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Tag: fundraising

This Salvation Army bell ringer has 4 legs, and he seems to hit just the right notes

As any good panhandler knows, a cute dog can help boost donations.

There’s no reason that street wisdom shouldn’t be applied to the kettle as well.

In Indiana, a family raising money for the local Salvation Army has called upon their Leonberger, Alvin, to help the cause — and trained the 155-pound dog to be the bell ringer.

alvinJulia and Steve Roberts say it took just a few minutes to train Alvin to ring the bells on a special stand they made for him.

And when he does, they note, he draws the kind of crowd they alone can’t.

The volunteers bring Alvin along for their two hour shifts, such as one last week outside a Kroger, and another one coming up Friday at Walmart.

“People can’t resist,” Julia says. “That’s the plan.”

This is Alvin’s fourth year to ring bells for Salvation Army and he’s still drawing a crowd.

To keep him on task the couple rewards him during the shift with treats of venison, cheese, cookies and turkey, according to the Palladium-Item in Richmond, Indiana.

In addition to being a fund raiser, Alvin, 5, is a therapy dog, and works at local hospitals and rehabilitation centers, and in school programs focused on anti-bullying, reading, and pet care and safety.

Those who recognize Alvin from his therapy work often dig a little deeper and throw a little extra in the pot, the couple says.

Last year, a woman stopped and put several bills in the kettle for herself and her mother each time Alvin rang bells. Alvin had visited her mother while she was hospitalized.

“She said it made her and her mother feel so much better that she wanted to repay us,” Julia Roberts said.

In 2013, Julia said, the couple and Alvin raised about $100 per hour for the Salvation Army during the holiday season.

Alvin also has his own Facebook page called Alvin’s Therapy Fan Club.

(Photo: Joshua Smith / Palladium-Item)

Sheriff department’s dog raffle called off after flood of complaints on social media


The Cleveland County Sheriff’s Department in North Carolina has been holding a dog raffle for years, but this year’s contest has been called off after a flood of criticism on social media.

The raffle, held to raise money for the department’s canine unit, is part of the county fair and it offers a chance to win a German shepherd pup for $1.

But after posting details of this year’s raffle on its Facebook page, the department drew thousands of complaints — most of them calling the contest irresponsible and objecting to randomly awarding a dog to a family that had not been screened first.

“I’m sure this is being done with good intentions. However, please reconsider,” one resident wrote. “You have no way of knowing what kind of home this pup will go to… Perhaps you could pair up with the local shelter and do a fundraiser with them and in turn encourage residents to adopt from the shelter.”

Cleveland County Sheriff Alan Norman did not comment on what precautions might be taken to screen the raffle winner when contacted by the Shelby Star.

But Captain Richard Acuff later said the sheriff’s office has used a screening process in the past, including a visit to the winner’s house to make sure it’s a safe environment.

Nevertheless, on Friday, the sheriff’s office posted notice on its Facebook page that the raffle was cancelled:

“The Cleveland County Sheriff’s Office has cancelled the raffle for the German shepherd puppy that was going to be raffled at the Cleveland County Fair. Our original post did not state that in the past years we have required the person that won the drawing to be subjected to Cleveland County’s Animal Adoption Policy.

“Due to the overwhelming outcry we have teamed with a reputable 501.C3 animal rescue that has agreed to help in finding a suitable owner for this puppy… The Sheriff’s Office will be looking into other fundraising projects to help support our K-9 program. If you purchased tickets you will be contacted and your money will be refunded.”

A spokesperson for a local animal rescue group says the raffle is risky because the puppy could end up in the wrong hands.

“Just because someone can afford a dollar for a raffle does not mean that they can afford lifelong care for an animal,” Brianna Duffy, a spokesperson with Catering to Cats and Dogs told Fox 46 News.

“We rescue a lot of dogs that have been used as bait dogs, dogs that have been sold to any person on the side of the road to just have it for their own personal use, which is not positive,” she added.

A GoFundMe page was set up Friday on behalf of the sheriff’s department.

Posted by The American Pit Bull Foundation in Charlotte, it seeks to raise enough funds to cover what the sheriff department would have made through the raffle.

Left for dead, pit bull’s tail is still wagging


She was a truck stop dog — or at least that’s where she seemed to spend most of her time.

Having no real home, and no official owner, she could most often be found at a truck stop in Moses Lake, Wash., taking advantage of the kindness of truckers and others who would pat her on the head and toss some food her way.

Sometime in February, she appeared to have met the fate of many a wandering stray. She was hit by a car on the highway and injured so severely that someone thought it best to put her out of her misery.

She was struck on the head with a hammer and left in a ditch.

A few days later the white pit bull mix —  dirty, limping and emaciated — showed up at a farm outside of town, with her tail wagging.

A farmhand took her to Moses Lake Veterinary Hospital, and the owner-less dog’s plight ended up being posted on Facebook.

When Sara Mellado, a Mose Lake resident, read the post, she offered to provide the dog a temporary home. Mellado, whose German shepherd had died just two weeks earlier, named the dog Theia.

“Considering everything that she’s been through, she’s incredibly gentle and loving,” Mellado said. “She’s a true miracle dog, and she deserves a good life.”

Since then, Mellado has made several trips to Washington State University’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital in Pullman, where Theia has been treated for leg injuries, a dislocated jaw, and multiple fractures in her nasal bones that are believed to be a result of the hammer blows.

“When I brought her home, she hardly slept because breathing was such a chore,” said Mellado.

The veterinary hospital’s Good Samaritan Fund committee awarded $700 to help pay for Theia’s treatment, and a GoFundMe campaign started by Mellado has, as of today, raised $12,000 — $2,000 more than its goal.

The money will be used to pay for Theia’s nasal passage surgery which will inolve installing  a stent to help reopen her nasal passages.

The surgery is scheduled for April 22, according to Washington State University News.

(Photo: Washington State University News)

A hard hitting ad from guide dog foundation

This public service ad for a Dutch service dog foundation certainly isn’t the typical “awwww”-invoking stuff you see from do-gooders trying to raise some money.

It’s pretty chilling, as is its tagline: “We not only help people who cannot see, but also those who have seen too much”

The ad was made for the Royal Dutch Guide Dog Foundation (KNGF Geleidehonden), which in addition to supplying guide dogs for the blind, also trains assistance dogs for veterans coping with PTSD and other war-induced traumas.

Established in 1935, the organization has trained over 5,000 dogs for guide dog users in various parts of the Netherlands.

The ad won the the Gouden Loeki (a Dutch commercial award) in 2014.

Are we animal lovers just too gullible?


I would no more stereotype animal lovers than I would pit bulls, and yet I have to ask the question:

Are we an overly gullible lot, more likely to be taken advantage of by greedy and unsavory types?

As a rule, yes. As scammers and schemers have realized, our overflowing empathy and eagerness to help an animal in need often overrule our powers of deductive reasoning, leading us to whip out the checkbook and contribute to some pretty suspicious “causes.”

We are going to use the Grieving Rottweiler as our example here — not to say that the owner of that dog (who is asking dog lovers to help him buy a house so he can rescue more dogs) is a scammer or a schemer, but only because his fundraising drive, as explained by him, is so full of conflicting information, question marks and red flags.

We raised questions about it earlier this week, after Brett Bennett of Seattle posted a video of his Rottweiler, Brutus, appearing to mourn the death of his fellow Rottweiler, Hank. His YouTube post links to an indiegogo page aimed at raising money to buy “a house in the country.”

“Don’t let Hanks passing die in vein (sic )with him,” Bennett asks. Instead, he urges people to give Hank’s death some meaning, and honor the dog’s legacy, by making cash contributions so he can buy a house and some acreage in the country.

The viral video of “Brutus grieving” was nearing 4 million views yesterday.

Between the summary he posted there, his indiegogo page, his Rottweiler rescue website, and what he has posted on his Facebook page (which disappeared the day before yesterday), one has to wonder about what a tangled web he has woven — lie-wise — since he first started trying to raise money through his dogs. (Not to mention how a man who describes himself as homeless can be so active on the Internet.)

That Facebook page included photos of Rottweilers fighting, him recounting a plan to sell his Rottweilers to drug dealers, background information on the dogs that vastly differs from what he has stated elsewhere and this warning to a commenter who questioned his motivations:

“F— off, you tweaker white trash c—.”

Bennett raised over $6000 in January to help him and his dogs find a rental property. Then, a week after Hank died, he started another fundraiser to raise an additional $100,000 to help him purchase a home.

As it turns out, one woman has been raising questions about him for a while — Anne Fromm, who, in an attempt to spread the word about his activities, started this “Social Media Scammer” Facebook page.

It points out some of the many discrepancies in the online accounts Bennett has provided, including in the story of Hank’s death.

“Ask WHY he never took the dog to the vet if it was dying, instead videotaped it, for the tearjerker points and the funds that poured in. Is the dog even dead? Or will he show up miraculously in a few more months when Brett needs more money?”

Fromm points out that Bennett has said the dogs are twins, from the same litter. Yet he has also said one was 2 and one was 4 when he took them in.

Bennett said he awoke to find Hank dead, but he also says, in another account, that he held him in his arms when he was dying.

Mainstream media outlets have carried the video of the “grieving Rottweiler,” and helped catapult it to viral-ness, but none apparently had the time to look into its veracity.

As of yesterday, as far as I could see, only this blogBuzzfeed and Seattle Dog Spot had questioned Bennett’s accounts and actions.

Seattle Dog Spot reported that records from VCA Animal Hospital show Bennett took Hank to be cremated on January 22, but the video of Hank’s death was uploaded on January 20. “What did he do with the body of a 150-pound Rottweiler for 2 days?” the blog asks.

That form also showed an address for the homeless man.

Seattle Dog Spot also reported a text message exchange in which Bennett told someone who was questioning how he spent donated money, “They gave me money and I am using the money to pay off my legal matters and for my everyday bills. I can pretend to spend it on whatever these gullable (sic) people will believe.”

Those are just a few of the disconcerting conflicts in Bennett’s story, all of which anyone with enough time could have found on the Internet.

But, dog lovers being trusting and good-hearted sorts, few did.

Dog lovers tend to believe, and they tend to react, and they tend to want to save, if not the world, at least its dogs — all admirable traits.

Schemers and their schemes, in addition to taking money from them, stand to also take away something even more important — their faith.

Do we need something that protects those so committed to protecting, say a Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animal Lovers?

No, but dog lovers do, unfortunately, need at least a tiny grain of cynicism within, enough to consider the possibility that what on the surface appears to be a worthy cause might not be.

When it comes to fund-raising drives being conducted by individuals, and all we know about those individual comes from what they’ve posted online, we need to exercise due diligence — or at least a little diligence — to separate those who are pretending to care about dogs from those who are seeking only our dollars.

(Photo: Bennett, Hank and Brutus, as pictured on the Rottweiler Twins Animal Rescue website)

The case of the grieving Rottweiler

I eschew anthropomorphism. I eat meat. I am neither touchy nor feely. Yet even I, a (mostly) cynical and unemotional sort, couldn’t help feeling some emotions rise up in me when watching this video of a Rottweiler seemingly grieving the death of his litter mate.

It was posted on YouTube last month, by a Seattle man who says he awoke to find one of his Rottweilers dead, and the other resting his head atop the deceased dog, refusing to move.

“Clearly you can see in his eyes, he is crying for his brother who had passed as his world around him just crumbled. We both grieve and cry for our brother … This is proof that animals DO have emotions and feel pain just like we do,” Brett Bennett wrote in the YouTube post.

I, being a cynic, question some of that, particularly the crying — I’m not sure dogs shed actual tears of emotion. But I do believe dogs have emotions, and can feel sadness. 

What I question much more than whether Brutus is truly grieving, though, is how Bennett is using the video to get online donations to buy himself a house in the country.

On the post, he provides a link to an Indiegogo page he created, seeking donations he says will be used to provide housing for himself (he says he’s homeless) and his dogs (he says he has four).

In fairness, he began the campaign before Hank died in late January, initially seeking enough money for a security deposit and first and last month’s rent required to rent a home.

Since reaching that goal, and since the death of Hank, he has apparently set his sights higher:

Under the headline “Help Grieving Rottweiler Buy a New Home ,” he explains, ”before Hank passed, we had started a fundraiser to help us into a nice warm home and off the streets … We have succeeded in our goal, but have been approached by animal lovers from around the world to reach for the stars and to ask for donations to not rent, but to own a home.

“As everyone knows, it is very hard to rent a place with a Rottweiler or with several rescue animals. It would give us the option to rescue as many animals in need or as possible. Our mission goal, our dream, is to buy a house out in the country, on some acreage, with the ability to freely rescue and foster as many animals that we can…”

I applaud his stated intentions — to rescue more animals — and I have no problem with people who are experiencing hard times seeking the public’s help, or with the public providing it.

But even assuming Bennett and his plea are all on the up and up, it still strikes me as a rather bold request. Asking for help to pay for a life-saving veterinary procedure is one thing; asking us to help buy a house in the country for him and his dogs is quite another. And recording and broadcasting the heartstring-tugging reaction of Brutus to the death of Hank may be laying it on so thick as to border, in my opinion, on exploitation.

(Then again, the same could be said of those ultra-sad ads some animal welfare organizations use in their quests to raise funds.)

“Don’t let Hanks passing die in vein (sic )with him,” Bennett asks, “Please share our story.”

So I’m kind of doing that, with obvious reservations.

Being cynical, I’m a little wary of pleas by dog owners appealing to the public for financial help via crowdfunding websites like Indiegogo. There’s really no way to know — short of playing detective yourself  – which ones are legit, and which ones are scams.

With his video of Brutus going viral — more than 2.5 million views as of last weekend — and with it bringing in advertising revenue as well, I suspect Bennett is on his way to amassing a decent down payment, and he’s definitely showing some initiative.

But as with another dog-related story I’ve covered at length, pet cloning, there’s something distasteful about turning people’s tears and grief into big bucks.

Bennett says on his Facebook page for the dogs that he suspects Hank died of a broken heart.

“I’m so sorry you guys … I wasn’t strong enough and had a breakdown in front of the dogs. Hank was right by my side with his Therapy Dog service and grieved with me as I was so upset. He looked so sad. I noticed Hank never came out of his grievance and stopped eating. He was still drinking and nibbling on food so I thought he was okay. A week later Brutus and I awoke to his peaceful body next to us as he passed in the night in his sleep.”

He says the video was shot “about 30 minutes after we woke up and were missing our baby. I normally don’t video record my real life catastrophes or share but decided I needed to send a message to the world and show how much pain my dog was in as he loved his Twin so much.”

Bennett says Brutus is weeping on the video. And, in it, you can hear Bennett sobbing himself. I’m not suggesting any of it is fake. I’m no expert on human emotions, or animal emotions. Is there really any difference between the two? I don’t know, but my hunch is, based on how the video is so blatantly being used to raise money, that it’s the reaction of Brutus that may be more sincere.

Caffeine and canines: LA Dog Cafe would showcase adoptable dogs


Here’s an idea we love — an establishment where you can get your caffeine fix and your canine fix at the same time.

It’s a dog cafe — a cozy and comfortable place where, in addition to enjoying a nice cup of coffee or tea, you can meet, bond with and pet a few dogs, and maybe even take one home.

A woman in Los Angeles, putting a new twist on what up to now has been an Asian concept, is trying to start up America’s first dog cafe — called, appropriately enough, the Dog Cafe.

“The Dog Cafe’s mission is simple. We want to provide a second chance for shelter dogs that are often overlooked,”  founder Sarah Wolfgang told LA Weekly. ”The Dog Cafe is going to put a spin on the way people adopt by totally reinventing the way we connect with homeless dogs.”

In addition to showcasing adoptable dogs in a warmer environment than most shelters offer, the cafe will allow Los Angeles residents who can’t have dogs to get a doggy fix — thereby soothing nerves frazzled by traffic jams and making workday stresses disappear.

(And maybe lowering their blood pressure at least as much as that cup of coffee is raising it.)

Allowing the petless to spend some time with pets was the idea behind pet cafes that popped up in Japan, Korea and other Asian countries. For the price of a coffee or tea, patrons — many of whom live in small crowded apartments and can’t have pets of their own — can sit in a restaurant and pet, cuddle, interact with and be surrounded by dogs, or cats.

Finding the animals homes wasn’t their purpose, but Wolfgang, who once worked at private animal shelters in Korea, saw the possibilities.

The Dog Cafe in Los Angeles will have adoption as its primary mission, but not its only one.

sarahwolfgang“The Dog Cafe is for everyone,” Wolfgang said. “We want people to come in and cuddle with our pooches even if they aren’t interested in adopting.”

Working with rescue groups, the Dog Cafe will be stocked with dozens of adoptable dogs, who will roam the shop and hang out with customers.

The coffee will come from Santa Monica–based coffee roaster Grounds & Hounds Coffee Co., whose blends include Alpha Blend, Morning Walk Blend and Paper & Slippers Blend. The company donates 20 percent of its profit from each purchase to a local shelter.

Because of L.A. Health Department regulations, the cafe must be divided into two areas, keeping the drink service counter and “dog zone” separated.

She’s now raising funds — here’s her page on indiegogo – to help start the cafe.

“Our goal is to find forever homes for at least 104 dogs within the first year, though we are anticipating to reach a much higher number,” the page says. “Our project will reinvent the way people view adopting dogs and will give dogs that seemed ‘unadoptable,’ a chance at their very own forever home.”

The Dog Cafe would benefit both dogs and humans, she said — and not just those humans who adopt a pet.

“… Even if you’re not looking to adopt, you can still enjoy all of the sloppy kisses you’ve ever wanted.”