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Have you ever tried to raise funds to pay for your pet’s medical treatment? Fortunately, with the power of the internet and social media, pet owners are now more empowered than ever to reach a large-scale audience with the financial means to lend a hand for a good cause.

I’ve previously done fundraising to benefit animal welfare through my work with Amazon CARES (see links at end of this article), so I was intrigued to learn of GoFundMe.com, a crowd-funding site that has helped families to raise funds for a variety of pet-health related campaigns. In order to get the best sense of how the process works, I interviewed GoFundMe’s CEO, Brad Damphousse.

Dr. M: What are the most common reasons people use GoFundMe to raise money for pet-related causes?

Brad: Animal lovers most commonly raise money on GoFundMe for vet bills, pet adoptions and animal rescue efforts. Millions of dollars have been raised within GoFundMe's “Animals & Pets” category.

Dr. M: If there is a pet-health concern for which funding is sought, what are the most common concerns?

Brad: Surgeries due to injuries or illnesses are the most common reasons stated by campaigns.

Dr. M: How many people/pets have been helped by GoFundMe and over what time period?

Brad: Of the public campaigns we're able to track, over $3M has been raised by 4,000 campaigns from nearly 70,000 people, although the total number is likely much higher.

Dr. M: If someone is interested in donating money to a pet's cause on GoFundMe, how is it known that the funds go to the betterment of a pet's life?

Brad: A common misconception about GoFundMe is that strangers are rushing in to donate and then hoping for the best. That's simply not the case. GoFundMe makes it very easy for family, friends, and communities to come together and support one another when they need it most. Said otherwise, the trust level is very high on GoFundMe because campaign organizers and their supporters personally know one another — or have a personal connection to the campaign.

Dr. M: What are your top tips for pet owners interested in using GoFundMe to raise money for their cause?

Brad: GoFundMe is designed to ensure success for even the most novice of users. By signing-up for GoFundMe, you're tapping into a very powerful story-telling platform that is engineered for results. Our most successful campaigns do a great job clearly explaining their campaign and posting engaging “update” messages to their supporters.

Dr. M: How did you come up with the plan/concept for GoFundMe to assist people's pets?

Brad: GoFundMe was designed to help people come together online during life's most important moments. Early on it was clear that pets are treated as members of our families and people will do anything in their power to care for these animals. The amount of pet-fundraising activity was so large on GoFundMe that it deserved its own category.

Dr. M: Are there any species limitations on GoFundMe? i.e., will you not host fundraising for animals that should not be kept as pets, such as wildlife?

Brad: GoFundMe requires that all users comply with their local laws and regulations.

Dr. M: Are there any circumstances that will cause GoFundMe to refuse to host fundraising for a pet?

Brad: GoFundMe has a strict content-review policy, so graphic photos of surgeries or injuries are not permitted. Beyond that, the social-accountability of crowd-funding encourages very good behavior.

Dr. M: What are the next steps or plans for GoFundMe in the realm of animal health and wellbeing?

Brad: GoFundMe is very eager to educate the public as to the incredible power of crowd-funding. We believe there is a great opportunity to partner with major pet-focused brands to help encourage more people to help their pets through crowd-funding on GoFundMe.

Dr. M: What are some of GoFundMe's greatest success stories?

GoFundMe is home to some of the most incredible personal fundraising campaigns imaginable. Top-campaigns just within our “Animals & Pets” category include, but are not limited to:

Help us Build an Animal Rescue Center

Fund Garyn's Cancer Surgery & Treatment

French Bulldog Benny Fights Liver Cancer

A big thank you goes out to Damphousse for harnessing the internet’s power for the betterment of animals.

Dr. Patrick Mahaney

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Image: Thinkstock

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