Every month cat and dog owners across the country spend tens of millions of dollars to buy flea and tick, heartworm and other medications to keep their pets safe, funding the highly profitable veterinary pharmaceutical industry.
But what if all the profits from those sales instead went to fund rescue? What if you could buy heartworm or flea medication and designate all of those millions of dollars in profits from the sales to go to your favorite rescue or cat charity?
Taking that huge spigot of funds from one of the most profitable sectors of the pet world, and directing it into the one most in need of financial support is the brainchild of Glenn Buckley, DVM, owner of two emergency-care veterinary hospitals in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and a longtime rescue volunteer.
Three months ago Buckley launched Pet Rescue Rx, an online veterinary pharmacy that offers thousands of prescription and non-prescription medicines and other pet products. But this online pharmacy is very different: all the net profits will go back into funding rescue efforts, Buckley says.
The idea for a philanthropic business grew out of Buckley’s frustration as a rescue volunteer in not having a larger impact.
“As a vet, just going into the shelters, most could not afford to have a vet on staff and they rely on vets in the area to help if an animal comes in sick or injured.’’ That cost alone adds up quickly. “One problem shelters are getting into, they are accumulating substantial debt to vets in the area who support them. Often vets donate services, but many times they do charge for services.’’
Buckley, who adopted his two Labrador Retriever mixes from the Humane Society of Broward County five years ago, saw the need for something more up close.
“In South Florida I went into the shelters, bringing my own equipment, and that experience opened up a new way of thinking for me in regards to being a vet, what it is really about, getting back to the basics.’’
In searching for a way to do more, he came upon a source of inspiration: Newman’s Own.
Founded in 1982, when actor Paul Newman first declared, “Let’s give it all away,’’ the philanthropic producer of a wide array of Newman’s Own signature products has donated more than $370 million to nonprofit organizations around the world.
“We contacted Newman’s Own Foundation and got an understanding of what it would take to launch and get to the level they have achieved,’’ Buckley says. “Unfortunately we don’t have the name recognition or the money behind us to do a big ad campaign to get our name out there, so we are starting from the ground up, hoping through the support of shelters to get the word out.’’
This big idea for aiding rescue is already starting to blossom. More than 100 rescue organizations have signed up and www.petrescuerx.com is already licensed to sell prescriptions in 21 states, with more pending, and they can sell nonprescription items in any state.
Pet Rescue Rx is certified by LegitScript, a verification and monitoring service for online pharmacies. It is the only such service recognized by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy as adhering to its standards.
Doing online drug sales right is not an inexpensive undertaking.
“Right now my hospitals in Florida are providing the funding until we can generate enough sales to start earning a profit and giving back,’’ Buckley says. The effort is a family affair, with Buckley serving as CEO and providing the business and medical experience. His brother, cat lover Scott Buckley and wife Patty, do the website development. The physical pharmacy, with a staff of three full and part-time pharmacists, is located in Buckley’s childhood hometown of Akron, N.Y., where brother Scott lives.
“My brother and I take no compensation, no salaries from this,’’ Buckley adds. “We are doing this because we are all animal lovers and we feel this is the right thing to do.’’
And they have high hopes for what can be accomplished.
Noting that another online pharmacy earned $16 million in profits last year, Buckley says he wants to develop a similar success that will become a major source of funding for rescues.
“We are trying to create something that has never been done before, and to provide sustainable income for these very deserving groups.’’