The first part of our story was released yesterday. Catch up if you haven’t already. It’s a look at the generally poor state of affairs. Specifically, the organization’s current head threatening a longtime volunteer and foster.
No Kill Louisville was for several years an organization dear to many of us. You’ve likely read hundreds of stories about the organization and its past attempts to clean up Metro Animal Services. It was a breath of fresh air in this town filled with nothing but euthanasia story after euthanasia story. Animals were being saved, pets were being fed, owners were being educated, area organizations were being assisted.
Now? The group is a shell of its former self.
During the summer of 2009 the Kentucky Humane Society started a local pet food bank. Food that the bank received was donated by Blue Buffalo and the general public. In December 2010, KHS lost its warehouse space and was forced to close its program down. At that time, No Kill Louisville (then headed by Jessica Reid) stepped in and maintained the bank for the community.
For several years, NKL kept countless pets fed as their owners struggled. The community constantly chipped in and organizations like Dare to Care, KHS and companies like Kroger donated both food and money. Any cash that came in was directly used to buy more food.
Thanks to the generosity of Blue Buffalo, NKL routinely had more food than it needed from 2011 through mid-2013. The organization’s leadership started sharing with area rescues, shelters and animal foster groups in need. And of course helped individuals in need. When an individual or organization was assisted, NKL (based on well-kept documentation) made it a point to let Blue Buffalo know in an effort to give thanks.
If you live in Kentucky, Indiana or Ohio? You likely know an individual or organization that has been helped as a result of NKL’s efforts.
NOTE: In addition to operating its own food bank, NKL partnered with the organization Rescue Bank, selling food from that program to authorized organizations for $0.06 per mound ($0.02/lb profit).
But greed eventually took over. A minority of individuals on NKL’s board of directors at the time wanted to start selling food from their food bank for profit. Rifts developed and this being Louisville, bitterness and jealously reigned supreme.
More on the back story…
In May 2013, NKL’s leadership had had enough and could no longer be involved in bickering, greed-filled power grabs. Everyone from the president and treasurer to the group’s secretary left in protest and frustration. Remaining board members focused on making money held a meeting and determined that they could no longer handle operating the food bank. The decision was made to locate another organization to run the bank. At the time, a departing volunteer was tasked with locating a replacement and were working to secure a deal to ensure the community didn’t suffer. But those few greedy members on the board held a secret meeting and executed a secret deal for a volunteer from another organization to take over… all to continue selling food at a profit. They left the volunteer staffer working to locate legitimate operators in the cold.
By that point, nearly everyone who mattered had resigned and greed had officially taken over.
The following month, No Kill Louisville sent a message to United Rescues of Kentucky indicating that they had pallets upon pallets of pet food for sale at $60-$75 per. They effectively stopped providing food to individuals and focused only on organizations that were 501(c) non-profits. Instead of supporting individuals or organizations that had immediate need, the food was going only to groups that had plenty of money and storage space. Between June and September, NKL sold 5+ trucks of food in that manner.
By the fall, NKL had run out of cat food but no pleas for assistance were immediately made. After months of going without, the splintered group reached out to Blue Buffalo begging for assistance. Those we spoke with at Blue Buffalo said off-the-record that they were shocked to hear that literally tons upon tons of food had disappeared. They confirmed to us that at the time NKL blamed former volunteers for the shortage, never mentioning that the food had been sold for profit.
Throughout those months, hundreds of individuals and organizations that used to depend on NKL were begging for help. Former board members and volunteer staffers were inundated with telephone calls and requests. People were shocked to be left out in the cold.
In December, NKL was again expecting food deliveries and sent out notices offering it for sale.
After all the cash was raked in, NKL didn’t invest in food that was badly needed. It combined those funds with money received from Amazon and purchased a forklift.
Which… right. That’s what you do when you don’t have pet food and people are in need. Clearly.
During all of that, though, something major happened. Rescue Bank terminated its partnership with NKL. With cause, according to them, for rampant mismanagement and poor record keeping. Among other things. Individuals we spoke with there refused to go on-the-record for fear of retribution.
In just two seasons, an operation that had helped the community for more than four years had fallen apart.
Rather than attempt to make things right, the organization’s current head, Rebecca Ficklin, has spent countless hours blaming the group’s former leaders for its woes. From accusing individuals of theft and financial mismanagement to general corruption. Despite those woes not beginning until the moment she took over. For the past several months, area shelters and rescue organizations have been given negative stories about those former leaders. All, it appears, in an attempt to deflect blame and any sort of responsibility for NKL’s current poor state of affairs.
Which brings us to today.
The really fun stuff begins when you start to examine the organization’s financial statements. Some documents that did not exist until yesterday — after several weeks of repeated requests from various members of the community.
Beyond their own numbers not adding up, based on documentation we’ve examined, there are potentially tens of thousands of dollars going undocumented and unreported. From $18,980 in carryover funds being misreported as $0 (it’s on their 990s and previous reports), to an entire truck of Blue Buffalo food being sold and not documented, to huge purchases of food from places like Mark’s Feed Store, to ATM cash withdrawals and even a gym membership.
You thought Progress Kentucky was a walking disaster? You ain’t seen nothin yet.
NKL even fabricated their legally required financial reports. You can look at 2012 vs 2013 and see that it’s just a copy and paste job:
2012 — CLICK TO ENLARGE
2013 — CLICK TO ENLARGE
To say that there is a gross lack of responsibility and fiscal stewardship would not be an overstatement. But we’re just scratching the surface here.
We’ve requested No Kill Louisville, as required by federal law, provide us access to their records, filings and documents but have not received an adequate response. Just claims that they don’t have a physical location for records inspection, despite telling the IRS and SOS otherwise. Once that documentation is obtained, we’ll share it here.
At this point, no one in their right mind should be contributing financially to the organization. Since NKL has received tens of thousands of dollars from Metro Government, we can’t see how someone like Kelly Downard isn’t demanding a thorough forensic examination of everything the group has done with taxpayer dollars.
The downfall continues. We’ll be publishing new stories that go beyond what we’ve already explored. We’ll be digging into countless volunteer and foster interviews, emails we’ve received documenting threats, attempts by the group’s leaders to use funds to purchase an automobile for personal use, allegations of animal abuse and neglect, even allowing a little girl to sell bracelets to raise money for the non-existent Hope Fund.
It’s all hitting the fan.
Time for this city to come together to clean up its nightmarish animal care community. It should not be poisoned by government agencies like LMAS or tax-exempt organizations like NKL.