Have you seen the Humane Society of the United States’ latest fundraising appeal in its never-ending flood of “asks”? HSUS is begging for an “emergency gift” to help its animal rescue team “stay in the field.” HSUS CEO Wayne Pacelle lays it on thick, writing, “we don’t want to ever say ‘no’ because we do not have the resources.”

Right. That’s like Donald Trump begging for advertisers to help him keep Celebrity Apprentice on the air.

We’d wager that most critics of HSUS (including us) don’t have a problem with its animal-rescue arm — as long as it operates legally. It’s certainly not a bad thing to have a team of volunteers that can help out in the aftermath of a natural disaster. And this provides HSUS with the opportunity to provide hands-on care for animals, which is what a “humane society” ought to be doing.

But it seems HSUS’s own leadership is giving this worthwhile sliver of the organization the short end of the money stick. Pacelle blogged this week about the need for an “emergency gift,” but HSUS’s 2010 annual report (released just three weeks ago) shows that HSUS had a whopping $205 million in net assets as of last December 31, a 7-percent increase from the previous year.

Are we really supposed to believe that HSUS’s animal rescue team might run out of money? Wayne Pacelle must think “HSUS constituent” falls under “gullible” in the dictionary.

If HSUS needs some money, we have a couple of suggestions for a little in-house budgetary shuffling:

  • Pensions. HSUS put $2.5 million into its pension plan in 2009, bringing the total since 2004 to more than $11 million. The idea of “charity” ought to mean that animal rescue should come before executives’ retirement plans.
  • Lobbying. HSUS spent $17.3 million lobbying between 2005 and 2009. Can’t it cut back on the anti-animal-agriculture agenda just a bit? Since HSUS halted its ballot campaigns in Oregon and Washington last week, it should have hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not more, that it can funnel from its campaign coffers to its animal rescue team.
  • Lawyers. HSUS has 30 lawyers on staff. Thirty. Can’t it trim back the legal-brief shenanigans and focus on direct care of animals instead of multi-year lawsuits?

This is a good opportunity for HSUS to gain some credibility. (After all, its shocking snubs of hands-on pet shelters aren’t giving it any.)  It’s sad that HSUS’s first instinct is just to raise more money from Americans who, unlike HSUS, may not be doing well in the current economy.