I’ve been duped.
Millions of people worldwide sent the stock of tissue makers skyrocketing as they watched a video of a distraught Rottweiler named Brutus laying with his head on his companion Hank, also a Rottweiler.
According to the dogs’ owner, Brett Bennett, Hank died in his sleep. The week before Bennett said he had a “breakdown” in front of the dogs that upset Hank so much he stopped eating. Bennett said Hank never came out of his “grieving,” and eventually died.
More than 2.5 million people worldwide have watched Bennett’s video, and it probably transformed most of them (including me) into a blubbering mess of tears.
Not long after I posted the video, a woman in Washington named Anne Fromm began sending me messages about Bennett, who is unemployed and has a sketchy past, that included several examples of using his dogs to make pleas for money.
So I did a little digging and quickly found a fundraiser Bennett posted on Indigogo.com to raise $100,000 entitled “Grieving Rottweiler looks to help buy new home, with your help, to rescue more animals in need.”
Bennett started this fundraising page on January 30. Photo from Seattle DogSpot.
Bennett started this fundraising page on January 30. Image from Seattle DogSpot.
Bennett raised over $6000 in January to help him and his dogs find a home. Then, a week after Hank died, he started another fundraiser to raise an additional $100,000 to help him find a home.
A cynical person might say that he used Hank’s death to leverage more money from the millions of people touched by the video.
Here’s another odd thing. According to the form below from VCA Animal Hospital, Bennett took Hank to be cremated on January 22, but the video was uploaded on January 20. What did he do with the body of a 150-pound Rottweiler for 2 days?
Hank’s cremation bill from VCA. Credit withheld.
In a text message exchange this morning with someone who questioned his fundraising tactics, Bennett virtually admitted he was scamming donors by forcefully declaring it was none of anyone’s business that he’s using the money to pay off “legal matters” and “everyday bills.”
He also added angrily that, ” I can pretend to spend it on whatever these
gullable (his spelling, not mine) will believe.”
Apparently Brett Bennett is going to use the money people donated for him to find a home to pay lawyer bills and everyday expenses. Photo credit withheld.
Hmmm – I think the Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson may want to look into how Bennett is spending the money people donated. It IS his business.
Here’s either another money making scheme or just bizarre behavior. Last summer, Bennett threatened to sell Hank and Brutus for $3500 to drug dealers who were going to use them for dog fighting. Not surprisingly, he said he’s going to use the money to get a new place (sound familiar?).
Last summer Bennett said he was going to sell his dog to drug dealers who wanted to used them for dog fighting. Image from Anne Fromm.
In this next screenshot he said, “I just sold them. Hope my boys learn how to fight for their lives…Goodbye Hank and Brutus. Daddy is so proud of all the money you made for my lifestyle … Hope you like your new owners.”
In a later message, Bennett said he sold the dogs to the supposed drug dealers. Image from Anne Fromm.
Here he says, “They are not my dogs anymore. Sorry, money talks and bs walks, and “they are going to a home where the new owner trains Rottweilers how to fight…you mad?”
Bennett again claims he sold the dogs to drug dealers. Image from Anne Fromm.
I don’t know whether or not Bennett collected $3500 from people who didn’t want him to sell the dogs to these mythical drug dealers, but he obviously never sold them.
Another apparent embellishment in Bennett’s story is that Hank and Brutus are twins from the same litter. But in this video (which has since been taken down) he shows them meeting for the first time.
Despite claiming his dog are “twins,” this video posted by Bennett shows them meeting for the first time. Image from Buzzfeed.
Bennett also doesn’t appreciate it when someone calls him out. Look at the last line of this screenshot of a Facebook post to see what he called a woman who criticized him.