This morning several people contacted me about a $10,000 fundraiser on youcaring.com for an animal rescue in Eastern Washington.
The Shepherd’s Way Animal Rescue is run by Allan and Carrie Aenk. They claim they have set up a “Sanctuary for Wildfire victims in the cities surrounding them” and has opened its property to “dozens of displaced families with a tent city on their 500 acres.”
On August 21 Allan Aenk the rescue also claimed that the ranch was “the official command center for volunteer fire fighters. We need prayer and finances for food to feed the 150 firefighters that will be here by Monday.”
On August 24 the Rescue claimed it was “about 3.5 miles to the closest fire. Their property is safe for now. Many more people forced to leave their homes are still seeking refuge on the Sanctuary’s grounds.”
The sources that contacted me question the legitimacy of the fundraising appeal because of several inconsistencies in its story:
- According to realtor.com, the Shepherd’s Way property is only 20 acres, not 500 acres.
- Someone that drove by the Shepherd’s Way property today saw no tents with displaced families and no “command center for volunteer firefighters.”
- On August 21 the rescue post the following message:“Level 3 evacuation order just given. Fast moving wall of flames headed in our direction. We have less then
5 minutes. Love you guys.” However, sources told me the fire never came within 8 miles of the Shepherd’s Way property. Furthermore, a level 3 fire evacuation means the fire is in the area, people are to leave immediately. But it never explained what happened after the evacuation order was given.
- The picture of the tents on the fundraising appeal was NOT taken on its property. It is a picture from a story from last September about a wildfire in California. We have yet to see any pictures of the tents of displaced families or the firefighter command center on Shepherd’s Way property.
- One of the pictures of a raging fire on the fundraising appeal is NOT from the current Washington Wildfires.
- A woman named Stephanie Lonsdale contacted Jim Caruso who is the Emergency Services Director for Stevens County, WA who said the fundraising appeal was a fraud.
- The fundraising appeal was written and posted by a group in Florida called Lost Pet Found Pet. It is unclear why a rescue group in Florida is raising $10,000 for an animal rescue group in Washington.
I’ve called and emailed Shepherd’s Way to get their side of the story but I haven’t heard back from anyone there.
While I don’t have official confirmation yet that the YouCaring fundraiser for Shepherd’s Way is a fraud, there a plenty of red flags about the appeal that raise serious questions about its validity.
I recommend that people give to other causes to help the residents and firefighters and Eastern Washington until the validity of the Shepherd’s Way appeal can be confirmed.