The Grinch Who Stole (Pet) Christmas?

Though we’re critical of many things HSUS does, a few of its programs, like its animal rescue team, are laudable. Now, however, we’re seeing a disturbing new trend.

HSUS—supposedly a charity—seems to have adopted the mantra of “never do anything for free.”

In the face of criticism that it donates little money to pet shelters, HSUS provides a list of things it does to assist local shelters, like publishing Animal Sheltering magazine, providing training through Humane Society University, conducting shelter evaluations, and hosting conferences for shelter professionals. HSUS goes so far as to call itself “the nation's leading advocate for animal shelters.”

But all of these services come at a price to shelters. HSUS charges a subscription fee for Animal Sheltering magazine. A shelter evaluation costs up to $25,000—not including the cost of implementing the evaluation’s suggested reforms. Humane Society University charges $1,050 for an undergraduate class and $1,350 for a graduate-level class. Even HSUS’s Animal Care Expo costs $250 for registration.

And while HSUS’s animal rescue team cares for the animal it helps seize on a short-term basis, these animals often wind up getting dumped at pet shelters that may have to care for them for the long term—assuming the animals stay alive, that is.

HSUS charges shelters for many of its services, even while its spokespersons acknowledge that times are really tough for pet shelters. Talk is cheap, after all.

If you’re looking to help pets this holiday season—or really, at any time at all—and you’re tired of the rhetoric and “awareness” coming from national groups, the best thing you can do is donate your time, money, or supplies to your local shelter.