How PetRescue weaponised adoption applications to steal rescue group's resources

October 30, 2018

How many times have you emailed your rescue group's supporters in the last three months?

Monthly - three times?

Or maybe even not at all?

In the lead up to tax time, PetRescue emailed your rescue group's supporters no less than 12 times!*

AMAZEBALLS! Start a swear jar! (Mon, Aug 27)
You are AMAZEBALLS, <NAME>! (Mon, Aug 27)
What’s your rescue pet’s pin-up pose? (Sat, Aug 25)
Oh Bruce, you’re SUCH a good boy! (Tue, Aug 21)
Celebrate the warm fuzzy adoption feeling! (Thu, Aug 9)
These guys won’t judge you for wearing your pjs all day! (Thu, Jul 26)
Is your story the People's Rescue Story of 2018? (Thu, Jul 5)
It’s the last day to double your kindness! (Sat, Jun 30)
And our lives are complete again! (Thu, Jun 28)
Your kindness will be doubled! (Sun, Jun 24)
Noms for your dog that also feed a rescue dog in need! (Fri, Jun 15)
Everyone knows, nobody puts Baby in a corner! (Sat, Jun 9)


Every enquiry and adoption application made through the website formed the mailing list PetRescue uses to solicit donations for themselves. PetRescue claims that it's working to help rescue groups, but quietly behind the scenes they're cementing a relationship with your supporters, current donors, adoption applicants and adopters, that you're likely struggling to match.

When your adopters say they think you're PetRescue - this is why.

When your adopters give their tax time donations to PetRescue and not you - this is why.

When your adopters give to PetRescue and not you at Christmas time - this is why.

It's no accident. When you have fifteen paid staff, you have TIME to spend on creating newsletters. When you're not rescuing animals communications and fundraising can take centre stage.

No 'donate' button will ever attract a donation like a curated and cultivated relationships with donors. And it's happening right under rescue's nose.

PetRescue may be free - but there is a massive ongoing cost to the financial viability of your group and the rescue movement.

But it doesn't end there

For an online organisation like PetRescue who has no in-person interaction with the public and who rescues no pets, securing a list of potential bequest candidates presents a unique problem. Where are they supposed to find groups of older people to build relationships with?

At the end of 2017, PetRescue found their answer...

PetRescue’s Shy Cats and Senior Citizens program

Can you help? We’re looking for senior citizens who are willing to offer long-term or permanent care to shy cats in need.

Perhaps you’re a senior looking for some quiet company? Or maybe you have a nanna, a neighbour or another senior citizen in your life who could really use some extra love.

And while rescue groups were assured that the only reason PetRescue would contact these adopters was to "research" their experience of adopting a cat...

"To be part of this campaign, and to be eligible to receive the $50 subsidy, you must also agree to the terms and conditions, including agreeing to provide contact details for adopters to be interviewed as part of the Pet Helpline Research Project."

"~ We understand that adopter contact details will be used by PetRescue for the purposes of conducting research into pet retention and pet owner support requirements, in order to evaluate the effectiveness of the campaign, and to inform research into a pet helpline."

... it is clear that PetRescue is contacting adopters on the regular...

.... bypassing the rescue all together and forming a relationship directly with rescue group's adopters.

At the start of 2018, PetRescue's Director hired his brother into the role of "Major Donor and Bequest Manager" to help manage these new leads and turn them into bequests.

The Director of a million dollar + charity thought it would be totally legit to nominate and employ their brother as the CFO of that same charity. Huh.

Despite being little more than a website, PetRescue continues to push the notion that they are responsible for saving pets, and that supporting PetRescue is the same as - or superior to - a donation to the groups who rescued these cats, building a library of stories to promote PetRescue's own good work in "saving lives".

~ When Fran found love with Mr D
~ Big girl Ellie fills Liz's whole heart
~ Julie’s big heart fits one more
~ Titchi’s touch heals a hurting heart
~ When Fran found love with Mr D
~ Companionship in the form of a calio kitty
~ 70 year old loves coming home to her Tiger
~ Shy cat gives 78 year-old Lily a purrpose

But all this money - where is it going exactly?

Well, we can say for sure - not to help pets.

There are fifteen paid staff at the PetRescue offices.

An organisation who took $50,000 in christmas donations earmarked for desexing and spent it on their website claims to"support rescue."

Employee wages take up over 50% of the near $1 million dollar annual budget for the website.

ACNC Report 2016/17
It's worth noting that the overwhelming majority of the rescue groups who use PetRescue, have no paid staff whatsoever.

But that doesn't mean PetRescue can't hire more staff. Last week PetRescue put the call out for a new General Manager to join the team.

The applicant will...

"Work closely and positively with the PetRescue founders"

And highlights include...

"HR management for our team of 15 and particularly your 4 direct reports"
"Work with a supportive, friendly and uber-cool team"
"Competitive rates for the nonprofit sector"
"Based in a funky office in the heart of Northbridge"

PetRescue is no longer just a website; but a professional fundraising organisation who exists primarily to resource its staff to have paid jobs doing fundraising. It’s the proverbial snake eating it’s tail.

While this week, they unveiled something which showed how non-existent the consultation process is with rescue groups.

Did a single rescue struggling to pay to care for their pets think THIS was a good idea?

"Meet the world’s first AI that understands dogs. It’s here to help more of them get adopted by recognizing faces, breeds and characteristics of any pup images on Instagram to find a similar type available for adoption."

Promotional video


Ho ho ho! It's Christmas solicitation time again

PetRescue is no doubt working as we speak, on a Christmas fundraising campaign based on the notion that they need more support, more money and more staff because they're helping more rescue groups than ever. And that thanks to them, more pets than ever are finding homes.

But the reality is the organisation has plateaued since 2016. Despite taking increasing resources out of the rescue movement each year, their impact today is pretty much identical to their impact in 2016.

It turns out rescue groups need extra funding, support and resources, if we wanted the rescue movement to grow. While PetRescue is feathering its nest using resources from the pockets of rescue groups, it is impossible for those rescue groups to thrive.

PetRescue doesn't "save" pets - rescue groups do.

PetRescue are simultaneously working hard to blur the line between themselves and rescue groups - while at the same time claiming that the public aren’t confused as to where their donations are going (there’s a reason why their solicitation pitch isn’t “give to our website” - but 'Desexmas' and 'The Adoptables'). PetRescue should no longer be given any benefit of the doubt by anyone; rescues losing money to them is a feature, not a bug.

PetRescue is an enemy to the healthy functioning of the rescue movement. It is time for rescue's to pull the plug.

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