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
Alyssa Milano, whose pleas to help feed hungry children can be seen on TV, may be responsible for a South Korean family missing a few meals.
On the other hand, she helped save a dog.
An abused and neglected dog that drew the attention of a South Korean animal rescue group — a dog that the organization said was being raised for its meat — has been flown to the U.S., her airfare covered by the actress.
The Fuzzy Pet Foundation in California acknowledged Milano’s contribution to rescuing the dog in this video , posted on YouTube last week.
The foundation learned of the dog’s situation in April of 2013 when it was contacted by CARE, a South Korean animal rescue organization that was seeking to find the dog a new home.
The dog, a Jindo who was given the name Bomi (derived from the word “spring” in Korean), was being raised by a family that, after repeatedly breeding her, planned to eat her, officials at the two organizations said.
She had been chained to a metal pole and was covered with mange and open sores, rescuers said. CARE said she had been bred several times, and that a recent litter of her puppies was found dead and frozen. CARE treated Bomi’s skin problems, and went to work trying to socialize her.
After being contacted by the South Korean group, The Fuzzy Pet Foundation began looking into shipping the dog to the U.S., and making arrangements for foster care and veterinary care.
“As responsible rescuers, we wanted to make sure we could provide Bomi with top-notch veterinary care, and secure her a forever home,” said Sheila Choi, founder and CEO of the foundation. “We also wanted to have a proper plan in place so that we were not just naively flying an animal to a different country without considering the animal overpopulation crisis happening everywhere in this world.”
Milano, whose ads for UNICEF seek to raise funds to feed hungry children, offered to pay Bomi’s airfare.
Bomi flew from Seoul to Los Angeles on November 12, and has been living in a foster home.
“This has been a magical time for all of us who have worked so hard to rescue Bomi,” Choi said. “We are truly humbled by Alyssa’s support, and honored to be in the position to save these precious lives.”
A small percentage of South Koreans still eat dog — mostly the poor, but also some well-heeled types who believe dog meat improves their health and renews their vigor. (South Korea is also the capital of dog cloning, though those efforts have been focused on pet dogs, as opposed to livestock dogs.)
Bomi, at last report, was still available for adoption. Inquiries can be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted by John Woestendiek January 7th, 2014 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: adopt, alyssa milano, animal, animal welfare, bomi, care, cloning, dog, dog farms, dog meat, dogs, farm, farm dogs, foster, fuzzy pet foundation, jindo, korea, los angeles, meat, pets, rescue, seoul, sheila choi, south korea
Eight months after she was stabbed seven times with a steak knife, Chloe the Shih Tzu lives in a new and happy home with a veterinarian who works at the animal hospital where she was treated for her injuries.
“…She certainly hasn’t let it get her down,” said Abby Dunlap, of Vienna, Va., who took the patient home after it was decided her previous owner shouldn’t get her back.
The three-year-old dog, formerly known as Coco, was living with her owner in Southeast D.C. when the owner’s brother, claiming the dog was Satan, stabbed her seven times, according to the Washington Times
Miraculously, no vital organs were hit, and Chloe, after being stitched and bandaged, recovered.
Police took her to the animal hospital, where it was discovered that, miraculously, the knife had not hit any vital organs.
“She was very lucky,” said Scott Giacoppo, a spokesman for the Washington Humane Society. ”…I’ve seen animals stabbed, beaten, set on fire and discarded like trash. It’s horrible. But we get stories like Chloe’s and it brings a smile to our faces that we can make a difference.”
Dunlap said she and her husband had just lost their own dog when they volunteered to foster Chloe.
“It took a little bit of time for me to trust her and figure out if we wanted to keep her.”
But now Chloe has bonded — with Dunlap, her husband, their children and other dogs in the neighborhood, she says.
(Photo: Washington Times)
Posted by John Woestendiek June 18th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abby dunlap, adopted, animal cruelty, animal hospital, animals, dog, dogs, foster, pets, recovery, shih-tzu, stabbed, steak knife, vet, veterinarian, veterinary, virginia, washington
An Indiana dog who lost all eight of her pups at birth is now nursing six newborn pups left orphaned after the tornadoes in Oklahoma.
The Indiana dog, a 2-year-old Rottweiler mix living at a shelter in South Bend, was close to giving birth, but also close to being put down, when she was rescued by Second Chance 4 Pets Network and taken in as a foster by one of the group’s volunteers.
After a prolonged period of labor the dog, named Bertha, was taken to the vet.
“…They did an emergency C-section on her but all of her puppies, eight of them, were dead,” said JoAnn Palko, president and founder of Second Chance 4 Pets.
The group put word out to other rescues in the region, saying they had a lactating dog who could help if any group had puppies who needed to nurse — and that’s when they heard from another rescue, that had just acquired six newborn pups from an Oklahoma City shelter, according to NWI.com.
In the wake of the tornadoes there, a homeless and pregnant pit bull-shepherd mix ended up in a shelter. Staff deemed her aggressive. (Uunder those circumstances, who wouldn’t be?) After giving birth, she was put down.
Her six orphaned pups, rescued by Lakeshore PAWS, were brought to Merrillville to meet Bertha.
“She was unsure at first, but the foster got into the pool with her and she started cleaning them right away,” Pelko said.
“Here they had this sad mom and we had these puppies who needed help,” said Jeanne Sommer, director of Lakeshore PAWS said. “It worked out great for all of us.”
The puppies, who are just over a week old, are thriving, Palko said.
Second Chance is now considering training Bertha to be a therapy dog.
Posted by John Woestendiek June 5th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: bertha, foster, homeless, lactating, lakeshore paws, merrillville, newborn, nursed, nursing, oklahoma, pregnant, pup, puppies, rescue, rottweiler, second chance 4 pets, shelter, south bend, tornadoes
Or it could have been the love.
Misty, only nine months old, was found on a Brooklyn street corner earlier this month, covered in wounds and bites from being used as a bait dog.
She was placed in a city shelter, then pulled by Second Chance Rescue, which moved her into a foster home. On Friday, she escaped from the backyard of that home.
Friends and neighbors joined in on the weekend-long search. Thousands of flyers were posted, and a $2,000 reward was offered. More than $4,500 was quickly raised to help in the search, and more than 14,000 people had, by Monday, “liked” her Facebook page.
But it was bacon — not social media — that apparently led to her safe return.
“The whole thing is unbelievable,” Misty’s foster mom, Erin Early-Hamilton, told NJ.com.
When someone suggested slapping some bacon on the backyard grill to lure the dog home, Early-Hamilton — despite being a vegan — was willing to give it a try.
She was sitting in a chair, and her husband was at the grill, when Misty came wandering home around 2 p.m. Monday.
Posted by John Woestendiek May 21st, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abuse, animals, backyard, bacon, bait dog, dog fighting, dogfighting, dogs, foster, grill, lost, missing, misty, new jersey, new york, pets, pit bull, pit bulls, pitbull, pitbulls, rescue, return, runaway, scent, second chance rescue, shelter, smell
And that’s even more the case after surgery yesterday to remove 2-1/2 pounds of loose skin from the dog who once tipped the scales at 77 pounds.
Obie was recovering at the Emergency Veterinary Clinic of Tualatin, in Oregon, after surgery to remove the excess skin that remained after he lost 40 pounds in 8 months.
Obie’s caretaker, Nora Vanatta, says the surgery went well and that she hopes to bring him home today, according to KGW in Portland.
Obie weighed 77 pounds when he was given up by his former owners in Puyallup, Washington, last year and assigned to a foster home by a rescue organization.
Oregon Dachshund Rescue placed Obie — that’s him to the left in his beefier days — in Vanatta’s care. But after his girth garnered national attention the organization asked for the dog back, claiming Vanatta — by publicizing his crash diet and seeking contributions to his care — was exploiting him.
When Vanatta refused to turn him over, they filed a lawsuit, accusing her of using the “sensationalistic promotional value of his unusual obesity” and “earning money off of his public exhibition on national and regional television shows,” while not taking care of his condition.
A settlement in the case was reached in January, allowing Vanatta to keep the dog.
Before the Tuesday surgery, Obie was down to 37 pounds and four ounces.
“We haven’t weighed him since the surgery, but he lost 2 1/2 pounds of skin” Vanatta said. “So he should be around 35 pounds now. I figure his healthy weight is between 28 and 30 pounds.”
For now, he’s resting comfortably at the veterinary clinic (left), from which he’s expected to be released today — a few pounds lighter and his skin much tigher.
Vets will evaluate Obie to determine if more surgery is needed after he loses the last five pounds, a goal Vanatta hopes will be achieved late this summer.
Obie’s fight with obesity can be followed on the Facebook page Vanatta created on his behalf.
Posted by John Woestendiek May 1st, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: 35 pounds, 77 pounds, animals, biggest loser, custody, dachshund, dispute, dogs, doxie, emergency veterinary clinic, excess, facebook, fat, foster, health, loss, nora vanatta, obese, obesity, obie, oregon, oregon dachshund rescue, overweight, pets, removed, rescue, skin, surgery, tualatin, veterinary, washington, weight