Some Pet Lovers Have A Beef with the HSUS

photo via curtpalme

What do you think of when you think of the Humane Society of the United States? Most of us think about a national organization fighting for the rights of shelter animals in the US. We think of the anti-cruelty commercials narrated by television stars and filled with the music of Sarah McLachlan. We think about their anti-puppy mill campaigns. We might think of local shelters that share the name “Humane Society”. We think about the HSUS teams sent to help Haiti’s animals affected by the earthquake.

But there are other animal enthusiasts who claim the Humane Society of the United Sates (HSUS) has a hidden agenda. An agenda which fattens the pockets of HSUS executives and provides very little for the nations’ actual homeless animal shelters and rescues. An organization with powerful DC lobbyists and a message that doesn’t leave room for the American livestock farmer. ( Even those who treat their animals well.)

Does the Humane Society do more harm than good? Where does the money go that is donated to their cause? How is it used? And is it used the way in which it is promised? Are the complaints against them valid? 

As with any non-profit, LCD encourages you to do some research before you donate. Make sure you are comfortable with the way the organization will use your funds. Look at tax returns. Look for tangible results in the community. Even large organizations like the HSUS must be put to the test.

Today the Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF) is announcing the launch of, a watchdog project dedicated to analyzing the activities of the Humane Society of the United States and making it easier for pet lovers to research the group’s efficacy. 

According to a press release sent to LCD by

HumaneWatch will include a blog written by CCF’s Director of Research, a growing document library, and a database capable of tracking the dozens of nonprofit (and for-profit) organizations that make up the HSUS.

The Humane Society of the United States has become the animal rights industry’s most powerful player, but it has avoided serious public scrutiny for years. HSUS raises nearly $100 million annually from Americans who largely believe their donations filter down to local pet shelters and improve the lives of dogs and cats. But in 2008, less than one-half of one percent of HSUS’s budget consisted of grants to actual hands-on “humane societies”that deal with the thankless task of sheltering unwanted pets.

“Someone has to ask the hard questions about the Humane Society of the United States, and HumaneWatch will be a relentless source of useful information,” said CCF Director of Research David Martosko. “Nearly 1 million Americans donate money to HSUS every year. And most are completely unaware that they’re bankrolling PETA-style propaganda, far-reaching anti-meat campaigns, a huge staff of lawyers, and bloated pension plans for HSUS executives.”

In 2008 alone, HSUS put more than $2.5 million into pension plans—money that its own advertising suggested would be put toward the direct care of animals. (HSUS neither operates nor is legally affiliated with, any pet shelters anywhere.)

Martosko continued: “Even the best charities can run off the rails, so it’s no surprise the professional dog-watchers need their own watchdog. Donors to the Humane Society of the United States deserve to know exactly how their money is being spent. HumaneWatch will create an open dialogue for farmers, scientists, fashion designers, entertainers, and countless Americans who love both their pets and their chicken sandwiches.”

So much like Buyer Beware, Donor Beware. Perhaps you agree with the Humane Society and the ways in which they use donor funds. Perhaps you disagree with the amount of funds they allocate to shelter and rescue facilities. It’s your decision. You have the power to determine who you support.


2 responses to “Some Pet Lovers Have A Beef with the HSUS

  1. As someone who works at the HSUS, I find it incredibly ironic that the Center for Consumer Freedom is calling itself a watchdog group. The CCF is an industry front for tobacco, alcohol, and agribusiness interests that started with a $600,000 grant from tobacco giant Philip Morris. This group routinely takes aim at organizations that promote food safety, public health, or animal welfare. Check out what the Center for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington has to say about them at

    Donors should definitely be thoughtful about the organizations they support. The HSUS is not affiliated with local humane societies. We focus on large-scale animal cruelty issues like puppy mills, dogfighting, factory farming, and canned hunts. Although we operate several sanctuaries and wildlife rehab centers, they are obviously not traditional shelters for dogs and cats.

    Readers are welcome to review our annual reports at
    The HSUS has consistently received a four-star rating from Charity Navigator, and our organization meets all of the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance standards.

    Anyone who is interested in finding out what the HSUS has done so far in 2010 can find more information here:

  2. Thanks for that information Hillary. It will help LCD readers to make an informed decision they can feel good about when deciding their donation plans.

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