Netizens who are part of the dog community in Malaysia are expressing concern that two well-known dog shelters on Facebook may be scams
The issue was brought up in Facebook group Dog Lovers of Malaysia on Monday, 13 September, with a Facebook user hoping for a statement from the shelters, who we will refer to as Shelter A and Shelter B, to clear the air.
The user alleged that Shelter A — a shelter that claims to save disabled and injured dogs with a 20,000-strong following on Facebook — has been making money off the generosity of dog lovers.
"There is no factory lot nor almost 160 disabled dogs as claimed. Their disabled dogs are only less than 50 dogs we see from pictures and videos," said the Facebook post, which has been deleted.
The user also alleged that the shelter is actually owned by a couple named S and P, who are pet shop owners, and not by a vet graduate named J as the shelter claims.
They added that a check of business profiles from the Companies Commission of Malaysia (SSM) show that P is the owner of four pet shops in Kuchai Lama, Cheras, Puchong, and Sri Petaling – shops that Shelter A often buys dog food from.
"So they have been raising funds to pay themselves?" questioned the user.
The user said petty cheating cases are common among rescue groups, but if these claims are true, this would be a well thought-out scam
"They have been raising funds and building their business. Their only investment is the veterinary bills they pay for their marketing tools, which are the dogs, and that [is with] people's money," they said.
They also speculated that the meatloaves and cookies that are said to be made by J and sold to raise monthly funds by Shelter A could be supplied by friends that also stand to make a profit from the sympathy of online users.
"We hope we are wrong. If we are right, Shelter A, you should have just told us that you are a business that also helps dogs. You did not have to scam us."
Incidentally, the Facebook user also tied P to Shelter B, another dog shelter that recently went viral
Shelter B — that has 9,000 followers on Facebook — appears to be run by an elderly Chinese man who has not named himself nor revealed his shelter's whereabouts because he is afraid of people dumping more dogs into his care.
The man went viral after posting on 25 August that he contracted COVID-19, and so needed urgent donations to pay for rent and food for the 59 dogs under his care.
A quick check of the Public Bank account that the man pays his rent to belongs to P.
Shelter B has also previously bought dog food from one of the pet shops owned by her.
Another netizen shared a conversation on Instagram that the positive COVID-19 test report posted by Shelter B in August was also quickly taken down after someone spotted that the results belonged to an Indian man with the same last name as P.
Long-time followers, fellow dog rescuers, and regular donors have since voiced their concerns about the shelters too
Several followers, who wished to stay anonymous, have reached out to SAYS to share their questionable experiences with Shelter A.
One said the stray rescues and care for the disabled dogs are likely real, but the shelter's operations are simply not transparent.
Many have noted that Shelter A have never introduced or revealed photos of their dogs' caretakers, and whilst J is always mentioned on Facebook, there is no other information about her, nor have other rescuers ever met her.
"I've spoken to J twice over the phone but never seen her before," a rescuer, who previously handed over two disabled dogs to the shelter, told SAYS.
The rescuer said, however, that she has met S, who was introduced to her as a volunteer by J over the phone, but when she met him to hand over a dog, he said he was J's husband.
"After that, J told me she never tells anyone S is her husband. She always mention as volunteer only," she said.
"They also used one of my dog's photos to raise funds for another dog. When I asked J why, she said the original dog's photo was blocked by Facebook. My dog's condition was quite bad at that time, which is why I think they used my photo."
Meanwhile, other netizens claim that the shelters have been 'Photoshopping' their photos, creating fake guests and volunteers even though the shelter is known for never revealing their location.
As of writing, both the shelters have not refuted the allegations
On Monday, 13 September, a netizen said Shelter A was seen deleting comments by followers questioning them about the allegations on Facebook.
However, in a 1am post on Tuesday, 14 September, Shelter A responded, "Taking necessary actions. Official statement coming soon."
Another netizen from the dog community told SAYS that they are hoping the shelters will come forward with a live session on Facebook and allow visitors to their shelter to prove they are credible and sincere. However, they will stop donating in the meantime.
"It's important for all of you to make your own conclusion and do your own research," they advised readers and donors.
SAYS has reached out to Shelter A, Shelter B, and one of the aforementioned pet shops for comment but has yet to receive any replies.