Animals’ Angels of Germany alleges unauthorized takeover of U.S. Animals’ Angels

From ANIMAL PEOPLE November-December 2011

FRANKFURT--Animals’ Angels founder Christa Blanke has advised key donors and ANIMAL
PEOPLE that   her charity,  founded in 1989 in Frankfurt,  Germany,  no longer has any control over the activities of a former U.S. affiliate, Animals’ Angels Inc.,  based in Westminster, Maryland.

Affirmed Animals’ Angels Inc. executive director Sonja Meadows in an e-mail to ANIMAL
PEOPLE,  “We do share a similar logo,  mission and approach with the German organization
Animals’ Angels.  However, while the organizations have worked together occasionally
in the past,  there are no legal or business affiliations with this entity.  Christa Blanke,
president of the German organization, served as a board member of Animals’ Angels Inc. until
December 2010.”

Blanke’s Animals’ Angels is noted for expos=E9s of the traffic in horses and more recently heifers from farms in eastern Europe to slaughter in western Europe and Turkey. Meadows’ listing as a member of Saving America’s Horses advisory board states that she “was an attorney before she founded Animals’ Angels.”  Animals’ Angels hired Meadows in Germany and sent her to the U.S. in 2007 to investigate livestock transport,  Blanke told
animal people.

“Her work was financially supported from Germany,”  Blanke said.   “In due time,”  Blanke
continued,  “Animals’ Angels Inc. was founded, with me as director of the board.”   Animals’ Angels in Germany sent Animals’ Angels Inc.  400,000 euros “plus help with investigations by freelancers paid from Germany,  and more than 50,000 euros paid by one of our supporters directly into her account,”  Blanke said. “However,  in 2009 I got severely ill,”

Blanke continued.  “After a while no reports and pictures were sent to our office in Frankfurt
and her financial statements were useless.  When I started working again in summer 2010,”  Blanke
said,  “I demanded detailed statements,”  to “describe her activities and the results,”   and to “state clearly how the money we sent was spent,  and how much money came from U.S. supporters.”

A dispute followed over Meadows’ compensation and that of her husband,  Keith Meadows,  a part-time employee who was on the Animals’ Angels Inc. board,   along with Blanke and several other people.  “Immediately after,”
Blanke said,  “Sonja stopped communication with the office in Frankfurt.  She activated a new web site,”  in place of one  controlled from =46rankfurt.  “Our lawyer did some research and we came to know that I was thrown out from the board,”  Blanke said.  “Since we had protection for our logo and name only in Europe,  there was no way we could take her to court.”

Sonja Meadows was paid $110,620 in 2008, $107,404 in 2009,  and $106,786 in 2010, according to IRS Form 990 filings.  Keith Meadows was paid $9,600 in 2008,  $51,757 in 2009,  and $64,392 in 2010.  Board member Terry Torreance was paid $12,100 in 2009 and $12,810 in 2010. Other board members,  including Blanke,  were not
paid.  Animals’ Angels Inc. in mid-2009 appears to have begun fundraising through Fund Raising Strategies Inc.–a firm headed by fundraising counsel Bruce Eberle.  ANIMAL PEOPLE has since 2000 repeatedly reported about Eberle’s fundraising methods and his record as a fundraiser for clients who include opponents of many animal advocacy goals.

ANIMAL PEOPLE assesses the fiscal efficiency of animal charities by comparing program expense to the sum of expenses declared on IRS Form 990 as “management and general,” “fundraising,”  and “joint costs” of mailings
which are claimed as program expense.   Since 1992 the average share of budget spent by animal charities for “management and general,” “fundraising,”  and “joint costs” appears to have been 28%.   Since 2007 the average share spent for “management and general,”  “fundraising,” and “joint costs” by animal charities known to
have been represented by Fund Raising Strategies has been 65%.  Among these charities have been =46ront Range Equine Rescue,  Lifesavers Wild Horse Rescue,  Noah’s Lost Ark,  Peaceful Valley Donkey Sanctuary,  People Helping Horses,  Redwings Horse Sanctuary,  Tiger Creek,  and Tiger Haven.

Wildlife Waystation is also an Eberle client, but  IRS Form 990 data indicates that only slightly more than half of Waystation fundraising costs go through Eberle firms,  bringing in about a third of Waystation income.
According to IRS Form 990 filings, Animals’ Angels Inc. raised $123,646 in 2007, $301,277 in 2008,  and $363,163 in 2009,  but raised $969,639 in 2010.  Fund Raising Strategies was paid $109,763.  Altogether,  Animals’ Angels
Inc. in 2010 spent $404,187 for fundraising; $31,084 for “management and general”;  and $405,157 for program service,  all of it declared as “joint costs.”  If this was correct,  Animals Angels  Inc. spent 100% of budget on fundraising, “management and general,”  and mailings. Examining itemized expenses in consideration that
an error might have been made on the “joint costs” statement suggests that the actual sum of Animals’ Angels fundraising,  “management and general,”  and “joint costs” may have been about 66% of budget.

Two other animal charities represented by Eberle bear names used by foreign organizations. The first Tiger Haven was founded in India in 1959 by Billy Arjan Singh,  who died in January 2010.  Singh’s Tiger Haven refuge,  which became Dudhwa National Park,  was never associated with the U.S. Tiger Haven.  Founded in 1992,  the U.S.
Tiger Haven began fundraising through Eberle in 1997.  The U.S.-based Redwings Horse Sanctuary was formed as Horsepower Sanctuaries Inc.  The original Redwings Horse Sanctuary was founded in Britain in 1984.  Horsepower Sanctuaries in 1993 announced that it had become an affiliate, Redwings Horse Sanctuary of America. The
relationship between Redwings of Britain and Redwings of the U.S. appears to have ended, however,  before Redwings of the U.S.  began fundraising via Eberle firms,  circa 2006.

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