A Chicago animal rescue is desperate for help after they set up a fundraising page to help care for a sick shelter dog, but said they received a number of fake donations.
When Felines & Canines, a no-kill shelter in Chicago’s Edgewater neighborhood, agreed to take a 3-year-old pit bull mix from another facility, they thought she simply had kennel cough.
But Executive Director Abby Smith quickly learned the pup, named Sheba, had a potentially deadly virus known Parvo.
Sheba was quickly given a blood transfusion, IV fluids and kept company by a veterinary technician, but the cost of her care would be more than the facility could afford.
"We actually spent money on sending to keep a vet tech overnight with her because we weren't sure she was going to make it," Smith said.
The shelter posted a plea for donations on the crowdfunding website GoFundMe.org and said they immediately received a number of donations.
“We went from having $1,500 to $2,000 to $4,000,” said Kelly Thompson, who first noticed the donations error.
But Smith said the shelter quickly discovered thousands of dollars in donations were fake.
GoFundMe.org said the phony donations were likely caused by fraudulent donors looking to test stolen credit cards.
"As the world's most popular fundraising website, we do attract fraudulent donors looking to test the validity of stolen cards, just as Ebay and Amazon have to deal with fraudulent purchase attempts,” the company said in a statement. “However, our payment processors provide a number of safeguards which allows them to cancel those donations very quickly.
“In the case of the Team Sheba campaign, our payment processors caught the fraudulent donations early and were able to remove them all from the campaign. Our team is continuing to monitor the situation closely to make sure this issue does not continue."
Felines & Canines worries the fundraising difficulties will have a negative impact because the shelter relies on crowdfunding for survival and doesn’t want donors to lose trust in the campaign.
Sheba remains in intensive care at Animal Care Center of Chicago where vets continue to treat her.
“Her medical bills will be much more extensive than we originally anticipated, but she is not telling us she's ready to give up, so neither are we,” the shelter posted on the fundraising page.
To make a donation to Sheba click here.