I asked Elizabeth about how she first stepped into the role of being a donor. She explained that she used to volunteer as a dog walker in New Jersey and loves dogs, but having a family meant that she was not in a position to give her time or to foster. Last April, she discovered the Urgent Dogs of Miami (UDOM) on Facebook and felt that she could make a difference in saving the lives of the dogs in the Miami Dade Animal Services (MDAS). UDOM is an all volunteer group who has spent countless hours posting the intake images from MDAS and using Facebook to promote the dogs for adoption or rescue. They offer an immense service to the dogs in helping them be seen to a wide audience. She would see the dogs that were in danger of being euthanized and would see people posting for help so then would often times pledge $200 to help save the dog. She said that she did this several times and said "I felt such a wonderful flood of emotion. I really felt like I was a part of something good."
On the threads on UDOM and other pages that have since popped up, people will post pledges (offers to donate) and then the rescuers will often times post an online fundraiser called a Chipin. A Chipin is created through the Chipin.com site that allows someone seeking donations to create a page with a story and pictures with a running total of donations. The creator of the Chipin uses their Paypal account for the money to be sent with an easy to use donate button that links directly to pay them. It was when my images from my art project started appearing on Chipins that I first was introduced to them. I wanted to know if the donors are only giving to the Chipins which can be easily traced or if they are being contacted and giving other ways. Elizabeth told me that the more she donated, the more she was being tagged on photos and the "sadder the stories get." She would get private messages as well as texts asking her to donate and that nearly all of her donations were sent to Paypal accounts "even when the groups say they are 501c3 rescues. I donate more for the injured dogs so they usually put the vet's number for those."
As an artist who has taken the photo of and made art about some of the dogs in MDAS on UDOM and those that have had Chipins created to help them, I have been disappointed in some of the results since some have ended up in boarding and some I have no idea of what truly happened to them. I wanted to know more about what a donor knows about the rescues of the dogs that they are giving money to save. Elizabeth said that once a dog was stated as being safe on a thread that meant that they are safe in a foster home and that meant that they were getting the needed care and support while they were in the foster home. When dogs were injured or sick there was more follow up on them following donations. She said that in those cases, she would get more follow up information including photos sometimes. The more that was donated tended to mean the more follow up information was given. She was becoming concerned when she wanted to see some happy post adoption photos of the dogs. Many times rescues will post those photos on their pages and she was not seeing them for dogs she had donated to. "I started wondering where the dogs I was helping were going, and I know rescues usually have a happy endings and a needs a home folder on their website, so I started looking for the dogs I had donated to and I never could find them on the page of the group that had taken responsibility for the dog. A few I know where adopted right away and a few I know needed long term rehab. But a lot, I have no idea what happened to and where they have gone. I emailed many of the people on the threads who seemed to be in charge of the rescue and some don’t answer and some say, oh yes they are with me (no pictures or anything) or oh, they went to so and so rescue. I never could find them being networked for adoption on these rescue sites, sometimes, but rarely. I didn’t think much of it honestly, I don’t know why, I am streetsmart, but it never occurred to me not to trust these “rescues”, never even crossed my mind."
|The Chipin for a dog named Tamara. She was in MDAS with her puppies. You can link to the Chipin here http://shermman.chipin.com/tamara-and-her-puppies however, most of the information has been deleted off of it.|
|This is Minnie's intake picture at MDAS that was used on the Chipin.|
|Minnie now lives a very good life. She is no longer in danger of losing her life in a shelter or of losing her mind in a cage at a boarding kennel.|