According to a recent poll by the Opinion Research Corporation, 71 percent of Americans believed that the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) “is an umbrella group that represents thousands of local humane societies all across America.” And 68 percent believed that HSUS “contributes most of its money to local organizations that care for dogs and cats.” Both of these statements are false.
HumaneWatch.org reports that recent research has also uncovered another disturbing finding: HSUS’ own donors are confused about where their money is going. The release states, “A September 2013 poll of 1,050 self-identified HSUS supporters found that 87 percent of HSUS’s donors were unaware that the organization gives just 1 percent of its budget to local pet shelters. When informed of this fact, 83 percent of HSUS’s own donors agreed the group “misleads people into thinking that it supports local humane societies and pet shelters,” and 59 percent were less likely to support HSUS.
Most fundraisers are unaware that in 2012, the most recent tax year for which nonprofit IRS filings are available, only 1 percent of HSUS’s budget was spent on grants to support pet sheltering.
This report was sent to Matt Prescott of HSUS for comment, but he failed to respond. Prescott sends PorkNetwork all news releases that tell of companies that take a stand against individual maternity pens for sows, but he has yet to respond to questions regarding funding or other concerns that have been raised against HSUS.
Money is Used Against Animal Agriculture
In the past three years, HSUS has spent $356 million, yet grants to shelters consistently make up 1 percent or less of HSUS’s budget. The majority of the money goes toward salaries, lobbying against animal agriculture practices, pension plans, advertising, fundraising, and other non-pet-shelter-related budget priorities. According to its tax return, HSUS spent nearly $50 million on fundraising-related expenses in 2012, or about 50 times more than it did on grants to support shelter aid. HSUS also put far more money into its own pension plan—$2.4 million—than it put into these grants.
“Local shelters are well aware of the confusion most Americans have between national groups like HSUS and similarly named but unaffiliated local groups,” notes the HumanWatch report. “A recent poll of 400 animal shelters, rescues, and animal control agencies found that 84 percent of respondents agree with the statement that ‘fundraising by HSUS and the ASPCA makes it harder for my shelter to raise money,’ with 71 percent agreeing that ‘HSUS misleads people into thinking it is associated with local animal shelters.’”
HSUS can clearly afford to help local shelters, but, in the words of CEO Wayne Pacelle, “we have other issues we want to work on.”
HumaneWatch.org reports that in Iowa last year, HSUS made a single grant to support animal sheltering, but the organization’s lobbying affiliate spend nearly $1 million in a failed attempt to defeat a Congressional incumbent. In addition, it spend 86 times more on its Ohio political front group in 2009 than it did on Ohio pet shelters, and in 2011, HSUS spent 90 times more on ballot initiative groups in Missouri than it spend on sheltering grants.
Hurricane Help – for HSUS
The organization raised $2.2 million in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, but in reality, only one third of the money was actually spent on hurricane relief (view the documents here). HumaneWatch continues: “This isn’t the first disaster that has raised questions about HSUS’ fundraising. Louisiana’s attorney general investigated HSUS following Hurricane Katrina, closing the investigation only after HSUS agreed to build a new shelter in the state. A 2009 WSB-TV report discovered that out of the $34 million HSUS reported raising after Katrina, only $7 million could be publicly accounted for.”
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