Tuesday, October 10, 2000

Phone solicitor probed

Little money goes to police, forms show

The Associated Press

        LOUISVILLE — The state attorney general's office is looking into a telephone soliciting company whose fund-raisers have been calling Kentuckians on behalf of the Indiana-based Dogs Against Drugs.

        The attorney general's office said it was looking into “possible statutory and regulatory violations” by Dogs Against Drugs and Non-Profit Services Inc., the Nashville, Tenn., telephone solicitor. An attorney general's spokesman would not provide any more information.

        The executive director of Dogs Against Drugs said his group has helped many police agencies. No one reached at the office of Non-Profit Services would comment.

        The Indiana-based Dogs Against Drugs says its purpose is to help police departments establish canine units and — under its “Puppy Patrol” program — arrange drug-education visits to schools by volunteer police officers with dogs.

        Non-Profit Services reported net proceeds of $766,278 in 1998 and gave 12 percent to groups it represents, including Dogs Against Drugs, according to its most recent financial statement.

        Dogs Against Drugs itself spends 47 percent of its money on expenses, including $70,000 a year in salaries to officials, according to its 1998 federal 990 form that tax-exempt organizations must file with the Internal Revenue Service.

        That means for every $1 donated, 12 cents goes to Dogs Against Drugs, and of that, the group spends about 6.4 cents directly on its police dog programs.

        In Kentucky, Dogs Against Drugs gets mixed reviews from law enforcement agencies it says it has helped.

        LaRue County Sheriff Merle Edlin said the group gave his office $7,000 several years ago to buy and train a German shepherd. “They gave us an opportunity we would have never had,” Sheriff Edlin said.

        But Bowling Green police Sgt. Robert Simpson said he advises people not to give to Dogs Against Drugs — or anyone who uses telephone solicitors to raise money for police — because most of the money goes to the for-profit fund-raiser.

        He said the group may have given money to a private dog trainer, who in turn donated the first police dog to Bowling Green around 1993. The dog, named Asko, was later injured and had to be put to sleep, Sgt. Simpson said.

        Sgt. Simpson said he became suspicious when he got a call at home about six months after the dog died. He said a solicitor for Dogs Against Drugs asked for money to pay the injured dog's medical bills.

        Sgt. Simpson said he asked the attorney general's office to look into the claims the solicitor made but wasn't aware that his complaint resulted in any action.


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