HumaneWatch.org, a project of the nonprofit Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF), is running a full-page ad today in USA Today calling out the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) for parking $20 million of donor funds in offshore investment shelters in Bermuda and the Cayman Islands. The practice is only the latest in a recent spate of news questioning the financial practices of HSUS, including a downgrade in its charity rating, an investigation opened by the Oklahoma attorney general, amending and restating years of federal tax returns, and federal racketeering litigation.

The ad is viewable here.

The ad is headlined, “The Humane Society of the United States Chooses Caribbean Tax Shelters Over Pet Shelters,” and features a picture of a dog on a Caribbean beach. The body of the ad explains, “The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) only donates 1% of its budget to local pet shelters, but in 2012 socked $20 million in Caribbean investment funds. If you want to help abandoned cats and dogs, give to your local pet shelter, not HSUS.”

The investments in question all occurred during tax year 2012. According to the group’s 990-T and supplemental tax forms, a total of $20.45 million was invested in the following funds:

  • $8 million – Fore Multi Strategy Offshore Fund, Ltd. (Cayman Islands)
  • $6.7 million – Fir Tree International Value Fund (Cayman Islands)
  • $5 million – Hayman Capital Offshore Partners, L.P. (Bermuda)
  • $500,000 – Ascend Partners Fund I, L.P. (Cayman Islands)
  • $253,000 – BKM Holdings Ltd. (Cayman Islands)

Will Coggin, CCF’s senior research analyst, noted the oddity of a nonprofit animal rights organization engaging in offshore investment strategies. “HSUS should be in the business of spending donors’ money the way it claims it will. And according to its ads, that means saving animals now, not sending donor funds offshore.”

HSUS’s deceptive ads have landed it in hot water recently. In March, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt issued a consumer alert against HSUS. This was partly in response to complaints his office received that HSUS misled donors after last year’s tornadoes by telling Oklahomans their money would go to help local shelters and dislocated animals.

It’s not just Oklahomans whom HSUS fools. In a recent poll of 1,050 self-identified HSUS donors, 87 percent said they were unaware that HSUS gives just one percent of its annual budget to local pet shelters. When informed of this sad reality, a full 83 percent of HSUS’s own donors polled agreed the group “misleads people into thinking that it supports local humane societies and pet shelters,” and 59 percent were less likely to support the group going forward.

Coggin concluded, “Animal lovers don’t want their money buried in the sand. They want to see animals rescued—not cynically used as props in fundraising commercials.”

More information is available online at HumaneWatch.org.