Insist on or do your own follow-up

This is a follow-up post on this news:

So if you are a donor who has given your hard-earned money to a rescuer, a group or an organisation, with hopes that they will use the money for savings lives (and not killing), or you have engaged the services of a rescuer, a group or an organisation to help animals (this includes rescue, boarding, etc.), please do the necessary follow-up checks on how your money has been used.

Even if it does not matter to you how the money has been used, by doing follow-up checks, you are helping the whole community in ensuring there is integrity, honesty and accountability in animal welfare work.

It is very important that this integrity is preserved. Otherwise, the reputation of animal welfare work will diminish (it is already happening now with incidence of cheating and dishonesty) and it would be very hard for accountable individuals, groups or organisations to receive support to carry on with their work.

  1. Always insist on follow-up reports on how your money has been used.
  2. If you have sent your rescued animal for long-term boarding, always ask for periodical reports which includes photos and videos, with time stamps on them. But in this day and age of technological advancement, even time stamps can be altered or fabricated, so the best is to do a personal and physical visit to see your animals for yourself.
  3. It is your right to ask how your donation will be used, how your animal will be cared for, etc. It would be good if all this is written down so that you have something to refer to later on.

However, having said all of the above, let me share with you some real-life cases of how nothing is fail-proof.

A. It was many, many years ago that there was a massive flood in one of the states in our country and we wanted to do our bit to help. After finding out which individuals and organisations were involved in providing aid, we decided to give a large donation to help out. So I contacted the person in charge in that organisation and I specifically said we would need a receipt and also an update on how the money is being used, all in writing. The person in charge agreed. So the donation was sent. Unfortunately, the receipt did not arrive. I had to write in many times before the receipt was finally sent. As for the update on how the money had been used, it never came at all. I wrote in repeatedly, but there was no response anymore.

So, what could we do? Well, there were options, one of which was to sue the organisation since everything was in writing. But here’s the thing about suing. Anyone can sue for anything if you have the time, energy and money for the lengthy lawsuit. Once a case is filed, the court decides if there is locus standi, ie. whether the case has merits and if it can proceed. If it can, thus begin the long, long, tedious and arduous journey of going through court hearings after hearings and at the end of the day, your lawyers and their lawyers are the only gainers. And you will end up mentally, emotionally and physically drained. You might even need psychological help after all that mental trauma.

I have, in my own personal past, encountered a few occasions where I was faced with injustice (from the workplace, from companies which had shortchanged me for their agreed services), but after considering how much money, time and energy would be wasted, I decided not to seek legal recourse. So I have never done it before and hope I will never have to do it!

It’s the same with AnimalCare. We are not going to use our hard-earned donations to enrich lawyers.

Lesson learnt from this bad experience: NEVER EVER trust that organisation again.

B. There was a case where a friend had boarded her rescued dog at a certain place that provides boarding. She dutifully paid the monthly boarding fee, on time and without fail. After some time, I asked her if she had ever been updated with photos or videos. She said not recently, so I told her it might be good to ask for such to see how her dog was doing. So she asked, and she was sent “photos” (we later found out these were very old photos). After that, my friend decided she wanted to visit the dog, which was the best thing to do. I accompanied her on the visit and guess what? The dog had actually died months ago. The “photos” were indeed old photos.

Lesson learnt – Do not depend on photos and videos. Visit your animals yourself.

This is why we insist that all applicants send us updates on the previously-claimed animals whenever they apply for a new case. This policy has not been well-received by some quarters because they find it very “strict” and “troublesome”. Efforts in accountability may require some work but it is definitely worth our time because accountability and transparency go a long way, not just in ensuring the reputation of animal work is unblemished but more so so that we can all sleep well at night. At the end of the day, we answer to our own conscience.

We fervently hope and wish that everyone who engages in animal welfare work will uphold honesty and accountability. If they don’t, not only will the responsible individuals, groups and organisations suffer, ultimately it is the animals who will suffer and have to pay the price.

A final note: Please always get your facts right before saying or writing anything. If you wish to lodge a complaint, kindly ensure you have evidence. Please do not make assumptions or worse, speculate, based on hearsay. There seems to be a lot of this going on nowadays.





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