Reporter Story Puts Severe Crimp in Animal Rescue Con
By Mike Hudson
Amanda and Ron Pierzowski, the Illinois couple whose phony dog adoption racket was shut down following a December expose in the Niagara Falls Reporter, have resurfaced in Wisconsin, a state where the animal rescue laws are far more relaxed.
The Pierzowskis used third party "pullers" to take dogs from animal shelters located mainly in Southern California. Some of the dogs went to the couple's residence outside Chicago; others went to foster homes; those lacking in the "cuteness" department or exhibiting behavioral problems went to other shelters, where most were killed.
Four dogs documented in the Reporter story died while being "cared for" in foster homes.
Using Facebook, Twitter and other social media, the couple would raise money in PayPal "pledges" for the care and feeding of the animals prior to selling them at staged events in Illinois and Washington State, where they charged as much as $350 for dogs they purchased for $10 from the shelters.
The racket provided the Pierzowski family with their primary source of income, scammed from hundreds of dog lovers from around the world.
The case of Marchella Gospodinova is typical.
"I am one of the many victims, as I pledged on Facebook and paid a sum for a shelter dog which she was supposed to have rescued," Gospodinova told the Reporter. "The dog was networked and many people pledged on it back in the middle of October 2013."
"Shortly after Amanda announced the dog was rescued, all of the pledgers received a private message on Facebook for collecting the money. I think the sum to be collected for that dog was $500," she said.
That was when she read the Reporter story and realized she'd been conned.
"After I found out that Amanda's rescue is a fraud, I asked the woman who fostered the dog, Gina Ferraro, if she received any money from the rescue to help with expenses for the dog. Her answer was no," Gospodinova said.
In speaking with Ferraro, Gospodinova discovered that the dog was adopted and Ferraro paid for everything on her own, including the dog's airfare to his new home.
"I contacted PayPal to request my money back as it was not used for the purpose it was sent. PayPal told me the money was not refundable," she added.
In addition to leaving Illinois, the Pierzowski's also stopped using Facebook as a fundraising venue. It is possible although unclear whether they merely changed Facebook identities.
The Reporter story also had the effect of ending the couple's activities in Southern California. The third party "pullers" who used to work for them have all distanced themselves from the Pierzowskis, refusing to participate in what must be considered a scam.
The world of dog rescue is tiny and insular. Word gets around fast. Sometimes all it takes is a newspaper article.
|Niagara Falls Reporter - Publisher Frank Parlato Jr.||www.niagarafallsreporter.com||
Feb 25, 2014