California Attorney General Xavier Becerra is suing a Los Angeles-based animal rescue, alleging it misrepresented the conditions of animals online to illegally raise thousands that were then used for other purposes.
Little Love Rescue and its founder, Brittany Littleton, began soliciting donations in 2014 through GoFundMe, Facebook and Instagram, despite not being registered as a nonprofit with the state, officials said.
“Ms. Littleton launched illegal fundraising campaigns that exaggerated and misrepresented the condition of purportedly rescued animals in order to garner donations from sympathetic consumers,” the Attorney General’s Office said in a news release.
In one example, Littleton told donors that a dog named Luna needed spinal surgery that would cost $6,000 — eventually raising $8,000 for the dog.
But Luna didn’t need the surgery and the funds raised were used for other purposes, according to the complaint. Officials said it’s still unclear what the money was used for or how much more the rescue is believed to have fraudulently raised.
A man named Elliot Haas sued Little Love Rescue last month, claiming that it stole Luna from him — a claim Littleton denies, saying the dog was surrendered to her.
Littleton claims the dog was paralyzed, covered with sores and needed to be hospitalized for weeks to be able to walk again.
“I am afraid for my rescue, my business, and my life,” she wrote in an Instagram post, asking followers for donations to help cover her legal fees.
Officials say Littleton also misled donors by claiming that Little Love Rescue was tax exempt when it was not.
“Unfortunately, charity rip-offs abound. Brittany Littleton ran her operation for years without ever complying with the law,” Becerra said in a written statement.
Becerra issued a cease and desist order that prohibits Little Love Rescue from soliciting any more donations.