Today, we’ve got an unsettling story about a poor puppy in Louisiana and a copycat campaign that seemed to be making money (literally) off the back of an animal in need. Warning: the following post contains graphic photos which some may find disturbing.
The Friends of Bossier City Animal Control, Bossier City, La. Facebook page networks the animals of Bossier City Animal Control in, you guessed it, Bossier City, LA. The page is staffed by a group of volunteers listing the animals as a courtesy so as to ease the burden on animal control and provide much-needed public visibility to these animals.
Page founder Ninna Lopez recently put together a legitimate GoFundMe campaign to benefit a puppy named Cherish, who came into animal control on September 21 as a stray with severe burns down the length of her back. Her 501c3 rescue group, Ninna’s Road to Rescue, is acting as trustee of the funds, therefore donations are tax deductible. That campaign has raised $3655 of a $2000 goal as of press time.
You can imagine Ninna’s surprise, then, when she was alerted to an Indiegogo campaign which used the same photo and word-for-word description as her legit GoFundMe page for the pup.
The fake campaign raised $910, then dipped to about $851 before it was closed, presumably because donors alerted to the scam requested refunds. It is now removed completely from the Indiegogo site.
After the Friends of Bossier City Animal Control page posted a warning for donors to avoid the phony Indiegogo campaign, someone claiming to be Abby Welsh reached out to Ninna via the legit GoFundMe page with the following message:
Hi Ninna. I organized a campaign to raise funds for this puppy on another site and collected 850$ plus my 200$. Do you have Paypal so I can send them to you? Best Abby Welsh
Ninna responded with a link to the official campaign for the puppy, and told Abby that the duplicate fundraiser “caused great confusion amongst our group and our supporters since our pictures and the exact wording of our Go Fund Me campaign were used without our knowledge. ”
“If you choose to do this again in the future for an organization, please ask permission first and please indicate in your campaign that you are raising ‘on behalf of’ the organization and not a member of the organization,” she told Abby. Ninna gave her until the end of business today to send the funds. That was hours ago; it’s nearly midnight here in the Old South and Ninna says she’s had nothing but radio silence from ‘Abby’ since.
“It’s incredibly sad and infuriating that someone would be so disgusting to run a campaign to raise funds off the backs (literally in this case) of a defenseless animal,” she told us. “The time we have spent trying to dismantle this fraud takes away from our time trying to save these animals. Disgusted.”
When reached for comment, an Indiegogo spokesperson told us the campaign was removed for violating Indiegogo’s policies and all backers have been issued refunds.
We were unable to find an Abby Welsh matching the description of the Indiegogo campaign owner.
On a positive note, staff at Benton Animal Hospital where Cherish is being treated say she is “in great spirits despite the traumatic burns.” The Bossier Sheriff’s Department is asking for anyone with any information on Cherish’s injuries to contact them at (318) 965-2203.