Andalusia Animal Shelter manager: Don’t be fooled, no online deposits

Published 9:47 am Monday, March 25, 2024

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On a recent afternoon, Andalusia Animal Shelter manager Kayla Robbins received more than 50 messages to her personal Facebook account in the time it took her to drive from her in-laws’ home to her own.

All of the messages were from people who wanted to adopt a French bulldog or “Frenchie” from the shelter.

Unbeknownst to Robbins, the Animal Shelter’s Facebook page had been hacked, and the hackers had removed her as an administrator and proceeded to post photographs of coveted dogs, along with a link where those interested were encouraged to make a “refundable” deposit.

It was all a scam.

“In the nine years I’ve worked here, we’ve never had a Frenchie,” Robbins said.

When she realized what had happened, she quickly attempted to spread the word on Facebook through her personal account, and created a new one for the Animal Shelter. She believes the hackers began their work months before this successful takeover.

“Months ago, I got an email one day that said somebody had been added to page as an administrator,” she recalled. “There are only two of us who work here, so I clicked on a link and removed the new administrator.”

Shortly after Christmas, she received similar emails about a dozen or so people being added as administrators of the page. Again, she attempted to remove them.

Since the hackers locked her out of the shelter page, she has reported the incident to Facebook daily, as have other City of Andalusia employees. Facebook has offered its assistance in recovering the page.

The Andalusia Animal Shelter does have a new page, as social media has proven effective in helping find homes for shelter animals.

“If I had a different way to notify the public when we have animals up for adoption, I would use it,” she said.

The Animal Shelter uses software that requires workers to create unique identification numbers for animals, and those animals are uploaded to Adopt-A-Pet and Petfinder, which are websites that create nationwide databases of adoptable animals.

While the Andalusia Animal Shelter does charge adoption fees, it does not accept deposits online. Robbins encourages anyone who is confused about which page is the “real” one to call the shelter with questions at 334-222-8705.