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
Despite their plea of poverty, despite maintaining they’ve sidestepped the crisis, our verdict remains.
As does the evidence: a police memo that instructed officers, when it came to stray dogs, to serve as judge, jury and executioner for any that seemed sick or violent; and transport and dump the others elsewhere — all while assuring any concerned citizens they were going to “a nice farm in the country.”
In the fall of last year, the cash-strapped capital city found itself unable to keep up with the terms of its contract with the Humane Society of the Harrisburg Area, which operates the key animal shelter in the area.
About $6,300 in arrears, the city quietly waltzed out of the contract, with no announcement to the public, Amy Worden at the Philadelphia Inquirer’s dog blog, Philly Dawg, reports.
As a result of police having nowhere to take abandoned or stray dogs, Capt. Annette Books gave police supervisors the following instructions in a Dec. 5 memo:
If the animal is vicious and a danger to the public and/or officers, or if the animal is obviously sick, injured or suffering the animal may be destroyed in as safe a manner as possible. The animal will then be taken to the Agriculture Bldg. (near the loading dock area) on Cameron St. for disposal.
The memo went on to add:
If the animal is determined to be a “found” animal, the officer can ask the complainant if they want to keep the animal or if they know someone who will adopt the animal, or the officer can adopt the animal for himself/herself, or the officer can place the animal in a prisoner van and release it to an area where it will be safe for the animal.
If you choose to adopt the animal yourself or release it in a safe environment, DO NOT inform the complainant of your intentions.
Instead, the memo suggested that officers tell citizens the dog is “going to a nice farm in the country.”
Animal welfare advocates, rightfully, were enraged and called the policy both inhumane and illegal. Abandoning an animal is a crime in Pennsylvania, and here was a police official ordering that officers do exactly that, or worse, as a matter of policy.
“Police officers cannot play judge, jury and executioner in the case of a stray dog,” said Tom Hickey, a member of the governor’s Dog Law Advisory Board.
By the end of December, the city publicly declared the matter resolved, making the memo’s instructions a “moot” point, a spokesperson for the city’s mayor said.
We’d disagree with that. We’d say it’s not moot at all. And we’d suggest that the police captain who wrote the memo be driven somewhere out in the country, perhaps to a nice farm, where she would be safe.
It’s not entirely clear what, if any, definite terms have been agreed upon by the city and the humane society, but they are reportedly meeting and talking.
Worden reports that, according to animal rescuers, the shelter continues to turn away stray animals and that “police officers are telling the public they cannot help unless the dog is aggressive. In which case, according to the memo, they will be shot.”
Worden also reports that a Facebook petition drive has been started, called “Stop the Shooting of Dogs in Harrisburg.”
All that considered, Dusty Rose, the dog pictured at the top of this post, is lucky to have seen 2012.
A female pit bull, she was found outside a convenience store on New Year’s eve by a volunteer with Central Pennsylvania Animal Alliance (CPAA). The volunteer called 911, and a police officer arrived to tell her the only thing he was authorized to do was shoot the dog if it was aggressive.
Wadsworth told him she’d prefer to do without his services and called fellow CPAA volunteers to help round up the dog.
Dusty’ Rose is now receiving medical care at a veterinary hospital in York, where she is recovering from surgery to fix a prolapsed uterus. Donations to her care can be sent to CPAA or made through its website.
Posted by jwoestendiek January 4th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abandoned, abandonment, animal shelters, animal welfare, animals, budget, central pennsylvania animal alliance, contract, cpaa, crisis, destroy, disposal, dog law, dogs, dusty rose, email, finances, found, harrisburg, humane society, humane society of harrisburg, illegal, inhumane, memo, nice farm in the country, pennsylvania, petition, pets, philly dawg, pit bull, police, policy, release, rescues, shoot, stray dogs, strays
Better yet, I’ll spell it out: Single White Male in search of Single Female Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, and by LTR I mean not just long term relationship, but marriage.
I might be willing to give the institution another try, but only with a veterinarian.
This decision is based not only on certain financial realities with which I am confronted, not solely on being a journalist without a real job, but on my belief that anyone who has devoted her life to dogs — as long as they are not all self-righteous about it, or hoarding them — is going to be a good person.
So, yes, I plan to marry, and live happily ever after with, a yet-to-be-chosen veterinarian.
(The unidentified one in the photo above, which I found by Googling, would be fine, but I’m not sure if she’s a veterinarian or a model, or, since her left hand is hidden behind the dog’s ear, whether she’s spoken for.)
In the interest of being totally frank, even though my name is John — nice to meet you, do you come here often? – I will reiterate that at least part of this life choice is based on practical, in addition to any romantic, interests.
Ace is nearly 7, beginning to get up there for a big dog. I am 58 (though, by making it a point to take poor care of myself, I can manage to still pass for 60). I’m feeling quite fine today, but Ace is showing signs of another ailment.
He has taken to acting like a cow, but only at night.
While seeming otherwise fine, he has been exhibiting two unusual behaviors. The first is standing like a cow, declining both offers and orders to lay down. When he does finally consent to joining me on the couch, or bed, he insists on putting the front third of his body on top of me.
None of his appendages seem to be bothering him, and I’ve manipulated them all to no end. No other spot I press on seems to cause him any pain. His symptoms are not like those back-related ones he was experiencing a few months ago. He acts mostly normal during the day, but once night falls, he becomes a cow.
He’s eating regularly, his bowel movements are on schedule and his stool seems fine. (Mine, too, in case any potential suitors are wondering.)
I have Googled myself silly trying to figure it out. At one point, I was convinced it was carbon monoxide poisoning, because he was standing by the door a lot, as if to say we must leave the premises at once. When he went out, though, he did nothing, except stand like a cow some more. I went out and bought a carbon monoxide detector. It hasn’t gone off.
Last night, I began suspecting bloat, even though what’s going in, food-wise, seems to be coming out, and he doesn’t seem inflated.
I’ve even asked myself if his ailment might be something other than physical — a cognitive disorder, though it seems to early, stemming from his advancing years. But then I forget that I’ve asked myself that.
Each day he seems fine, recovered, running, playing and happy, and I cancel my plan to take him to the veterinarian. Then at night he becomes an unmoving cow again, but, unlike a cow, seems anxious about something.
So he’s going back to his vet, who’s not an option when it comes to my plan to return to wedlock with a DVM, as he is a he and he is married.
But how wonderful would it be, now and moreso in the future, to have someone right in the same house who could observe Ace’s behavior and — contrary to my uneducated guesswork — come up with an immediate diagnosis and treatment plan?
To spare me from the anguish — and, despite any jest herein, it is anguish — that comes with knowing something is bothering your dog and not being able to figure it out?
And perhaps, even though her background is in dog health, to detect any excessive panting, or drooling, or other warning signs, that I might be exhibiting myself?
Til death do us part.
What I haven’t mentioned yet — because it’s a small thing, which has only a slight bearing on my love for veterinarians — is neither Ace nor I have health insurance, and we’re both getting to an age where that might be handy.
If I married a kindly, female, financially secure, unattached veterinarian, I can only assume Ace would get free medical care — given that Ace would become her dog, unless we parted ways, in which case, as spelled out in a pre-nuptial agreement, full custody of Ace would revert to me.
And if, in addition to making a good living from being a veterinarian, one of those rare careers that actually has a future, she had her own human medical insurance — the kind that covered spouses — that would be some highly appreciated icing on the cake. That would just make our bond even stronger.
I think we would be very happy together.
Yes, I kind of like time and space to myself. Yes, I probably work too much, definitely too much for a person who’s unemployed. True, I can’t shower you with luxurious or expensive things, but I do occasionally shower. I’m probably not “a catch.” As I’ve already stated, I will be 60 in a couple of years.
Nevertheless – and I”m going down on one knee now — I ask you, female veterinarian, will you marry me?
And, whatever your answer, can you help me back up?
(Photo: From Topcollegesonline)
Posted by jwoestendiek December 16th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, ailment, ailments, animals, behavior, bloat, cow, diagnosis, dog, dogs, dvm, female, finances, health, health insurance, insurance, ltr, marriage, marry me, medicine, pets, proposal, sick, standing, symptoms, travels with ace, veterinarian, veterinary, wedlock
Yesterday, in updating you on Ace’s miracle recovery, we acknowledged in a backhanded kind of way all the prayers and well wishes you sent his way.
Allow us to do it in a forehanded way, too: Thank you.
Ace remains, from all appearances, over whatever it was that seemed to make him lose control of half of his 130-pound body on Monday.
He’s raring to go, darting all over the place when I take him outside, grabbing my hand in his mouth to pull me along for what he’d like to be a long walk. He seems to have totally forgotten the condition he was in two days ago. I, on the other hand, have not, and so, like an over-protective parent, offer up the kind of buzzkill only humans can provide.
“Let’s wait one more day. Slow down. Be careful. Stop frolicking, dammit.”
It’s the main difference between dogs and people. He being a dog, doesn’t let his past, even recent-as-yesterday past, bring him down. He doesn’t let fears of the future dictate his behavior, or maybe he knows better than me that the possibility of being hobbled tomorrow is all the more reason to run your ass off today.
I don’t know if your responses made Ace better, but they absolutely served that purpose for me. (I have more friends than I thought — or at least he does — and lots of them are strangers.)
Through comments left on ohmidog! and Travels with Ace, through personal emails and phone calls, we heard from several dozen people, including a few of those we encountered during the past year as we criss-crossed America.
Our intent in Travels with Ace was not to bog you down with reports of our physical ailments, not to bemoan the obstacles we were confronted with, not to get all cantankerous about the small stuff life throws our way.
Just as we didn’t ignore the country’s warts, we shared our personal bad moments, too – not to evoke sympathy, not to tug at heartstrings, but to reflect reality. The same holds true of our financial condition. Being unemployed was one of things that sparked the trip; and traveling, with the dog, on a shoestring, was an exercise in frugality mandated by the times and my own personal economic situation.
I, like a lot of Americans, and like America, am having trouble paying my bills.
Embarassing as that may be, I’ve admitted it — far more often than my mother would like me to — and I acknowledged again during Ace’s trauma that, short of draining what little remains in the old 401 K and pulling off a heist of some sort, I’m likely not in a position to scrounge up what any surgery he needed would probably cost.
One of the people we heard from yesterday was a woman who offered to pay for any veterinary care Ace needed. We declined her kind offer, given Ace’s recovery. I wrote her back, thanking her, telling her Ace seemed to be doing fine now, and, for some reason, baring my soul. (Apparently, much like a stripper, I will bare my soul for tips, or even the offer of them.) I explained to her how, in selfish pursuit of doing what I want to do, I’ve decided to scrape by without a job, and in the process have become an insufficient provider.
Putting personal dreams above salary and health insurance may be noble, or it may just be stupid. In any event it’s a choice that, for me, leads to some feelings of guilt during times like this week — times that seem to say, “Get a job, doofus.”
I did suggest she buy my book, which would add several cents to my portfolio.
She wrote back: “That’s wonderful news about Ace, John! I bought your book long ago, it’s how I discovered your blog and “met” Ace. It’s a fascinating book, btw, you’re a compelling writer. I understand your reservations about the money – been there, done that, so to speak. Ace is your family though, and by virtue of your blog, he’s my friend, so I hope it will never be necessary but if it should become necessary, I hope you would let his friends help. And pursuing your dreams is a great way to spend a life. Give Ace a good belly rub for me!”
The belly rub has been given, her compliments have been read and re-read (they serve as a belly rub to me), and her email address has been put in a file marked guardian angels, in the second drawer of the file cabinet on the right. (I write that here in case I forget, should I ever need to find it.)
Wrote another total stranger, upon reading of Ace’s improvement, “ …Amen And Pass The Kibble that Ace is doing well this morning. Having read ohmidog! for the past few years, you and Ace are a couple o’ ramblers that I’ve come to care about in that funny internet way. You just about killed me when you described losing your composure when he leaned on you. I know, I know! I was with you, in that moment. I was with you yesterday in the midst of your nerve-wracking vet visit with an IV bag tied to your roof rack. That would be why you’re an award-winning journalist. Big hugs to both of you, and if you’re ever in the upstate NY area, give a holler on-blog beforehand. We would love to meet “our” sweet Ace. Oh, and you, too, of course. You know how it is.”
More belly rubs for me, but, more than that, it was another note that reinforced what we learned during our travels: However down America might be right now, its people, and its dogs, are a resilient bunch; and people still care about people, especially dog people.
Having invited any theories readers might have, I also heard from several people offering guesses on what it might have been that knocked Ace’s legs out from under him
“My vote still goes with ‘ate something that disagreed with him.’ I woke up absolutely dreading this day for a number of reasons. I checked here before I even looked at the news. Now I’m smiling. You guys stay cool, and we’ll keep rolling out those prayers and good thoughts.”
That one was from Anne, one of several from my friend, technical consultant on internetty issues and web space provider in Baltimore, who, though she lost her husband at the end of last month, though both she and her beagle are still working through the grieving process, took the time to pass on her best wishes.
Some thought it might be heat related, and another reader suspected tick paralysis.
“I’m so glad ACE seems to have had a spontaneous recovery! We had a situation eerily similar to what you described with a newfie mix of ours several years ago. Our vet diagnosed tick paralysis (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tick_paralysis), which he had seen kill several dogs over the years. I had never heard of it, despite living in a state where Lyme and such are common. I thought I’d mention it since our vet said there are a lot of vets who aren’t familiar with it due to its rarity. Warm hugs to Ace!”
And, after our initial report on Ace’s affliction, there were many like this — both from people I know and people I’ve never met:
“I’m crying, and my own dogs are wondering why. Much love and all of our support to both Ace and you. Nothing scarier, for me at least, than a sick pup. Please keep us updated. You two are FAMILY.”
The pesky part of me wanted to write back and ask if my room is ready and what we were having for dinner tonight. Here’s the thing — some of my friends, possibly even some of those stranger friends I’ve never even met, would say come on over. However cash poor America is, it’s rich that way.
We send thanks, too, to Dr. Raymond Morrison, Ace’s vet at Ard-Vista Animal Hospital, here in Winston-Salem, who went beyond the call of duty — and didn’t charge for it — when I ran back into his office after our visit to inform him Ace was copiously vomiting in the back of my car. He strung an IV bag to my roof rack and had a technician adminster about 20 minutes worth of a subcutaneous drip that seemed to immediately improve both Ace’s panting and his legs.
Once he was back home and out of the car, the ailment seemed to disappear as quickly, and mysteriously, as it had arrived.
That we’re living a somewhat insulated life here — partly by choice, in pursuit of another dream, which is to turn our travels into a book — made all the comments and notes, from old friends and new ones alike, worth even more.
What restored Ace’s legs back to full power may be a mystery, but it’s no mystery what reconfirmed my faith in humanity.
It was you.
(Graphic: Pawprint thank you card available at Etsy.com)
Posted by jwoestendiek August 3rd, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, ailment, america, americans, animals, belly rubs, control, dogs, dreams, economy, faith, finances, friends, heat, humanity, legs, letters, mystery, notes, ohmidog!, pets, recovery, resilience, road trip, strangers, support, thank you, thanks, tick paralysis, travels with ace, veterinarian, veterinary
Ex-Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick outlined his bankruptcy plan for more than three hours in court Friday, but a federal bankruptcy judge rejected the proposal and sent him back to the drawing board.
U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Frank J. Santoro rejected the proposal because it seemed too dependent on Vick returning to professional football. Santoro said there is no guarantee the league will have the 28-year-old player back, and suggested he develop a new plan that included liquidating one or both of his Virginia homes and three cars he had planned to keep.
Vick remains indefinitely suspended, and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has not said whether he will reinstate Vick after his July release from the federal penitentiary in Kansas where he is serving a 23-month sentence for a dogfighting conspiracy.
Vick said his plans include marrying his fiancee next summer and working a $10-an-hour construction job as part of his probation until he can resume his football career, according to an Associated Press report.
Once one of the NFL’s highest-paid players, Vick’s lavish spending and poor investments, coupled with the backlash from his dogfighting case, led to his financial downfall.
Vick said he has accepted full responsibility for his crime, including bankrolling the Bad Newz Kennels dogfighting operation and personally helping to kill some dogs that fared poorly in test fights.
Vick’s other prospects, his lawyers said, include a television documentary deal that will pay him $600,000. There were also hints of a possible book deal. “There are serious and respected people in the literary arts world working on Mr. Vick’s behalf,” he said.
He could be transferred to home confinement at his eastern Virginia home by late May, and Vick’s agent has said that he hopes the player can return to the NFL by September.
Posted by jwoestendiek April 5th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: atlanta falcons, bankruptcy, book, confinement, court, deal, documentary, dogfighting, federal, finances, home release, michael vick, nfl, plan, prison, quarterback, release, sentence