HumaneWatch 101

If you’re a regular HumaneWatch reader, you know there’s a substantial difference between the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and your local humane society. If this is your first time here, this is probably news to you just like it is to most Americans. (And welcome!)

This website exists in large part to educate the public about what HSUS is (and what it isn’t), and to encourage support for community-based pet shelters. This is where Americans think most of their donations to a group that poses as a national humane society end up. (Sadly, that’s deceptive. More on that below.)

Today’s case study in “humane misperception” comes from a recent issue of the Weekly Reader. The well-known classroom magazine recently profiled an 8-year-old girl who raised $1,000 to help her local pet shelter. Good for her. But that’s where the good news ends.

Here’s the problematic passage (click the image to enlarge): “[Sophia] recently gave a huge donation of pet food to an animal shelter in her area … The shelter is run by the Humane Society of the United States.”

The trouble with this is that the Humane Society of the United States doesn’t run any pet shelters anywhere. And the group shares less than one percent of its $100 million budget with pet shelters.

Most Americans don’t understand this. And why should they? HSUS incessantly runs TV ads full of dogs and cats. And it has the words “humane society” right there in its name. It’s easy to get the wrong idea, even if you’re the Weekly Reader.

There’s a lot of work to be done, but there’s also a lot at stake. Many pet shelters are experiencing hard times. Some are even closing. Six to eight million pets enter shelters every year. And all the while the Humane Society of the United States is resting on its $191 million nest egg. While the Humane Society of the United States funds a questionable agenda with unsuspecting donors’ money, literally millions of these pets are “put down” because resources are scarce at the local level.

On a side note, a donation of supplies like this young girl in Florida made is a great way to help out your local shelter. Feel free to browse our shelter list (or head over to Petfinder) to find one in your state. Or encourage your kids to start their own fundraising drive. That’s a great opportunity to give locally while helping to clear up “humane confusion” in your own backyard.