Dogs saved as PayPal agrees to unlock cash

The Independent has helped ensure a Happy Christmas for at-risk dogs.

Dogs looked after by a rescue service faced being destroyed this week after PayPal froze the rescuer's account. But after The Independent challenged the e-money firm, PayPal agreed to unblock the cash, ensuring crucial kennel payments could be met, guaranteeing a safe Christmas for the dogs.

Second Chance Poundies was set up in March by healthcare assistant Clare Massey with the aim of offering rescue space for dogs in pounds which faced being put to sleep because they remained unclaimed by their owners.

"Dogs have by law only seven days to be reclaimed by their owner after which, if they are not bought by a member of the public, they are put to sleep, no matter their age, health, temperament or breed," Clare, 31, explains.

She seeks out pounds that have dogs that are running out of time and agrees to take them, with the hope of finding them a new home. In the meantime she pays to kennel the dogs, an expensive business at up to £12 a day.

After a small start with two dogs on March, the rescue service has quickly grown and now has a team of helpers across the West Country, from Swindon to Cornwall. With current kennel costs topping £1,000 a month, money from donations has proved crucial. Until Wednesday, Clare had happily used PayPal for supporters' cash.

Then, without warning, PayPal froze the account – with £1,500 in it – saying: "After reviewing your account, we have decided to close it because of security issues. Money in your PayPal account will be held for 180 days."

That was a disaster for Clare and – more importantly – the dogs in her care. "The PayPal funds were earmarked to pay our kennel bills in Cornwall and our vet bill in Swindon," Clare said. "Until we access the funds we can not take in any more dogs no matter how urgent their case may be."

PayPal refused to respond to her attempts to unlock the cash, until The Independent stepped in. Then it agreed to unblock the account, saying: "We we have lifted all restrictions on Second Chance Poundies after we received confirmation about the use of the donated funds and the status of the good cause. We have clear guidelines for customers that use PayPal to accept donations, to prevent misuse of donated funds. As a regulated payment service, we're also required by law to follow these guidelines.

"We have apologised to Second Chance Poundies for the way we handled this case, and are also reviewing the way we handle such cases in future."

The news was a massive relief for Clare and her dogs. "I'll be able to pay the kennels early next week and continue to help more dogs that are facing death after being left in pounds," she says. As the service grows she plans to seek charitable status.

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