When is a rescue not a rescue?" I urge all of you to quickly read this fascinating investigation into greedy people who take advantage of others by exploiting needy animals for their own personal bank accounts. Do some have no morals?
The biggest perpetrators of this heinous act are found on Facebook. Every day I get a new posting from someone, often one I've never actually met or conversed with online, pleading for financial donations to help an animal in need. When people post such requests on the Toronto Pet Daily Facebook page, I usually remove the postings, unless I know the individual first hand. I plead with you all to investigate such postings before blindly forking over your donation.
If the article above shows us anything it's that criminals come in many forms, and the ones who usually get away with it are those who tear at your heartstrings and pose as individuals who assist helpless animals. It's a disgusting act, and one that needs to stop. I usually don't ask my readers to like or share my posts (and thanks to all of you who do so!), but on this issue I will. Please take the time to spread this post so the following helpful tips can help deter such abhorrent behaviour :
1. ChipIn pages and Paypal accounts aren't necessarily legitimate
While both of these avenues provide an easy way to send and collect donations, just because someone is soliciting donations through either method DOES NOT mean that the cause is legitimate. Having a ChipIn page asking for donations does not make the cause any more real than if someone were to stop you on the street and ask you for twenty bucks to go buy "groceries".
2. Do your homework!
Look at the person asking for donations. Have you ever had any interaction with them whatsoever? If not, a giant red flag should be appearing right about now. Is the individual open with you? Do they treat those who ask questions with respect? Ask the following questions :
"Where EXACTLY is the money going?"
"What organization are you representing?"
"Is there any other way I can help?" For example, ask the individual if you can donate directly to a veterinarian who is caring for an animal. If you are told the information is confidential, close your wallet.
"Do you have a website that clearly lists where past donations have gone?" Today I was forwarded to a site of an organization that claims several "success stories". The problem is that I was personally involved in one of the particular cases. I wrote about it on the blog, and had direct contact with the individuals affected. I did what I could to assist in any way, and guess what? I didn't ask to be compensated in any way. I certainly didn't ask for donations on a ChipIn page! You all need to be very wary.
3. Only donate to people representing registered charities
The person or organization should be able to link you to their website which will proudly display a charitable business number. In addition, do not donate unless you are able to get a charitable receipt for your records. There are so many noble people involved in animal rescue, and when I say involved, I mean they are registered volunteers with registered charities. No one individual should be asking you for donations if they are not a member of a registered charity. Period.
4. Follow up
Don't be afraid to inquire as to the status of the individual's cause. While it may be too late in that you have already donated to one with questionable motives (hopefully the above tips will prevent this), if you are not getting any answers, it's time to report the individual to either Facebook or the authorities.
Facebook really can be an incredible outlet for helping animals in need, IF it is used properly. Unfortunately there are literally thousands who use social networking for no other purpose than to steal. The more we raise awareness this problem will start go away, thief by thief.