Rolling Tape as HSUS Dissembles

Last week Jordan Matyas, the Illinois State Director of the Humane Society of the United States, wrote an amusing letter to the editor of the Bloomington, IL Pantagraph. He was responding to what must be a heck of a clamor among rank-and-file HSUS donors about the lack of a connection between the organization and the thousands of similarly named pet shelters.

Here's the part of Matyas's letter that caught our attention:

If people think the American Farm Bureau Federation runs all farms or the National Rifle Association runs all gun clubs or the Fraternal Order of Police runs all police stations, then these folks need to do their homework.

HSUS CEO Wayne Pacelle brought up the same argument yesterday in Ohio during an interview with Buckeye Ag Radio News. Here's Wayne:

OK. Pacelle and Matyas have said their piece. Now let's unravel their "spin."

First, that pet shelter "expo" that HSUS hosted a few weeks ago? Not exactly doing it out of the goodness of their heart. Tickets were $250. (It's hard to argue that you're helping pet shelters when you're sitting on $192 million and your hand's still out.)

That said, let's look at the examples Pacelle and Matyas offered.

The Farm Bureau is the most obviously phony example, since the American Farm Bureau Federation is a membership organization. Look at the fine print on most any farm bureau web sites (here are a few examples: OH | NY | AK | MT | IN) and you'll see statements like this one:

Ohio Farm Bureau Federation® is a member of American Farm Bureau Federation®, a national organization of farmers and ranchers including Farm Bureau® organizations in all 50 states and Puerto Rico.

We have never seen a similar statement about HSUS from a pet shelter. And we doubt we ever will.

What we do see all the time, especially on the HumaneWatch Facebook page, are surprised reactions of HSUS donors who have to find out from us that their donations aren't helping pet shelters at the local level.

We even paid for a professional pollster to ask 1,000 Americans about this confusion. The responses made it clear that while nobody thinks the Farm Bureau is running American farms, most of us do believe HSUS is paying for local pet sheltering.

With respect to the National Rifle Association example, I'm not at all susprised that Pacelle—being such a rabid anti-hunting activist—would be so ignorant. There are thousands of NRA-affiliated gun clubs and associations. The NRA makes grants to most of them.

The Fraternal Order of Police, similarly, has state-level affiliates all over the country. And they're certainly all connected (legally and financially) with their national organization.

I'm sure Pacelle will keep struggling to validate HSUS's business model with good examples of national organizations that aren't really connected with their core constituencies. But other than the United States Congress, we're fresh out of ideas.