I’ve been duped.
Millions of people worldwide sent the stock of tissue makers skyrocketing as they watched a video of a distraught Rottweiler named Brutus laying with his head on his companion Hank, also a Rottweiler.
According to the dogs’ owner, Brett Bennett, Hank died in his sleep. The week before Bennett said he had a “breakdown” in front of the dogs that upset Hank so much he stopped eating. Bennett said Hank never came out of his “grieving,” and eventually died.
More than 2.5 million people worldwide have watched Bennett’s video; it probably transformed most of them (including me) into a blubbering mess of tears.
Not long after I posted the video, a woman in Washington named Anne Fromm sent me messages about Bennett, who is unemployed and has a sketchy past. Several of them included examples of him using his dogs to make pleas for money.
So I did a little digging and quickly found a fundraiser Bennett posted on Indigogo.com to raise $100,000 entitled “Grieving Rottweiler looks to help buy new home, with your help, to rescue more animals in need.”
I also found this fundraiser from early January: “Help Hank and Brutus Raise Money for a New Home” which raised over $6000.
Bennett raised over $6000 in January to help him and his dogs find a home. Then, a week after Hank died, he started another fundraiser to raise an additional $100,000 to buy a home.
A cynical person might say that he used Hank’s death to leverage more money from the millions of people touched by the video.
Here’s another odd thing. According to the form below from VCA Animal Hospital, Bennett took Hank to be cremated on January 22, but the video was uploaded on January 20. What did he do with the body of a 150-pound Rottweiler for 2 days?
In a text message exchange this morning with someone who questioned his fundraising tactics, Bennett virtually admitted he was scamming donors by forcefully declaring it was none of anyone’s business that he’s using the money to pay off “legal matters” and “everyday bills.”
He also added angrily that, ” I can pretend to spend it on whatever these gullable (his spelling, not mine) will believe.”
Hmmm – I think the Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson may want to look into how Bennett is spending the money people donated. It IS his business.
Here’s either another money making scheme or just bizarre behavior. Last summer, Bennett threatened to sell Hank and Brutus for $3500 to drug dealers who were going to use them for dog fighting. Not surprisingly, he said he’s going to use the money to get a new place (sound familiar?).
In this next screenshot he said, “I just sold them. Hope my boys learn how to fight for their lives…Goodbye Hank and Brutus. Daddy is so proud of all the money you made for my lifestyle… Hope you like your new owners.”
Here he says, “They are not my dogs anymore. Sorry, money talks and bs walks, and “they are going to a home where the new owner trains Rottweilers how to fight…you mad?”
I don’t know whether or not Bennett collected $3500 from people who didn’t want him to sell the dogs to these mythical drug dealers, but he obviously never sold them.
Another apparent embellishment in Bennett’s story is that Hank and Brutus are twins from the same litter. But in this video (which he recently took down) he shows them meeting for the first time.
Bennett also doesn’t appreciate it when someone calls him out. Look at the last line of this Facebook post to see what he called a woman who criticized him.
Most responsible dog owners don’t post pictures of their dogs like these.
You probably won’t be surprised to find out that Bennett has a criminal history, including a hit and run incident.
You can see his lengthy record on this link at King County Superior Court website.
King County issued a bench warrant for his arrest on December 14, 2014.
He also has a questionable rescue called Rottweiler Twins Animal Rescue that, you guessed it, collects donations for his “rescue work.” But the site isn’t legal because it isn’t registered in Washington and doesn’t contain all the information required to solicit donations.
The bottom line is:
DON’T GIVE ANY MONEY TO BRETT BENNETT.
Many thanks to Anne Fromm for letting me know about this scam artist.
Feel free to file a complaint to his fundraising tactics by filling out this form on the Attorney General’s website.