March 17, 2011 in Washington Voices

Woman solicits donations for Pet Assist 911

Spokane Valley group not registered nonprofit
By The Spokesman-Review
 

A new group called Pet Assist 911 has popped up with promises of free pet food and money for emergency vet care for those on unemployment or other government assistance, but the organization hasn’t registered as a nonprofit and other claims it makes appear to be unfounded.

The group is run by J.C. Montgomery, who says she is a recent transplant from Ohio. A Facebook page and website have been set up to solicit donations, which Pet Assist says will be used for pet care for people who can’t afford it. Both sites request tax-deductible donations, but that’s an option only if an organization has registered as a 501(c)3 nonprofit. Pet Assist 911 does not appear in a national Internal Revenue Service database of registered nonprofits.

Montgomery confirmed that Pet Assist is not a registered nonprofit, saying, “I don’t have the money to purchase that.” The application fee is about $800 and Montgomery said she’s been trying to raise that money. “I’ve been paying for everything myself,” she said.

Montgomery e-mailed the newspaper what appears to be a completed 501(c)3 application. In it she lists herself as president of the organization and states that she will be paid an estimated $30,000 a year. Various other family members are listed as holding positions within the organization, with their estimated earnings adding up to an additional $45,000.

“That’s not even something that’s going to happen,” Montgomery said of the salaries listed. “I was under the impression that I had to do that. I had family members that wanted to be involved. They’re not expecting pay.”

The address listed for the group is a Spokane Valley residence in the 13800 block of East 25th Avenue, which is currently listed for sale. Montgomery said the home belongs to her brother and she’s been staying there to prepare it for sale. “I had no other address to put down,” she said.

Montgomery claimed PetSmart, a pet-products retailer, had pledged to provide pet food in exchange for vouchers she would give away. When pressed for details, she forwarded an e-mail that indicated she had merely registered Pet Assist 911 to receive e-mails from petsmartcharities.org.

As proof of her good intentions Montgomery also forwarded e-mails she sent to attempt to book Spokane Valley’s CenterPlace and the Washington State Governor’s Mansion for fundraising events. In an e-mail exchange with a staff member from Gov. Chris Gregoire’s office, Montgomery included the proposed guest list; it was heavy on the rich and famous, including Betty White, Paul McCartney, Pierce Brosnan, Martha Stewart, Doris Day, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.

Montgomery insists that her new group is legitimate. “I don’t want anyone to think that I’m doing this just to make money,” she said. “This is not a scam.”

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