Challenge to Wayne Pacelle: Put Up or Shut Up

HSUS CEO Wayne Pacelle has a problem with numbers.

Last week in small-town Buffalo, Missouri, a columnist for the Buffalo Reflex printed a few statistics about HSUS that were provided by Missouri Cattlemen’s Association Executive Vice-President Jeff Windett.

Hilarity ensued. This is from today's followup Reflex column:

Windett’s numbers were close, but not exactly the same as those on the HSUS’s 2008 federal tax return and annual report posted on their Web site.

The most glaring discrepancy was in Windett’s assertion that HSUS spent just $450,000 last year on “hands-on” animal care. Pacelle stated in an e-mail that the figure was actually $27 million, and that he could refute the other MCA numbers …

Pacelle did not dispute the $250,000 annual salary figure, but noted that his was the lowest of leaders of comparable organizations — just a third that of some. “I have very consciously asked the board to keep my salary lower than the industry standard,” he stated. The 2008 HSUS tax return shows his base salary was below $250,000, and with all benefits came in at $252,000.

We bolded those two passages above for a reason.

Let's look at what Windett actually said last week:

And what about saving those poor, abused pets featured in HSUS TV spots? Windett states that HSUS gave just half of 1 percent ($450,000) of its total budget in grants to organizations providing hands-on care to dogs and cats.

Hands-on care for dogs and cats is a very different thing from the more generic "hands-on animal care." Yes, HSUS runs a couple of wildlife sanctuaries and a horse ranch. There are five facilities in all. But none of them accepts dogs or cats. (You know—the pets in all of those weepy HSUS ads? Remember them?)

Just so there's no mistaking what we're saying, HSUS doesn't run any "hands-on" dog or cat shelters. It isn't affiliated with any "hands-on" dog or cat shelters. And in 2008, it only gave out $450,000 to "hands-on" dog and cat shelters. Out of a $99 million budget.

Windett was right. But Pacelle is slick enough to try to claim running a horse-rescue ranch—one which we're hearing hasn't accepted any new tenants in many years—is the same thing as personally saving Fido and Mr. Bigglesworth.

And about Wayne Pacelle's salary, here's an eye-opener from Charity Navigator. The organization's "2009 CEO Compensation Study" found that the average nonprofit CEO salary in Washington, DC last year was around $175,000. (See page 4.) And the national average for CEOs of animal-related charities was near the bottom of the scale, at around $100,000. (See page 5.) Only leaders of religious charities earned less.

What "industry standard" was he talking about again?

Here's the deal: When Wayne Pacelle takes a 30-percent pay cut (from $250K to $175K), he can boast about not being paid more than average. And when he proves that HSUS spent $27 million of its 2008 budget doing "hands on" pet sheltering, I'll stop writing that the number was just one-half of one percent.

Whaddya say, Wayne?