WSVN — If you donate to charity, it’s not unreasonable to expect some of that money will go for fundraising and expenses. However, critics of one South Florida charity are challenging how donated dollars have been spent and the state is now reviewing those records. Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero is on the case.

For years, Elizabeth Bressack has run a pet rescue organization in South Florida. And for years, she has received donations based — in part — on Facebook solicitations to help her help pets in need.

But now, a group of animal advocates is questioning how Bressack has used some of that money.

Sue Sweet: “I was in shock.”

Sue Sweet says she gained access to financial records for Bressack’s Be Kind to Animals charity while volunteering. She provided 7News with the organization’s PayPal account records for the first half of last year.

And while the records clearly reflect money spent on the animals for vet bills and supplies and grooming… other entries appear to be of a personal nature.

For example, hundreds of dollars for theater tickets, hundreds more for stays at local hotels. There were payments for restaurants, doctor visits, nail salons … even iTunes and doughnuts have been charged to the account.

Sweet says the rescue took in almost $53,000 in donations from January to July of last year, but spent under $10,000 on the animals.

Sue Sweet: “Of that $53,000, looking through all the paperwork, approximately $37,000 was spent on herself.”

Sweet questions the expenses. But how does Bressack justify them?

Carmel Cafiero: “I’ve been given some documents, and it looks like you use that account for personal expenses.”

She wouldn’t answer.

Carmel Cafiero: “What do you say to people who donate to you for the dogs and cats for the money being used like that?”

Bressack went into a building…

Carmel Cafiero: “Hi there.”

Elizabeth Bressack: “I have Channel 7 News here trying to investigate me.”

And later came out with her cell phone recording…

Carmel Cafiero: “Are you going to talk to me about these expenses?”

But Bressack wasn’t talking even after she asked to see the records. Records she refused to return.

Elizabeth Bressack: “Thank you.”

Carmel Cafiero: “You’re welcome — give them back.”

Elizabeth Bressack: “No.”

But the State already has the documents it needs and they are being reviewed by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

Meanwhile, Bressack has another headache. Code Enforcement has cited her for having too many dogs at her home-based rescue in Dania Beach. She’s only allowed to have three. Carmel Cafiero, 7News.

IF YOU HAVE A STORY FOR CARMEL TO INVESTIGATE:
Miami-Dade: 305-627-CLUE
Broward: 954-921-CLUE
E-mail: clue@wsvn.com
You can also send a tweet to @carmelonthecase

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