My name is Michele Brown. In my real life, on a daily basis I look after around 120+ Kangaroos, 20+ Koalas, plus thousands of marsupials, wildlife, birdlife, marine life and reptiles. I am also an Emergency First Responder for a large national animal rescue organization, where I am on call 24/7. I will hopefully continue to do so for many years to come.
For just over two years I was part of the organization SayNoToDogMeat.Net (SNTDM) with Dr. Jose Depre. In December 2015, I took the decision to delete it because of spurious actions and undeclared money collection using my name and my Australian registration.
It is because of certain misunderstandings and distortion of facts currently prevailing on the internet and social media that I have been persuaded to present my version of events. I hope this will serve not just as a clarification but as an exoneration of some of the commonly held misbeliefs about me.
The following statements are intended to provide an early brief snapshot of significant points before they are discussed in more detail later in this article:
– I no longer have ANY association with Dr. Jose Calos Depre in any way or on any level. I am not connected with any of his social media sites or so-called organizations.
– SNTDM does NOT exist anymore. It is deleted. I retain ownership of the domain name to prevent it being restarted. SNTDM has not been re-branded or reinvented and anyone suggesting otherwise is being deliberately or accidentally deceptive.
– I am continuing the fight against the dog meat trade with my Fight Dog Meat (FDM) FB page and website. I can categorically confirm that I do NOT collect donations and have no plans to do so.
– I was not involved in any petitions created by and for SNTDM. I am therefore unable to provide any information on the status of any that may still be active. My own FDM petitions are published by the Care2 Petition site.
– I have never sold any petition signatures for personal gain nor have I used anyone’s personal information unethically.
– I am not nor ever have been under investigation by Australian or any other authorities for fraud or perceived breaches of law. However, in late 2015 as a result of a complaint, I was required to present personal financial information to the Australian Government. Having examined that information, they were entirely satisfied and the complaint was dismissed.
– I did not receive any form of payment during my time with SNTDM and I did not benefit from any monies collected via online donations.
– The screenshot below is reproduced later in this article but is particularly important as it addresses my very serious concerns about donations directly to the SNTDM CEO.
Please note that I have not altered any screenshots other than to protect the identity of individuals referred to in the article.
THIS IS MY STORY
In 2013 I helped co-found an organization and charity, but after eight months I severed all association with this charity and have had no further contact with them since then. Furthermore, I was not involved in their fundraising initiative for Mrs Yang in 2015 nor have I been involved in any other similar activities undertaken by the Charity.
In April 2016 I sent a Registered Letter to the UK charity Trustees requesting that charity merchandise stored at my house for three years in pristine condition, be collected by courier. I received no response at all. I have included a link to my financial statement for 2013 to show transparency and to emphasize that the tax authorities are entirely satisfied with the state of my financial affairs.
In September 2013, immediately after walking away from the previous organization, I was approached by Dr Jose Calos Depre, who presented himself as having a large organization which was actively fighting for endangered species and concerned with animal welfare.
Prior to me disassociating myself from the UK charity, the CEO of the Charity had been communicating with Jose via Facebook private messages, which I was aware of but had no involvement in.
[Early September 2013, on one occasion during a skype conversation between the UK charity CEO and Jose, the charity CEO briefly patched me into that conversation, where I said a brief hello. That was my only contact with Jose prior to me leaving the UK charity.]
When Jose approached me he presented a good case and said he wanted to become involved in fighting the dog meat trade but knew nothing about it. He offered me an opportunity for us to work together, which at the time sounded good.
Jose told me he was a medical doctor, lived in Spain and was heavily involved in anti-poaching and animal rescue. He drew my attention to his environmental and animal welfare organization, the International Animal Rescue Foundation (IARF). It transpired that this consisted of two websites (one has since been deactivated), and about 30 Facebook pages.
I was still shell-shocked from disassociating myself from the previous organization and did not take the time to fact-check and investigate Jose’s history. This would later prove to be a major mistake on my part.
Jose and I began working together and in Oct 2013 we jointly created the SayNoToDogMeat.net (SNTDM) website and FB page. I said to him a number of times that the name was too similar to the previous organization’s name, but he ignored my concerns and remained determined to use that name. I subsequently registered SNTDM in Australia, under my name and under Australian law.
Looking back, the reality was that I was incredibly naive and had no idea who Jose was or what he did or didn’t do, apart from what he told me directly. Everything seemed plausible at that time.
There seemed to be a barrage of attacks but Jose kept saying to me “IGNORE” and he would deal with them. This proved to be another crucial error on my part – I followed his advice and I did “IGNORE” the attacks and therefore missed crucial information about the man I was dealing with. I was still blindly believing him.
I did not know that everything about the person I was now working with was based on a lie. He lied about where he lived, where he traveled, his work and what he did. He also lied about who he was. It was during a skype camera conversation that he unexpectedly revealed his “real name” to be Jon Williamson and Dr. Jose Calos Depre was just an act for social media. I was shocked and bewildered. SNTDM was now already underway and he swore everything else about him was truthful. He said he used a made-up name to protect his identity from the Bupa Hospital where he worked as a medical doctor, which at the time sounded vaguely feasible. His credit card was ‘Jon Williamson’ but I was forbidden to ever refer to him by his real name.
In mid 2014 we agreed to start the process to register SNTDM as a registered Charity. This required Jose to present a valid passport, under his real name of Jon Williamson, to the Australian Embassy in London where he would be given a stamped letter which would be sent to an Australian Government department to commence the registration process. This would play a pivotal part later on!
Around October/November 2014, I traveled to Europe and Africa and offered to meet Jose in person in Spain where he said he lived. I suggested a firm date but he declined and said he had to go to Morocco the next day. He did not know that later that night I was already heading to Fez in Morocco and to the exact market where Jose said he would be. He never showed. Later that night while talking to him on skype, I realized he was lying about being in Spain and Morocco, and something was horribly wrong, even though I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.
I was working incredibly long hours, seven days a week, organizing the SNTDM Global March scheduled for April 4, 2015. I did the bulk of the work in organizing and setting up and executing the event in 21 countries and over 50+ locations. There was an endless list of excuses why Jose hadn’t taken his passport to the Australian Embassy and constant promises of “next time he is in London,” which he said he traveled to every week from his home in Spain.
We had agreed early on that SNTDM would not be taking donations, but one day I came online and there was a donate button on the SNTDM FB page – without a word said to me. I had been traveling internationally during October and November and wondered if it was strategically added at a time when Jose knew I was distracted with other matters.
I honestly do not remember when I first saw the donate button, but I clearly remember being shocked and asking Jose: “We have a donate button?” He answered yes and gave an abrupt explanation of “his” purchase of land and derelict buildings in Hanoi, Vietnam. He said this was the reason SNTDM needed donations, to renovate “his” buildings and open a rescue shelter. Jose knew I was invested in helping Vietnam’s animals and would be receptive to something which would benefit those animals. Remember: I was also up to my neck in work on the Global March, which was moving closer and closer.
In December Jose published a short Christmas message video to advertise the Global March. It was filmed inside his apartment and was the first time he had ever publicly revealed himself.
From memory, I believe it was January 2015 when Jose admitted to living in the U.K. and not Spain or anywhere else. He maintained he was a doctor at a local Bupa Hospital. Jose kept trying to tell me he lived in a mansion, but on skype camera I could see it was clearly a bed-sitter apartment.
On February 8, things imploded between Jose and myself. He got drunk and verbally abused and attacked me very aggressively during a Skype conversation, leaving me shattered. The next day he had zero recollection of the incident and it was obvious he’d suffered some sort of blackout.
We had a blistering fight over his attack on me. Jose twisted this into accusing me of being jealous, which was completely ridiculous as I am over 20 years older than him. He knew I was now suspicious of him and his excuses, and our working relationship fractured.
In a sinister twist, he apologized and said he sent flowers, which I never received. He maintained this pretense over the next five weeks continually asking if they had arrived – knowing full well he had never sent any.
Jose went out again and got drunk, and once again skyped me on camera. While walking down the middle of the highway at 4am, he used the skype camera on his cell phone saying he was going to smash up some cars and see how people would like him then. He said: “I have to be careful because if I get caught I’ll be in a lot of trouble.”
I repeatedly shouted at him “No!” He argued back and forth with me about wanting to smash up cars. Eventually I was able to talk him out of it and instead, he stopped and made a silly video of himself writing ‘I love you’ to his then girlfriend (name withheld), on a car windscreen. He posted the video on Facebook.
The main person with whom Jose flirted (name withheld), later told me that in February 2015 Jose had secretly asked her to start an organization with him in America and I was never to know! Although I had no knowledge of this plan, I sensed his deception towards me and he twisted my reaction by telling people that I was jealous. Jose was successful in causing a rift between us as he was feeding misinformation on both sides. However, that lady and myself have since become close friends and I now know that she was appalled by Jose’s behavior.
From memory it was March when Jose finally confessed to not owning a passport so as a consequence, he was not able to satisfactorily prove his identity to the Australian Embassy in London. Consequently, there was no longer a possibility of SNTDM opening it’s own bank account and the progression of the Charity registration was immediately terminated. This also meant that his assertion of living in Spain, traveling the world etc, was nothing more than a fabricated lie.
Early in March he got drunk again and we had another blistering argument, and I threatened to leave SNDTM. From then on, he started hanging the phone up on me on a regular basis.
March 28: we were on skype and he took another call from a female supporter (name withheld), with me still on the line. As they talked he said, in a very strained voice: “Don’t say anything about Michele.” The female supporter asked if I could hear the conversation (which I could), and he said: “Just don’t say anything bad about Michele”, because he realized I would hear it. The (above) female supporter later confirmed he had been talking negatively against me, to her, behind my back. Jose started telling people he was my boss and that he is “THE boss.”
A week before the global march I did a radio interview with the top Los Angeles talk-show radio host, which advertised the global march across America. Four times Jose refused to let me post or publish the interview on the SNTDM website or Facebook page, even though it was a great interview. Prior to the march, a link to the interview was never posted.
The Global March took place on April 4 and was highly successful in 21 countries and over 50+ locations around the world. I thought it was wonderful but Jose didn’t have a good word to say about it. The friction between us was now unbearable and I had lost all trust in him.
When I arrived home from my successful Brisbane march, the first event of the day, Jose treated me with contempt. He refused to say a good word about the march and condemned it as a failure, grunting: “could have been better.” He refused to acknowledge that together we had achieved anything good. This was incredibly disappointing as I had worked really hard and expended a lot of time and energy organizing this global event and had hoped for some recognition of my considerable efforts.
The day after the global march, Jose posted a tribute article to the female supporter he was trying to impress and called her an “inspiration to the planet.” He then wanted to make her an admin of SNTDM, which I refused.
He then began appalling treatment of me.
He started slamming the phone down on me – 5 times in one week.
If I went to speak he would sigh loudly to cut my words off and angrily demand a link to a petition over the top of my half finished sentence. He was completely not interested, no matter what I needed to say. Unless he spat a question at me, he didn’t speak to me.
Two weeks after the Global March, Jose asked the female supporter he was trying to impress, to register SNTDM in America and run the company from there, without even consulting me first. When I asked about it, he flew into a violent rage against me.
At the end of April 2015, I dropped 7 kilos in weight (15.5lb), and got shingles, from the stress of working with Jose, from his constant abuse and aggression of trying to work with someone against me, rather than with me.
NOTE: the above mentioned female supporter and I mended our working relationship and this was the beginning of a great friendship, which still continues today. She wrote the following statement in April, 2016, in response to seeing Jose continually using her name as a weapon against me.
During the two years I worked with Jose, when I would be called out on an animal rescue, including for my own wildlife animals, upon returning I would be met by either cold indifference or abusive remarks.
On one occasion one of my big adult male Kangaroos had a hind leg torn off and I was called to the scene. I stayed with the critically injured animal as he dragged his exposed leg bones in the dirt for TWO HOURS, as I waited for the animal ambulance to arrive with a sedative dart gun, so he could be euthanized. This big Kangaroo was one of my own animals, who I had known for many years and it was incredibly distressing to see him in agony and not be able to comfort him. Until help arrived, all I could do was walk with him and speak softly to him, because he knew my voice from many years of being around him.
When I went back home and onto skype, as usual Jose did not bother to ask if the animal was alright. When I said my big Kangaroo had a hind leg torn off, he responded with silence and changed the subject. He never acknowledged my kangaroo.
I made the decision to leave SNTDM in May 2015, because I couldn’t deal with his abuse anymore. I was at the international airport, on my way to Denmark for a vacation, when as far as I was concerned I had said goodbye to Jose and and I had stepped back from SNTDM. It had become a completely unworkable situation. I could not go on for another day and had no one to turn to.
When I arrived in Denmark on 11th May 2015, something told me to check my skype one more time. I could not believe what I was reading! Jose told me he had just got out of jail after being arrested for several counts of arson.
He was caught in the act of arson by firefighters who had evidence against him, and he expected to go to jail. It was published in local newspapers and was published on his local Norwich Police website and Facebook page. I could not believe what I was hearing. I was in shock and horrified. I felt numb and in total disbelief.
In the early 1980s, I was in the epicenter of one of Australia’s worst bushfires, where many people were killed and untold numbers of domestic and wildlife animals died. Consequently, I abhor arsonists. I only survived the bushfire because as the wall of flames swept up my property’s driveway, at the last moment the wind changed direction and the 100 foot wall of flame swept to my left, sparing myself and my animals, including my horses. Knowing my animals were safe, I then joined the animal emergency rescue units and spent 48 hours rescuing animals, mainly horses. Every animal I rescued survived and was reunited back to their owner. My worst nightmare was to find myself working with an arsonist!
When Jon was arrested for arson it changed everything. With him expecting to go to jail in the very near future, I decided to rethink things. I told him I wanted to disable the donations but he refused. I wanted to know the exact location of the land and disused buildings in Vietnam purchased by him but each time I asked he would get aggressive and accusatory and hang up on me.
It had now been almost three months of abrupt and contemptible behavior toward me. Any time I spoke I risked being verbally attacked or accused of false jealousy. His paranoia was extreme.
Jose and I had barely spoken throughout the month of June but on July 2, he sent me this message on Skype
On July 13, one of my own Koalas needed urgent rescue and had to be euthanized, which was incredibly sad. I came back onto skype and of course Jose was not interested in the Koala. He angrily said “If the animal is not endangered it isn’t worth shit. If it’s not a Rhino I don’t want to know about it.” He hung up on me and then sent the following message:
He is the only person I have known on my entire life to become vicious about a Koala being rescued. Koala extinction is imminent in parts of South East Queensland. Jose launched a vicious tirade against me and my own Koala, which I had to euthanize! It was one of my own Koalas, which made it even more painful. True animal lovers do NOT act in such a hate filled, uncaring and contemptible manner over animals being critically injured and euthanized. I will never forget that disgraceful behavior from someone who boasts about caring for animals and takes people’s money under the pretense of helping animals.
Websites such as the following link, were being created and links posted online, which directly tied SayNoToDogMeat.Net with Jose’s criminal behavior, bringing the organization into disrepute:
SNTDM had a public event planned for 17 September, for petition signatures to be handed into embassies. I told Jose the event should be cancelled because of his impending court case for arson, which was scheduled for the week before the planned event. Jose refused to cancel the event as he was meeting a new female supporter/love interest, who he had referred to as #8 when describing her to me. I believe that is the only reason why he refused to cancel the event. [She subsequently became his new girlfriend.]
My September event was to be at the Philippines consulate in Brisbane. It was pouring with rain and the drive was a couple of hours each way. Prior to the event someone told the consulate I was a terrorist, which caused the staff to panic and close the consulate for the day. Several police, in riot gear, were waiting to arrest me and my supporters. This was ridiculous. I was able to clear my name and we were not arrested. As soon as I told Jose, he flew into a rage and accused me of not bothering to even attend. He called me a liar and other names, even saying “I ORDER you…” He continued to disbelieve me for over SEVEN hours, from 10.30am to 5.05pm.
I had other supporters with me at the Philippines consulate and we all took photographs, which included the police presence and the police speaking with me. Jose refused to accept this evidence. In order to proceed with this event Jose had pressured people into paying large amounts of money to print bulk signatures on paper. People were paying in excess of $500 to print their signatures out, which was an unnecessary financial strain for many of the individuals, and something I found incredibly embarrassing and outrageous.
On 26 Sept, Jose spoke about his impending court case and the likely outcome:
Jose and I were barely speaking. However, the screenshot dated 15 October shows he was preparing for his court appearance and a possible custodial sentence.
After a number of court delays and false starts, Jose’s court case was eventually moved to January 2016. Over the last few months we had barely spoken. Jose wouldn’t disable the donate button so it became more crucial than ever to press for the location of “his” so-called land and buildings in Vietnam, which I no longer believed existed. I wanted proof of existence or I would take action to end this.
When politely asked by a SNTDM supporter for a photograph of his Vietnamese rescue shelter derelict buildings, Jose was not able to produce one single photograph, and replied:
At no time was a photograph of Jose’s derelict buildings or land ever published on SNTDM and I never saw any proof of its existence, via photograph or proof of purchase.
Jose announced he was starting a new business in Northern Ireland and I asked if he had received confirmation of his court hearing.
Jose and I exchanged a series of comments about his land and buildings in Vietnam in which I continued my attempts to ascertain their exact location especially as he had been making regular and periodic requests for donations via the SNTDM Facebook page. After he flippantly said he had already shown me photographs, my response was:
NOTE: in the last sentence Jose demanded that I prove he never gave me the location. That doesn’t even makes sense.
On 5 December, Jose made a statement on his personal FB wall which was deliberately defamatory to me:
That evening, December 5, I posted my resignation letter on SNTDM’s website and FB page. The next day, I unpublished the FB page.
I retorted privately on Skype:
I went to the Australian Police and contacted the Australian Government Tax Department and explained the situation to them, that an organization registered in my name was being used to channel money into another person’s bank account, details of which were unknown to me. They both advised me to delete the organization immediately.
I finally deleted the Facebook page on Christmas Day, December 25, 2015, which took the standard two weeks before it was permanently removed. SayNoToDogMeat.Net no longer exists in any form. It has not been re-branded or reinvented. It is permanently deleted and I still own the domain name and email account, etc. to prevent it being restarted.
Jose blamed me for SNTDM closing, using his old chestnut saying I was jealous of other women. Two of the women he says I was jealous of are now good friends of mine and are willing to testify that what I am saying is true.
The following is what Jose said to a SNTDM female supporter who asked him about SNTDM closing:
On 9 December, Jose emailed former SNTDM supporters asking for donations to continue the construction of his Vietnamese Pet Rescue building – see screenshot below.
As previously stated, SNTDM never had a bank account because Jose/Jon was unable to provide a valid passport to present to the Australian Embassy in London, and was therefore unable to fulfil the requirement of Australian law for setting up charities. I have no knowledge of how much money he actually took. I have no knowledge of HIS bank account number, or details of it, which he refused to share. I was never aware that any of the SNTDM money was actually used to help animals. Although there was evidence of donors and amounts initially, there was a lack of transparency and accountability from July 2015 onwards.
NOTE: between July and December 2015, Jose kept changing his story on how many donations he was taking and refused to tell me the dollar amount, donor names or addresses. Any donors who may have concerns over the disposal of their donations are advised to contact Dr. Jose Calos Depre directly and ask for an explanation and/or a refund.
AT NO TIME DID I EVER RECEIVE ANY MONIES DIRECTLY FROM PUBLIC DONATIONS OR AS PAYMENT FROM JOSE.
The following is a list of SNTDM donations which went directly to Jon Williamson, alias Dr. Jose Calos Depre.
$20.00 = $20.00
$200.00 = $205.00
$25.00 = $387.00 £30
$100.00* (* this supporter later confirmed they donated three donations of $100.00 each = $300.00 and not $105.00 as I was told.)
$10.00 = 170.00
$40.00 = $94.00 + £30.00
£1.00 – returned
$250.00 = $310.00
$25.00 = $206.00
$20.00 = $180.00
$10.00 = $160.00
TOTAL: $1,752.00 + £30.00 directly to Jon Williamson, alias Dr. Jose Calos Depre
On 2 April Jose sent me an email, part of which is reproduced below:
Jose emailed me and stated:
These days I am concentrating on running my two new Facebook pages: Fight Dog Meat and Rescuer’s Heart For Animals. My focus and objectives remain completely unchanged and undiminished – animal rescue and fighting to end the dog and cat meat trade.
It should be noted that there are no Donate buttons on my pages and I have no intention of collecting money. Those pages are for information and awareness only.
Of course I appreciate that I have incurred some inevitable reputational damage through my association with the now defunct SNTDM. However, I wish to emphasize that I initially helped create that with the very best of intentions and could not have foreseen all those months ago how events would have panned out. If I am to be remembered for anything at all during that time, I hope that the success of the Global March will be my enduring legacy. I will forever remain proud of that and how much it contributed to raising awareness of the dog meat trade.
But those days are behind me and rather than dwell on the past and the mistakes I have made, I prefer to look to the future and hope I can continue with my unswerving commitment to campaign for change and ultimately end the horrendous dog meat trade. I am grateful to those supporters who have remained loyal to me throughout and hope that I can count on gaining new supporters in the forthcoming months who will judge me on what I can achieve rather than my past associations.