A few days ago, I discussed how Facebook helps save animals' stuck at the NYC Animal Care and Control (NYC ACC). One of the methods was "pledging," (i.e. promising to pay any rescue that takes an animal out of there, theoretically, to help with vetting, training, shelter, and food until they can find a permanent home). It has become decent source of donations for the various rescues that pull dogs out of the NYC ACC. But, as I have become more involved with the process by pledging on behalf of Stewie to the Rescue, I have become aware of some problems...
1 - Not everyone lives up to their pledge
From what I've heard, about 70 to 80% of the pledges do get collected, though sometimes it takes several emails, reminding people to keep their word. I understand that reading about these animals, one wants to do anything they can do to help, but try not to get carried away, making a pledge when you know you aren't going to live up to it. All you are doing is making rescue groups more unsure about whether the listed pledges are "good," which will make them less likely to pull questionable cases (like ones with medical needs) in the future.
2 - Rescues take pledges but still force adopters to pay for medical expenses, etc...
I recently received an email from someone who requested a rescue pull a dog for her, a dog that had several hundred in pledges. The adopter ended up with several hundred in medical expenses for the dog (She ended up having to put the dog to sleep.) which the rescue did not offer to help with.
Though rescues may disagree (write me in the comments if you do), but when people pledge for an animal, they want that money to first, pay for any and all expenses that make that animal suitable to live in their forever home. Any extra money can go into that rescue's general fund. Rescues have an obligation to pay for any and all medical expenses associated with that animal regarding preexisting conditions.
This may sound harsh, but to me, doing otherwise amounts to stealing.
3 - Rescues take pledges and then ship the animal to another rescue
This recently happened to me (i.e. Stewie) - We pledged money for a dog at the NYC ACC and got an email from a woman who runs an out-of-state rescue, thanking me for helping with the dog. I was shocked to not only hear that the dog was being shipped to another rescue (out-of-state, no less!), but, upon asking, they were not being forwarded our pledge money**
Again, when we pledge, it is for that specific animal. Why should the rescue that pulls the dog keep all the pledges if all they are doing is shipping the animal to another rescue?
** After putting up a stick, they sent over my pledge money (I am SURE they sent the rest too...sarcasm)
4 - Here's another possible issue that I hope isn't a problem but I can see it being a problem if pledge money continues to increase thanks to Urgent's growing popularity...
I am going to blog about this specific case shortly, but I recently, I had reason to pledge $700 for a dog - for those of you not familiar with the process, that's a lot coming from one person (I had people behind me), especially for a dog with no medical or social issues.
I do not know if the group that pulled him did so due to the decent amount of money awaiting them for doing so, but, they did so without having a foster first. Most rescues (correct me if I'm wrong) won't pull an animal unless they know where he or she is going first. There is a very good reason for that.
Dogs that have nowhere to go end up being boarded at a kennel. It is much harder to find a foster for a dog that is already in a kennel as people consider that dog to already be "saved" so it doesn't tug at people's heartstrings as much. I have been told this by several rescue's, one of which has dogs in a kennel for over two years.
I'm not going to get into whether a life in boarding is a life worth living, but we can agree it's not a great life, and many dogs deteriorate in kennels, making making tougher to adopt out, increasing their chances of remaining in a kennel for the rest of their lives.
I don't really have an answer for this, as the pledge money may prove too great for rescues to ignore. My plea would be for people to share and try to find homes for animals that are being boarded with the same ferocity as those that are on the "To Be Destroyed" lists. One can argue, their situation is just as dire.