Several years ago I rescued a little Shih Tzu named Willow. She was 12 years old and I passed her on the road going to Dog Quality. Even at a distance I could not miss the grapefruit sized tumor hanging from her underside, as well as her matted fur. I stopped and to my surprise she came to me with her tail wagging. I brought her to the only house in the area to see if this was where she lived and I was correct. I will call it a house more than a home because Willow was clearly malnourished, underweight and was riddled with tumors. Long story short, after a few more sightings and visits I finally convinced her family to let me take her so she could get the care she needed. I made sure they had my contact info and I left an open invitation that if they would like to check on her or see her at anytime they only needed to call me. They never called.
I already had 3 dogs at the time and was not at all planning to adopt a fourth, but how could I not take this sweet soul into my life. I immediately took her to my vet and they felt that the surgery she would need was too complex and referred me to a specialist. We drove 6 hours to see a surgeon and while the specialist clinic gave us a rescue discount, I would still need to come up with about $5,000 to cover the costs. My other dogs had insurance but Willow would never have been covered since all of her troubles would have been considered pre-existing. I found myself in a very uncomfortable position not knowing how I would be able to pay for the surgery she so desperately needed. Then someone suggested that I create a GoFundMe page and ask my friends on social media to help. We raised the money in a week and Willow was saved!
Since then I have seen the world of crowdfunding for our pet's care used much more often to help rescue dogs and to help pet parents handle the increasing costs of pet care. Many times in the life of our dogs we face circumstances that require us to pay for care that costs more than we can handle. Pet insurance is an amazing means of covering a lot of costs, but not everyone can afford it and if you have a dog like Willow, you may not qualify, so leveraging the power of our social media networks to collectively raise the funds needed is a very viable option.
But how do you know which crowdfunding sites to use? With Willow I used GoFundMe but they took a pretty big percentage of the money raised which always bothered me. Since then I have seen many alternative sites pop up and each has its own pros and cons. You need to use a platform that people feel they can trust so if it is well-known that is helpful, but then you may lose too much to fees. And most sites are not pet focused.
Most recently I have learned about a pet-dedicated crowdfunding platform called Waggle. They are a non-profit organization dedicated to helping parents raise money for their pet's care. Setting up a campaign on Waggle enables not only crowdfunding, but quite often funding can come from their corporate or foundation partners as well. They also leverage bloggers and influencers who help to spread the word about your campaign allowing you to reach a larger donor base.
Another aspect of their service that I really like is that your veterinarian sends Waggle the invoice and they pay the clinic directly from the proceeds raised, something other platforms do not offer. And as a non-profit they are focused on their mission to help pets in need and not on their bottom-line, which is really comforting.
Full disclosure, I have not used this service myself, but I wanted to showcase them because with so many pets in need these days and with the world in such crisis, I feel that we as pet parents need as much help as possible to ensure the best possible life for our furry family members. When we don't know where to turn sometimes the answer can be found in the great work being done in the non-profit arena, which is why I believe Waggle deserves to be highlighted.
Waggle, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization, is dedicated to keeping companion animals and their families together. They strive to ensure that the lives of family pets are not cut short because pet guardians lack the necessary funds to cover the cost of vital veterinary treatment, whether for an emergency or ongoing care.
Waggle has already provided over $1M to their community of 1,000 veterinary hospitals to save 5,000-plus pets, who were at risk of falling victim to economic euthanasia. Here are but a few of Waggle success stories, all with happy endings: https://www.waggle.org/success-stories.
To learn more about Waggle's fundraising platform visit: Pet Crowdfunding Best Practices
Ann-Marie Fleming is the Founder & CEO of Dog Quality, a provider of innovative assistive products focused on improving the quality of life for older dogs and the families that care for them.