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Sussex Countian
  • Former Safe Haven employee rebuffs fraud allegations, releases financial records

  • The former Safe Haven Animal Sanctuary employee accused of fraud has made available receipts in an attempt to verify that a fund created in July for the shelter's animals was used for veterinary care.
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  • The former Safe Haven Animal Sanctuary employee accused of fraud has made available receipts in an attempt to verify that a fund created in July for the shelter's animals was used for veterinary care.
    Karli Swope, employed by the Georgetown shelter from early 2011 until she resigned on Aug. 27, released the financial records for the Safe Haven Volunteers Fund last week. The fund was started after the shelter's financial troubles threatened to close its doors.
    In the roughly 30 days the fundraiser was live on www.youcaring.com, more than 85 people donated a total of $7,295, which funded medical care for more than 60 shelter animals, according to Swope.
    "We have received other cash donations that were not marked for the fund since that time," Swope said. "These donations were used to pay for heartworm treatments and other medical issues that have arisen since the closing of the fund."
    According to a release accompanying the financial records, of the $7,295 donated, $220.30 went toward credit card processing fees. On its website, YouCaring states its two processors, PayPal and Wepay, charge fees of 2.9 percent of the donation plus $.30 per transaction.
    That leaves $7,074.70 of usable donations. Because Swope received some cash donations that were not processed through the web site, the veterinary receipts in the records provided exceed the amount raised on YouCaring, for a total of $8,128.42. Of that money, $6,626.68 was spent at local veterinarian care facilities like the Georgetown Society for the Prevention of Animals and Four Paws Animal Hospital in Bridgeville. The Safe Haven Volunteers Fund also spent $104.74 on www.petco.com.
    The YouCaring fund was closed on Aug. 28. Swope said due to a change in the information on the YouCaring website, there was a misconception that money from the fund was going to transfer to her new organization, Grass Roots Rescue Society, which is unassociated with Safe Haven.
    "This did not happen," Swope said. "This information was posted in error and was immediately fixed when brought to my attention."
    The $1,100 leftover when the fund was shut down went into a credit account at Haven Lake Animal Hospital in Milford to be used for Safe Haven dogs, according to the financial records. Swope said Safe Haven management is aware of this credit.
    Early last month, the Safe Haven board of directors released a "fraud alert," accusing Swope and Lewes resident Tyler Mock, who helped start the fund, of fraud, stating the two did not have the right to collect money using the shelter's name.
    The fund, according to the YouCaring website, was to be controlled by volunteers, rather than the Safe Haven board of directors.
    "Donations will be used for food, shelter and veterinarian treatment of the animals," the web site stated. "Not one penny will be used for Safe Haven debt."
    Page 2 of 2 - Lynn Lofthouse, a spokesperson for Safe Haven, said there was never a question as to whether the money was going towards medical care for the shelter's animals; however, she said, the money should have gone through the board, rather than be handled by Swope and Mock.
    "[Swope] was collecting money in our name and we weren't getting it," Lofthouse said. "We had people tell us they had donated to the fund thinking they had donated to Safe Haven."
    Lofthouse added that after the board released the fraud alert, Safe Haven management approached Swope to request money for medical care, which she provided.

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