Pet Abuse Scams

Diana Culp of the DC Borzoi Examiner has published a great article on several pet abuse scams, including Lucky Dog Rescue.

An excerpt:

Lucky Dog Rescue: A growing trend is to accept donations for the care of dogs whether they be personal pets or street dogs, and to pay personal bills with those donations. Ashley Owen Hill formed such a business plan.

Read the whole article here.


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The Lucky Dog Rescue Fraud

Last December, we asked whether Lucky Dog Rescue was a scam. After examining the 2012 990-EZ form for the organisation, we are now confident we can answer that question in the affirmative.

To date, Ashley Owen Hill, the co-founder of Pet Pardons, and founder of Lucky Dog Rescue in Meridian, Mississippi, has received no less than $296,329 in donations and grants. (See below for the detailed financial tables.)

While this includes the $100,000 she “won” from the 2012 Chase Community Giving Program, despite very serious allegations (and significant evidence) that she cheated in the contest, most of the donations were likely small, perhaps given in memory of a lost loved one. This appeared in The Meridian Star on August 13, 2013:

MERIDIAN — Services for Steven Michael Johnson will be held today with a 10 a.m. Mass at St Patrick Catholic Church with Father Frank Cosgrove officiating. Robert Barham Family Funeral Home is in charge of the arrangements. Burial will be at Magnolia Cemetery. Mr. Johnson, age 54, died Friday, August 9. Memorials may be made to St Patrick Church/School, 2601 Davis St., or Lucky Dog Rescue, PO Box 3224, Meridian, MS 39303 or a charity of your choice.

These people expected that their money would be used to take care of “lucky dogs,” but unfortunately, it seems that is not the case.

Here’s how the money (or at least, $146,766 of it) has been spent so far:

  • $76,282 on salaries and related payments (Lines 12, 13, plus payroll taxes). The distribution of this money is not disclosed, but it is entirely conceivable that 100% of this money (minus the payroll taxes) went to Ashley Owen Hill, for the 20 hours of work per week that she claims to do.
  • $30,191 on rent (Line 14), which is odd, considering that the address given in these forms appears to be Ms. Hill’s own home address. It certainly appears that Ms. Hill may be, in effect, paying rent to herself, in a city
    with an ordinance that limits the number of dogs per household to three.
  • $26,333 on “supplies” (Schedule O), a rather nebulous term that could conceivably include many things entirely unrelated to dogs.

There are a variety of much smaller expenses listed as well, including Veterinary Fees (Schedule O), at only $5,286 in 2011, and $0 in 2012. You read that correctly. According to its own 2012 990-EZ form, this dog rescue “charity,” which had $99,252 in the bank at the end of 2011, then raised another $73,474 during 2012, and “won” another $100,000 in 2012, spent $0 on veterinary fees in 2012.

Even if you’re feeling generous, and assume 100% of the $7,398 in “professional fees” listed in Line 13 went towards veterinary fees, that still represents only 6% of total expenses in 2012 ($123,163).

Lucky Dog Rescue Revenues and Expenses

2011 2012 2013 Total
Revenue (Line 1) $122,855 $73,474 $100,000* + other donations $296,329

* This is the $100,000 grant from the Chase contest that was “won” in 2012, but awarded in early 2013, and so will (presumably) appear in the 2013 990-EZ form.

Expenses 2011 2012 Total
Salaries, Other Compensation, and Employee Benefits (Line 12) $4,545 $59,839 $64,384
Occupancy, Rent, Utilities and Maintenance (Line 14) $3,940 $26,251 $30,191
Supplies (Schedule O) $8,040 $18,193 $26,233
Professional Fees and Other Payments to Independent Contractors (Line 13) $7,398 $7,398
Veterinary Fees (Schedule O) $5,286 $5,286
Payroll Taxes (Schedule O) $4,500 $4,500
Depreciation (Schedule O) $514 $3,101 $3,615
Insurance (Schedule O) $1,641 $1,641
Fuel (Schedule O) $88 $1,529 $1,617
Printing, Publications, Postage and Shipping (Line 15) $556 $540 $1,096
Organizational Costs (Schedule O) $500 $500
Website Fees (Schedule O) $65 $115 $180
Bank Fees (Schedule O) $69 $35 $104
Meals (Schedule O) $21 $21
Total $23,603 $123,163 $146,766

We have previously asked a number of questions of Ashley Owen Hill, all of which have gone unanswered. But since these questions simply need to be asked, here are a few more:

  • How many dogs did you rescue in 2012?
  • How is it possible that you spent $0 on veterinary fees in 2012?
  • Who received salaries, other compensation, employee benefits, professional fees and other fees in 2012?
  • What property are you renting?

We do not expect answers.

In fact, we don’t expect her to say anything, as she’s largely disappeared from the internet lately.

Her last Facebook post was on September 19, 2013, begging for donations, as usual.

Her last tweet, on August 9, 2013, may provide some insight into her thinking: “You can run. You can hide. But you can’t deny your reality.”

Increasingly it appears the “reality” of Ashley Owen Hill is that she is a fraud artist, just like her associate Jeromie Williams.

Is Lucky Dog Rescue a Scam?

We have asked Ashley Owen Hill, the co-founder of Pet Pardons, and founder of Lucky Dog Rescue in Meridian, Mississippi, a number of questions about her charitable status, and she has responded with silence. Any critical comments or questions are typically deleted from her various sites. She also deleted a number of particularly vile videos that she created and uploaded to Youtube, in which she threatens to murder animal control officers (among others).

Earlier this year, she received $100,000 from the 2012 Chase Community Giving Program, despite very serious allegations (and significant evidence) that she cheated in the contest (or others did, on her behalf). There is evidence that many of the Facebook accounts that voted for Lucky Dog Rescue are either fake or owned by non-Anglophones, which suggests that these votes were bought, in violation of the contest rules.

According to the most recent 990-EZ form for Lucky Dog Rescue (from 2011), this “charity” had a total revenue of $122,855 for the year, and expenses of only $23,603, for a surplus of $99,252. That’s right, she spent only 19% of what people donated to her that year.

According to SeriousGivers, a 501(c)(3) public charity dedicated to providing independent information, data and metrics to assist charity donors, Lucky Dog Rescue had a reserve ratio of 4.2 in 2011, indicating that revenues far exceed expenses. This is important because, as SeriousGivers notes, “an organization with very large reserves may not need your support.”

In fact, SeriousGivers recommends against donating to charities in the “red zone” of reserve ratios above 5.0. While ratios between 0.5 and 2.0 are considered appropriate (the “green zone”), ratios between 2.0 and 5.0 (the “yellow zone”) “should be discussed directly with and satisfactorily explained by the organization’s management before a donation is made.”

Unfortunately, Ashley Owen Hill does not seem willing to provide any explanation, satisfactory or otherwise.

It is in this context that she received $100,000 from Chase earlier this year, and continues to ask for more on her blog.

And it is in this context that Chris Hoar continues to solicit donations on her behalf:

As far as anyone can verify, this is a charity with virtually no liabilities, and possibly over $200,000 in the bank (the $99,252 surplus from 2011, plus the $100,000 from Chase in 2013). If other donations in 2012 and 2013 are similar to those in 2011, additional excesses of $99,252 in these years could bring the total up to $400,000.

On the other hand, Lucky Dog Rescue apparently has annual expenses of only about $23,000. According to Schedule O in the 2011 990-EZ form, this includes about $8,000 in supplies (dog food), $5,000 in veterinary fees, $5,000 in salaries, $4,000 in rent, and about a thousand in miscellaneous other expenses.

So here’s another few questions for Ashley Owen Hill (and Chris Hoar):

  • Why do you need more donations?
  • What have you done with the $100,000 from Chase, and the $99,252 excess from 2011?
  • How do you explain Lucky Dog Rescue’s incredibly high reserve ratio (4.2 in 2011)?
  • What are your revenues and expenses for 2012 and 2013?
  • Will you post your 2012 990-EZ form (and 2013 990-EZ form when it’s available)?
  • How can you continue to ask for donations without answering these very simple and legitimate questions about your charity?
  • How can you claim to be advocates for animals when you are diverting much needed attention and donations away from legitimate charities, many of which are struggling to pay their bills, while you already have hundreds of thousands in the bank?

We strongly advise you not to donate a penny to Ashley Owen Hill or Lucky Dog Rescue until these questions are answered.

A Note from the Administration

Please note that Alison Mednick Buzzotta Hector is not an administrator here, on our site, or any other site in the Pet Pardons Watch network, and she never has been. She has come under personal, malicious and false attack from Pet Pardons based on misinformation. Many people are now making inquiries into the activities of Pet Pardons, and she was just one of those who has commented. That’s all.

-PPW Administrators

Ten Questions for Ashley Owen Hill

Open Letter

(1) You state you have saved tens of thousands of pets through Pet Pardons, so why is it that you rescue zero dogs from her own neighborhood kill shelter, Lauderdale County AC, with a 70-80% kill rate?

(2) Why do you claim to be No-Kill when you promote Pro-Kill organizations? Why do you call your neighborhood kill shelter, Lauderdale County AC, to pick up stray dogs near Lucky Dog Rescue, when you know they will almost certainly be killed?

(3) Why have you not yet publicly denounced Jeromie Williams, a director in Pet Pardons, who makes violent threats against people and their children and dogs, and steals money raised through ChipIn by Pet Pardons on behalf of other rescues (such as Operation Sled Dogs)?

(4) According to Kim Johnston, you admitted to reading our emails about Jeromie Williams as early as December 2011, and claimed you (a) advised Chris Hoar to fire him and (b) “distanced yourself” from Pet Pardons when he did not. Given that Lucky Dog Rescue has been prominently featured on the Pet Pardons page in recent months, this does not appear to be true. Others (including Kim) have also claimed that you did not read any of our emails about Jeromie Williams until recently. Please explain.

(5) Why did you make the videos described here, including fantasies about the murder of an animal control officer and others?

(6) How many dogs has Lucky Dog Rescue rescued and adopted out in 2012? In 2011?

(7) How much in donations has Lucky Dog Rescue received in 2012? In 2011?

(8) Why does Lucky Dog Boarding have over 20 fake reviews (per Yelp) and only two real ones, one of which is not positive?

(9) Do you think it is ethical to ask for donations in memory of a dog that is still alive? Or to feign poverty and starvation in order to raise funds?

(10) Why do you (and Pet Pardons) not promote No-Kill or the No-Kill equation, which has been successful in 69 open admission shelters — representing over 200 cities and counties — in saving over 90% of their intake of pets?

Pet Pardons Welcomes Scrutiny (Not Really)

Today a spokesperson for Pet Pardons welcomed the creation of Pet Pardons Watch, a group of concerned citizens dedicated to monitoring the group and promoting ethical practices and accountability. “We will always welcome rigorous scrutiny and constructive criticism,” he said.

Pointing to a recent debacle in which the Director of Pet Pardons Canada, and Managing Editor of Pet Pardons News, Jeromie Williams, stole $1,800 from a Canadian sled dog rescue group, and threatened them over the phone and in voicemails, he said that Pet Pardons “welcomes feedback, advice, and criticism from others as we strive to be accountable to our partners, our supporters, and the general public, and ensure that nothing like that ever happens again.”

Just kidding!

Actually, the Pet Pardons mob has attacked this group as “Hitler,” and threatened to send the police out to get us.

From Maygen Crowe, a friend of Pet Pardons co-founder Ashley Owen Hill, in Meridian, MS:

From Elizabeth (Pippa) Jackson, the founder and Executive Director of the Animal Rescue Fund (ARF) of Mississippi:

We’ll keep you informed when our trial begins for crimes against humanity.

– Pet Pardons Watch Members