Tampa woman rescues dog, questions why nonprofit collected donations for care, kept money

Better Call Behnken

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – When Lori Stroud found a dog abandoned outside of her office in February, with injuries from being hit by a car, she had to help.

“I put in her in my car and tried to find medical help” Stroud said.

She took the dog to a vet and eventually the dog she calls Susie ended up at Pet Resource Center in Tampa. But Susie needed multiple, expensive injuries and no one adopted her.

Stroud says she looked at Susie on the county website daily, hoping she had been adopted. Then, she got bad news.

“After a couple of weeks, she was no longer on the website, so I called the Pet Resource Center, and they told me she was due for euthanasia that day,” Stroud said.

Lori, already with one dog and a hesitant husband, didn’t know what to do. So, with the dog’s life at risk, Stroud went to social media, looking for help.

With time running out, someone stepped forward. Tampa-based Lost Angels Pet Rescue, which specializes in helping unwanted animals with hospital bills and finding homes, offered to start a fundraiser, dedicated to Susie, on their Facebook page.

“Our agreement is that we would take her in, get her the medical care she needed, foster her through her rehabilitation and then we would find a home for her,” Stroud said.

With Lost Angles’ help and their discount with a vet, Stroud paid more than $4,000 for multiple surgeries and brought Susie home. The journey was followed on Facebook and people wanted to help.

Lost Angels collected $1,345.

“My daughter donated,” Stroud said. “My boss donated. His coworkers, my coworkers, neighbors. People we don’t even know, the next door app, people we don’t even know donated.”

After contacting Lost Angels and getting the runaround, she knew she’d Better Call Behnken.

So what went wrong? That’s complicated.

The situation changed because Stroud fell in love with Susie. Instead of fostering, she decided to keep the dog. That complicated the rescue’s role.

Desiree Giller, a co-founder of the rescue, explained that when Stroud took ownership, Susie no longer qualified for assistance from Lost Angles and would not receive the money.

When questioned about the Facebook post that states “all of the money raised will be used for her,” Giller did more research.

Giller tells Investigative Reporter that after reviewing the case with her lawyer and board they’ve decided to reimburse the discount to the vet and give the remainder of the money to Lori.

That way, she said, 100 percent of the money raised will go to cover Susie’s medical care, as promised to donors.

As a result of the confusion, Giller said the nonprofit will be changing its policies and requiring written contracts of anyone who fosters a dog. In addition, the rescue, she said, will no longer raise money for private individuals.

In the future, she said, all vet bills for a Lost Angels dog, will be paid directly by the rescue.

If you have something you think needs to be investigated, contact Investigative Reporter Shannon Behnken at BetterCallBehnken@wfla.com or 1-855-BEHNKEN.

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Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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