BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Since crowdfunding website GoFundMe.com launched in 2010, more pet owners have launched their own websites to help pay for veterinary expenses.
The company's media director said over the past few years, GoFundMe users have raised more than $36 million to help animals. $700 of that money has recently gone to a little dog from New Iberia named Peeka.
"Peeka's a big celebrity on the porch," said Kylie Landry, Peeka's owner. "She loves to sit on the Magpie porch and just greet the guests as they walk through the gate."
Landry works at The Magpie Café by the Perkins Road overpass and her regulars all know her three-legged dog. Peeka hobbles around the back patio and brings a smile to many of the customers.
"She completely turned my life around," Landry said about her pet.
The recent college graduate said she was prepared to pay for the regular veterinarian appointments and the complications that come with a dog with a disability like Peeka, but a few months ago, she was hit with some unexpected news. Peeka needs lab work for a liver problem that will cost $1,200.
"I'm fresh out of college," Landry said. "I don't really have the funds to you know do $1,200 worth of lab work on her."
Landry created a GoFundMe account in January and is a little more than halfway to her goal.
"I had friends donating $5, $10," Landry said.
Charles Beard, the financial secretary for the Capital Area Animal Welfare Society, said an annual visit for a dog or a cat can cost up to $200 and that's just for vaccines and the exam. He helps animals that are similar to Peeka at the shelter with another crowdfunding site called YouCaring.com.
"It's become a bigger deal over the last couple years," Beard said. "We've used it several times when we have an animal that's had to have emergency surgery."
CAAWS also raises money through YouCaring for a low-income veterinary assistance program.
"I know it causes a lot of anxiety when you have to think about the fact are you going to lose your animal because you can't afford them?" Beard said.
Unfortunately, there are scams out there and volunteers like Beard say they want to make sure the money is going to the animals. There are a couple of things to keep in mind before you donate to a cause online.
"Look at their Facebook page. Don't click on strange links in e-mails. Make sure it's a legitimate organization," Beard said.
In Landry's case and with many others who use GoFundMe, representatives tell us friends and acquaintances seem to step in the most after seeing posts on social media. Landry said the support she has received so far, has inspired her to help others when she is able to do so in the future.
"Because of Peeka, it's kind of opened my eyes to a lot of the nonprofit shelters in Baton Rouge and what they're doing and hopefully, one day, I get to work with those shelters," Landry said.