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Pets Before Profits: Vet Starts Pet Rescue Rx to Aid Shelters

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By Jann Wiswall

Pet Rescue Rx is not just another online veterinary pharmacy, and Glenn Buckley, DVM, who is in the process of moving full-time to Ellicottville, is not your ordinary veterinarian.

With two thriving veterinary hospitals in Ft. Lauderdale, Buckley used his business and medical know-how to find a way to make a difference for animal shelters across the country. And he brought the idea to western New York — where he was born and raised.

Launched just a month ago, Buckley created an online veterinary pharmacy with a philanthropic purpose: all net profits from the sale of prescription and non-prescription medications sold through Pet Rescue Rx are donated to animal shelters. Customers are able to designate their favorite local

shelters as the beneficiaries.

Buckley commented, “I’m a regular volunteer veterinarian at a number of shelters in Ft. Lauderdale. I’ve seen firsthand how difficult it is for shelters to care for their growing populations and, at the same time, seek donations and other funding to support their work. I wanted to find a way to get more funds into their hands so they can spend more time doing the more important work of care and adoption.”

“There is so much money in the veterinary pharmacy industry,” he said, noting that sales total $8 billion per year. “When I saw that number, I thought, ‘That money should be used in a better way.’”

He decided to model his company after Newman’s Own — the food company started by actor Paul Newman which donates its profits to a variety of charitable organizations.

“Newman’s Own is a unique and effective organization, and I thought, we can do something like that to benefit U.S. shelters,” he said.

So Buckley, as CEO, partnered with his web developer brother Scott (as president) and sister-in-law Patty to create the website and located the physical pharmacy in Akron, N.Y.

“We were raised with animals, and we all share a passion for them, so it made sense to make it a family affair,” he said, and added that another brother, who is an accountant, is handling the financials.

The company also employs a full-time pharmacist, two part-time pharmacists and a customer service representative, all of whom are available to answer any questions customers, veterinarians and shelter staff might have.

Currently, Pet Rescue Rx is fully licensed to sell prescription medications in 17 U.S. states (including N.Y.). The team is working on getting licenses for the rest of the country and expects to do so by the end of 2013. Non-prescription medications and supplies, such as flea and tick treatments, vitamins, etc., may be purchased by anyone in any state, and profits from those sales also are donated to shelters of the customers’ choice.

“What’s critical in all this is to build credibility with our customers and beneficiaries,” said Buckley, who knows that there are many illegitimate online pharmacies out there that the legitimate pharmacies have to compete with and customers unwittingly use.

Indeed, the National Association of Boards of Pharmacies (NABP) reports that some 97 percent of online human and pet pharmacy sites do not comply with NABP standards — and many online sites that are located outside the U.S. are just downright illegal.

Pet Rescue Rx is certified by an NABP-approved program, LegitScript, and purchases only EPA/FDA-approved medications from U.S.-licensed

distributors. The company also follows all NABP standards related to proper refrigeration, storage, distribution and monitoring of its medications.

In addition, said Buckley, “Even though as a retail entity we cannot get non-profit status, we follow all guidelines for not-for-profit organizations — our financials are fully disclosed and people will be able to see where their money is going.”

Buckley understands that it will take time to build the business up to where shelters can rely on the company for sustainable, recurring income. But that’s the absolute first order of business, he said, and until that time, neither CEO Buckley nor brother Scott will be taking any salary from the venture.

“We’re both fortunate that our other businesses can support us as we work toward making Pet Rescue Rx an important source of support to shelters in the U.S. That’s why we call our company “A Pets Before Profits Pharmacy.’”

Pet owners can start using Pet Rescue Rx today, and anyone can recommend a favorite non-profit shelter as a beneficiary. In addition, shelters, animal rescue groups and animal rehabilitation facilities that are 501(c)3 organizations in all states may register for the program online. For more information, visit www.PetRescueRx.com.

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