12 Things You Didn’t Know About the HSUS

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Despite its name, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is not affiliated with local humanities; as the ASPCA is separate from local SPCAs. Unfortunately, the majority of the general public are unaware of this information. As such, here are twelve things about HSUS that may make you (bark)think more about your pet donations:

National advocacy groups aren’t all bad. But too often far-flung ‘education’ campaigns are merely cover for an organization to run another direct mail campaign to raise even more money. It quickly becomes a cycle of factory fundraising that can corrupt the focus of the group and mainly benefits the fundraisers. If you want to best help care for pets, give to a local shelter directly.[/highlight] That’s something those TV ads ought to make clear, though they never will. But it’s a message that any person can spread to their friends and community members. Diana Culp, former Director of Education for the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS)

1. HSUS scams Americans out of millions of dollars through manipulative and deceptive advertising.
Based on an analysis of HSUS’s TV fundraising appeals that was broadcasted between January 2009 and September 2011, it was revealed that over 85 percent of the animals shown were cats and dogs. However, HSUS does not operate or manage a single pet shelter and only donates 1 percent of the money it raises to pet shelters. Instead, they spent a greater portion—millions—on anti-hunting and anti-farming political campaigns.

2. Six Members of Congress have called for a federal investigation of HSUS.
In April 2011, Alaska’s Don Young and five other Congressmen wrote to the IRS Inspector General showing concerns over HSUS’s attempts to influence public policy, which they believe has “brought into question [HSUS’s] tax-exempt 501 (c)(3) status.”

3. Donors of HSUS feel deceived.
According to a 2012 poll of over 1,000 self-identified HSUS donors, 80 percent believed the HSUS “misleads people into thinking that it supports local humane societies and pet shelters.” Another poll, conducted in 2013, had similar results: 84% of donors believed that the “HSUS misleads people into thinking that it supports local humane societies and pet shelters”.

4. As a charity, HSUS has consistently received poor evaluation grades.
CharityWatch (formerly known as the American Institute of Philanthropy) has issued numerous “D” ratings for HSUS in recent years due to the group’s wasteful spending practices. Since then, HSUS has ‘improved’ somewhat and is currently a “C-minus” grade for being slightly less wasteful. According to the 2013 Watchdog Report by Animal People News, HSUS spends 55 percent of its budget on overhead costs.

5. HSUS regularly contributes more to their own pension plan than it does pet shelters.
An analysis of HSUS’s tax returns revealed that more than $16.3 million was funneled to its executive pension plan between 1998 and 2009—over $1 million more than HSUS donated to pet shelters during that same period.

6. The pet sheltering community strongly believes that Americans are misled by HSUS.
According to a nationally representative poll of 400 animal control agencies, rescues, and animal shelters; 71 percent agree that “HSUS misleads people into thinking it is associated with local animal shelters.” In addition, 79 percent agree that HSUS is “a good source of confusion for a lot of our donors.”

7. Despite raising money with pictures of cats and dogs, one of HSUS’s primary agenda is supporting anti-meat vegans.
While speaking at an animal rights conference in 2006, HSUS’s then vice president for farm animal issues stated that HSUS’s goal is to “get rid of the entire [animal agriculture]industry” and that “we don’t want any of these animals to be raised and killed [for food].”

8. Compared to its massive budget, HSUS provide minimum hands-on care for animals.
Although HSUS claims it “saves” more animals than any other animal protection group in the United States, the majority of the “care” HSUS provides is in the form of spay and neuter assistance. In fact, local groups (such as the Houston SPCA), operating on considerably smaller budgets, provide direct care to more animals than HSUS does.

9. HSUS’s senior management includes a former spokesman for the Animal Liberation Front (ALF)—a criminal group designated by the FBI as “terrorists”.
In 1997, HSUS President Wayne Pacelle hired John “J.P.” Goodwin, the same year that Goodwin described himself as the “spokesperson for ALF” while he fielded media calls in the wake of an ALF arson attack on a California meat processing plant. When asked by reporters for a reaction to an ALF arson fire at a farmer’s feed co-op in Utah, which nearly killed a family sleeping on the premises, Goodwin responded, “We’re ecstatic.”

10. Several other members of HSUS’s senior management have voiced support for terroristic acts.
Mike Markarian, HSUS chief policy officer, has published (in the 1997 editorial Abolitionist #4) that “A perfect example of effective rebellion is an Animal Liberation Front raid on a laboratory.” Meanwhile, HSUS food policy director Matt Prescott wrote, “I also believe in the actions of the ALF and other such groups.” (Prescott is a former PETA activist.)

11. HSUS is being sued under the federal racketeering law.
For allegedly participating in a scheme to pay a witness who lied in court, HSUS and two of its in-house lawyers are being sued by Feld Entertainment under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) Act. Court documents indicate that, in the alleged scheme, one of the witness-paying vehicles received at least four payments from HSUS.

12. HSUS has violated IRS rules for three years.
The watchdog group, CharityWatch, indicated in its Fall 2013 issue that HSUS had improperly inflated its revenue. Since then, HSUS has revised its revenue figures.

If you’re looking to provide the best help for pets in need, BarkThink, like the former director of education for the Humane Society of the United States, encourages you to remember “give local” and donate directly to your local shelters.

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