A blog by spcaLA president, Madeline Bernstein

Apr 21, 2015

The Art of the Scam

Courtesy Google Images
A few days ago I did a segment for NBC4 about adoption scams. Essentially, people saw an animal on line, sent money, then more money, only to discover there was never a pet at all. As the criminals frequently insisted on the use of debit cards only, the ability to reclaim the funds through credit card intervention was impossible.

But that's not all.  The animal business is big business, and as such, is attractive to all types of human predators. Additionally, criminals are fully aware of the depth and strength of the human animal bond and will capitalize on that accordingly.

Some examples of common scams are: a person posts a Facebook entry that they need financial help in order to rescue a pet from a local shelter when their IP address is not in this country at all. Or, someone posts requesting funds for a non-existent veterinary bill for an imaginary pet, Sometimes, a fake website, designed to help an animal, or victims of a disaster, materializes, raises mega funds, and then vanishes into cyber air before people catch on.

A rescue group posts heart wrenching photos of a gravely ill pet in pain, which is kept in that condition to raise funds. Unfortunately, those funds are not used to treat or to relieve the pets' suffering. Or, a group requests needed items which rather than being used for the pets are then sold at swap meets.

Criminals, take photos of lost pet posters, contact the owner, demand a reward up front, and, of course never found your pet in the first place. A related crime is to actually take your pet and then demand ransom for his or her return.

Finally, organizations, like the aspca, though not criminals, advertise in a way that allows people to think that they are national/umbrella organizations, when in fact they are not. Donors all over the country who made that mistake often feel "taken" as well when they realize their funds do not help their local organizations.

We need to protect ourselves from our own good intentions. Adopt in person. Feel the magic of discovering a friend for life. Donate to legitimate organizations and restrain from giving to random on line posts unless you are familiar with the people involved. Run away as fast as you can when a seller will only accept debit cards. Finally, donate locally and support your community nonprofits.

Apr 8, 2015

Where Have All The Geniuses Gone?

courtesy Google images

One of the reasons life exists on this planet is water. Humans, animals, vegetables all require water to thrive. Whether one is a conscientious omnivore or vegan, one will starve without water.

Unlike some regions of the world, the United States is not water poor. So where are the geniuses?

Why can't there be a national pipeline infrastructure system, essentially a giant irrigation network, that can transport water from areas where there is flooding to areas of drought?

Where are the advances and creative uses of cloud seeding technology?

We are surrounded by oceans. Are there no desalinization plants and creative uses for brine?

Where are the ideas that I can't think of?

Penalizing people for violating mandated water use restrictions won't work. It doesn't create more water. It does require expensive law enforcement efforts and a system to adjudicate offenders. It will also fail as there is no capability to monitor how many loads of laundry one does nor how long one is in the shower. Why not use those funds to figure out how to solve the problem? 

The time for science is now. Even those who don't believe in science, or who abdicate all responsibility for climate change will get thirsty.