We’ve documented the fundraising deception of the Humane Society of the United States, which raises money through pictures of cats and dogs while giving only 1 percent of that money to pet shelters, instead funneling much of that money into anti-agriculture campaigns. With a group that is willing to take advantage of pet-loving Americans, it’s no surprise that its leaders will continue to mislead when they are called to task.
The latest example is a piece in The Boston Globe that looked at our campaign to educate the public. HSUS CEO Wayne Pacelle takes issue with our framing of the issue—namely, pointing out how little HSUS gives to shelters. He offers this nugget in defense, but only ends up misleading yet again:
The society, [Pacelle] said, doesn’t say it will give large amounts to independent pet shelters. Instead, Pacelle said that the Humane Society takes care of more than 100,000 animals at its own facilities, including a 1,300-animal care center near Dallas and a 1,200-acre wildlife rehabilitation center ranch near Fort Lauderdale.
First off, HSUS doesn’t necessarily run these facilities. A number are run by affiliates—and these affiliates have their own independent fundraising efforts. That means HSUS can double-dip. For example, its affiliate the Fund for Animals says in a recent telemarketing campaign, “I’m sure you already know The Fund operates the Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch in Texas, and other hands-on animal care programs to save animals from cruelty and suffering.”
Then Wayne Pacelle elsewhere claims that HSUS cares for the animals. It’s a clever sleight of hand that he can pull on reporters and others. Not exactly the most honest ploy, though, Wayne.
Second, and more importantly, much or most of these animals that HSUS “takes care of” are not even in the United States. On his blog a few months back, Pacelle noted that 48,000 of the animals that he’s counting were actually animals given some level of care by HSUS’s international arm—and these largely appear to be street dog sterilization programs. HSUS’s most recent annual report states that its international arm sterilized dogs in Bhutan, Haiti, Costa Rica, India, and the Philippines. These are not animals that got adopted into loving homes—they’re still on the streets, they just can’t have puppies.
Is fixing third-world street dogs a worthy activity? Definitely, and we applaud their efforts. But when people see the dogs and cats in HSUS ads and hear the name Humane Society of the United States, do they envision sterilizing street dogs in Bhutan? Or are they more likely to think of rescuing animals here in the U.S.? (How many HSUS donors can even find Bhutan on a map?)
Yes, HSUS does rescue a few thousand animals. But even how many isn’t clear, as Pacelle’s blog gives a different number (5,700) than the annual report does (11,000). But what we do know is that by raising $130 million annually—and that’s just HSUS itself, not counting affiliates—the money could be saving a lot more animals, but HSUS chooses to 1) not run a single pet shelter of its own 2) give 1 percent of the money it raises to pet shelters and 3) continue to blow about half the money it raises on…raising more money. In fact—if we use the higher number of 11,000 it calculates to just under $12,000 in expenses per animal rescued—not exactly efficient.
Animal lovers are better off sending their money elsewhere. And the claim that HSUS “takes care of more than 100,000 animals at its own facilities” is deceptive at best. But when you have such an unscrupulous and unethical person in Wayne Pacelle, it’s typical to witness it.