Richard Osthoff is a disabled Navy veteran who got a service dog named Sapphire from a veterans’ charity. When Sapphire got a life-threatening (but benign) stomach tumor, a vet tech referred Osthoff to a charity that could supposedly help: Anthony Devolder’s Friends of Pets United. Devolder, aka Santos, set up a GoFundMe that raised $3,000, much of it from people Osthoff knew. In June 2016, Osthoff posted on Facebook, “We made the goal, and then some.”
Osthoff had a vet ready to do the surgery, but Santos/Devolder insisted he go to a different vet. “It was a tiny little hole in the wall place, but looked legitimate. The vet there said they couldn’t operate on the tumor,” Osthoff told Patch. Santos/Devolder refused to give Osthoff the money raised for his specific dog to go to the vet that was willing to do the surgery.
In November 2016 texts, Osthoff wrote Santos/Devolder, “I’m starting to feel like I was mined for my family and friends donations,” and, “My dog is going to die because of god knows what.” He told Patch that in a phone conversation, Santos/Devolder told him that because Osthoff “didn’t do things my way,” he had put the money raised for Sapphire into Friends of Pets United “for other dogs.”
Santos/Devolder claimed, in texts sent to Osthoff as he refused to turn over the money to save Sapphire, “Remember it is our credibility that got GoFundme them seves to contribute. We are audited like every 501c3 and we are with the highest standards of integrity.” In a text about an ultrasound he would supposedly arrange for Sapphire to get, Santos/Devolder said Osthoff couldn’t go with his service animal for the test because: “We do not drive people around nor do we give them rides we transports ANIMALS in NEED not needy owners.”
He went on to write, “Sapphire is not a candidate for this surgery the funds are moved to the next animal in need and we will make sure we use of resources to keep her comfortable!”
That same month, Osthoff posted on Facebook, “To everyone who helped me and Sapphire raise the money for her surgery, I’m sorry to say that we were scammed by Anthony Devolder [words redacted] and Friends of Pets FOPU Through a series of bad veterinary contacts and subterfuge regarding payment, Sapphire has NOT received veterinary care, and her growth is 3 to 4 times bigger than it was when the campaign was fulfilled. She is facing euthanasia within months.”
In other words, this is not a case of someone coming forward to take advantage of the Santos situation. There is contemporary documentation of Santos’ scam, though he deleted the GoFundMe. Additionally, another veteran, retired police Sgt. Michael Boll, shared the GoFundMe and tried to help Osthoff get Santos/Devolder to turn over the money, without success.
”I contacted [Santos] and told him ‘You’re messing with a veteran,’ and that he needed to give back the money or use it to get Osthoff another dog,” Boll told Patch, describing Santos/Devolder as “totally uncooperative.”
Sapphire died on Jan. 15, 2017. After having been out of work with a broken leg, Osthoff couldn’t afford her euthanasia and cremation and was forced to panhandle while grieving his beloved companion.
In 2015 and 2017, Santos faced evictions. In 2017 he held a fundraiser for Friends of Pets United, which was not in fact ever registered as a legitimate charity. To this point, the nonexistent charity had sounded like a way for Santos to maybe con some donors and make himself sound like a good guy. Conning a desperate pet owner and ultimately causing the animal’s death is a huge and horrific next step. In 2019, Santos launched his first congressional campaign, losing in 2020 to incumbent Democratic Rep. Tom Suozzi. In 2022, after Suozzi retired, Santos was elected after campaigning under essentially an entirely false identity, from his family background to his educational and career accomplishments.
Republicans have a very narrow majority in the House and need every vote, so despite calls even from some Republicans for Santos to resign, Kevin McCarthy is standing by him as a member who supported McCarthy through 15 speaker votes. Will the disabled veteran’s dead service dog be the final straw, or will McCarthy refuse to do the right thing and boot Santos? I’m betting on the latter.
The Republican Party seems locked in a death spiral of unpopular anti-American rights policies. They seem to believe that the most important things to America are taking away people’s rights to choose what they do with their bodies and Hunter Biden’s junk. Kerry and Markos were right in their hypothesis about the midterms and they have predictions for the upcoming year and 2024.
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