Yesterday I shared with you a conversation with John Doppler Schiff about the Caboodle Ranch and the backlash when this massive hoarder was shut down.
Today we’ll end with some recommendations for making sure you are not enabling a hoarder.
But first, I had to know, do people still send Craig Grant money?
Schiff: Yes, Caboodle Ranch still receives a tiny smattering of donations from their core supporters and the occasional animal lover unaware of the Ranch’s history. But the days of quarter million dollar annual donations are long gone. Craig Grant remains more than $100,000.00 in debt, he is under the shadow of federal tax liens, and there is the ongoing question of how much of Caboodle Ranch’s donations are being illegally diverted to pay his debts.
This is not a position from which any rational person would attempt to start an animal sanctuary.
Me: And yet, as you say, he is planning to do just that. What advice do you have to help us spot hoarders and exploiters like Grant?
Schiff: Animal welfare cons are one of the fastest growing forms of fraud, and hoarding is rampant. Always do your homework before you consider donating to any cause.
1. Research the organization. Look for complaints of fraud, neglect, or cruelty and consider them carefully.
2. Don’t mistake a 501(c)(3) tax exemption as proof of a group’s trustworthiness. All that’s required to obtain a 501(c)(3) is paperwork and a modest fee, and there is virtually no oversight.
3. An organization which takes in animals but does not adopt out or rehome them may be a front for a hoarder. No reputable organization has the resources to take in an unlimited number of animals.
4. Ensure that the organization has sufficient staff to care for the animals they take in.
5. Avoid organizations that will not reveal how many animals they take in and the outcomes of those cases.
6. Avoid organizations that are constantly in dire straits, begging for funds to pay the utilities, etc. That’s the mark of a poorly run organization on the brink of collapse.
7. If an organization asks for all donations in the form of cash or gift cards, that’s a huge red flag. Offer to purchase pet supplies rather than handing over cash.
8. If donating for surgery or urgent medical care, donate funds directly through the veterinarian’s office.
9. Beware organizations that reject volunteers and do not allow visits to their facility.
10. Don’t be afraid to ask questions! A group that is continually defensive or refuses to answer reasonable questions is probably hiding something.
Above all, don’t rely on the organization’s assurances that everything is okay. Reputable organizations have a good relationship with their neighbors, animal control agencies, and animal welfare groups. If the organization is at war with whistleblowers, that should tell you there’s a significant problem.
Me: I want to add this: One-fourth of all cases of hoarding investigated each year involve a rescue group. I can’t stress enough to you all how important it is to not send money to suspicious groups. You may think you’re doing it for the animals, but they’ll never see it.