Animal Ark: Finding the Truth Among The Lies
Updated: Jun 7, 2019
A couple of weeks ago, No Kill advocates picked up on and shared a video of a dog being "trained" at Animal Ark. When we say "trained" we mean "pinned, choked and held to the ground on his back while he kicks and vocalizes in distress."
That original report included some other damning information about Animal Ark under its new leadership, like the fact that in order to get and hold control of the organization, the new Board canceled Lifetime Memberships (Animal Ark's best donors) to keep them from voting against this Board and how that seems to have resulted in a loss of support for the once beloved shelter in Hastings, MN, because they have been forced to close the shelter two days a week, when they used to be open seven days a week. We asked people to contact the Board of Animal Ark to voice your displeasure. Apparently, they heard you and published a response on their web site, which we will get into in a bit.
The same day Animal Ark published their response to our story, our friends at Fix Animal Ark published a blistering review of Animal Ark's 2015 IRS Form 990. The shorter version goes something like this:
Though Animal Ark has yet to publish their detailed financial report for their donors/members, as is required by the organization's By Laws (when people have asked, their response has been simply that the information is "unavailable"). In spite of this, Fix Animal Ark was able to obtain a copy of their IRS Form 990, which was filed late and which had yet to be published anywhere. It shows that while Animal Ark's new leadership canceled or gutted key programs benefiting animals and slashed staff positions (cutting $220,000 from payroll alone), their actual spending went up, not down. At the same time, income dropped to the lowest it has been in 15 years, resulting in a massive deficit of over $357,000 for 2015. It is not hard to figure out that canceling the memberships of their top donors, and other mismanagement by the Board had to have had a negative financial impact. What is unknown is where all of that money went. The IRS Form 990 does not itemize their expenses by programs or services.
To put the bleak picture painted by Animal Ark's IRS Form 990 for 2015 into focus, we call your attention to one specific line item:
Animal Ark began the year with $309,515 in unrestricted net assets (the first number in the image above). They ended the year with -$46,388 (the second number above).
The desperate financial pickle this new leadership created at Animal Ark adds important perspective to Animal Ark's response to our original story. They try to paint the changes they have been making as good, strong and benefiting animals. Yet, all evidence clearly says otherwise.
Fix Animal Ark wrote their own very detailed response to Animal Ark's statements, which prove, in our view, that Animal Ark continues lying to their members and donors about all kinds of things, and refuses to take any responsibility for the havoc they have brought to the once cherished animal shelter. We won't repeat all of their points here. You should go read them for yourself.
We do, however, want to emphasize a key point: Animal Ark claims that the video of Gomer being "trained" was taken "out of context." This is untrue. When we first saw the video, it was published on Animal Ark's own Facebook page. It was being shared by current and former staff and volunteers who were expressing outrage over the treatment of this poor dog, and understandably so. When we reported the story, we took the video in its entirety and showed the full four minutes of it, including the part where you can clearly hear the trainer asking, "should we rope him?"
We understand that there are different training methodologies use by different kinds of trainers. We understand that while the sort of punishment/dominance-based techniques demonstrated in the video have been widely discredited by animal behaviorists, many people do still use them. If that is the kind of training the new leadership at Animal Ark wants to get behind, they should be honest about it and state their case about why they do, when there are other approaches that are far more humane, rather than pretending that we can't all see exactly what is going on in the video, pinning and choking a dog into submission. A little honesty and integrity does not seem to me much to ask.
Here is the video again for your review:
If you are as upset about this as we are, help do something about it. Here are some easy things you can do to help Fix Animal Ark.
Contact Animal Ark and demand a change in leadership
Phone: (651) 772-8983 ext 206
Thanks in advance. Please help spread the news by sharing this story.