PetRescue addresses the concerns of rescue groups

May 3, 2018

These screenshots are from a series of emails being sent to rescue groups who enquire to PetRescue with concerns. The rescues involved have been redacted from the emails.

Now, before PetRescue answer you queries, they just need to check - are you too stupid to have made your own assessment of their operations?


Are you a complete dimwit? No? Ok then, let's continue.

First question; What was up with that Easter email?

A good response from the email? Really? I find that extremely hard to believe. That rescuers flocked to say, no really thanks a bunch! for an email giving them a thorough verbal flogging on the evening before the start of the Easter holiday, regardless of whether or not the complaints in the email even applied to their group.

Again, really?

The email wasn't a complaint from PetRescue about rescue, but a complaint from those people over there! *points at the public*

Look, at least own it. You received complaints from people who tried to use your site and found the process faulty. You then created a flip-book of these complaints and used it beat rescue over the head, because you believe rescue are the "problem" in the PetRescue adoption experience.

You didn't consult rescue group leaders about their challenges. Or bring organisations into your fold so that they could benefit from your resources. Instead you sent every single rescue group foster carer on your books a shit-post on a long weekend. All of them.

Next question, on paying directors large salaries

So it's ok for PetRescue Directors to pay themselves large salaries because the amount they've nominated is the going market rate in the charity sector.

Except, as a "charity" PetRescue is primarily a website. Of which the overwhelming majority of its IP is generated by volunteers.

The metric for assessing an appropriate compensation for choosing to be a directors of this organisation shouldn't be 'as in reasonably comparable to the richest charities in the nation' but as 'in reflecting the values and financial position of PetRescue's client base'.

And these fat salaries PetRescue are paying themselves actually probably wouldn't raise the ire of rescue groups - if - the money was coming from corporates and relationships with national foundations, unattainable to the rescue groups themselves. But it is coming largely from direct-from-public donations which are the rescue group's bread and butter. Those animal care donations keep rescue afloat. Or at least they did - until PetRescue started redirecting them into their own 15-paid-staff team.

"PetRescue has the minimum amount of directors as required by law" and it's worth noting those Directors are also the sole board members. Which might be considered fine for a small charity running with volunteers and a handful of helpers, but with them now boasting fifteen paid staff, PetRescue needs to be able to offer much higher levels of transparency and accountability; and that includes running a fully-functioning (unpaid) board which oversees a paid CEO.

In short - PetRescue's entire structure needs an overhaul if it expects to continue to be able to be gifted hundreds of thousands of dollars of the community's money.

No one said your staff shouldn't be paid; they are questioning whether Directors are being overpaid and are lacking oversight. This attempt at misdirection is absurd given PetRescue is a publicly-funded charity, who should be open to enquiries about how they invest the community's money. Again, if you don't like being subjected to that level of scrutiny from the public, stop taking public donations.

On hiring the Director's brother into the newly created position of CFO

No - this is still not ok. Employing a directive relative into a major paid role is enormously dubious behaviour, regardless of how much volunteering he did along the way. You don't hire your mum or your siblings into paid roles - especially major ones - in your charity, if you expect people to trust your ethical judgement. Just further evidence that PetRescue needs a fully functioning board to oversee their strategy and decision making processes, and the Directors' behaviour.

On taking money intended for animal care and not passing it on to rescue groups


So some of these might be good programs, but they've now appeared from the ether now PetRescue are being challenged about their donation spend. Are these actual projects? What is PetRescue's involvement? Have they been costed? What is the professional qualifications of the people employed to run them? When do they start? How long will they run for? What will be the measurement of success?

If "donations to PetRescue help to fund all these animal welfare programs" then the community should be able to see quite clearly how their donations fund these programs and what their outcomes will be. But this is literally the first time many of them have even been mentioned. This cloak-and-dagger approach to revenue spend is unacceptable for a charity.

Also, according to the ATO - who grants the DGR status which allows PetRescue to fundraise;

An animal welfare charity's principal activity must be either or both of the following:
- providing short-term direct care to animals (but not only native wildlife) that have been lost, mistreated or are without owners
- rehabilitating orphaned, sick or injured animals (but not only native wildlife) that have been lost, mistreated or are without owners.
If one or both of these are the charitable institution's sole activity, it will qualify as an animal welfare charity. If not, at least one of these activities must outweigh all of the charity's other activities.
ATO website

How does "machine learning" and a "helpdesk" meet these requirements? PetRescue are taking donated monies intended for animal care - with authorisation from the ATO that these monies will be used for animal care - and is then directing them into... whatever whimsical project catches their eye with no independent board oversight whatsoever.

And then gets huffy with rescue groups who question if this is appropriate.

Hangon, hangon, hangon....

Why is PetRescue paying a full time staff member, for several months of the year, to do the work of coordinating a product donation on behalf of a multi-million dollar corporate?

If MARS and PETstock want to deliver $4 million dollars worth of food donations to rescue groups for the purposes of brand awareness, good vibes and social media fodder - then great! They pay for someone to fully coordinate that process.

PetRescue shouldn't create a cottage industry of taking public, charity donations for the purposes of them hiring staff to do the grunt work for a for-profit corporation. That's literally taking charity monies and giving it to the marketing department of an international pet food company.

Sure, the corporate relationship agreement might state that as part of the total sponsorship package that is given to PetRescue, that they get both cash money and product from MARS for distribution to members. And that this is then left for PetRescue to "sort out".

But distributing the spoils of a corporate sponsorship package, is not a valid reason to seek public donations. It just isn't. And if PetRescue was running a fully-functioning, strategic board - rather than flying by the seat of their pants - they would know this.

Also; "as a rescue group you may only see the results of a program like the Food Donation" - wtf does that even mean? Is there some benefit to programs that are invisible to rescue groups? As in, they don't see them, don't feel the benefits and would probably not notice if they collapsed? How is... trust us, we're doing loads even if you can't see any benefit... any kind of strategy? Projects should have visible and measurable benefit. How many PetRescue projects are invisible to rescue?

Rescue should know about projects and be able to see them. It should be ridiculously obvious to groups how PetRescue projects are benefiting them. Projects which demonstrate no benefit to rescue are literally a waste of resources for an organisation who claims that their primary role is to support rescue.

On rescue groups leaving in droves

Really - two is actually pretty bad. I'd not be happy with that. But then;

If you leave - you're a bad egg they didn't want you anyway. So there.

It's like that old charity saying; if someone doesn't like the way your charity is operating; delete those guys and tell people they've committed gross misconduct.

So there you have it - PetRescue addressing the concerns of rescue groups.

Mostly, that everything is fine. And if as a rescue group you feel things are not fine, you need to stop reading Saving Pets and go and do your own research, stupid.

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