(Editor's Note: This article is a direct rebuttal to the Humane Society's Humane Society Responds to Attacks on Animal Rights Record.)
The level of deception exhibited by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) never ceases to amaze us. Its baseless attacks on the Center for Consumer Freedom are a good indication of the organization’s shrill tone, and the desperation it must be feeling as its house of cards begins (finally) to tumble.
If there’s a “front group” in this story, it’s HSUS. The organization “fronts” for the PETA-approved vegan way of life while pretending to represent average pet owners. Conversely, we are very open about who we are, what we do, and why. It seems HSUS has no stomach for answering charges — only making them.
HSUS complains so bitterly about our work because we are the only voice pointing out the dishonesty inherent in raising money for one thing and spending it on another. We’re happy to absorb the rumor-mongering and false innuendo of HSUS and other groups that jealously guard their unearned public credibility if it means we can continue to shine disinfecting sunlight on HSUS and the rest of the animal rights industry.
WSB-TV is to be commended for its daring report. Few American charities engage in fundraising as brazenly deceptive as HSUS’s. For in-depth information about HSUS, readers can visit http://www.HumaneWatch.org.
While routinely pretending to be a traditional pet-sheltering “humane society,” HSUS spends precious little of its resources caring for homeless pets. Our analysis of HSUS’s 2007 tax filings indicates that less than 4 percent of its spending consisted of financial assistance to genuine humane societies and other hands-on dog and cat shelters.
Yet a majority of Americans, when polled, indicate the mistaken beliefs that (1) HSUS is a legitimate umbrella group for local pet shelters, and (2) a significant portion of HSUS’s fundraising directly benefits pet shelters in their communities. This misperception only serves to benefit HSUS and the rest of the well-heeled animal rights industry. It certainly doesn’t benefit America’s needy pets.
HSUS currently has over $200 million in assets. It pays nearly $22 million each year in salaries and benefits. That’s more than five times what it gives to pet shelters that do the real work of caring for dogs and cats.
According to a 2008 Los Angeles Times investigation, less than 12 percent of money raised for HSUS by California telemarketers actually ends up in HSUS’s bank account. The rest is kept by professional fundraisers. Excluding two campaigns run for HSUS by the “Build-a-Bear Workshop” retail chain, which consisted of the sale of surplus stuffed animals (not really “fundraising”), HSUS’s “yield” number from this telemarketing shrinks to just 3 percent.
In 2004, HSUS ran a telemarketing campaign in Connecticut with fundraisers who promised to return a minimum of zero percent of the proceeds. The campaign raised over $1.4 million. Not only did absolutely none of that money go to HSUS, but the group paid $175,000 for the telemarketing work.
HSUS has built and maintained its position in the animal rights industry through a consistent pattern of subtle but effective fundraising manipulation, portraying itself as the savior of displaced dogs and cats while leaving the real heroes—local humane societies and other pet shelters—to wither on the vine. The United States desperately needs a real national humane society that will singularly devote itself to funding pet shelters. At present all we have is HSUS, which is far more concerned with funding its own crusade against meat, eggs, dairy foods, fur and leather, circuses, rodeos, hunting and fishing, and lifesaving disease research that depends on the judicious use of laboratory animals.
Practically speaking, HSUS functions as a bigger and more media-savvy version of the more familiar People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). The principal differences are in scale (HSUS is far richer), tone (HSUS appears more moderate for the sake of fundraising), and a greater emphasis on political activity. During the 2008 federal election cycle, HSUS spent more money than ExxonMobil, Citigroup, or General Motors.
HSUS’s public deceptions go far beyond its apparent hoarding of cash in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Beginning on the day of NFL quarterback Michael Vick’s 2007 dogfighting indictment, HSUS raised money online with the false promise that it would “care for the dogs seized in the Michael Vick case.” The New York Times later reported that HSUS wasn’t caring for Vick’s dogs at all. And HSUS president Wayne Pacelle told the Times that his group recommended that government officials “put down” (that is, kill) the dogs rather than adopt them out to suitable homes. HSUS later quietly altered its Internet fundraising pitch.
If HSUS wants to be taken seriously by Americans who care about animals, it should designate a majority of its fundraising as pass-through grants to pet shelters in the communities of its donors. Anything less will be insufficient in our present era of political accountability and transparency.
Read the original article from the Humane Society, Humane Society Responds to Attacks on Its Animal Rights Record