WSVN — The owner of a South Florida pet rescue says she is shutting down following a 7News investigation. Our report revealed that donations to the shelter were being used to pay personal expenses. Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero is back on the case.
My second meeting with Elizabeth Bressack started with a handshake. It was far more cordial than our first encounter.
Last month, Bressack ignored questions about how she spent money donated to her rescue, called Be Kind to Animals.
Carmel Cafiero: “I’ve been given some documents, and it looks like you use that account for personal expenses.”
A group of animal advocates provided 7News with the rescue group’s PayPal account records for the first six months of last year.
Sue Sweet: “I was in shock.”
Sue Sweet reviewed the account and came away convinced Bressack spent tens of thousands of dollars, not on the animals, but on herself.
Our review of the records clearly show money spent for the animals.
But there are other entries that appear personal. Among them, hundreds for theater tickets and stays at local hotels. There are restaurant bills, doctor’s visits, nail salons, even iTunes and doughnuts charged to the account.
Elizabeth Bressack, Be Kind to Animals Rescue: “Yes, I did not appropriately handle — a few thousand dollars were used for personal expenses instead of writing myself a paycheck.”
And now Bressack admits her mistake, but says only about $3,000 were for personal purchases.
Elizabeth Bressack: “I messed up. I honestly messed up as far as how I did what I was supposed to do in order to account for everything.”
She justifies it by pointing out she did not take a salary.
Carmel Cafiero: “That would have been disclosed to the public if somebody wanted to research you, as opposed to your showing that you didn’t take any money.”
Elizabeth Bressack: “I messed up.”
Bressack talked with me at her home, which is also the location of her rescue group.
But not for long. She says she is closing the charity and turning over dozens of animals to another South Florida rescue, Glimmer of Life.
Carmel Cafiero: “So how many animals are you going to be taking care of?”
Eleonora Bonfini, Gimmer of Life: “All of them. All of them that are here need help and need to get placed into homes as quickly as possible after we vet everybody.”
And while money is a major issue, activists also question the fact that Bressack allowed big dogs and small dogs to be kept in the same enclosure.
Elizabeth Bressack: “Sometimes the dogs were mixed, yes.
Carmel Cafiero: “It’s kinda risky, isn’t it, for a little old dog?”
Elizabeth Bressack: “Yeah, it was.”
So risky that dogs died. Among them, an older bulldog named Mia, who was euthanized after she was attacked.
Carmel Cafiero: “How many did you lose that way?”
Elizabeth Bressack: “We lost more than one. A few.”
Carmel Cafiero: “What’s a few?”
Elizabeth Bressack: “Maybe eight or nine.”
Bressack blames employees saying they were supposed to be watching the dogs. Meanwhile, the state continues its review of Be Kind to Animals’ financial records. Bressack says she’s not worried.
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