PetRescue's Covid-19 boon

May 5, 2020

PetRescue is in the media declaring the pandemic a boon for pets.

Pawsitive news during the pandemic

Perth-based national animal welfare charity – PetRescue – has recorded an extraordinary rise in traffic and conversions during the times of COVID-19.

Over 1.1 million Australians have visited the PetRescue website over the past seven weeks – a 95% rise – representing 25.3 million-page views of potential new furry friends.

However, it is not just the views for the website that are impressive; the actual uptake of adoptions has soared.

There were more than 12,500 pet adoptions between March 2nd and April 19th – more than double the usual 6,000 adoptions expected during this period.

But are adoptions at PetRescue really soaring?

There’s no doubt that a surge from around 25,000 visitors a day to 50,000 visitors a day, seems impressive and a good thing for pets. More people want to adopt - hoorah! There's also no doubt that rescue groups have been hit - both from, and independently of, PetRescue - with a huge influx of people wanting to adopt or foster over the April quarantine.

But of course, rescue groups have a finite amount of resources. This is especially true during Covid-19 when groups have limited opportunities to fundraise, people are losing their jobs (impacting self-funded rescue groups) and when animal rescuers (who tend to skew older) are having to quarantine for their own health.

So when PetRescue big-ups themselves on a job well done, it's easy for them because quite simply they’re not the ones doing the rescuing

The new General Manager details their operations in more detail;

So let's break these numbers down a little bit.

12,534 pets between March 2 & April 19.

From March 2 - April 19 is 49 days.

12,534 pets ÷ 49 days = 256 pets adopted per day.

256 pets adopted per day is about 93,000 per year.

But hangon! I hear you ask. Isn’t about 90k pets what PetRescue normally claim to place? Isn't that like, just normal numbers?

Yep. The entire premise of PetRescue's fundraising throughout 2018/19 was to try and bump the number of animals rehomed each year on the PetRescue website from their current 100,000 animals per year, to 200,000 per year. The campaign was called Gorman's Safe & Sound Pounds campaign and they sold $80,000 worth of coats to support same.

There are roughly 200,000 pets needing new homes every year. That sounds like a lot, but in Australia over 1,000,000 people will get a new pet each year. With that sort of statistic, if you think about adopting first, we really can save them all.”

Vickie Davy from - The Project (TV)

But at the same time this fundraiser was taking place, something else was happening. The number of listings on PetRescue was dropping dramatically.

Source: ACNC Financial Reports

What had been predictable year-on-year growth was stymied around 2017 when PetRescue - seemingly determined to trash its own brand - hired the director’s brother into a plum role of CFO, told rescue groups to stfu, ran a fundraising campaign featuring the director’s testicles, fundraised for desexing with none of the money going to desexing, hired even more people, fundraising for special needs pets while giving none of the money to those pets, told rescue groups to stfu again, ran a fundraiser that raised hundreds of thousands of dollars and gave none to the dog featured, hired the director’s wife into another paid role and...

... as a result, rescue groups left in droves, with just 22,000 dogs finding homes last year on the website.

It's been four years since PetRescue had a positive story to tell about their adoption figures, so the Covid-19 rush could not have come at a more vital time. Especially given that PetRescue's income is not tied to outcomes; and their revenue looks fine and dandy.

Source: ACNC Financial Reports

Rescue groups are currently taking a massive hit in their sustainability. Groups, while busier than ever, are collapsing daily from lack of funds and resources.

PetRescue have paid staff working hard to produce content to maximise donations and oversell their involvement in the rescue process (which is essentially nil). PetRescue rescue no pets. They feed no pets. They vet treat no pets. They help no rescues. All of their resources are spent on furthering their own charity goals. So while rescue groups keep helping on the frontline as much as they are able, PetRescue will be churning out communications, solicitations and brand building strategy to keep their donors giving.

Please share this to your contacts so that people aren’t mislead into thinking that a PetRescue donation will be going to help pets, and that monies intended for rescue groups aren’t redirected into PetRescue’s bank account during these vital times.

Oh, and please give cash money to your local rescue if you can.

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