On April 5, 2010 I started the Facebook page for the Baldwin Park Shelter and it has been a highly effective tool in publicizing the pets unlucky enough to be impounded at the shelter. We started with 20 fans, and have grown to having over 57,000 people who have now liked our Facebook page. The people who have flocked to our page have been incredible, inspired only by their love of pets to diligently network the shelter’s pets. When I first came to Baldwin Park the shelter’s staff would spend the entire morning killing pets and the mood was grim.
Almost four years later, we have seen over 7,500 pets who were featured on our Facebook page adopted and rescued. The shelter’s kennel attendants were smiling this morning and proudly boasting that none of them had to take a dog to the back of the shelter to be killed for over a month – and it’s all due to the rescue community working around the clock to clean up the debris left at the shelter’s doors.
However the good has also had a small dark side. The generous supporters of the shelter have routinely been pledging money towards the rescue of pets, and in a few instances people driven by greed and ego have scammed money for unclear if not altogether fraudulent purposes.
Right now all rescues are free to 501(c)3 adoption partners of the Los Angeles County Shelter system because of a large donation from the ASPCA – meaning that listening to Sarah McClachlan whine out their commercials ad nauseam on late night television may have not been entirely an act of cruel and inhumane punishment.
The plain fact of the matter is that most pets in the shelters do not need money, they only need adopters to love them or rescues to take them in. Rescuers do have legitimate overhead including veterinary bills and the costs of feeding pets. However for the vast majority of pets that amount is trivial and easily offset by the adoption fees rescues charge. I do not begrudge a rescue who is facing a one thousand dollar veterinary bill looking for donations. I do question people seeking donations for a perfectly healthy, highly adoptable pet.
It is all of our responsibility to know to whom and for what we are giving our money. Rescue funds are all too limited, and we need to use our money wisely and make sure that it is not being siphoned off by someone for unscrupulous purposes.