Tag: social media
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
An animal sanctuary in Ohio, after watching how successful the Ice Bucket Challenge has been as a fundraiser for ALS research, has launched a similar campaign to raise money for its shelter, challenging people to pick up dog or cat feces — with their bare hands.
The gimmick is similar to the Ice Bucket Challenge — but way more disgusting. Participants videotape themselves picking up poop, and post the video on the Internet, nominating friends and family to either take the challenge or make a donation to the shelter. ($25 is suggested.)
In a post on its Facebook page, The Island Safe Harbor Animal Sanctuary in Port Clinton, Ohio, announced the “Poop Pickup Challenge” on Saturday:
“We at Island Safe Harbor Animal Sanctuary are starting our own challenge. It is something that if you are a dog or cat lover have probably ALL done at one time or another. We want you to challenge people (hopefully germ haters) to a ‘Free-hand poop’ Event.”
“We’re just trying to do something to raise funds for the sanctuary,” Nancy Benevento, CEO of the sanctuary, told The Toledo Blade. “Hands can be washed.”
As proof that the whole thing isn’t entirely tongue in cheek, Benevento got the campaign rolling by picking up — with her bare hands — a pile left by a bull mastiff at the sanctuary.
People are challenged to record themselves picking up dog or cat feces barehanded, post it to social media using the hashtag #pooppickupchallenge, and then challenge their family and friends. Those who are challenged and prefer not to pick up are asked to donate $25 to the sanctuary.
Benevento said she tried to make the challenge so revolting that people would wind up donating rather than completing it.
We think she succeeded on that last account, and we think picking up dog poop is far more earth-friendly than pouring ice water over oneself. (Or one’s dog.)
But concerns about health and hygiene should send this challenge to the Dumpster.
Filling up a bucket with dog poop and disposing of it, rather than the bare hands requirement, might have been a better challenge — and it should be poop from dogs other than your own. Picking that up is your job, anyway.
Those behind the challenge do suggest that anyone taking part should wash their hands afterwards. They advise picking up poop only from animals you know are healthy — though often one would have no way of knowing that. On top of that, they recommend you not do it with a hand that has any open cuts. And children, they add, should not be allowed to participate.
We’d say all those disclaimers pretty much take all the fun out of it — if there was any fun in it in the first place.
As much as we’re in favor of poop being picked up, and funds being raised for shelters, we think this idea is need of a lot of fine tuning.
For that reason and others, Mrs. Benevento, bold and well-intentioned as your challenge is, we’re not inclined to take it, and forgive us for not wanting to shake your hand right now.
Posted by John Woestendiek August 27th, 2014 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: als, animals, bare handed, bare hands, challenges, dog, dogs, donations, feces, fund raising, gimmicks, ice bucket challenge, island safe harbor animal sanctuary, nancy benevento, non-profit, ohio, organizations, pets, poop, poop pick up challenge, poop pickup challenge, pooppickupchallenge, port clinton, rescues, sanctuaries, shelters, social media, video, waste
This video loses its audio about two-thirds of the way through, but it’s enough for you to get the point.
Which is either (A) Miley Cyrus misses her dog, or (B) Miley Cyrus wants to be sure everyone knows how much she misses her dog.
Floyd, an Alaskan Klee Kai that Cyrus had owned since 2011, died April 1. While repeatedly tweeting about the pain that has caused her, Cyrus has been hesitant to describe what caused the dog’s death. It is now believed to have been a coyote attack.
Afterwards, Cyrus told the audience, “That was the hardest song of the night to do … as y’all know, because I lost my Floydie this week … Sometimes I just can’t stop from breaking down crying.”
It was the second appearance Cyrus has made with the statue, the first coming in a performance in Boston last week.
I sympathize with the singer, and offer my condolences, but I can’t help but notice in her all the same traits I noticed in customers of dog cloning, when I wrote a book on the subject.
She has yet to seek to bring back a laboratory-created copy of a dead dog, as far as I know. But, like most of the early customers who did, she’s wealthy, eccentric, perhaps a tad selfish, wants to control the uncontrollable, and seems to think her grief is somehow larger than anyone else’s.
I can’t help being turned off by those who need to shine a spotlight on their mourning. Call me old fashioned, but I think that should mostly be done in private. Cyrus, it seems, has decided to take her grief — like her navel and tongue and other body parts — public.
In recent years, the singer has gone through dogs at a rapid pace.
In 2012, Cyrus rescued a dog she found abandoned outside a Walmart, and named him Happy. He joined her other three dogs, Floyd, Lila and Ziggy.
A few months later, Lila died of initially undisclosed causes, though Cyrus’ mother later revealed Lila died of injuries received when she was attacked by Ziggy, and that Ziggy had been gotten rid of.
The facts behind the dog’s death weren’t revealed until one of her backup dancers posted some photos on Instagram, along with the explanation that Floyd had been the victim of a coyote attack at home while Cyrus was on tour.
Since Floyd’s death, her mother has given her a new puppy, named Moonie.
(Photos: Top, Miley in concert in Brooklyn; bottom, Miley with Floyd; via Twitter)
Posted by John Woestendiek April 8th, 2014 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, attack, book, cause of death, clones, cloning, concert, coyote, dead, death, died, dog, dogs, floyd, grief, happy, lila, miley, miley cyrus, mourning, pets, public, social media, statue, tweets, ziggy
A 36-year-old mother turned herself in Friday, but told reporters she was trying to help the German shepherd she took from a cemetery, thinking he’d been abandoned.
“I saw the dog almost get hit on the side of the road and I stopped to see if he was okay. And I picked him up thinking he didn’t have an owner. And I was trying to help. I took him to a vet to have him checked for a microchip. I was trying to help him, that’s all,” Dana Hartness told WCNC as she arrived at the Lincoln County courthouse with her lawyer.
Boh — wearing a collar, but no ID — was seen getting into a car on Feb. 28 at Forest Lawn Cemetery, which his owners live next door to. He became a social media sensation in the weeks after his disappearance as cemetery visitors posted remembrances online of how he had comforted them there.
He was found Thursday night wandering around Birkdale Village in Huntersville, about 25 miles away. Two sisters took him home from the shopping center and posted his photo on a Facebook page for lost German shepherds.
His owners, who had created their own Facebook page, Bring Boh Home, were told about the photo, checked it out, and knew immediately it was their missing dog. They picked him up Thursday night.
According to the Charlotte Observer, investigators had determined that Hartness, after stopping with Boh at an animal hospital, took the dog home — contrary to her claim that he ran away when she stopped her car to let him go to the bathroom.
“We know she took the dog home,” Lt. Tim Johnson said. “She had the dog there where she lives, then he got (away) the next day.”
The Observer reported that Hartness has been convicted in the past of larceny and attempted larceny, according to court records.
(Photo: Lincoln County sheriff’s office)
Posted by John Woestendiek March 8th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, arrest, boh, cemetery, charlotte, comfort, dana hartness, dog, dogs, facebook, forest lawn, found, german shepherd, lincolnton, lost, north carolina, online, pets, returned, reunion, social media, stolen, surrender, visitors, warrant
More than 500 dogs being trucked to a slaughterhouse in China were freed from that fate when an animal activist spotted the truck transporting them on the highway, went on line and used social media to arrange an impromptu blockade.
Around 200 people helped block the truck at a toll booth for 15 hours — until they were able to negotiate the dogs’ release for $17,000, saving the dogs from being slaughtered and served as food.
While farm-raised dogs are traditionally eaten in China and some other Asian countries, the man who arranged the spontaneous road block over the Twitter-like social media site Sina Weibo, in addition to being an animal activist, reportedly suspected they were stolen.
After spotting a truck packed with hundreds of whimpering dogs on a Beijing highway, he put out a call begging fellow animal lovers to come and help him force the driver to release the animals.
Many of the animals were dehydrated, injured and suffering from a virus; at least 68 have been hospitalized, and one has died, the Associated Press reports. Video footage taken Tuesday showed the animals barking and whining in cramped metal crates.
“They were squeezing and pressing on each other and some were biting and fighting, and I saw some were injured or sick,” said Li Wei, manager of Capital Animal Welfare Association and one of the people who participated in the rescue. Li said at least one dog had died in the truck.
The rescue was remarkable on several levels. It was a rare successful case of social activism in China, a sign that new sensibilities are rising when it comes to dogs, and that the traditional practice of eating them is, for many, intolerable.
China has no animal protection laws for dogs or livestock, but animal welfare movements are growing there and in much of Asia.
The activists reached an agreement with the driver to purchase the dogs for about $17,000 dollars — most of which was contributed by a pet company and an animal protection foundation, Li said.
AP reports that dozens of volunteers have flocked to the Dongxing Animal Hospital in Beijing where they are helping to clean cages and mop floors. Sixty-eight dogs were at the hospital, many of them bandaged and hooked up to intravenous drips. Most were severely dehydrated and some had parvovirus.
The rest of the dogs have been taken to a property on the northern outskirts of Beijing where Li’s group is caring for them.
“When I saw the poor dogs on Twitter, I cried and cried, but I thought there was no way they could stop the truck. So I was very surprised when they did it and I wanted to help,” said Chen Yang, 30, a woman who tended to a dog that had given birth to four puppies just after the rescue.
The volunteer response indicates a growing awareness for animal rights, said Lu Yunfeng, a sociology professor at Peking University.
“Dogs were historically on the food list in China and South Korea, while they were loved in Western countries,” Lu said.
But in China, “as people became well-off, they had money to raise dogs, and while raising these dogs, they developed feelings for dogs,” he said.
Posted by John Woestendiek April 19th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: activism, animal rights, animal welfare, asia, attitudes, beijing, block, blockade, cages, changing, china, cramped, dog, dog meat, dogs, eat, eating, freed, meat, movement, purchased, released, rescued, road block, saved, shipped, sina weibo, slaughterhouse, social media, truck, trucked, video
Nala, a pit bull-Labrador mix living at an animal shelter in Washington state, made headlines in December when she helped save another dog — a blind cocker spaniel she found freezing to death in a ditch while on a walk with a shelter staffer.
Despite the publicity and her newfound hero status, no one stepped forward to adopt Nala — who has what the Humane Society of Redmond describes as “some behavioral issues” – and, as of March, her stay at the shelter had stretched to a year.
This month, though, there was one more publicity push by the shelter, which established a Facebook page for Nala — and that helped lead to her adoption this week by Janet Roberts, 63, the Bend Bulletin reports.
A week ago, the Humane Society teamed up with a photographer, held a photo shoot with Nala and created a Facebook page for the dog. Reese Mercer, a board member, provided “first person” updates, from Nala’s perspective, about her hunt for a home.
As a result, Nala had fans from as far away as Finland, all of them rooting for her to find a home — but few of them volunteering to provide one.
Nala’s new caretaker, a court transcriber who lives on 80 acres in Powell Butte, first heard about Nala’s story in December. When she learned Nala was still without a home months later, Roberts offered to take her home for a trial visit. Roberts has four cats, two horses and an older dog. The dog spent the night Tuesday, and the next morning, Roberts decided it was for keeps.
“She was ever so sweet, and fit in really well,“ said Roberts. “She was so respectful of everyone here … She really wants to please people, which is really endearing,” said Roberts.
The official adoption took place Thursday.
“It’s going to be tough to say goodbye,” said Alan Borland, the shelter staff member who was walking Nala when she found the cocker spaniel.
Borland told the Bulletin the couple that the Roberts family has invited him to come visit Nala, but said he probably won’t.
“She needs to get on with her life, and forget about the year she spent at the shelter,” he said.
(Photo: From Nala’s Facebook page)
Posted by John Woestendiek April 16th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adopt, adopted, adopting, animal welfare, animals, blind, cocker spaniel, dogs, facebook, freezing, home, humane society, janet roberts, labrador, mixed breed, nala, pets, pit bull, publicity, redmond, rescue, saved, shelter, social media, washington