Cat Shelter Owner Loses $50,000 Grant

SOUTH ELGIN, Ill. (CBS/WBBM) — A woman who runs a South Elgin cat shelter has been ordered to return a $50,000 grant she won in a contest.

As WBBM Newsradio 780’s Pat Cassidy reports, Carol Schultz of Guardian Angels Feline Rescue won the $50,000 in the Pepsi Refresh Project for her cat shelter.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Pat Cassidy reports

Pepsi awards the grants to organizations in several categories on a monthly basis. The recipients of the awards are determined by online voting.

Schultz tells the Chicago Tribune she legitimately won the grant to help care for more than two dozen cats, many of them abandoned.

But Pepsi says a review of the vote totals from October found that some were fraudulent.

Ann Goody, the curator of the Three-Ring Ranch Animal Sanctuary in Hawaii, released e-mails allegedly from Schultz admitting to paying an overseas contact to artificially boost her vote totals, the Tribune reported.

There were also allegations of vote-buying within the competition.

Thus, Schultz has been asked to return the money.

In a blog posting titled, “Maintaining the Integrity of Voting,” Pepsi said it had decided to rescind the grant after reviewing the vote totals, and indicated that without fraudulent votes, Schultz’s shelter would not have been in the 10 vote-getters.

“The grant will instead be awarded to the idea within the same grant level and voting period with the next highest number of votes – the idea that should have rightfully been awarded a grant,” Pepsi wrote.

Schultz denied any wrongdoing, and called Goody a “sore loser.” She called the allegation of buying votes in the competition “ad-libbing,” the Tribune reported.

Schultz has already spent thousands of dollars on veterinary care, 50 PetSmart gift cards for unemployed pet owners, and a loan to convert her garage into a shelter. But now, she must return the full $50,000 by Wednesday of next week, the Tribune reported.

Schultz says losing the money means the future for the cat shelter is bleak. She tells the newspaper she will either “have to open the door and release them, or euthanize them.”

  • dooinok

    Your scam didn’t work…..return the money or they are coming after you.

  • Jim

    I thought cheating and lying were OK in Illinois according to our “leaders”. I hope that Pepsi had enough evidence as the losers will be the cats.

    • Sherena Ward

      Sorry the cats lost because of a cheater. Fortunately, the money will help approximately 200 little girls affected with a rare chromosomal disorder. They desperately need money to fund research to help find a cure for their chronic illness. Let them be “winner” at something in life!! They struggle EVERYDAY with seizures and many obstacles that you can’t even begin to imagine. If the cat lady put more effort into finding the cats a home and not so much time cheating, these cats might not be losing so much thanks to her.

  • Karen Madsen

    Carol Schultz cannot be much of an animal lover or caretaker if she would “open the door and release them, or euthanize them.” This makes me question not only her honesty, but her devotion to the animals in her care, as well. A more viable answer: She can get some volunteers in there until this is straightened out.

    • Catwomen

      I agree with you whole heartedly Karen! By her saying that she has no business having a shelter of any kind! And saying that she would release them or euthanize them she sure sounds like that idiot in Lake Zurik, IL!

      • BigCAT

        But, euthanizing is not a solution. She should have contacted non-kill shelters to place those cats, like: Anti-Cruelty society Chicago, Tree House Animal Foundation, Paws, felines, Inc, Harmony house for cats, Red-Door shelter. Those are all non-kill shelters. She must have contacted them them. I emailed this lady , gave her information, and got no reply from her. Don’t be concerned about who is ripping off whom. The major problem now is saving those cats. Can’t you contact shelters and see what they say?

  • Michelle B.

    She bought her vet a car??? “spent thousands of dollars on veterinary car” Seriously, don’t they teach proofreading in Journalism anymore?

  • bleep22

    @Michelle B. – I think that’s a typo. Most likely it was supposed to say “veterinary CARE.”

  • bleep22

    And after read9ing your second sentence, I see that you get it. :-)

  • Len Feldman

    Shouldn’t someone at Pepsi figured out that something was amiss when she said that she had two dozen cats and was asking for $50,000? If she’s converting her garage into a shelter, it most likely means that she’s been keeping the cats in her own house. That qualifies as a shelter?

    Ms. Schultz’s statement that she would either have to release or euthanize the cats sounds more like a threat than the words of anyone who seriously cares about animals. There are plenty of shelters in the Chicagoland area, and although many of them are at capacity, she could undoubtedly get her cats placed at them if she made the effort to reach out.

    • BiGCAT

      Len, exactly my point. In fact, I e-mailed her yesterday at -Carol Schultz, owner of Guardian Angels Feline Rescue and gave her addresses, emails, telephone numbers of the non-kill shelters in Chicago. I asked her to contact them , regarding getting her cats there. You know what? I sent two e-mails, and I got no replies back.

  • Cat Shelter Owner Loses $50,000 Grant | Review About Cats For Sale

    […] shelter cat South Elgin has been ordered to repay $ 50,000 grant he won in a contest. Read more on CBS Chicago Comment by Brian Leung ‘Take Me Home’ For the second novel Caroline Kim-Brown, Brian […]

  • Nancy

    I would like to share that the new winner of the $50 K Grant goes towards research for a disease called CDKL5.
    “CDKL5 is a rare X-linked genetic disorder that results in early onset, difficult to control seizures, and severe neuro-developmental impairment. There are fewer than 200 cases worldwide, however, more and more children are being diagnosed as awareness of CDKL5 spreads. Most cannot walk, talk or feed themselves, and many are confined wheelchairs, dependent on others for everything. Many also suffer with scoliosis, visual impairment, sensory issues and various gastrointestinal difficulties ”
    There is currently NO CURE for CDKL5 – now we at least have hope with the grant money going to research for a cure.

    • Sherena Ward

      Yes, we deserve that money more than the cats. Our little girls’ lives are more important in the grand scheme of it all. I’m glad our girls are “WINNERS” of at least this one thing in their lives! I am so proud that our efforts paid off, fair and square! We have waited so long for this and we came so very close to losing it all to cats because of a cheater!

    • Jason

      Thank you for sharing this, Nancy. It’s so sad that these grants seem to be repeatedly going to extremely questionable “causes” that have found a way to scam the votes needed. Meanwhile, these sweet children that are so desperately in need of help… whose parents were surely begging everyone they know for legitimate votes to get this money for research… were about to be overlooked. Thank goodness things were corrected in this case.

      I hope Pepsi takes serious steps to refine the rules of their contest to include much better applicant and voting oversight. It’s a wonderful thing they’re doing with these grants, but the recipients should definitely be legitimate, and the votes legitimately gotten.

      • Laurie

        I agree. It is wonderful what Pepsi is doing, and it is reassuring to know that a very worthwhile organization with a real cause is going to receive the money; however, they need to refine the rules to ensure that the money is going to those organizations most in need. Perhaps a combination system of popular vote and internal review of the cause would be helpful.

    • Lyn

      Thanks for posting Nancy. Our granddughter has CDKL5 and it is heartbreaking to know the struggles ahead of her. We so need the research money (and any other money we can raise) to help our precious little ones!

  • BiGCAT

    For Goodness’ Sake what you should be concerned is saving those cats. She needs to contact non-kill shelter to see whether they can pick up those cats and save them for adoption. Why should they be destroyed?

  • Lynda

    My grandaughter has CDKL5. I am so thankful that the mistake was found and that the CDKL5 foundation will receive the much needed funds for research. Thanks Pepsi (and maybe it would be a good idea to check out the recipients of these grants to see if they are legit before Pepsi allows them to run for funds)

  • bonnie

    Carol would never harm her cats – she was just making a point. Also most shelters in the Chicago area are not taking any more animals so good luck with that!
    People seem to think that animals are disposable – they are not. Instead of making comments about a person that you do not know, how about some research. I don’t see many of you making constructive comments and I don’t see you offering to take the cats, pay the vet bills, the food etc. Until you do, don’t make nasty comments about a person who really cares about the animals!.

    • BigCAT

      Bonnie, Representatives( V.P and another is a Director) of two Shelters in Chicago tried to contact her offering their help. They have e-mailed her and asked whether she wants to get some help with cats (e.g. ,, take cats to their shelters). Now, this has been three days ago. She hasn’t replied to them. So, what’s the problem?

  • Sherena Ward


  • BIGCat

    Ms. Schulz,
    Representatives of two shelters in Chicago area, have tried to contact you. They are ready to help you to take cats from your shelters to theirs. Both of them are non-kill shelters. They were trying to reach you by phone and e-mail about a week ago. You haven’t replied. Please, check your e-mails, and respond in time. This is not a game, the cats’ lives depend on what you do now.

blog comments powered by Disqus
Daily Weather Reports Delivered To You!SIGN UP NOW: Get daily weather reports every morning from meteorologist Steve Baskerville!
CBS Sports Radio RoundupGet your latest sports talk from across the country.

Listen Live