time the cmapgin ends this month, perhaps 20,000 dogs will have been exterminated, said Shaker Fraiyeh of the ministry’s veterinary services company.
“Our work may be against animal rights, but there is a more important issue, public health,” said Dr. Fraiyeh, a veterinarian in his 30s.
Abdul-Karim Ismail, a veterinarian with the state-owned company dealing with the dogs, said building and maintaining animal shelters and introducing spay/neuter programs to control Baghdad’s dog population are considered too costly and complicated in a nation where people had so many more pressing needs.
Some stray dogs have been fortunate enough to find new homes outside Iraq. S.P.C.A. International, a Washington-based charity, began “Operation Baghdad Pups” in 2007 to help American soldiers adopt and take home stray dogs they befriended while serving in Iraq.
Posted by jwoestendiek March 16th, 2009 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, baghdad, baghdad pups, control, disease, dog, dogs, extermination, iraq, islam, over-population, poison, population, public health, pups, shoot, shot, sickness, slaughter, soldiers, stray, strychnine, war
A Navy soldier has been reunited with the dog she rescued in Iraq.
Construction Mechanic First Class Joan Steates, who along with fellow Seabees took in a stray shepherd-mix pup named Sako, was forced to leave her behind when she came home in October.
On Monday night, they reunited at Dulles Airport, throught the efforts of SPCA International’s Operation Baghdad Pups, which provides veterinary care, clearance and transportation for animals that U.S. service members can’t bear to leave behind in the Middle East.
In the past year year, Baghdad Pups has brought 79 dogs and cats from Iraq and Afghanistan. 50 other reunions are in the works.
The SPCA says the program, funded entirely by donations, spends about $4,000 to ship each animal to the U.S.
Posted by jwoestendiek February 6th, 2009 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: baghdad, dog, dogs, iraq, joan steates, navy, operation baghdad pups, reunion, reunite, sako, spca international
Say what you will about our soon to depart from office president, the man has got pretty good reaction time, and was far cooler under pressure than I would have expected — considering the shoes hurled at his head today in Baghdad by an Iraqi journalist appear to miss their mark by only inches.
He was calm, if not overly articulate in the immediate aftermath, and even came up with a witty remark a little later. “I’m OK,” he said. “All I can report is it is a size 10.”
“This is your farewell kiss, you dog!” the shoe hurler shouted in Arabic as he threw his shoes, according to the Associated Press.
Posted by jwoestendiek December 14th, 2008 under Muttsblog.
Tags: "you dog", baghdad, bush, bush and shoe, bush shoe video, bush shoes video, farewell, flying shoe, hurled, hurls, iraq, iraqi, journalist, kiss, near miss, news, ohmidog!, president, president bush, press conference, shoe, shoes, shoes fly, throw, throws, video
Baghdad authorities killed more than 200 stray dogs on Sunday, the opening day of a campaign to cull dog packs roaming the capital city.
The campaign was prompted by a spate of fatal attacks on residents.
Three teams of veterinarians and police officers used poisoned meat and rifles to kill the animals, according to the Associated Press.
Dr. Hassan Chaloub, an official at the veterinary hospital supervising the effort confirmed that the campaign started Sunday in wester Baghdad and will move to the eastern half of the city early next year. He said the capital has no dog shelters.
Thirteen people died in August in the capital after being attacked by dogs, according to Baghdad’s provincial council, which is overseeing the campaign.
Under Saddam Hussein, authorities killed stray dogs in the capital almost every year, but the practice ended with his ouster in 2003. Since then, local officials estimate, the number of strays in Baghdad has grown to more than a thousand.
Ratchet, the rescued Iraqi pup, arrived in the U.S. last week, and here’s the video.
His first stop in Washington is shown above. To see him arriving in Minneapolis, click on this Minneapolis Star-Tribune video.
Ratchet, for two weeks, was the subject of a tug-of-war between a Minnesota soldier in Baghdad and a military that prohibits soldiers from bringing pets home from abroad.
Ratchet was rescued from a burning trash heap by American soldiers in Baghdad and adopted by Army Sgt. Gwen Beberg of Spring Lake Park.
When Beberg tried to get the seven-month-old border collie mix out of Iraq, and to her parents’ home in Minnesota, with help from Operation Baghdad Pups, an officer confiscated the dog as he was on the way to the airport.
Grateful for the emotional support he gave her, and fearful of what might happen if she left him in Iraq, Beberg posted the story on Facebook.
A college friend blogged about Ratchet’s situation, posted it on the website Digg, drawing attention to the cause. That led to Internet petitions and almost 69,000 signatures from people around the world. Minnesota’s members of Congress also pressed for the dog’s release.
A worldwide outcry by dog lovers has led the U.S. military to agree to release Ratchet, the Iraqi puppy they had confiscated from an Army sergeant who wanted to bring him home to Minnesota, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports.
Fifty thousand signatures on online petitions, and some help from politicians, prompted the Army to make an exception (as it has before) to its ban on soldiers adopting and bringing home pets from Iraq.
Operation Baghdad Pups, a program of SPCA International, had hoped to get the pup on a flight Wednesday, but the Army moved slowly in releasing the dog, causing it to miss a scheduled flight.
Program officials will make a special trip back to Iraq on Sunday to try to retrieve him.
Sgt. Gwen Beberg, who adopted Ratchet as a 4-week-old pup after fellow soldiers in Baghdad rescued him from a pile of burning trash, sent her mother a short e-mail Wednesday when she heard the news: “I AM THRILLED THAT RATCHET IS GOING HOME.”
Her mother, Pat Beberg, said she hopes Ratchet’s case might get the military to reconsider its policy against pets. “I want to make sure that other soldiers do not encounter this,” Beberg said. “[Gwen] is using a puppy to handle stress. Isn’t that so much better than popping a handful of pills?”
Operation Baghdad Pups was founded a year ago and relies on donations to rescue dogs and cats adopted by American military personnel in Iraq. It has flown more than 50 dogs and cats to the United States.
Gwen Beberg, whose saw her duty in Iraq extended, is supposed to return to the United States in the coming months. When she tried to get Ratchet to her parents’ home in Spring Lake Park, a superior officer confiscated the dog on the way to the airport.
The case, through coverage by the mainstream media and intrepid dog bloggers, prompted a “firestorm of interest” on the Internet, the Star-Tribune said. By Wednesday afternoon, petitions demanding clemency for the dog had been signed by more than 50,000 people around the world, and the pup’s story was posted on almost 27,000 websites.
In addition to the petitions, supporters called congressional offices and Army headquarters this week demanding that something be done to save the dog.
The offices of Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., and Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., also pushed for the dog’s release. Northwest Airlines has offered to fly Ratchet from Kuwait to Minneapolis.
(Photo courtesy SPCA International)
Posted by jwoestendiek October 16th, 2008 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adopted, army, baghdad, ban, beberg, dog, dogs, exception, flying, home, iraq, military, minnesota, operation baghdad pups, petitions, ratchet, sergeant, soldiers, spca international, stress, u.s., war