Discussion: Rescue Scam

Wherever there is charitable giving, there are charitable scams.  Some people fake cancer, others are more subtle and might simply mislead donors into believing their donations will be used for one thing when the organization actually uses it for something else.

Here’s one that troubles me:  a rescue group who issues online pleas for death row shelter pets without identifying the shelters where the individuals are housed.  Even if someone inquires about an animal in response to a plea, the shelter name and location won’t be revealed.  Instead, there is some sort of money funneling operation where the inquiry has to go through the group issuing the plea who, after receiving payment, then flips it to another rescue group who will also require payment.  I don’t understand all the details exactly but I wanted to open up the general topic for discussion.

Have you encountered any groups like this?  Do you know if any pets have ever been saved via this method?  Frankly, I’m starting to wonder if the photos in the e-mails are of real animals in real shelters.  Could there be some legitimate reason for keeping the location of the shelter pets secret?

52 thoughts on “Discussion: Rescue Scam

  1. There are a few instances I know of where certain shelters become angry at the use of their name in the plea for help. They hate that someone would say the dog/cat will “die”, be “destroyed” or any other terms they deem offensive. In retaliation the “shelter” will then alienate the rescue group and ban them from partnership. The General Public will usually only involve themselves if they see a desperate need like imminent death,

    I will say that any reputable rescue should still identify the location of the animal even though there is the possibility they could be banned.

    It is wise to ALWAYS do your homework when giving to any “charity.”

    1. Yes, some shelters do get upset about having their names associated with killing. But I think that if someone inquires, the rescue group should disclose where the animal is.

      I am really suspicious in general of the whole practice of taking “pledges” and filling chipins for animals while the animal is still sitting in the pound. It’s so much like ransom to me. I foster for a Boston terrier rescue group, and we pull first and fundraise later. We never make an animal’s life contingent on whether someone donates money up-front. Our business is saving the dogs, first and foremost.

      All of these groups that let an animal sit in a pound until they accumulate enough in pledges or chip-ins are sketchy from the get-go in my mind.

  2. always reminds me of the old Mad magazine.. the cover had a dog with a gun to its head.. and said “Buy this magazine or we shoot this dog”.. even back then some people knew that there will always be a sucker to give money for a scam..and animals get the most ( forgive me) bang for your buck

  3. We have issues sometimes where shelters don’t want to be indentified. Heaven forbid the public know they’re euthanizing dogs. They might get a call or two and have to explain to people why they’re doing it. We don’t post pleas for money though and always post what city or county the dog is in. I’m sure people can then figure out where the dog is, but at least we’re following “the rules” of the shelter by not putting their name in the post. As a rescue, we generally only ask for monetary help with dogs we pull after they leave the shelter if we need help with vetting. They are definitely real dogs though and our those viewing our page can follow their journey.

    I have had issues with a certain group who requests for all the pledges for dogs in the shelter they work with to be sent to them, which go to a private Paypal account. They then are supposed to send the pledged funds to the rescue who pulled the dog. We took a lot of dogs from this specific shelter and after repeated inquires as to where the pledges for our dogs were, they either sent part of them or none at all. Where the funds actually went, I have no idea. Many of the dogs we pulled had medical issues and I know people really sent their pledges in because they left comments stating they did so.

      1. I’d rather not publicly call this group out for I fear it will hurt the dogs at this very high kill shelter. I know other rescues have written to us asking about this same issue. They had pulled dogs with “pledges” from there also that they couldn’t seem to collect. Let me just say that pledges should be sent directly to the rescue taking the dog. If that isn’t being done, something is wrong. The shelter is in GA.

  4. There’s a very similar scam that runs in horse rescue. Rescue groups will troll auction houses and post lists of horses that are at risk for the kill buyers (or have already been purchased by kill buyers.) They ask for money to buy the horses, then resell the same horse through other channels or at a different auction. Sometimes the horses never existed to begin with, or are kept in overcrowded conditions and underfed by the ‘rescue’.

    If something pings your instincts, LISTEN. There are so many respectable groups, there’s no reason to give money to any that you have ANY doubt about.

    It reminds me of the cat rescue that wouldn’t let people drop off cats at the house…he would met them in a parking lot to transfer the kitty. Big surprise when it turned out to be a hoarding situation.

  5. Yes, I do know of such a group – at least I know that’s how they started out. They’ve had a name change since they started out but it is the same person running it. They, like Palena Dorsey, have gone on to win all sorts of awards and accolades and are considered “sacrosanct” in internet rescue. I cannot/will not mention their name online because I called them on this several years ago (with screen-shotted facts) and got blackballed, name-called, threatened with legal (FBI) action (the “head” of the group said she had an uncle who was an FBI agent in my area and who would be there to arrest me that night if I didn’t stop my postings/questions), and worse. I’m not trying to dangle any carrots here, but suffice it to say all would be aghast if I felt I could reveal the name. Let’s also throw in another fact. There were two “starters” of the rescue, and the one who did all the leg-work left abruptly because she finally twigged to what the one who took all the money was doing with it.


    1. I have seen this too on FB.. and I’ve also seen these people called out on it.. Personally I do Pledge and donate to chip-ins, but I do my homework first. I check the rescue or group, if I can’t get the information, I ask other people. If they don’t check out as legit.. I don’t donate or pledge. Anyone that pledges, please honor it when it comes time. If for what ever reason the animal doesn’t make it out.. the donated money to a chip-in is supposed to be refunded

      1. Unfortunately for the animals, this was just after Katrina when there was no FB, so no social media for networking animals in need.  This group started a “Forum” and the administrator/head of the rescue group monitored the forum, and if you wrote something questioning her or anything you’d read on the forum, the post was deleted by her and she denied ever having seen it.  I used to save the screen shots and post them again to the forum and that’s when my descent into the nightmare of getting on her wrong side started.  She concentrated her rescue at that time at two shelters in Georgia, and I know for certain that one of the shelters is still putting up the same pictures of dogs that were supposed to have been rescued – they just keep getting circulated.  And all the money went into her PayPal account.  She wasn’t a 501c3 but she kept saying she was “working on it.”  When accounting for rescue money was brought up, those postings got deleted.  If they didn’t get deleted she would say she was “working on that” too.  As I say, this shelter now has a lot of good-hearted FB volunteers (mostly not from GA) who still raise money every week via chip-in for the dogs at this shelter. 


      2. Dot asked me what the name of the shelter just post Katrina that ran a Forum on which the owner would among other very questionable activities would delete any post she de didn’t want to answer was called, in those days, DRDR. Death Row Dog Rescue (it’s since changed its name) and the shelter whose dogs’ pictures who kept getting “recycled” as needing eescue was Coweta. I believe the newly named group is still pulling the same scam.

      3. These people have since gotten their 501c3, taken on a new name, and received many awards, rewards and accolades for their rescuing of animals.  Same owner/president/board of directors and perhaps they’ve cleaned up their act.  They are NOT the current DRDR (wherever they are and there may be more than one).  All I know is that a leopard can’t change its spots and as I said yesterday, with one shelter in particular, I believe the same dog postings still go on rotating periodically.  However, I could be wrong.  Rescuers and shelters hold them in awe.  That’s not the word I choose to hold them in.


  6. I ran into a unique type of scam at a North Carolina shelter… It cost me 1800 of my own money & over 500 in donations & I never even got the dogs. I had said I would take a dog, but there was someone who wanted me to pay a pull fee, then a shelter fee, then there was a transport fee to the vet, then next thing you know it is a couple of dogs, then they get to the vet & she is charging boarding & vet fees which are ridiculously high, & DOUBLED from the original agreement. I got frustrated & put the dogs on Operation Roger’s transport list & they kept telling me no one had contacted them so when I called Op Roger they said they had had over 3 rides but 1 time the lady refused to hand them over at the vet office, the trucker actually went there, the next time they said they wouldn’t deliver the dogs without a 100 transport fee 5 miles down the road EACH, the trucker is not going to pay that, & the next time they just ignored the trucker. In the meantime they had a separate chip-in going on saying I had ABANDONED the dogs!!! So by the time I got a family member to drive over there the vet had supposedly driven the girls to another rescue in another state. This whole thing literally ruined me financially & I lost my home for 3 weeks, & they are STILL doing this con, because I see pleas on Facebook from these women & the vet for dogs every day that other rescues have “abandoned”. I have no idea WHY no one has figured out that in a 3 yr period not every rescue just dumps a dog & runs.

    It is an excellent scam though, the shelter acts like they don’t know the puller is charging all of these extra fees, (the “puller” is a shelter employee) then the vet acts like she doesn’t know about the transport fees, or that the woman who is bringing dogs to her is a shelter employee. Basically no one knows everything but they all have their hand out for money.

      1. Nicole, Lonna Brandy & Dr Levine I had to go find the old pictures from June 2010 to find those names. I don’t remember the name of the shelter & the actual name of the vet clinic. I do remember that the lady Nicole also was the shelter worker. I am trying to get a read out from my paypal because that has all of their first, last & business names but I am having a bit of trouble with going back that far on it.

  7. Oh duh! It is called the Robeson Shelter in Fairfield NC, & looking at the pictures I just remembered something else, they claimed the dog I was supposed to be getting was pregnant & heartworm positive & I requested she be spayed before she was given treatments as the pups would most likely die but they claimed that she had gotten the treatments & waited so long she couldn’t be spayed & the last time I talked to them they then claimed she was never pregnant & refused to send me the HW tests or any medical records for that matter.

    1. I had a feeling it was that shelter… Yup.. that sounds about right.. I had a strange experience with them also. A friend of mine that lives in NM wanted to adopt a dog named “Lexi”.. I live in NC am i am an approved foster with quiet a few rescues and have excellent references. I offered to foster the dog after she was spayed. They said no one could foster the dog.. it had to be at THEIR vet .. not for the normal 10 days, but 15 days for quarantine.
      Seems pretty strange that they are always begging for fosters, but when you offer, they say they only let bottle fed babies or really old sick animals be fostered.

      1. I just washed my hands of the whole lot of them. I blocked everyone involved with that shelter. I got so many different stories about quarantines & times that I just gave up about trying to figure it out, they don’t want fosters, they want to make money & once they have sucked you dry then they move on with another chip-in claiming yet another rescue dumped the dogs, so they can make even more money. I still don’t know what happpened to Faith & Charity, or if there were any puppies or if they were really HW positive or if they were even treated: OR worse yet, if they even existed. These are listings from 2010 about “abandoned dogs” not one of them mention my girls…


      2. a lot of people I know have walked away from that shelter… did you know that most of the kennels stay empty? They kill so many dogs.. it’s shameful

  8. Okay what do you make of a “rescue” that has no webpage only a Facebook page, but when you click on their links it takes you to another FB page with a different name? They say they are a 501(c)3 but they are not listed on the IRS website under either name. Doesn’t have a petfinder account, doesn’t have an adoptapet account…

    1. What I make of that is this is not a legitimate rescue at all. I would not give any money to this kind of ‘organization’. I don’t know enough to say whether it’s a misguided individual trying to help animals or a scam, but too many red flags here.

      1. Here is the thread, they can’t seem to find their EIN, nor can they tell anyone where this dog came from or where it is at that was supposedly sodomized, at this point I am only getting the run around


        It is a very well known & very widely respected “rescue” with numerous facebook pages but no website, or petfinder/adoptapet/pettango pages, & they always NEVER say where a dog came from & no one ever seems to be prosecuted for these heinous crimes against these dogs. The name they gave me is not listed with the IRS or the North Carolina Secretary of State. Now she is all over my webpage & blog checking me out but hasn’t sent me the info yet. I don’t want to bash a good rescue but guess who her vet is? Dr Levine in Fairmont NC.

      2. I know Beth and Jerry… I also know they have more than a couple of admins on the EDR FB wall. So you are probably asking the wrong person for the information.

      3. Dot you were right, it is a volunteer who is relaying the info but now I have other people questioning me as well about their status. I sent a private message to let them know & I have spent the whole day trying to find the info so I can calm down the people who have already donated at my request.

      4. I just received a private message from my friend Beth… unrelated to the discussion here.
        I don’t know if you remember or know about a dog named Littia. but that’s another cruelty case that had to be kept really quiet for the protection of the dog, which went crazy after well meaning people made that situation worse. I am one of the people she shares information with.
        Beth just updated me about Barney.. trust me they are just waiting to get the last name of the third person involved, Justice will be served.
        And poor Gabe.. that case has Beth working double time.. there is no one out there that would have helped that dog. Just the first surgery will cost over $7000., but Beth is not giving up on that dog.
        Beth has been sick. You may not know this but she has MS and is in a lot of pain. And Jerry is not in the best health either.
        Beth told me that two of her admins have been handling the EDR wall. So she may not be aware of the questioning of her IRS status. I will tell her about it.
        I sure you all know that you can’t please all the people all the time and there’s always someone out there that isn’t going to like the way you do one thing or another, but I do know Beth and Jerry are all about the dogs in the greatest need., the ones no one else will take.
        Prior to this conversation .. I never paid any attention to any of the vets she uses. (she does use more than one. I use more than one)
        Beth has her plate very full, she barely gets time to sit and answer emails and questions and update information. I sometimes don’t hear from her for a couple of days.. or even a week. Please don’t panic.I’ll get back to you as soon as I hear anything

      5. I have been talking to her too I told her that you told me she was good people, she told me about the MS & about Barney… This just goes to prove what the original post was, sometimes there is a reason you don’t understand as to why people do things a certain way. I was sick to my stomach to think that anything they could do was wrong, SO GLAD I WAS MISINFORMED, that freaked me out so bad I was going to just leave facebook altogether. I did send her a message about this conversation, my board freaking out & about what you told me but for some dumb reason I told her it was Joy who told me that… not Dot, some kind of a fruedian slip as I was overJOYed that things were all good! Just tell her to watch out for that vet clinic :(

      6. The message I got from Beth never even mentioned any of this, but I did relay the concerns and shared the link. after I got her message. I trust Beth and EDR.. Dr, Levine, not so much.

      7. LOL! Same here. I probably hurt her feelings but I do own what I say, teaches me to watch my yap. but that is probably why she didn’t mention it & because I just told her to go to bed!!! Her husband doesn’t know she is up on the computer & she has been up instead of sleeping!

      8. Sounds like Beth… there’s a lot she doesn’t tell Jerry..lol..When Littia was missing… Beth never slept. Bless her heart.

        Any one in Lexington, KY heading east during the holidays? I need to get my next foster to me in the Danville, VA, Greensboro, NC area.. I’m looking for volunteer driver (s)
        One tiny little Chi girl…

  9. The Internet is infested with animal flipping and rescue fraud – but it takes two to do the dance. Without the paid and unpaid insider fraud that props it up, without the online platforms that profit off the advertising and the “urgent” games, without armchair animal welfare advocates too immature to make informed decisions and often too caught up in their own narcissistic delusion of being online animal saviors by pressing a paypal button and not having to get dirt under their nails, all of the fraud and unnecessary animal suffering would not be such a problem. Stopping the money train is not easy – some very sick people have very deep pockets – but I believe most potential donors these days have enough common sense to research well, to donate locally, and not be emotionally manipulated and jerked around.

  10. We have to stop giving to the large national organizations and any internet plea that is anonymous. The once old adage “think globally, act locally” is so critical when considering giving money or help to an animal rescue, shelter, welfare organization. Money is so necessary for organizations doing good work. If possible, give to an organization you personally know, or at least stay local, and make one phone call or email to understand what they do and what they do with YOUR money. Please give early and often, but insure your money goes where it will be used to save the lives of the homeless pets you care about.

  11. Sorry for the questions. I see it is Robeson you’re talking about. A woman named Marissa Stracaluzzi with a rescue called either Help Save One or Just Save One pulled hundreds of dogs from here took them to Rhode Island and there was a big investigation of her shady activities. I understand she back rescuing.

  12. There are currently several auctions going on on Facebook that are questionable. I volunteered for one of the pug rescue groups for over 3 years. It is run by 1 person and it does not have 501C status. I had suspicions all along about this “group” and what they did with all the money they raised. It is called a preloved auction and many,many people donate items and other bid on them. To date, they have raised over $20,000. for this so called Rescue. I recently rescued a little dog and this “group” refused to accept him into rescue because he was paralyzed and she..the only person in the rescue..said no one would adopt him. Long story but I adopted him and I am paying for his care. I cut off my association with this woman. Now, I see she is running another “auction” which looks to be a huge one, which can raise more than $10K. What can I do regarding my suspicions that she is not using the money for its intended purposes?

  13. Why don’t people file complaints of fundraising fraud, non-profit fraud, income tax fraud, etc to the various states attorney generals offices and make sure to follow up on if they are investigating?
    And there are a lot of rescue scams being run by California horse rescues (I’m not going to name-names, but there are many of them) where they are always talking about the kill buyers, the meat trucks, the meat buyers, but buying and selling for slaughter in CA has been illegal since 1998.
    Why don’t any of the rescues if they are legitimate rescues go under cover with hidden video and record conversations with the kill buyers and then turn it into the AG’s office?
    Well, many of us know the answer to that and that is because many horse rescues are nothing more than fronts for horse traders, and these horse traders/hustlers are nothing more than con artists constantly asking for and receiving donations, and most do not have legitimate jobs or spend any of their own money on anything.
    So if the no buying or selling for slaughter rules and laws were enforced in CA, these scammers would be out of money very quickly because their donations to buy and maintain the horses that “the meat man is going to buy at the auction” or that they “bought right off the meat truck” and that they then flip for a very tidy profit, would dry up over night because the horse would not be in jeopardy of shipping to slaughter.
    Same goes for the seizure scams they run where they go after breeders, private horse owners, other rescues, they troll Craigslist ad’s looking for horses they can turn people in to animal control on and then surprise, surprise, they are available to “take in” the horse that has been seized and is now free, they collect bunches of donations, and then they either euthanize the horse if it’s not useable and after all of the donations have come in that are going to come in on that horse, or they flip the horse for a good profit without having spent a dime on the horse of their own money.
    There are many variations of the rescue racket, but one things for certain, these con artists give all legitimate rescues a black eye, and animals that really do need help are slipping through the cracks because of this social club and boutique rescuing that is happening with sociopaths as the ringleaders pulling the strings and manipulating naïve and ignorant people who are probably good-hearted people, but very naïve and far too trusting regarding the schemes, panhandling for donations, and cons that are being run under the guise of “animal rescue”.


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