Maryland May Bite the Hand that Feeds It

A proposed law in Maryland has caught our eye. H.B. 767 would establish a spay/neuter fund administered by the state Department of Agriculture that would subsidize low-income residents who want to sterilize their pets. The bill follows a report by a task force appointed by the governor that included the state director for the Humane Society of the United States, Tami Santelli. The House Bill, along with its Senate companion, passed the state legislature last week and go to the Governor.

The funding mechanism in particular is what concerns us. The revenue for the program would come from a “fee” (tax) imposed on pet food sellers, with some of the money then being doled out as grants.

Why would the government impose a “fee”—which will be passed down to consumers—when there are already charities located right in Maryland that can already provide this service? We’re looking, of course, at HSUS, headquartered in Gaithersburg.

HSUS raises over $100 million a year, so the organization could easily spare a million dollars. According to its 2011 tax return, HSUS spends $2.4 million just on funding its pension plan. It spent nearly $50 million on fundraising-related costs in 2011.

Isn’t the whole point of having a charity so that HSUS can fund hands-on work? Can’t HSUS cut back on the telemarketing—just a little—and pitch in a hefty check to help low-income Marylanders spay and neuter their animals?

Based on HSUS’s record, we won’t count on it.