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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.