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By Roz Rogoff

About this blog: In January 2002 I started writing my own online "newspaper" titled "The San Ramon Observer." I reported on City Council meetings and other happenings in San Ramon. I tried to be objective in my coverage of meetings and events, and...  (More)

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Tis the season

Uploaded: Dec 28, 2013

The period between Thanksgiving and New Year's is the season for giving and grasping. All of the charities I've donated to over the past year start sending me gifts I never asked for or want. I have about a dozen 2014 calendars, plus pot holders, gloves, blankets, Indian totems, and tote bags.

Organizations I've never heard of or that sound like others I've contributed to but aren't, send me letters pleading for help for abused animals, starving children, sick children, abandoned children, blind people, abused women, and wounded soldiers -- all of these tearjerkers are very persuasive, but I can't save EVERYONE or everything.

I used to donate to a veteran's organization which was later exposed as a scam with most of the money going to the management and not the vets. Some of these are particularly scummy because they use names very similar to legitimate veteran's charities. So they not only take money away from the vets they purport to help but cast doubt on respectable organizations that really do provide help to vets.

One of the best organizations for veterans is our own Sentinels of Freedom. Mike Conklin started SoF ten years ago in San Ramon and has spread it over the country providing jobs and housing to veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan. If you look at the sidebar on the above article, the Sentinels of Freedom Space Coast (in southern Florida) is listed under The Best Charities with 100% of the money going to services for Vets.

My mother is very savvy about where she donates her money. She told me about Charity Navigator, which rates charities for honesty in spending and record keeping. Before sending money to any charity I check it now on the Charity Navigator website. I also contributed $10 to Charity Navigator because they provide a valuable service. I don't want to waste my money on some Executive's office furniture.

I try to pick charities to donate to because I believe in their causes. I tend to donate mostly to animal welfare organizations and organizations that provide assistance animals for the blind or otherwise handicapped. Most of these organizations are three and four star charities on Charity Navigator, so I know they are doing good work for both people and animals.

Many of these organizations promote donations as "gifts" for friends and relatives. A few years ago I gave my sister and her husband a "gift of a goat" from the Heifer Catalog. Then Charity Navigator down rated Heifer from three stars to two stars, so I gave my sister and brother-in-law maple products from an independent sugarhouse in Maine. I like to support small businesses and family farms in the USA too.

Heifer.org is challenging Charity Navigator's methods and ratings. In the future I shall check the BBB Wise Giving Alliance too.

Most of these organizations tout the tax deduction as a reason to increase your year-end contributions, but I don't contribute enough annually to make the charitable deduction worthwhile. Even when I list all of the charities I've contributed to over the last year my itemized deductions still fall below the standard deduction, so there isn't any tax benefit for me to make a bunch of last minute contributions before the ball drops on 2013.
What is it worth to you?


Posted by dogfather, a resident of Danville,
on Dec 29, 2013 at 1:13 pm

Hi Roz: being an animal welfare gal, I hope you won't mind if I horn-in and ask folks to consider the distinction between the national groups -- like HSUS and ASPCA and local Rescues like Safe Cat Foundation Web Link and Muttville (all older dogs) Web Link .

The nationals do a very good job of advocacy for critters (HSUS was behind Prop 2, for instance), but despite the implications in their Sara MacLachlan-fueled commercials, they do not have shelters of their own -- nor are local Humanes and SPCAs affiliated with them in.any.way. So, if you want your donation to go for good, general purpose advocacy and standard-setting, the nationals are a good choice.

If, however, you want your donation to have a direct impact on the lives and adoption prospects of local animals, then please give locally. You can email Roz for ideas, and if need be, she can forward any canine inquiries to me for response.


Posted by Roz Rogoff, the San Ramon Observer,
on Dec 29, 2013 at 2:06 pm

Roz Rogoff is a registered user.

Thank you for the advice, Dog Father. You are correct that the ASPCA and HSUS work to get laws passed and enforced. They do not have shelters, but they rescue abused animals and work with veterinarians and rescue groups to provide medical care and fostering until the animals can be adopted.

My blog this week wasn't intended to be about animal rescue and adoption, but as long as we are on the subject, here are some local agencies and shelter where adopters can find dogs, cats, bunnies, and other adoptable pets in need of good homes. Please give a homeless animal the gift of a family this season.

I'm listing some links to local rescue groups and shelters, but the comment box only accepts four. So I abbreviated some of the more obvious URLs.

Safe Cat Foundation safecatfoundation.org

Contra Costa County Animal Control in Martinez Web Link

Tri-Valley Animal Rescue (TVAR) tvar.org

East County Animal Shelter in Dublin Web Link

The East Bay SPCA across the street from the County shelter in Dublin eastbayspca.org

There are other organizations in this region that rescue or foster specific breeds of cats or dogs (as you do with Border Collies), or bunnies, ferrets, horses, and donkeys.


Posted by MLOliver, a resident of San Ramon,
on Dec 30, 2013 at 11:40 am

We have many excellent rescue groups in the area and they all deserve consideration. Roz, your list is a good start. All of our animals have been rescues of some sort, and all of them have given us immense pleasure and entertainment. Most have been older, less adoptable animals. I strongly encourage those considering a pet addition to the family look at the sources Roz listed and consider an adult animal. Puppies and kittens are adorable, but they can also be difficult to train into good family pets. The rescue groups are quite good at placing animals that fit well with family situations.


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