LoveAnimals.org taps power of small donations to give a big boost to nonprofit animal projects

Features Associated Press

A large number of small online donations can turn pet projects into big lifesavers for animals.

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LoveAnimals.org, a year-old crowdfunding site, is believed to be the first devoted to aiding just pets and wildlife. It has tapped into the power of online contributions, where people can give what they can, whether $5 or $500, to help a more costly project come to fruition. Through Love Animals, donors can help nonprofit sanctuaries, pet rescues, animal hospitals, zoos and aquariums provide care and extra amenities for dogs, elephants, otters, horses and everything in between.

Animal efforts appear on other sites using the popular crowdfunding technique, such as Indiegogo, Kickstarter and Gofundme, but they are mixed with non-animal causes and for-profit companies. In July, the ResQwalk mobile app launched through Indiegogo, allowing people to raise money for animal rescues and shelters in the U.S. and Canada every time they go walking.

"It's easier to get many people to give small sums of money than to get just a few people to give you large amounts of money," said Sarah Timms, a Colorado attorney who founded LoveAnimals.org.

The site gave a new chance at life to a kitten named Roger, who was thrown from a moving car in Colorado in early September and required a leg amputation.

Longmont Humane Society in Colorado, which took in the 1-pound kitten, doubled its goal of $650 in less than 24 hours of online fundraising. Twenty people donated between $5 and $375 through Love Animals to help pay for medical bills and rehab for Roger.

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Timms founded the free site after reading a study from Massolution, a crowdfunding research company, which said crowdfunding raises billions of dollars globally every year.

"We will make sure animals get a piece of that pie," Timms said.

Love Animals, which will only post animal campaigns that come through a nonprofit organization, recently got a boost from Ellen DeGeneres' natural pet food company. Halo, Purely for Pets became the site's first founding corporate sponsor, a five-year commitment that came with cash infusion.

Whether the cause is a companion animal like Roger, who was adopted on Oct. 3, or saving chimpanzees, farm animals or dolphins, it appears on LoveAnimals.org, Timms said.

Carole Baskin, the CEO of Big Cat Rescue, which she founded in Tampa, Florida, 22 years ago, used Love Animals to raise money for a fence extension that would foil a female tiger's escape attempts and allow her to join her siblings in the sanctuary's new outdoor enclosure.

The rescue is home to more than 100 lions, tigers, bobcats, cougars and other abandoned, abused or orphaned wild cats, including Amanda and brothers Andre and Arthur.

Big Cat Rescue built a 2.5-acre open-air enclosure last year with money raised the old-fashioned way. It is surrounded by a 15-foot fence topped with a 5-foot overhang so the 150-pound cats can safely roam, run and play in an area with a swimming hole and unobstructed views of the sky.

But Amanda, who previously had tried to escape, wasn't allowed in the area until Baskin's father invented a short, drape-like addition for the overhang to keep her in the enclosure.

The rescue's $20,000 campaign for the addition last November garnered donations ranging from $2 to $1,000, allowing Amanda to stretch her legs, watch over her brothers and get in good roar.