The line at the top of the CatsCare letterhead tugs at the heartstrings: “When the heart is full, the stomach rarely grumbles.”
How ironic that exhortation to all of us to feel for the less fortunate seems now, in light of the recent undoing of that charity’s board and the unseating of Bentley, its founder and president.
While it is too early in the investigation to render the final judgment, it is much too late for the rest of us to pretend that we had no inkling that something was rotten in the state of one of The Park’s oldest charities.
To be sure, there were signs. First among them was the 22 AZ decision made by the CatsCare board to accept only cash donations.
When a charity that feeds, houses, and provides medical care for needy Cats refuses to take donations in kind, what are we to make of it? And what, we must ask, is the effect of such a policy, not only on the recipients of their charitable aid, but on the donating population, as well?
In the case of CatsCare, the policy’s intentions have become all too clear in recent months. Yet, the effects of this folly have been far more profound than anyone ever intended: for, while Bentley and his board were busy fattening up their bank accounts with Ftoo siphoned off from donated funds, they were, at the same time, violating the trust of those who rely on them, abusing the trust of their donors, and shattering the confidence of all Park Animals in the idea of assisting each other by means of institutions set up for that purpose.
The breach is wide. The healing will take much time. But profound changes must occur.
No matter what the courts find, it is clear that CatsCare violated the code of ethics. Yet, where, in law, can we find this code of ethics? Alas, we cannot, for we have not committed it to law. This we must do, now. We must inscribe in law what we believe to be the proper behaviour for our charities. We must also imbed in any definition of “charity” this simple but essential idea: that we must take from our donors and give to the needy whatever it is that they need in such form as they require it. Only then can we restore the confidence of the donating public.