Aug 262016

No activity, however benign it should be, is safe from scams and frauds. Before assuming that every photo of an animal to be rescued is genuine – before assuming any charity is genuine, here are some points to bear in mind. By Suzanne Kelly.

willowsgingerEveryone who loves animals can have that sentimentality turned into a powerful weapon by scammers and fraudsters.

Reputable animal charities, animal welfare organisations, consumer protection bodies will all warn you to be careful who you send your money

Scambusters identifies the seven most common types of animal charity frauds on its website.

Top of the list is people soliciting donations for animals that do not exist or that are nothing to do with the charity. Aberdeen Voice reported on one such story locally.

Northfield Animal Haven used photographs on several occasions in its fundraising – and the photographs turned out to be animals that had no connection to this organisation at all.

Despite bluster, threats and denials from Northfield, the facts remain:  the photos used were of other people’s animals which had no connection to NAH.

Some of the owners were extremely displeased at the use of photographs appropriated from their own websites without permission – which would not have been granted.

John Robins of Animal Concern Advice Line said:

“Regretfully the time is long overdue when all animal sanctuaries and rescue centres need to be licensed, inspected by an independent authority and maintained to high minimum standards. A true animal sanctuary does not send any animals to slaughter, does not breed animals and does its best to find good homes for life for the animals it rescues.

“Numerous times a year we hear of “sanctuaries” which are really no more than well-meaning animal hoarders where one or two people, without the necessary space, financial resources or expertise take in numerous cats and/or dogs and sometimes farm animals and horses . Before long they discover they cannot pay for vets’ bills or even for food for the animals. The animals end up ill, emaciated and infested with worms, ticks, fleas and other parasites.

“Sometimes by the time the authorities realise there is a problem all they find are dead and dying animals. If you are requested to donate to an animal sanctuary there are several questions you should ask first. Is the sanctuary a registered charity? If the answer is ‘yes’ double-check with the Charity Regulator. If the answer is ‘no’ ask why not and how can they survive without the extra money charity status provides.

Ask for copies of its constitution and most recent accounts. Find out what animals it has and how it rehomes them. Are the animals neutered and is the sanctuary registered with a local vet? If you re-home an animal from a rescue centre, expect to pay a realistic fee to cover veterinary costs such as neutering, vaccinations and micro-chipping. Do not agree to pay a rescue centre large sums of money for pedigree dogs or fashionable cross-breeds.

“Expect the rescue centre to home-check you to ensure your premises are suitable for the animal you are taking on. If they do not do a home check they are not doing their job properly. Do not confuse animal sanctuaries with commercial enterprises such as working farms with visitor facilities, petting zoos or commercial falconry centres.”

Hoarders too masquerade as rescues. Any person or organisation that takes in more animals than it can support or continues to take in animals while unable to afford basics for existing rescues may well be a hoarder. Best Friends Animal Society has this to say on the subject:

“Collective denial – of individuals, of the whole group – may have contributed to the cats’ suffering. “It’s becoming a common thing,” says Dr. Gary Patronek, a veterinarian, epidemiologist and director of animal welfare and protection for the Animal Rescue League of Boston, and the founder of the Hoarding of Animals Research Consortium (HARC).

“We really don’t understand how groups of people, as opposed to individuals acting alone, could ignore suffering and death in a shelter or rescue environment. At least three different types of hoarders have been identified: overwhelmed caregiver, rescue hoarder and exploiter hoarder. It is the latter that is the least likely to have good intentions.””

One final word: any reputable charity will always make measured, logical, precise responses to the public’s concerns. Does your chosen charity answer questions in a suitable detail, or does it make an emotional, threatening, illogical response? Your clue is in the charity’s behaviour.

Always check a charity is registered, how old it is, and the owner/operator’s background may also offer further clues as to its reputation.

How to help animals? Choose transparent shelters; do not buy pedigree breeds when you can adopt animals instead (our area Scottish SPCA rescue is a great place to find a pet). Get your dog or cat neutered. And – be careful where your charity pounds are going.

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  3 Responses to “How Charitable is your Animal Charity?”

  1. Lies regarding Northfield Animal Haven in an attempt to defame them to encourage support for other so called “Reputable” charities that your reporter supports

    [ This post itself appears defamatory, but as it does not directly accuse a named individual of a specific wrong, we’ll allow it as an opinion. Aberdeen Voice strives to maintain the credibility of its content by scrutinising the factual basis behind all presented as fact. We DO slip up occasionally, and we are always appreciative of those who point out errors in order that we can amend/correct thereby maintaining the standards we are determined to uphold.

    Therefore, I would be interested in knowing where we have published lies about Northfield Animal Haven as you strongly suggest in your post. Please point these out. Provide specifics. As Editor, I will personally review and amend as necessary. No writer/contributor is above the integrity of our publication and the value of reliable, verifiable facts. I trust you will assist me in finding these lies you refer to. Thank you. Fred Wilkinson – Editor. ]

  2. Excellent article. Good links, well worth reading.

    You may be interested in knowing that your couple of sentences mentioning old friends Northfield Animal Haven has resulted in an absolute blizzard of ‘hate posts’ on their fb page. It appears that you and others from AV are responsible for everything that has gone wrong with them in the past year.
    My personal favourite is the blame they manage to attach to AV and undefined ‘haters’ who caused dad / ‘granda’ Eric Cable to be crushed loading horses onto a transporter because of flooding in their fields. This sad excuse for an ‘Animal Haven’ along with their more moronic supporters seem incapable of apportioning blame where it belongs. Think about what she claims. 17 terrified horses ALL with cuts? Either they stupidly tried to load a herd of 17 horses onto some sort of transporter at one time resulting in bedlam or they did multiple loads all resulting in injuries to the horses in addition to poor old Eric. Either way, complete and utter misjudgement and mismanagement on their part. Fools!

    Northfield Animal Haven
    May 21 •
    This is Kelly just so everyone knows it is me that is saying this. This rant is directed at the evil twisted scumbags that thought it would be a good idea to try and discredit me so that I couldnt give evidence against you at court. I still stood up and gave my evidence, even after all the crap and my car being damaged on the day of the court and I have a judges ruling that this information was supplied purely for this reason, the information that was passed over was incorrect and very misleading to paint me as the baddest person and very untrustworthy. The judge saw right through you and your family. Now because of these actions it has had a major effect on the sanctuary with regards to donations, after all who would donate to a scammer or a drug dealer we were hit badly by floods and have had no way of fixing the flood damage. I arranged alternative grazing for the animals here some of which should not have even been attempted to load and moved and what happens my Dad who is 73 gets knocked over and trampled by horses that are so scared, so now I have 17 terrified horses all with cuts etc from trying be loaded and they are now stressed and very anxious. I would suggest that anyone who has shared the articles from the Aberdeen voice or anyone who has jumped on the bandwagon and spouted this crap had better remove all information as Monday morning even if I have to sell my car to do it I will be going after everyone who has done damage to this sanctuary.
    Northfield Animal Haven
    10 hrs •
    Hey all just another update for you. Last week my mum ranted about the carry on that she has been having and while trying to move the horses to other grazing, my granda got hurt well its worse than we thought my granda who is 73 has a broken bone in his back so I hope all you haters out there are pleased with yourselves Sammy x
    In addition it also appears that you are picking on a poor misunderstood innocent (who, remember is disabled and has a brain tumour} and that you are defying a court order in doing so!
    ‎Eric Cable‎ to Northfield Animal Haven
    August 28 at 1:02pm •
    well well I see the arsehole has once again reared her ugly head (Suzanne Kelly)Whats wrong dear have you been given orders by your cronies and you know who they are to try coming after Kell once again The day you decide to do the honourable thing and actually come up and see the animals for yourself but you won’t you lying piece of trash because then you would have to print a retraction Fuck you you horrible human being


    Laura Green Thought she had gone to London. Horrible troll
    Like • Reply • August 28 at 2:01pm

    Northfield Animal Haven Sadly not but another article with my sanctuaries name in it so gone against a court order etc xxx
    Like • Reply • August 28 at 2:17pm

    Laura Green Looks like they need reporting again then. Silly silly fools xxx
    Like • Reply • 1 • August 28 at 2:18pm

    Northfield Animal Haven Yep phoned the police this morning xxxx
    Like • Reply • 2 • August 28 at 2:19pm

    Sally Ragu-Lady Drakeley Some people are just assholes and don’t deserve the time of day your conscience us clear is this idiots
    Like • Reply • August 28 at 3:36pm

    Eric Cable Afurther point to show her for the liar she is and mentioned that Kelly has posted pic’s of other peoples animals All the pictures on here are on OUR land and with our camera’s .This can be readily checked with GPS technology . Kelly pointed out to me that one picture was sent to her to let her see the pony that was coming down on the ferry from the islands but you go Suzanne I have told you one way to prove your and i use the word loosely veracity

    Northfield Animal Haven Sadly not but another article with my sanctuaries name in it so gone against a court order etc xxx

    Northfield Animal Haven Never been convicted or sent to jail for any benefit fraud. Photos of animals were sent to me and I posted, the cows that we were taking in can be verified through the council. The ponies are not fake and are here all of them including the ones that are very similar to the ones i posted but I publicly apologised for the mix up and still the crap continued.


    WOW! I do believe that the manner in which any professional group or organisation responds to criticism reflects the mentality of those concerned. I think we can all judge for ourselves the type of people you are dealing with.
    Please keep up the good work in exposing these and others like them!

  3. hey suzanne keep up the good work exposing these dubious organisations if they were rational people running them and charities there wouldn’t be any threats or anger involved against you or the news articles making thoughts as to why there so angry

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