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Hawkins County Humane Society reports membership fundraiser scam

January 28th, 2014 6:58 am by Jeff Bobo

Hawkins County Humane Society reports membership fundraiser scam

ROGERSVILLE — When the Hawkins County Humane Society (HCHS) holds its annual board of directors election Thursday morning, some people may be surprised to learn they’re not eligible to vote or run for a board seat.

This past Friday HCHS board chairman Eddie McNally filed a fraud complaint with the Hawkins County Sheriff’s Office claiming that an organization calling itself “Green Foster Pet Network Inc.” has been selling humane society memberships for $10 each.

McNally told the Times-News Monday his board has not authorized this organization to sell memberships, nor has the HCHS received any funds from this organization.

At 10 a.m. Thursday, the HCHS will hold its annual board election. 

Only HCHS members are eligible to seek election to the seven member board of directors, and only HCHS members are allowed to vote. 

According to HCHS bylaws, those eligible members must have attended three consecutive monthly board meetings and be up to date on their annual $10 dues.

As of Monday there are only 11 eligible members on the HCHS.

McNally said he believes some people were duped by a Facebook  page for Green Foster Pet Network Inc. 

That page has now been taken down, but McNally said he printed it out while it was still up.

“They were promising people if they paid $10 membership dues they were automatically a member of the Hawkins County Humane Society and had the privilege of a vote, but that’s just not correct at all,” McNally told the Times-News Monday. “I have no idea how many people have been duped, but there’s been at least two who represented themselves as board members to the Hawkins County Humane Society, which in fact, I know they’re not. I suspect there’s more than one collecting these fees, but I’m not sure.”

Complicating matters is a fire marshal’s ruling which states no more than 11 people are allowed inside the Humane Society facility at one time. That means some people who show up for the Thursday morning board meeting won’t be admitted if the attendance exceeds 11.

McNally added, “What’s going to put me in a bad position Thursday morning is there may be a mob of these people who want to attend the meeting who assume they are eligible members, and I’m going to have the unpleasant task of informing them, I’m sorry but you’re not.”

The names of the eligible HCHS members include Roni Vleminckx, Sue Pierce, Don Beger, Rose Mary Kent, Bob Kent, Bonnie Shaw, Smokie Ward, Danny Alvis, McNally, Dina Alley, and Sandy Behnke.

There’s been a power struggle on the HCHS board in recent months. Some HCHS members, as well as some very vocal non-members, object to euthanasia and want the HCHS to be a no-kill facility. 

McNally and other current board members don’t believe that’s possible at this time.

“I’m not opposed to that, but at this time it’s not economically feasible,” McNally said. “We’re taking 60-80 cats per month, and 90 percent of those number are feral cats, so what in the world can we do?”

The Green Foster Pet Network Inc. fundraiser is now being investigated by the Hawkins County Sheriff’s Office. Chief Deputy Tony Allen said questions need to be answered such as who collected money, what happened to the “dues” collected, was there intent to defraud, and was this a legitimate attempt at fundraising to benefit the humane society.

There is also expected to be a law enforcement presence at Thursday morning’s HCHS meeting to assist with crowd control.

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