Topic: Audio & Video

  • Maternity Pens for Pregnant Pigs: Humane?

    One big debate in the animal welfare world right now is whether the predominant method of housing pregnant pigs in individual maternity pens (also called gestation stalls) is a humane practice.  The American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Association of Swine Veterinarians both find that housing sows individually is acceptable, but that hasn’t stopped animal rights activists like PETA and the Humane Society of the U.S. from launching campaigns against the stalls. Of course, HSUS and PETA don’t believe in raising animals for food and push veganism, but given the public nature of the campaign it’s worth getting an unbiased view and clearing the air.

    We recently traveled to Minnesota to interview swine veterinarian Laura Dalquist, who works with sows for a living. We also interviewed animal scientist Janeen Salak-Johnson, an associate professor at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana.

    Watch the video to see what they had to say:

    These are the true experts. How many on HSUS's executive staff are swine experts or even veterinarians? Zero. Nada. Zilch. Not a single one.

    HSUS is a specialist at propaganda, even if it comes at the expense of animal welfare (the group sow housing HSUS wants will result in more stress and fighting injuries for the animals). HSUS preys on urban and suburban folks who are far removed from the farm and farm animals. Essentially, the animal-rights message is to get people to think of food animals the same way they think of companion animals. But they’re different in major ways. You can debate whether life imitates art, but pigs will never be “Babe.”

    This is just a taste of things to come. We’ve spoken to many swine veterinarians who are tired of the animal-rights misinformation campaigns. Check back soon for more on this front.

    Posted on 08/09/2012 at 1:50 am by The Team.

    Topics: Animal AgricultureAudio & Video


  • 8.5 Million New HumaneWatchers?

    If you’re among syndicated radio host Mark Levin’s 8.5 million listeners, you probably heard us on his show last night. Levin, an animal lover and author of the bestselling Rescuing Sprite, invited our executive director on the air to discuss the shocking revelations of another of our websites, (Background: PETA kills thousands of the adoptable animals in its care every year.) But as we told Levin’s audience, there’s an even worse situation with another animal “charity”: HSUS.

    There’s another organization out there that in some ways is actually guilty of a bigger scam, and that’s the Humane Society of the United States. People think that the Humane Society of the United States is connected to animal shelters, and they are not. And they are collecting over $100 million every year. These are people that put more money into their executive pension plan, from the donations that are coming in—people think that money’s going to shelters—they put more money into their executive pension plan than they put into shelters. If you go to, you will see an even bigger scam than PETA.

    Our message resonated so strongly with one Levin listener—a 20-year member of HSUS—that she called in at the end of the show to share her shock at learning the truth. Here’s the audio:

    The next time a paid HSUS shill claims that all the organization’s members know what it’s really about, point them to this. If someone who has been donating to HSUS for two decades is shocked to learn that HSUS spends more on its pensions than on pet-shelter grants, it’s beyond debate that HSUS has duped the general public.

    You can listen to the full show here (our segment begins at time index 01:30:00.). Levin says it’s best to give to your local humane society. We couldn’t agree more.



    Posted on 06/22/2011 at 2:50 am by The Team.

    Topics: Audio & VideoFundraising & Money


  • The Real ‘Bond’

    With the news this morning that the Pennsylvania SPCA conducted raids to bust up what officials called “the largest dogfighting ring they’ve ever seen” in Philadelphia, it’s worth asking once again: Has Michael Vick’s return to the NFL as the Philadelphia Eagles’ quarterback made dogfighting “cool” in the City of Brotherly Love?

    Evidence points to “yes.” Animal fighting investigations tripled in 2009, the year Vick signed with the Eagles, compared with 2008. Most of these cases were in Philadelphia, and most were dogfighting-related.

    To whatever extent Michael Vick’s post-prison image rehab is responsible, none of it would have been possible without the Humane Society of the United States and its CEO Wayne Pacelle. HSUS sent Vick on a speaking tour to criticize dogfighting after receiving a $50,000 grant from the Eagles.

    Pacelle’s advocacy for Vick even led him to claim in December that the felon "would do a good job as a pet owner.”

    Now, with the release of his first book (The Bond), Pacelle justifies mending Vick’s image. On Saturday he told NPR: “There is a utility for the animal protection cause in having him out there speaking.”

    HSUS released a pair of video “trailers” for The Bond, which explores Pacelle’s view of the bond between humans and animals. But this fanfare and self-promotion—and the book itself—may have missed the real Bond. The one between Wayne Pacelle and Michael Vick.

    So we’ve made our own video trailer. Unlike Pacelle’s 448-page tome, it cuts right to the chase.

    Enjoy, and be sure to share!

    Posted on 04/12/2011 at 2:14 am by The Team.

    Topics: Animal FightingAudio & Video


  • This Movie Will Not Win a Genesis Award

    Many Americans are still confused about what the Humane Society of the United States is. (To review, HSUS is an animal rights group, not a pet-shelter organization.) And one way to get that message front-and-center is to put a video on YouTube.

    That’s just what the Missouri Farmers Care coalition did late last week. The group's new 2-minute video is quickly making the rounds, laying bare many of the basic facts about HSUS—including its heavy spending on fundraising, its anti-agriculture philosophy, and its shocking habit of snubbing pet shelters.

    We see HSUS donors becoming former HSUS donors nearly every day, and it’s often due to the grassroots efforts of HumaneWatch readers. Enjoy the movie, and be sure to share it with your friends.

    Posted on 03/30/2011 at 12:46 am by The Team.

    Topics: Audio & Video


  • HSUS Plays Chicken with Whole Foods

    Meet Miyun Park. She’s a former Vice President for Farm Animal Welfare at the Humane Society of the United States. In 2009, Park’s résumé landed her a job as Executive Director of the Global Animal Partnership (GAP), the organization administering a new 5-tier animal-welfare rating system recently unveiled by Whole Foods Market. (To see GAP’s tax returns, click here.)

    To judge from glowing media reports of the new meat, dairy, and egg labeling scheme, Miyun Park sits at the nexus of the animal-welfare mainstream and America’s foodie elites. But Park and GAP aren’t exactly what they seem.

    GAP is beginning to show signs of a legitimate vegan takeover, led by Park—who, as the farm-animal VP at HSUS, was crystal clear about her desire to eliminate as much livestock farming as she could.

    More on that after the jump.

    The Global Animal Project was originally founded as the “Animal Compassion Foundation” in early 2005. Whole Foods unveiled the program with chairman John Mackey on its board. For the organization’s first four years of operation, the organic grocery chain was its only funder, putting more than $1.32 million into what amounted to an in-house animal welfare certification program.

    In 2008 the Foundation’s name was changed to the Global Animal Partnership (GAP), and Miyun Park joined the Foundation’s board. So did former PETA “corporate affairs” consultant Steven Gross and Organic Valley CEO George Siemon. By late 2009 Humane Society of the United States CEO Wayne Pacelle was added to GAP’s board, and Miyun Park became Executive Director.

    Today GAP’s Board is chaired by former Compassion In World Farming CEO Joyce D’Silva, a vegan who told England’s Ecologist magazine in 2010 that “Meat should carry a health warning.”

    In 2009 Whole Foods added another $100,000 to its support for GAP, bringing the total to $1.42 million. GAP also received an anonymous gift of nearly $380,000 (passed through a donor-advised trust). An additional $6,241 came from Stefan Muth, an enigmatic organizer of Hawaiian vegan communes and medical self-diagnosis software engineer. Organic Valley provided another $5,000. So did Miyun Park herself.

    Park is the only known animal activist to have worked for HSUS, PETA, and the quasi-medical “Physicians Committee” for Responsible Medicine—all three branches of the American animal-rights triumvirate. Before Park arrived at HSUS in 2005, she spent ten years as President of “Compassion Over Killing” (COK), the rag-tag Washington, DC animal liberation group where current HSUS farm-animal leaders Paul Shapiro and Josh Balk got their start.

    Park and Shapiro started COK together in high school. They also co-edited COK’s newsletter The Abolitionist, which sold videotapes glorifying a FBI-designated terrorist group called the Animal Liberation Front.

    Knowing Miyun Park’s history as an animal rights (not animal welfare) agitator, it’s hard to take GAP seriously in its claim to be focused merely on “continuous improvement in the welfare of animals raised for food.” It’s clear, instead, that Park is interested—as she has always been—in the abolition of animal agriculture.

    In October 2006, nearly two years after Wayne Pacelle hired her as an HSUS Vice President, Park delivered some remarks as part of an “Expert Panel on Poultry” at “The Strength of Many,” a “Compassionate Living Festival” organized by the Animals and Society Institute.

    You have to hear this for yourself.

    Transcript (emphasis added):

    For all of us, our goal is to reduce the greatest amount of suffering for the greatest number of animals. We don't want any of these animals to be raised and killed. But when we're talking about numbers like “one million slaughtered in the U.S. in a single hour,” or “48 billion killed every year around the world,” unfortunately we don't have the luxury of waiting until we have the opportunity to get rid of the entire industry.

    And so because of that, a number of organizations including the Humane Society of the United States, we work on promoting veganism, and encouraging people to make daily choices that will positively impact the welfare of animals, and at the same time to reduce the greatest amount of suffering for these animals.

    We have a very active cage-free campaign. Are we saying that cage-free eggs are the way to go? No, that’s not what we’re saying. But we’re saying it’s a step in the right direction, getting these birds out of cages so that maybe they can actually spread their wings.

    This is the activist in charge of the Whole Foods “5-Step Animal Welfare Rating™” certification program. Park doesn’t want animals to become food, period. As the HSUS Vice President in charge of farm-animal issues, she set the organization’s “promoting veganism” agenda. For her (as with her Compassion Over Killing colleague Josh Balk), “cage free” eggs are a means to an end—the “end” being the death of the chicken farm.

    Does Whole Foods know there’s a vegan in the henhouse? Will the grocery chain’s new 5-tier meat rating system wind up crowding meat out of its marketplace?

    Are we the only ones who see where this is headed?

    Photo: Global Animal Partnership website

    Posted on 02/23/2011 at 7:37 pm by The Team.

    Topics: Animal AgricultureAudio & VideoDairyDocument AnalysisEggsMeatThe Best of HumaneWatch


  • Dharma Passes the Hat

    On December 7 of last year, “Dharma and Greg” co-star Jenna Elfman “tweeted” a photo taken after she taped a new "give $19 a month" TV ad for the Humane Society of the United States. Elfman made a radio PSA for HSUS in 2001 and lent an image of her lips to an HSUS-branded postage stamp in 2008, but this was her first on-camera work for the animal rights organization. It reportedly began airing late last week.

    Last night the video production company that shot this fundraising ad posted a press release about it, but the release was removed early this morning. (Here’s Google’s cache, and our screen-grab for posterity.) In addition to the Jenna Elfman ad, the release also linked to videos of two more spots that may or may not be running nationally: one narrated by Wayne Pacelle, and another showcasing three children. (Note: We can’t control how long these movie files will be available for viewing.)

    The Jenna Elfman fundraising ad is the most interesting of three to us. Not because it’s fronted by an actress, but because we counted 44 live animals in this ad, and all but two are dogs and cats:

    More after the jump.

    We’ve written before about how HSUS seems to go out of its way to promote the idea that it’s primarily a dog-and-cat-shelter organization, even though it doesn’t run a pet shelter anywhere (and is stingy with its shelter giving).

    To be fair, Elfman’s voice-over claims HSUS “helps all animal wherever they’re in need.” But the only non-canines-and-felines we see are a horse and a white baby seal. The ad narrated by Pacelle has 29 animals, all dogs and cats except for the same seal and horse. The “kids” ad shows 55 dogs and cats, one seal, and 5 horses.

    The pictures communicate what the words won’t.

    That seal, by the way, is a young pup known as a “whitecoat.” It has been illegal to hunt or kill whitecoat seals throughout North America since 1987. So it’s hard to imagine a donation to HSUS can help these marine mammals any further.

    And the horses? Just two months ago, HSUS continued using a horse named “Second Chance” in its December 2010 “Animal Survivors” fundraising campaign after the animal had already died. This doesn’t inspire confidence.

    Have you noticed that we haven’t mentioned cows, pigs, or chickens yet? That’s because there aren’t any in these commercials. Not a single one. Yet an astonishing amount of HSUS’s money—your money, if you donate—actually goes to campaigns targeting farmers who raise animals for food.

    We told you this week about the $1.6 million HSUS poured into Ohio last year to fight egg farmers. And that was just to get a ballot initiative through the signature-gathering stage. Plus HSUS spent $4.12 million on its 2008 California “Prop 2” farm battle.

    Is HSUS purposely hiding the ball and diverting millions to a purpose that its ads don’t address? The case is getting stronger by the month. If HSUS intends to keep funding seven-figure attacks on farmers in order to drive up the cost of non-vegan foods, it should just come out and say so.

    Here's a transcript of the Jenna Elfman ad:

    JENNA ELFMAN: Hi, I'm Jenna Elfman and this is Daisy. We all know there's no better feeling than being loved. But not everyone is lucky enough to be loved.

    The fact is, each year, over 3 million innocent animals, like Daisy, are destroyed in shelters across America because they cannot find a loving home to adopt them. That's over 8 thousand animals lost every day—350 lives every hour.

    But it's not just shelter dogs and cats who need your help. The Humane Society of the United States helps all animals wherever they're in need. That's why I'm asking you to become a monthly supporting member of the Humane Society of the United States.

    Join the Humane Society for just $19 a month and help end animal suffering and safe lives. For almost 60 years the Humane Society of the United States has been investigating cruelty, campaigning for stronger laws and promoting adoption and better treatment of animals everywhere.

    As an active member of the Humane Society, you'll be part of the nation's largest and most effective animal protection organization. But your membership is critical because many more animals urgently need help. You can help save an animal's life.

    Call and join the Humane Society today.

    ANNOUNCER: Join now. As a monthly member with your first $19 monthly payment, you'll get your membership ID, this official Humane Society fleece members jacket, and this eco-friendly tote bag, plus a free subscription to All Animals magazine.

    JENNA ELFMAN: Most of all, your membership dues will be working throughout the year to give animals chance at a better life.

    ANNOUNCER: Join the Humane Society of the United States now. As a monthly member with your first $19 payment you'll get your membership ID, official fleece members jacket, this eco-friendly tote bag, plus a free subscription to All Animals magazine.

    Image: licensed under Creative Commons (Wikipedia)

    Posted on 02/19/2011 at 2:14 am by The Team.

    Topics: Animal AgricultureAudio & VideoCelebritiesFundraising & MoneyFur & FashionHorsesHunting & FishingPetsWildlife


  • Take It From a Veterinarian

    Dr. Roger Welton is a Florida veterinarian and author of Canine and Feline 101. He also founded Web-DVM, an innovative veterinary advice website supplemented by a video blog that has been pumping out pet-doc advice since 2007.

    On Saturday Dr. Welton fired up his video camera to describe a “humane conflict” about the Humane Society of the United States that’s beginning to percolate into the public consciousness.

    “Even local animal shelters and humane groups,” he notes, “are often left wondering about the motives of HSUS. Some small shelters have been overwhelmed with animals after well-publicized raids by the HSUS and feel that the Humane Society should offer more financial support.”

    Dr. Welton is worth watching—not because he has clearly been reading HumaneWatch, but because he understands the problem. 

    Click here for a transcript and to see more video presentations from this knowledgeable doc.

    Posted on 02/14/2011 at 8:09 pm by The Team.

    Topics: Audio & VideoFundraising & MoneyPetsVeterinarians


  • Animal Abuse Registries: An HSUS Flip-Flop?

    The idea of an animal abuse registry is simple but controversial. Advocates for the concept note that Americans have the right to know if they’re living down the street from a convicted rapist or child pornographer—so they should also have access to information about neighbors who have been convicted of certain animal-cruelty crimes (especially felonies).

    Suffolk County, NY (on Long Island) launched the first such registry in November:

    "We know there is a very strong correlation between animal abuse and domestic violence," said Suffolk County legislator Jon Cooper, the bill's sponsor. "Almost every serial killer starts out by torturing animals, so in a strange sense we could end up protecting the lives of people."

    The online list will be open to the public, so that pet owners or the merely curious can find out whether someone living near them is on it. Some animal abusers have been known to steal their neighbors' pets.

    Cooper is also pushing legislation that would bar anyone on the registry from buying or adopting a pet from a shelter, pet shop or breeder.

    The Humane Society of the United States supported a similar Tennessee bill in 2008. HSUS Tennessee state director (read: lobbyist) LeighAnn McCollum told reporters: “If it’s successful in Tennessee,we’d certainly like to model other states’ legislation after it … We know that harming an animal is often the first step toward harming a human.” (The bill ultimately died, but the state Senate passed it.)

    HSUS also endorsed similar California legislation in February 2010. But ten months later, in December, HSUS CEO Wayne Pacelle did a complete one-eighty, arguing against animal abuse registries. What happened?

    This is one of those things that only makes sense in hindsight.

    Writing on his blog, Pacelle argued on December 3 that tougher laws—such as elevating animal fighting to a felony-level offense—would serve as an adequate deterrent for would-be animal abusers. Additionally, he claimed, “animal abuse is not deemed by professionals as a pre-disposed, hard-wired condition. People who abuse animals stand a much better chance of being rehabilitated.”

    And then came the coup de grace (everyone who figures out where Pacelle’s headed with this gets a gold star):

    When someone is convicted and punished for cruelty, moreover, does shunning or shaming them forever do any good for any animals? Perhaps we are drawn to the idea as a result of our intense hatred of what they've done or the general frustration with the criminal justice system's failure to fully enforce laws that are often weaker than they should be.

    Did you catch what (or, rather whom) this was pointing to?

    We’re ultimately not sold on whether an animal abuser registry is a good use of taxpayer dollars or not. But we’re doubly sure now that Wayne Pacelle is in Michael Vick’s corner.

    In truth, Pacelle’s December 3 turnaround wasn’t really a flip-flop. It was more of a “pre-flop.” Just 12 days later, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution quoted him saying that Vick “would do a good job as a pet owner.” Pacelle couldn’t argue that Vick should be reintegrated into polite society while also lobbying for a law that—if it became a national trend—would eventually require Vick to register with the Philadelphia police like a paroled rapist.

    Pacelle had to jettison one argument or the other. And since the Philadelphia Eagles had already paid HSUS $50,000 in “grant” money, the choice was probably a no-brainer.

    It’s conceivable that the Eagles—the only NFL team willing to take a chance with Michael Vick at the helm—would have been less likely to gamble on him if he were on an abuser registry. No team, no comeback. And without a comeback, HSUS would have lost its highest-profile spokesman.

    Sadly, Vick’s return to Philadelphia wasn’t a good move for the one "constituency" HSUS seemed to overlook: dogs. The Pennsylvania SPCA says the number of reported dogfighting incidents in Philadelphia has skyrocketed since Vick signed with the Eagles in 2009. That year the PSPCA investigated 903 cases of alleged animal fighting, more than triple the number of investigations from the previous year. (That number rose again, to 1,177, in 2010.)  The PSPCA's Director of Law Enforcement said that dogfighting had become “a fad out here” since Vick’s return to the NFL. 

    Ultimately, Pacelle’s change of heart may not help Vick escape one last measure of public scorn. The Virginia legislature is currently debating a new animal abuse registry bill. If it becomes law, Vick—whose sprawling dogfighting enterprise was based in Virginia (his home state)—would have to register.


    Posted on 02/08/2011 at 8:30 pm by The Team.

    Topics: Animal FightingAudio & VideoGov't, Lobbying, Politics


  • The Latest from HSUS Ambassador Michael Vick

    Update: For those of you inclined to lean in the "He's paid his dues" direction, we're reminded of this blog article (well worth reading) from last week.

    Update 2: It's good to see that Richard Hunter's video is generating discussion from sports columnists and in the mainstream press.

    If this is the first you’ve heard that convicted dog fighting kingpin Michael Vick is a spokesperson for the Humane Society of the United States, you should visit the following links and get up to speed. [ one | two | three | four | five | six | seven ]

    Go ahead. We’ll wait right here until you get back.

    Now that you’re up to speed, you’ll fully appreciate this video, shot on Saturday by broadcasting personality Richard Hunter.

    Hunter, a long-time Dallas radio icon, adopted one of the dogs that Michael Vick savagely abused.

    Let’s talk about this.

    First of all, what possessed the Mayor Pro Tem of Dallas—on a weekend when his city had the world’s media focused on it—to honor a convicted felon like this? We’re not going to dive too deeply into this, but the question is out there. "In the eyes of many people, [Vick]'s a hero," he said. 

    But more to our point, how much longer does Michael Vick think he can keep up the masquerade of being a reformed animal lover? And how long is the Humane Society of the United States going to continue its own charade?

    From our perspective, the whole Michael Vick–Wayne Pacelle “marriage” always seemed to be one of convenience. Pacelle needed Vick as a campaign prop, and he wanted the Philadelphia Eagles’ $50,000. Vick needed a pretext for his return to the NFL, and a useful idiot to promote him.

    Once Vick’s Eagles flamed out in the NFL playoffs (losing to the eventual Super Bowl champs), we stopped seeing him in front of the HSUS logo. Pacelle went as far as saying publicly that Vick “would do a good job as a pet owner.” But the public (correctly) judged that this was one shill-job too far. Reaction on HSUS's own Facebook page was vicious and memorable.

    Will the future see Michael Vick continuing to front for HSUS, and HSUS for Vick? (Will we see another NFL season in the fall, for that matter?) These are questions for another day, but they will both depend on money. Because like in professional football, dollars make the HSUS go ‘round.

    As for Michael Vick, the Richard Hunter video tells a gripping and disappointing story. This was the perfect opportunity for Vick to demonstrate his claims of remorse, it could have been the ideal impromptu photo op, tears and all. But instead of contrition, all he showed was the same cold heart that dog lovers have come to expect from the sadistic animal abuser.

    It’s too bad the leadership of the Humane Society of the United States didn’t recognize it as quickly as the rest of us.

    Maybe, just like the NFL, they're stil too blinded by dollar signs to care.

    Posted on 02/08/2011 at 12:39 am by The Team.

    Topics: Animal FightingAudio & VideoCourtroom Drama


  • Pet Sheltering's Sixty-Four Million Dollar Question, and HSUS's Wrong Answer

    On Tuesday the Radio Times program on Philadelphia’s WHYY Radio featured an on-air discussion about animal rescues and the problems facing America’s pet shelters. One of the in-studio guests was Inga Fricke (pronunciation). She’s the “Director of Sheltering Initiatives” with the Humane Society of the United States.

    Radio Times host Marty Moss-Coane explored a variety of subjects, including the use of shelter pets to help with inmate rehabilitation, the growing network of volunteers who transport pets from overcrowded shelters to private rescues with extra space, and even how the economic recession has hit pet shelters.

    Here’s how Moss-Coane framed the discussion:

    It’s a tough time for some animal shelters. They’re receiving more cats and dogs from those who can’t afford to keep their pets, and at the same time they’re seeing a drop in donations and grants because of the economic downturn. In fact, some shelters have stopped accepting animals because they can’t afford to provide for their care.

    You can listen to the hour-long program below. While you hear it for yourself, let’s take a look at how HSUS’s top expert sees this problem—and whether or not her organization is doing all it can to help.

    Everyone, Fricke included, agrees that pet adoption is a sort of matchmaking game. You don’t just put a shelter dog into a shopping basket and head for the checkout aisle. But the question has never been whether enough potential homes exist for the animals in today’s shelters. It’s whether the shelters themselves have the resources to market the pets they’re caring for, and to make sure each “transaction” is successful.

    Inga Fricke, HSUS: Getting the dog and the right owner hooked up is a function of creating successful adoption programs. And that starts with behavior assessment on the part of the shelters, and then competent adoption counseling. That also involves bringing the owners in—potential adopters in—getting them into the door in the first place. A lot of, I think, what Dr. Moyers is talking about, though, is this mismatch of the number of animals that are coming in to begin with. Shelters are really overwhelmed, at the same time that they don’t have sufficient resources to provide adequate care for the animals they have, let alone these very innovative adoption programs.

    Those “resources” are really what the discussion is all about. Money can buy “adopt me!” ads. It can train workers. It can (of course) provide for expanded kennel space so dogs have a longer window of time in which to be adopted.

    To an underfunded and struggling Humane Society or other pet shelter, money can move mountains. Moss-Coane seems to understand this instinctively.

    Marty Moss-Coane, host: They’re being squeezed, I guess, in certain ways, by the economy. So people probably are giving up animals because they can’t afford them. At the same time, shelters are seeing some of this money dry up which would help to take care of these animals.

    Fricke: Right. Anecdotally, that’s what we’re hearing in a lot of locations. Shelters are a reflection of the rest of their community. If the rest of the community is being hard-hit—businesses are suffering, social services agencies are suffering, government resources are, the government tax base are drying up—shelters are also going to be hit. The good news is we have seen a recent study that indicates the numbers may not be quite as bad as we thought. But that doesn’t, you know, really help that poor struggling shelter in the middle of nowhere that has its adopter base dried up, whose, um, people are losing their jobs and have to give up their animals too in record numbers.

    This is where the rubber meets the road. In the current American economy, almost everyone in the animal-protection world has a funding shortfall. Underline “almost.” The Humane Society of the United States has, paradoxically, increased its fundraising totals throughout the recession. And at the end of 2009 (the most recent reliable records we can get), HSUS was sitting on about $160 million in assets. Nearly $25 million of that was in cash.

    Yet according to HSUS’s last two tax returns (2008 and 2009), HSUS shared a combined two-year total of just $1.4 million with pet shelters—out of $183.7 million in revenue.That’s about 0.76 percent. (We’ll be publishing a database of all of HSUS’s outside expenditures soon, so you can see the evidence for yourselves. Sadly, HSUS puts more cash in its own pension plan than in the hands of pet shelters.)

    Moss-Coane: Well, I was reading about some shelters that are not accepting animals anymore, and I just—you know—what happens to those animals if no one, if a shelter is not accepting them?

    Fricke: That’s the 64 million-dollar question. It really is.

    Fricke is right. But perhaps it’s a 160 million-dollar question.

    HSUS has a strong mandate—in its own by-laws—to spend “all available funds” for “the immediate relief of suffering.” HSUS’s bank account looks like Scrooge McDuck’s. Why is the group behaving like him too?

    To be fair, Fricke makes a strong point about how it’s worthwhile to educate communities about how to take care of their pets so fewer of them land in shelters:

    Fricke: I think one mistake that we as a society make is expecting the animal shelter to solve all the animal problems in that community. When the animal shows up at the shelter door, in effect the community has already in a sense failed that animal—because the owner hasn’t gotten the support they needed from the very start to keep that animal, on some level. So shelters can’t take the full burden of solving the community’s animal problem. We have to actually take a step back and ask: “Why are animals ending up in the shelter in the first place? Do we have adequate spay/neuter resources? Do we have adequate behavioral resources? Do we have adequate education to explain to people what they’re taking on when they first take that animal into the home?” So if we can address some of those community issues, and keep the animals from ending up in the shelters in the first place, then the shelters will obviously be able to do a much better job for the smaller numbers of animals that are in their care.

    These are all fine ideas. But what’s likely to be more effective: community-based education and resources provided by people in the community, or cookie-cutter programs provided by HSUS, often from 3,000 miles away, with 50 percent of the money first swallowed up by overhead costs?

    In our view, this is all strong evidence that shelters themselves need more resources. They’re the real stakeholders, the ones who should be empowered to do the right thing in their own communities.

    It’s horrible that the Humane Society of the United States is essentially poaching donors from shelters in thousands of cities and towns—people who in most cases believe their donations are trickling down to their neighborhood shelters. It’s even worse when HSUS hoards its millions in Washington, DC while preaching to the public about what shelters need.

    Posted on 01/27/2011 at 3:00 am by The Team.

    Topics: Audio & VideoPets