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The Wildcat Sanctuary enters into agreement with Attorney General to improve business practices and processes

Accord with AG ensures future of 100+ animals

SANDSTONE, MN April 22, 2014 -The Wildcat Sanctuary (TWS) Board of Directors announced today that is has entered into an agreement with the Minnesota Attorney General to make important improvements to its business processes and practices. The agreement is the result of an AG’s investigation into allegations of misuse of funds at the sanctuary.

“We have been working for several months to grow our business infrastructure to catch up with our tremendous growth,” said board chair Gail Plewacki. “Our agreement with the Attorney General helps us focus on the most important changes we need to make to ensure we don’t repeat the mistakes of the past. We’re grateful for this opportunity to improve what we do, and we’re thankful to our donors who have stood by us while we grow and learn to be even better.”

TWS was established in 1999 with just 10 cats on 10 acres. The facility is now home to more than 100 lions, tigers, cougars, bobcats and a host of other exotic species on approximately 40 acres with spacious, natural habitats for all of its animals.

The agreement with the Attorney General provides for TWS to hire an outside monitor to help the organization improve the way it does business. Even prior to the agreement, all bookkeeping had been outsourced to an accounting firm, and new policies clarifying use of TWS funds for expenses had been in place.

“Our donors have stayed with us even as we have stumbled and made mistakes,” said TWS Executive Director Tammy Thies. “They deserve a professional and transparent organization that unfailingly meets the needs of the animal they support. That is what we are committed to giving them.”

“Some of these challenges are just the result of a fast-growing organization that used to be small and run by one person who didn’t even get paid for years,” Plewacki said but mistakes were made. “We’re confident that the changes we are making will prevent them from happening again.”

Several years ago the Wildcat Sanctuary mistakenly paid approximately $500 in property taxes for the director’s house, which is on the facility’s property. That money has been repaid. Plewacki said some donations were also mistakenly used to purchase personal items

“The board needs to provide direction and resources to make sure that a nonprofit runs like a good business.,” added Plewacki.

Said Thies: “It’s about the welfare of the cats. It always has been, and it always will be. That focus has sometimes made it difficult to take time to ensure that we’re doing everything else as well as we can. But that is not an excuse. We have been and will continue to improve our organizational infrastructure as we grow. And we will continue to provide the best care for our residents.”

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