Reality Rescue Festival – EXPOSED

Reality TV Stars raise money to re-open a shelter closed due to inhumane conditions and dead/sick dogs

Timeline of Events

Written By: Detection

Event Timeline

Note:  We refer to the Southern Comfort Rescue (SoCo) owner as “Bennett” because we have learned that he uses at least 4 names.  His name appears to be “Jeffrey Bennett” but also goes by “Scott Callaway” and “Jeffrey Callaway” among others.  We asked “What is your real name” via his attorney in February 2011, and he refused to answer.
  • February 2011
    Bennett starts to collect money for a “legal fund” for a dog owned by another person, which had been kept in a pen with wooden sides.  A reporter goes to the property to discuss the situation with the owner’s grand-daughter.  Bennett reports that the animal is starving and neglected.  Animal control is called, they respond immediately and the woman is given information on what is required to shelter the dog.  Within days, the dog is in the new shelter, and the dog is sent to the vet for a check-up.  Contrary to Bennett’s assertions, the dog is happy and healthy but has heart-worms, and treatment is begun immediately.  The local paper reports the story, including the vet’s assessment.
  • February 23, 2011
    A Georgia newspaper reporter receives a death threat on her voicemail.  The message is tied to the newspaper’s reporting on SoCo rescue, and police trace the call to a rural New York phone owned by a “SoCo supporter” who had been sending the reporter harassing messages online.
  • March 4, 2011
    Even though Bennett’s claims were proven false and the dog has been moved to a wire cage, he appears on an HLN news segment where he talks about how cruel wire cages are, and how it’s bad that the dog must live in it’s own feces.   HLN producers didn’t realize the hypocrisy of Bennett’s statements; at the time, he had over 100 dogs at his house living in deep feces and wire cages identical to the ones he is complaining about.  Bennett also mentions that it’s cruel to put dogs in cages with no protection from the sun — which is exactly what he was cited for just a few months later.
  • March 22, 2011
    A Georgia resident takes a photo of the squalor at SoCo Rescue and posts it on the internet.
  • April 1, 2011
    After April Mueller announces that her 2011 ‘charity’ will be SoCo in Georgia, chosen because she ‘saw him on TV’.  Mueller is unable to answer any questions about the charity, since she admits she did no due diligence whatsoever, so we pose questions to SoCo “director” Bennett.  Bennett becomes irate at simple questions about his rescue, cannot explain why his website’s adoption photos (at SoCoRescue.com) don’t match the descriptions, and cannot produce a single photo of his facilities or any dogs in his care.  Claims to have 70 dogs at the rescue.  Claims to ‘not have a camera’, and issues a facebook account block to avoid further questions.
  • April 8, 2011
    The same day as the fire, while claiming that he had no water or power and 100+ dogs to attend to,  Bennett creates a detailed fundraiser on Chipin.com, claiming the “rescue burned down”, despite the fact that only his personal kitchen had fire damage, and most of the dogs were stuffed in a trailer and wire cages in the back.  Bennett later made claims that it was caused by ‘electrical wiring’, again contradicting firemen who were eyewitnesses and experts in their field.
  • April 12, 2011
    Workers from area pet rescues who assisted SoCo on the day of the fire also file formal reports on the inhumane conditions that Bennett had subjected the dogs to.
  • April 13, 2011
    State of Georgia issues a STOP ORDER based on the unacceptable and unsanitary conditions, having far more dogs than his permit allows, shutting down the rescue, and taking most of the dogs away to other shelters over the objections of Bennett.  Bennett threatens to sue Atlanta Humane Society and others, and begins online harassment of shelter employees.
  • April 13, 2011
    An Atlanta TV News station broadcasts the story of the fire, calling SoCo “a hoarding situation”. Bennett threatens to sue the station, and begins online harassment of the station.
  • May 2011
    Bennett’s sister and SoCo co-founder Terry Wolf, is allegedly fired from her position at a local newpaper for submitting a story about Bennett’s activities that contained false or misleading information.
  • May 24, 2011
    All board members including Bennett’s sister, Terry Wolf, resign from SoCo leaving Bennett as the sole member of Board of Directors, per Bennett’s corporate filing.
  • June 9, 2011
    A Georgia citizen reports “70 or more dead dogs on SoCo property; complaints of feces smell and dogs running loose”.  Animal Control discovers massive dog graveyard on SoCo property, and no records for any of the dogs, as required by law.  SoCo is cited for the violation, along with additional violations for inhumane conditions and violations of the STOP ORDER.
  • July 26, 2011
    A Georgia citizen reports “Inhumane Care of dogs; severe ear infections; teeth falling out; nails growing into feet”.
  • October 2, 2011
    Police Officer and former Amazing Race contestant Louie Stravato goes on a rant on the ‘Rad Reality Show’, claiming he had ‘investigated’ SoCo and Mueller’s fundraiser and ‘they are legit’.  Stravato went on to claim that the allegations of a “Stop Order”, permit revocation, and complaints about sick and dead dogs at SoCo were “made up by a photographer”.
  • October 6, 2011
    Louie Stravato is contacted via private message on facebook, and at first denies making such statements.  When faced with the RECORD of his own voice making such statements, he admits he made them but has nothing else to say about the matter and ignores further contact.  According to Georgia State records, Stravato never even placed a request for SoCo documents, let alone “investigated” anything at all.  Given that Stravato was investigated for involvement in a drug deal in 2010 while a police officer and is now lying to protect they profits of a convicted drug dealer (Mueller), the connection between Stravato and Mueller needs a closer look.
  • October 10, 2011
    Waitress and Former Amazing Race contestant Kaylani Paliotta posts slanderous and defaming remarks about the author of this site, and claims to have “investigated” SoCo and that they “still have their license”.  Paliotta was soliciting funds on facebook while telling donors that SoCo was legally operating and “the dogs are in wonderful condition”.
  • October 14 2011
    In a call to Virginia Dept of Consumer Affairs, agent claims that SoCo has not completed application for non-Virginia charity fundraising, and will not be allowed to fund-raise in Virginia.
  • October 15 2011
    3 Day “Reality Rescue Festival” held in Virginia, with “Over 100 reality stars” and $50,000 donation goal.  Organizer Mueller proclaims the event a “success”.  Ryan Opray wins a cruise as “top fundraiser”.
  • November 2011
    We begin receiving anonymous tips via several email accounts from someone who is apparently familiar with Mueller and is ashamed of what she’s doing.  We are tipped off that the “adoption” of the white dog by Ryan Opray and Kaylani Paliotta was simply staged make the event appear to be legit; the dog was never adopted.  We were also tipped to have a look at Mueller’s extensive criminal record, which include drug dealing and animal control violations, and the long list of lawsuits against her.
  • November 4, 2011
    The Virginia Department of Consumer Affairs issues a letter to SoCo stating that they have met the qualifications as a charity in their state, as long as they notify donors on all fundraising materials that financial reports will be made available. SoCo not only fails to meet the criteria under Virginia law, they violated the requirement of notifying donors and providing financial reports. We ae currently pursuing that issue with the state of Virginia. These are the people that let Michael Vick stay in business for years.
  • January 2012
    We we suspected would happen, the money collected “for the doggies of SoCo” seems to have disappeared, and there is no accounting provided, even though the money was solicited using statements that it was for an IRS approved 501-c3 charity.  Mueller and Bennett continue you slander and defame whistle-blowers, and still claim SoCo is “in operation” and “there are no complaints”, so www.RealityRescue.com is launched to distribute information to anyone interested in SoCo’s “situation”.
  • January 2012
    Bennett and his sister, Terry Wolf, sign a “Consent Order” with the State of Georgia, where they acknowedge the long list of allegations of inhumane conditions at the shelter, violation of the stop order, violations of record keeping requirements and accept 2 years probation and a $4,000 fine to avoid trial and possible further prosecution.  No mention of this is made on their many online fundraising pages, and they continue to deny that there was ever a problem.  The Consent Order was signed by them 1/5/2012 and went into effect 1/27/2012.
  • February 2012
    We contact Judy Sarullo of PetRescueByJudy.com, which is the Sanford, FL based rescue that took in 29 dogs from SoCo when SoCo was shut down in April 2011.  We wanted to know if they had received their funds from the ‘Reality Rescue Festival 2011’ fundraiser, since they were in possession of the ‘doggies of SoCo’ at the time.  They had never heard of April Mueller or the Fundraiser!  They did have debts from the huge vet bills incurred from taking in the sick and malnourished dogs.
  • April 5, 2012
    Attorney David Murphy sends email claiming to represent April Mueller and “Scott Bennett”, and demands whistleblowers remove public documents that show Mueller and Bennett had been lying to charity donors and reality stars about the conditions at SoCo, SoCo’s revoked permit, SoCo’s Stop Order, statements about the horrible condition of the dogs from SoCo by PetRescueByJudy.com, and so on.  We responded by sending Mr. Murphy a list of questions, such as “What is Bennett’s real name”,  and attempted to set a time and date for a meeting.  Murphy then went into hiding, and has not been heard from since.
  • July 24, 2012
    We visit PetRescueByJudy.com in Florida and begin filming the operation, and interviewing those who had direct contact with the dogs from SoCo.  All said the dogs were in very bad condition from neglect and lack of basic medical care.  Only one had a fire-related injury (smoke inhalation), and other issues were caused by neglect.
  • July 26, 2012
    Judy from PetRescueByJudy.com and her staff manager meet with Richard Hatch from CBS Survivor to discuss the fraudulent charity drive, and the horrible conditions at SoCo.  Judy also met with Michael Allbright, who is listed as a “VIP Sponsor” for both Mueller’s 2011 and 2012 events, but he claimed to Judy he “didn’t have anything to do with the event other than attending” and that he “was not aware that there were questions about SoCo until today”.  These were lies of course, and we’ll be doing an entire segment on Michael Allbright’s involvement in the near future.
  • August 2012
    We been made aware that many of the reality stars listed as “attended” on Mueller’s “Reality Rescue Festival 2012” site have no intention of attending, and have not told Mueller they would be.