The 50% Pledge, Renewed

Last week was the third anniversary of the HumaneWatch 50% Pledge.  We pledged in 2010 to shut down this watchdog website if the Humane Society of the United States pledged to give 50% of the money it takes in to pet shelters. This is already what people think HSUS does with the money it raises, including HSUS donors—so it shouldn’t be asking much.

Instead, the Humane Society of the United States gives only 1% of the money it raises to local pet shelters, and it doesn’t run any pet shelters of its own. The American Institute of Philanthropy gives HSUS a “D” grade, finding that HSUS spends up to 48 cents to raise a dollar and spends as little as half of its budget on programs.

And the money HSUS does spend on programs goes to things like employing lawyers and filing frivolous lawsuits, defending against lawsuits, funding anti-farmer propaganda, and employing questionable characters, to name just a few things.

Yet in its fundraising ads, HSUS showcases pets and promises to save them. “You can help save the life of one desperate animal right now,” says HSUS CEO Wayne Pacelle in one ad. “With a monthly pledge of $19, just 63 cents a day, you are helping to save the lives of abused and neglected animals. Every hour, desperate animals are killed in shelters, only because they never find a loving home” says Pacelle in another. That’s manipulative language considering how little HSUS gives to shelters. As for adopting out animals, we’re not sure HSUS does that at all—it doesn’t run a pet shelter, and the animals it rescues are generally turned over to local groups.

So we’re renewing out pledge. But HSUS doesn’t have to go from 1 to 50 overnight. We’ll be happy if it moves in the right direction. We’re sure HSUS is familiar with that phrase.

Wayne Pacelle and HSUS can do the right thing. Or they can continue to deceive pet lovers about where their money is going. The choice is theirs. But it’s already been 1,095 days too long in our minds.