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.

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?