Glenn Buckley Graduated from Louisiana State University, School of Veterinary Medicine in 1999. He is the former owner of Pet Emergency Center Fort Lauderdale, FL, and a Veterinarian volunteer at multiple shelters and rescues.
Glenn started Pet Rescue Rx – “A pets before profits pharmacy” in 2013. Pet Rescue Rx is an online pharmacy for pet medications located in Akron, NY. It started as a new, unique way to financially support animal shelters and rescues by donating all profits to animal shelters and rescues selected by their customers. They are a licensed pharmacy in 37 states and are certified by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy as a safe and verified place for pet owners to purchase pet medications. Pet Rescue Rx has donated over $175,000 to date.
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Hey, Glenn, Thanks for coming on today. Thank you, Chris. Great to be here. Really excited to have you here. So why don’t you give us a little bit about you, kind of your journey and story, and then we’ll talk about Pet Rescue Rx. Let’s see, I was a graduate from LSU vet school back in 1999 and pretty much immediately afterwards started doing emergency veterinary work and down in South Florida, the hospitals that I was working at, came up for sale. So I purchased them and owned them for about 15 years. And pretty much spent my entire professional career doing emergency and which I found very rewarding. I felt like I was using the skills I was trained in. And it was my calling and just again using the skills that I always wanted to have and really, I felt that I was making the biggest impact for pet owners by doing emergency work.
Yeah. Now, are you somebody that always wanted to be a vet when you were a kid? You know, I have to say, like most of us out there, yes, that’s the case. You know, becoming a veterinarian isn’t something that you take lightly. For a lot of us, it started when we were, you know, 6, 7, 8 years old and our first pets in the desire to care for them and raise them well. And yeah, it’s just something that is a passion that most veterinarians have, that leads them to taking that career path.
Now, you said you particularly enjoyed doing the emergency room stuff. Why is that? Not every case that would come in but you know, a good majority of the cases, you’re making a life changing difference for that pet. We’re able to provide the medical care that if they didn’t get it over the course of the evening, you know, and I was working nights, so we would have people come in at 2, 3, 4, 5 o’clock in the morning and their pets were in immediate distress. They would probably not survive, if they waited until their regular vets offices open the following morning, and that was the most rewarding part. But when you put yourself in that situation, as much good as you see that you accomplished, there’s also that downside of it when things just don’t go as you hoped that they would, you know. But that’s medicine. Whether it’s veterinary medicine or human medicine, that’s part of it. Yeah, I was gonna say, sometimes I’m sure that must have been pretty hard. But as you said, it’s also very rewarding. So both the ups and the downs. Correct. Yes, and it truly is that I thought to myself many times, it’s a cycle. It’s a rollercoaster ride that you’re on all the time. Sometimes you’re really up and everything’s great and clicking, and everything’s going just the way you wanted to. And other times it’s not. And one of the things that started to impact me over the years was that I began to realize that it’s hard to let go of the bad stuff that happens. The good stuff, you feel good about it. But then the next case comes in and you’re back on that roller coaster again, and you know it’s very stressful. It’s a very stressful situation.
I’m guessing over the years, you also get to deal a lot with different animal rescues and shelter organizations. Oh, most definitely. I mean, we were one of the few hospitals in the area that really tried to work with the shelters and rescues because those folks are incredible. I mean, the couple organizations that we work very closely with, their volunteers would be out at all hours of the night, trying to rescue animals. You know, they would be, there was one group that would be out in the Everglades trying because people would go out there and release their pets and they’d be out there trying to get them. And a lot of times, after being outdoors for an extended period of time, they have medical issues. And that was one of the things that I always told our staff that we need to work with these groups and many times didn’t have the financial means to take care of these animals. So a lot of times we did it at no cost or a very reduced cost, just to give care. And that was one of the really nice things, because unfortunately, some of the other emergency hospitals, they looked at it as a business too much vs in my mind what it needed to be. Meaning, you gotta have the compassion. You gotta have the true meaning of being a veterinarian, and it’s not just a business. It’s a mindset.
Now I can imagine that’s hard, because I know veterinarians go through extended amounts of schools, they have loans to pay and debt and all those other kinds of things. So it’s probably a conflict for a lot of vets to try and balance out why you’re doing this versus the business. You got to make money in order to stay in business. You know, I guess my feeling has always been with the business was that if you do the right thing, the business will be fine. We had plenty of clients that would come in who could pay, and that offset our costs of helping out the folks that didn’t. Because we have plenty of those just individual pet owners that really were in a bind and needed some help, then the rescue groups as well, and I’ve never been a money oriented person. To me, it’s always been about what we could do as a hospital. What I could do as a veterinarian to fulfill my obligation as a veterinarian and again to me, and that’s a philosophy. That’s a mindset that was important to me.
So take us back to the point where this idea for Pet Rescue Rx kind of came to you and take us from there. Basically, the idea came from my work doing emergencies. And as I was just saying a moment ago about the rescue groups coming in, and the financial strain that they were under to take their pets in and just either rescued or were holding for adoption. And it’s always that ongoing costs and always need for them to try to raise more money to take care of these animals, whether it be for vet bills or just the daily food and things that they needed. So the idea came about, to me, probably around 2010 and the changes in the pet medication industry were really ramping up at that time. And the changes I’m referring to was the online pharmacies for pet medications.And seeing the shift that pet owners were moving to that, basically to save some money because, you know, to be honest with you prior to, let’s say, the year 2000 before really the online market opened up, veterinarians had a real nice opportunity to use pet medications as a real profit motivated aspect, of their business because it really had no competition. And once the online competition started, veterinarians, of course, didn’t appreciate that. But you have to look at it as that is pretty much the way of the future. That is the trend that is not going to just go away.
So my feeling was, well, let’s utilize that shift in the business and make it something that could really be a positive thing for the shelters and rescues. And you have the whole idea behind Pet Rescue Rx is that we’re an online pharmacy for pet medications. But we donate our profits to the animal shelters and rescues that our customers select. You know, I was hoping veterinarians would appreciate that idea and provide us the support. And if their clients said to them that they wanted to purchase online, that they would say, Oh, well, there’s this pharmacy Pet Rescue Rx. You may want to check them out because of what they’re doing. Again, it all goes back to that philosophy, that mindset of being a veterinarian, what it truly means.
So how did that work out for you? Was it kind of what you expected? Did people refer, like you were planning on them, too? No, there’s always hiccups. Veterinarians were very resistant to the whole online concept of pharmacies and losing the business. That mindset is changing because, really, the demographic of veterinarians is changing. When I was in school, it was probably 50% men, 50% women. It was pretty much just even split. And 20 years before that it was probably 80% men and 20% women. Well, now it’s completely gone in the opposite direction, where it’s 80% plus of the new graduates are women and a smaller percentage of men graduated. And not that there’s the difference in the mindset of business. But the newer graduates I find are more open to current trends. You know, they’re not so ingrained in the past because they didn’t live it, you know, they didn’t understand that side of it and what the pet medication profit margins were, as the business owners had again 20, 30, 40 years ago.
So the newer graduates are more open to the idea of what we’re all about and what we’re trying to do and becoming more acceptable to that. You know, they appreciate that more and more people, not just the veterinarians but the population, in general, are really beginning to appreciate what it means to rescue animals and to bring them into your home, versus buying a pet from a breeder or even worse, going to a puppy mill. And I still have people I talk with and they tell me Oh, we bought this dog from a farm somewhere and you know that story. That’s another issue. There’s one thing that we could get rid of, that would be very nice. So the whole idea is changing and the acceptance of what we’re trying to do. And our customers, I always felt, our customers would really appreciate what we’re trying to do, because again, many more people are adopting from shelters and rescues. And if they could give back to that particular organization through a purchase that they make through us, well, that’s no money out of their pocket. It’s easy money for the shelters and rescues. And why wouldn’t you like that?
So Glenn now, were you somebody that knew how to do a website? I mean, it sounds like you were probably kind of early on, right? 2010 was still, it was the age of the Internet, but it was new for pet medications and things like that. So did you encounter any challenges or anything? Yeah, we did, actually. There was a lot of resistance from the veterinary community against online pharmacies, and they were trying to fight that change. Things that went all the way up to hearings in Congress with the Federal Trade Commission and I mean, it was fairly substantial, the resistance that was and the pressure that was put on online pharmacies to try to keep them from ever getting a real solid footing. By the time we got in, a good percentage of those issues were kind of being played out through the already established pharmacies, 800-PetMeds in particular. But by the time we got in it, I kind of felt at a right point that I could see the changes happening, I could see that it wasn’t going to be something that would just disappear. So with that, you don’t try to make the leap into getting Pet Rescue Rx started.
And so, with the help of my brother and his wife, who have a small IT business. They helped create the website and get it up and running for us. And it was nice because my other brother’s a CPA, so he was able to help us with the bookkeeping and get it rolling and everything like that. And so when you have an opportunity and the circumstances all come together, you gotta go for it, you know, you got to make the leap and give it a shot. So that’s what we did.
So what is the best piece of advice you got along this journey? You know what I have to say, Chris, there wasn’t a whole lot of advice, there really wasn’t. There was a lot of skepticism. There were a lot of people that I spoke with about it, who questioned why you would start something and not with it being a money maker for myself, cause I don’t pay myself from this business, you know? Why would you do any of this because this is kind of the way I’m built. Maybe a little bit optimistic, overly optimistic, and maybe a bit of a dreamer, maybe a little bit stubborn for possibly, But I could see the benefit. I could vision the benefit that it could achieve. But there are a lot of things I did not know, I have to say. I had no experience operating a pharmacy regarding the licensor and the requirements, but we got through a lot of it, and right now we’re solidly established, and as long as we can continue to grow the business and to continue to get the money to the organizations and as we grow, the donations will increase more and more. But I think we’re in a pretty good spot right now.
There were times when just like anybody else who’s starting a business, starting any new business is always there’s risk involved. But if you don’t take the risk, you’ll never see the reward. And again for me, the rewards are not personal, in regards to money. It’s personal in regards to because I was thinking about this today. The comments we get from our customers and the appreciation we get from our customers and from the rescues about what we’re trying to do, that I mean, we’ve got every review that we have on Google and Facebook is five star, you know, and that’s because of our customer service and what we have been able to do, and our mission as a business. And, you know, I’m very proud of that. Very, extremely proud of that and so are the folks that work for me. They believe in it as much as I do. And when you have that, that’s quite a bit of the battle, when you’re trying to grow.
Tell me, how does Pet Rescue Rx compare to the other ones out there? You know, people have probably heard of 1-800-PetMeds, and I’m sure there’s other ones out there. I mean, certainly you guys have that focus on rescues and shelters. But what else is different? We’re talking 800 Pet Meds, Chewy, now Wal Mart and a handful of other relatively smaller online pharmacies for pet medications. In so many ways we’re very much alike because we’re offering the same products at competitive prices, and it’s pretty much the same idea. You know, people come online to shop with us, and we contact their veterinarian, if they’re ordering a prescription item, to verify that that’s what the pet needs. Our pharmacists will do that. So in many ways, we’re very much the same. But the big difference is our motive and our mission. We call ourselves a pets before profits pharmacy because of what we do with the donating our profits to the shelters and rescues.
But that aspect of our business separates us from everybody else. That’s our differentiation between the larger corporations. When they have investors putting in millions of dollars and are selling stock and have stockholders that they have to be responsible to generate profits for them. We don’t have any of that. This is something that I own and I run and I run it the way I want to run it. And I don’t have to answer to anybody. Yeah, I like that.
Now, one of things that really fascinated me was in the introduction. I mean, you’ve donated $175,000 to date, to rescues and shelters. That’s gotta feel pretty good. Oh, it feels really nice. We just mailed out some more checks, earlier this week, and that’s a real nice feeling. I vision the amounts at some point in the future, being so much more. But whatever we can give out, certainly is a benefit to them, and they appreciate it. You know that they tell their supporters, and that’s how this business grows. You know, our customers appreciate it. They tell other customers when they find out about us and receive their orders and how quickly we get it out to them. And then the shelters and rescues, they can tell their supporters, they’ll receive the benefits, so that’s the whole idea behind it. So if there’s organizations listening, how difficult is this process to get registered with you, to get into this system? For us, if they would go to our website at rescuerx.com. At the bottom of the home page, there’s a link to register their shelter and any 501C registered shelter rescue consign up with us. We just have that requirement. Some of them aren’t that, but unfortunately, that’s really because we serve shelters and rescues across the country. We can’t go and visit everyone, so we have to have a bit of faith through their 501C designation, that they are a legitimate shelter and rescue, and they provide us that paperwork, sign up, and that’s pretty much it. So then they just refer their adopters, fosters etc, when they buy the medications through you and then they get a check every month. Yep, that’s basically it. The whole idea was that they would appreciate this new way of receiving some financial support because nobody else in the country is doing this. There is no other online pharmacy doing what we’re doing. There’s a couple other businesses that do certain things like this, but many of them, they just donate a small percentage of their profits. What we make, we give back. And again going to the point of trying to think of new and creative ways to support these organizations versus old school thought of fundraisers and auctions. And you have just the different things that have been done for years, and not that they don’t work. But what’s new? What is a new way to do it? And that’s what I’m trying to convince them of. You got to think outside the box to do things and old ways are fine. But there’s new ways. There’s a lot of thinking and some ways of using technology to help your organization grow.
So what’s next for you guys, Glenn and what do you envision the future to look like? For us right now, we are a licensed pharmacy, in 37 states. We certainly want to expand to obtain our pharmacy license in all 50. And I love what we have at this point and to see where we’ve come from, from being starting at zero and growing this business. I don’t know what the future is gonna hold. I’ve reached a point in my life after all the things I’ve done to think to myself, you know, just enjoy the day. If you don’t appreciate today and what you have, what you’ve accomplished, dreaming about the future, that may never happen. That’s using time that I’d rather not spend doing that. I’d rather look at the moment and try to appreciate it and just let it kind of grow and blossom the way it’s supposed to. And whatever that means, I don’t know. But, you know, try to be optimistic.
Glenn, is there anything you’ve learned about yourself during this journey? Oh, definitely. Yeah, definitely. It’s funny you should ask that question, Chris, because I do think about this. It’s everything that we’ve done and where we are right now, has made me into the person I am today, and I am very, very happy with that. I feel like I’m doing what I was meant to do in life and when we reached that point, it’s not work, it’s just being yourself. And I see people who may be not really happy with their work, that they do. But they’re doing it because they have to make a living and everything like that. And I would love for people to be able to get to a point where what they do, is not work. There is a saying. I hear people say from time to time, they talk about their grind, meaning the business that they own and what they have to do to make it successful. This isn’t a grind to me. This is just life and being where you’re supposed to be.
Well, Glenn I, for one, love what you guys do. I recognize the challenges and appreciate what you’re doing to help rescues and shelters. So thank you for that. And is there anything else you want to mention before we wrap things up today? Yeah. You know, I was thinking about this this morning and there’s been some recent reports out, I live in the Northeast. I’m based in upstate New York, outside of Buffalo. And I have seen some recent news reports about some of the shelters and rescues not having any animals to adopt out. You know, they’re showing that the cages are empty and we’re talking right now during the quarantine period that we’re in during the COVID outbreak. And what I’d like people to know is that part of the reason for that is that because people are home, they are fostering these animals from the shelters. And what’s gonna happen when people start going back to work? They may have to take these animals back. You hope that doesn’t happen. But it will. Most likely. And another aspect of what we’re facing is the changes in our economy that are going to result from this virus. It is known as a fact that when the economy goes down, people surrender their pets, and we know we’re gonna be facing some tough economic times. So while it’s nice now that reports are showing that okay, there’s no animals available for adoption, in some shelters, in some parts of the country, I still think about okay, what is the future going to be. And unfortunately, I think that’s gonna be an issue that the shelters are gonna face. The economics of it all, just don’t look real good, right at the moment.
I know just in a lot of the conversations I’m having that we’re hoping that the future of sheltering becomes more virtual, that all of the animals are in foster. I’m still available for adoption, and if we can facilitate that, it’s much better for the animals. It’s much cheaper for an organization to operate. They can focus more in the community. So, I for one, I’m looking at the positive, hoping that when we come out of this pandemic, there’s a shift in mindset, in the way that we approach this and that a lot of these organizations don’t go back to the way that it’s always been done. But really, try and think about Hey, we were able to do this during this pandemic, during this crisis, without the animals physically in our shelter. So let’s keep this going. Let’s look at how we can operationalize and improve our processes, doing it that way. So yeah, that really would be nice and as we were saying earlier. You know, doing things in a new way. And let’s hope that that’s a result of this pandemic, just like it probably will be for people being allowed to work at home. And if that’s the case, then maybe, as you’re saying, fostering out more animals, so there’s fewer in a shelter. It would be more of a possibility for people because they will be working from home. And maybe it’ll free that up. Yeah. So, Glenn, I really appreciate you coming on today and we’ll certainly link to Pet Rescue RX and do our best to help spread the word. So thanks for coming on and talking with us today. I do appreciate it, Chris. Thank you very much. I enjoyed it.
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