People who run dog rescues are a rare breed.
Starting a rescue to save dogs from euthanization and find them homes requires that they:
- forfeit time with their family
- spend thousands of dollars to keep their rescue running if donations drop off
- must be on call 24/7
- view firsthand the cruelty and negligence some people inflict their dogs
- drive long distances to save a dog facing euthanization in a shelter
Saving abused, sick, unwanted dogs and finding them homes does offset some of these sacrifices.
But make no mistake, running a dog rescue is tough work, and it can wear down even the most ardent dog rescuer both emotionally and financially.
On top of the challenges they face, dog rescuers must comply with federal, state, and local regulations.
Most of these laws concern what rescuers must do if they want their rescue classified as a 501c3 charity.
Desiderata Rescue founder Miriam Kelly blatantly ignores these laws and appears to run the rescue with no government oversight.
IRS Disclosure Requirements for Charities
Organizations granted 501c3 status are exempt from paying federal income tax as well as state income, property, and/or sales taxes. Donors can also make tax deductible contributions to these charities.
In return for these benefits, charities must file annual tax returns with the IRS. Some must also file state returns.
In addition, they must make their last 3 tax returns and formation documents available to anyone who requests them.
Miriam Kelly, however, doesn’t think these rules apply to her or Desiderata Rescue.
Ms. Kelly started Desiderata Rescue around 2016. The rescue’s stated goal is to pull dogs and cats from overcrowded, high kill animal shelters in Texas and find them homes in Washington.
Based on several documents I found online, Ms. Kelly fraudulently portrays Desiderata Rescue as a tax exempt, 501c3 charity and currently operates the rescue in violation of both federal and state statutes.
501c3 Charity Designation Revoked
On May 15, 2019, the IRS revoked Desiderata Rescue’s charity designation.
This meant Desiderata Rescue could no longer bill itself as a 501c3 charity or claim donations were tax deductible.
The IRS took this action because Desiderata Rescue failed to send tax returns to the agency for 3 years.
Missing 1 year could have been an oversight.
Missing 2 years might have been sloppy bookkeeping.
Missing 3 years indicates to me that the rescue doesn’t want the IRS or the public to see its financial records. Or maybe it has no financial records.
I emailed Miriam Kelly to find out whether or not the IRS still considers Desiderata Rescue a 501c3 charity. Here’s our email exchange:
Seattle DogSpot: “Could you please tell me if Desiderata Rescue is still registered as a 501c3 charity? Both the IRS and the WA Attorney General websites show that the group’s tax exempt status has been revoked so I wanted to check with you to see if that information is accurate. And if it is accurate, is the rescue registered under another name?”
Miriam Kelly: “Out of fodder for your lousy blog, huh? Do not harass me again.”
Seattle DogSpot: “This isn’t harassment. Just trying to determine if you’re operating legally in Washington. If you can’t/won’t provide anything showing the rescue is properly registered I’ll just go with the information I have.”
Miriam Kelly: “I have repeatedly asked you to not email me so yes this is harassment. I don’t care what information you want. You are a blogger who thinks you have some sort of authority. But you are just a slimy weasel. If you wanted to be a real journalist, you would expose (redacted) for the fraud she is but you are too busy sucking her dick. Now, do NOT email me again. Ever.”
Needless to say, she never answered my question.
Desiderate Rescue Falsely Claims Donations are Tax Deductible
Even though the IRS revoked her rescue’s designation as a 501c3 charity almost a year ago, Miriam Kelly continues to claim Desiderata Rescue is a charity and contributions to it are tax deductible.
Desiderata Rescue’s Donation Requests Violate Washington Regulations
Although Ms. Kelly conducts most of Desiderata Rescue’s work from her home in Tacoma, the rescue is and always has been registered in Texas.
The Washington Secretary of State’s office told me that charities posting fundraisers in Washington must register with the Secretary of State’s Charity program and must meet the disclosures that the law requires.
Desiderata Rescue isn’t registered to operate in Washington and doesn’t follow fundraising disclosure rules.
Here are the disclosure requirements you must when fundraising for a 501c3 charity:
- The name of the person making the request
- The charitable organization and the city of its principal place of business
- The published number and web site of the Secretary of State’s office, if requested, for the donor to obtain additional financial or other information on file with the secretary at 1-800-332-4483 www.sos.wa.gov/charities
The Offices of both the Washington Secretary of State and the Attorney General told me they have sent notices to Ms. Kelly about her illegal fundraising on behalf of Desiderata Rescue.
To the best of my knowledge, no one responded to the notices.
Still Ignoring Fundraising Regulations
Because she never sent tax returns to the IRS, we have no idea how much money Ms. Kelly raised for the rescue or where the money went.
Ms. Kelly also continues to flout federal and state laws by operating the rescue and posting fundraisers despite the fact that:
- The IRS revoked Desiderata Rescue’s charity status
- Desiderata Rescue is based in Texas and isn’t a registered charity in Washington
- The rescue’s business license has expired in Texas and Washington
Recently she brought a bunch puppies to Washington and sold them for $600 apiece.
Shut Down Rescues That Break Laws
I understand how tough it is to run an animal rescue. I also understand that filing documents and financial information can be a huge pain in the ass that takes time away from saving dogs.
Still, the vast majority of animal rescues have no problem following laws regardless of how difficult it is. And the public should be able to see financial information of public, tax exempt organizations that get tax deductible donations.
Rescuing dogs doesn’t give you a free pass to run your organization with no oversight.
Washington should shut down animal rescues that ignore the law and hold the people running them accountable.