Topic: Pets

  • Did Wayne Pacelle Bail on His Own Twitter Chat?

    The Humane Society of the U.S. spent several days promoting a live Twitter chat that took place yesterday afternoon, supposedly with CEO Wayne Pacelle. We and a number of HumaneWatchers signed on to see if Wayne would answer a question of two—after all, we tried to get him on the radio a few months back, but he hung up rather than talk to us. And it seems like yesterday he decided not to show.

    According to the description of the chat, participants could “send your questions for Wayne via twitter using the #humanechat hashtag, or via email on the webpage.” That certainly implies that Wayne would be there to answer live questions, but that didn’t seem to be the case. For starters, there were a handful of pre-screened questions with rather boilerplate answers. Granted, Twitter isn’t exactly a forum for Lincoln-Douglas debates, but you’d think HSUS could have tried harder.

    HSUS did reply to a few live questions over Twitter—but the kicker is that HSUS referred to Wayne in the third person. If Wayne Pacelle was at the keyboard answering questions live, he’d have typed in first person.

    That’s really too bad, because if Wayne was there (and we can’t say for sure that he wasn’t), he would have seen a flood of HumaneWatchers tweeting. By our estimate, about half of all tweets during the 30-minute “chat” with Wayne were from HumaneWatch supporters. That’s a great turnout, especially on short notice—we only put up an alert on Facebook half an hour before the chat started. HSUS members surely took note.

    The event raises another issue: Will Wayne Pacelle ever answer the tough questions? Pacelle hung up the phone rather than debate us on the radio. At a speech at a Colorado university in January, questions for Wayne were reportedly prescreened or had to be written down on paper and passed through a moderator. Pacelle may look good on a soapbox, but he seems to turn into a scaredy-cat when he faces hardball queries.

    All in all, the chat was an “#epicfail” for HSUS. Maybe Wayne will dazzle us all with his 140-character wordsmithing next time. But first, he has to show up.

    Posted on 03/28/2013 at 2:52 pm by Humane Watch Team.

    Topics: Pets


  • Maryland May Bite the Hand that Feeds It

    A proposed law in Maryland has caught our eye. H.B. 767 would establish a spay/neuter fund administered by the state Department of Agriculture that would subsidize low-income residents who want to sterilize their pets. The bill follows a report by a task force appointed by the governor that included the state director for the Humane Society of the United States, Tami Santelli. The House Bill, along with its Senate companion, passed the state legislature last week and go to the Governor.

    The funding mechanism in particular is what concerns us. The revenue for the program would come from a “fee” (tax) imposed on pet food sellers, with some of the money then being doled out as grants.

    Why would the government impose a “fee”—which will be passed down to consumers—when there are already charities located right in Maryland that can already provide this service? We’re looking, of course, at HSUS, headquartered in Gaithersburg.

    HSUS raises over $100 million a year, so the organization could easily spare a million dollars. According to its 2011 tax return, HSUS spends $2.4 million just on funding its pension plan. It spent nearly $50 million on fundraising-related costs in 2011.

    Isn’t the whole point of having a charity so that HSUS can fund hands-on work? Can’t HSUS cut back on the telemarketing—just a little—and pitch in a hefty check to help low-income Marylanders spay and neuter their animals?

    Based on HSUS’s record, we won’t count on it.

    Posted on 03/25/2013 at 2:50 pm by Humane Watch Team.

    Topics: Pets


  • Who Kills More Animals: PETA or HSUS?

    While this is not a website about People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), the group does occasionally come up. For instance, a number of staffers from PETA have migrated to HSUS. One notable example is HSUS food policy director Matt Prescott, who while at PETA designed the noxious media campaign comparing using animals for food to the Holocaust.

    Unlike the Humane Society of the United States, PETA does run an “animal shelter” at its headquarters. And PETA kills the vast majority of cats and dogs in its care at this shelter—about 90 percent, or 1,647 cats and dogs, in 2012 and about 30,000 animals since 1998. That’s shocking to many people, and the news is making waves both here and abroad at the London Daily Mail. (Please join our PETA Kills Animals Facebook page to stay up to date.)

    Based on public information, it seems PETA directly kills more animals than HSUS, since the latter doesn’t run a shelter. But what about indirectly? According to HSUS, 3-4 million dogs and cats are put down in shelters every year, and according to our survey, most HSUS donors think their gifts will help care for pets or trickle down to shelters. If HSUS chose to use this money to either run pet shelters of its own or gave the money to other groups, as people think it does, how many pets that are currently euthanized would instead be alive?

    Given that HSUS raises over $100 million a year, it’s probably a lot more than the 1,647 cats and dogs that PETA killed last year.

    Posted on 03/22/2013 at 2:44 pm by Humane Watch Team.

    Topics: Pets


  • 19 Reasons Not to Give to $19 a Month to HSUS

    With Thanksgiving past us, it’s time to turn our gaze to the holiday season. It’s a wonderful time of year, and in the spirit of “it’s better to give than receive” many Americans up their charitable contributions. Unfortunately, that means HSUS is on the prowl, looking to cash in on unsuspecting Americans who don’t know how little the group does for pet shelters.

    We’re posting 19 reasons not to give the $19 a month that HSUS begs for in its commercials. We’ll post a new one every day starting Dec. 3, similar to an advent calendar.

    Help spread the word to “give local” and support humane societies in your community—unaffiliated with HSUS—and make this a merry season for shelters and needy pets alike.

    1. HSUS gives only 1 percent of its budget to pet shelters. That’s according to its own tax returns.

    2. HSUS’s CEO said notorious dog-killer Michael Vick “would do a good job as a pet owner.” That’s easy to say after you receive $50,000 from Vick’s employer.

    3. HSUS’s CEO has said, “I don’t want to see another cat or dog born” and “there's no special bond between me and other animals.”

    4. HSUS wants to put farmers out of business.

    5. HSUS shelters millions in hedge funds while millions of shelter pets die.

    6. HSUS hires radicals, then gives them a moderate mask. HSUS’s food policy director devised PETA’s “Holocaust on Your Plate” campaign, and an HSUS outreach manager used to be a PETA “lettuce lady.”

    7. Six Congressmen want an IRS investigation of HSUS.

    8. HSUS uses questionable fundraising companies, including one that has reportedly been under investigation from state attorneys general.

    9. HSUS uses your money to file frivolous lawsuits against its political enemies.

    10. HSUS is facing a federal racketeering lawsuit.

    11. HSUS has dozens of lawyers on staff—payroll money used to file frivolous suits that won’t go to pet shelters.

    12. HSUS shovels more money into its pension plan than it gives to pet shelters.

    13. Your local shelter could use the money more. Not only are shelters facing hard times, they are facing an uphill marketing battle against name confusion with HSUS.

    14. HSUS charges local shelters for many services. Why is HSUS charging $25,000 for evaluations when it has $200,000,000 in assets?

    15. HSUS gets a “D” grade from the American Institute of Philanthropy for “spending paltry amounts on their programs and maintaining high fundraising costs.”

    16. More than 150 people have filed complaints against HSUS with the Federal Trade Commission.

    17. HSUS is often at odds with veterinarians, and doesn’t have a single vet on its executive staff.

    18. The pet shelter community thinks HSUS misleads the public. Of 400 poll respondents, 71 percent agreed that “HSUS misleads people into thinking it is associated with local animal shelters.”

    19. HSUS’s own donors think HSUS is misleading. Nine out of 10 HSUS's donors were unaware that it gives just 1 percent of its budget to local pet shelters. Knowing this, 80 percent of HSUS's own donors think the group “misleads people into thinking that it supports local humane societies and pet shelters.” 

    Posted on 12/04/2012 at 3:35 am by The Team.

    Topics: Fundraising & MoneyPets


  • The Humane Society of the United States Hurts Pets

    Every year, millions of dogs and cats are euthanized. Who’s hindering progress by denying resources to shelters? The Humane Society of the United States.

    Despite its name, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is not affiliated with local humane societies and does not run any pet shelters.

    HSUS deceives pet lovers by running ads that show abandoned and abused dogs and cats, yet it gives only 1 percent of the money it raises to pet shelters, according to its own tax returns.

    Shelter professionals agree that there is a lot of confusion regarding national animal charities' level of support for local animal shelters. In fact, a poll of animal shelter professionals found that 71% percent believe it “misleads people into thinking it is associated with local animal shelters.”

    Even HSUS donors feel deceived once they learn the truth.

    Where does the money go? To fund a pension plan. To employ dozens of lawyers. According to one watchdog, 46 percent of HSUS’s budget is overhead, while the American Institute for Philanthropy calculates that HSUS spends as little as half of its budget on programs—earning HSUS a “D” grade.

    Just as many people “buy local,” please give local and support a pet shelter near you. Your help could be as simple as donating time, money, or supplies such as towels and blankets. But everyone can help by spreading the “give local” message to their friends and family.

    Posted on 11/08/2012 at 4:13 am by The Team.

    Topics: Pets


  • Call 866-720-2676 to Stop Your Monthly Donations to HSUS

    [Michael Vick] would do a good job as a pet owner.

          —Wayne Pacelle, Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) President and CEO, December 15, 2010

    The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has lost all credibility

    Michael Vick was a dog fighting kingpin. He went to federal prison for participating in the unbelievably cruel deaths of (at least) eight dogs. Encouraging him to own more animals makes as much sense as hiring a child molester to work in a day care. And now, Michael Vick owns a dog.

    If you donate monthly to HSUS and you’re disgusted by the organization’s willingness to trade its principles for money, you are within your rights to stop giving immediately.

    HSUS's Membership Department can be reached at 866-720-2676. Call today, or e-mail [email protected].

    It’s critically important to support pet shelters in your community, but HSUS isn’t affiliated with any real “humane societies.” Hands-on pet shelters typically share in less than 1% of the money HSUS raises.

    Please don’t stop giving to help animals. It’s an important part of our generous national character. But there’s a right way and a wrong way to do it.

    Support community-based pet shelters and adoption programs. They know an animal abuser when they see one.

    Posted on 10/17/2012 at 12:32 am by The Team.

    Topics: AnnouncementsCourtroom DramaFundraising & MoneyPets


  • Another HSUS Lawsuit Gets Thrown Out of Court

    With a glut of law school grads carrying debt, it would seem “hungry lawyer” is the new “starving artist.” And if you wonder where donations to the Humane Society of the U.S. go, since just 1 percent of the money it raises goes to pet shelters, consider this: HSUS has dozens of lawyers on staff.

    What do you do with so many attorneys? Gin up legal complaints. It’s the American way, unfortunately.

    One of the latest targets is a Florida-based puppy seller called Purebred Breeders (PBB). HSUS alleges that PBB sells puppy-mill dogs and partnered with a local law firm to help former customers of PBB file a lawsuit against the company. That lawsuit was dismissed last month.

    The dismissal is noteworthy. PBB’s motion to dismiss made several claims, the most interesting of which are two: That the lawsuit inappropriately serves as a bully pulpit and that the lawsuit is really just a front for HSUS activism.

    The first claim revolves around 10 paragraphs included in the amended lawsuit, which allegedly are “defamatory” and discuss the general “puppy mill” issue, but don’t have relevance to the plaintiffs’ claims. In the words of the defendant, “there is not a single allegation that even one of the puppies purchased by Plaintiffs came from any of the alleged puppy mill breeders named.”

    More generally, the defense claims that HSUS is essentially using the lawsuit for PR purposes, giving it out to the media before even serving on the defendants.

    So how did the motion fare? The judge ruled that “The Motion is granted for all reasons stated in the Motion,” except for one reason (that the plaintiffs didn’t include their contracts as an attachment to the complaint). The plaintiffs have the opportunity to re-file their lawsuits.

    It’s good to see that defendants’ counsel was aggressive. Early in the motion, the defense notes that one of the HSUS attorneys identified on the lawsuit, Kimberly Ockene, is herself a defendant in a federal racketeering (RICO) lawsuit that alleges mail fraud, wire fraud, and other torts. (See page 4.) The news is spreading, and the more who know it the merrier.

    This dismissal isn’t the only setback HSUS has received in recent years. You might recall that HSUS tried to sue Petland and had its case dismissed entirely. After HSUS re-filed the claims, they were again (largely) dismissed.

    And you also might recall that an animal rights cabal sued Feld Entertainment (owner of Ringling Bros.)—including the Fund for Animals, which merged with HSUS in 2005—for about a decade before a federal judge dismissed it. Feld has countersued, alleging torts such as wire fraud, mail fraud, and racketeering. HSUS, Ockene, and HSUS VP Jonathan Lovvorn are named as defendants.

    HSUS's lobbying muscle has also looked rather anemic as of late. Its federal egg bill has gone nowhere. Its “Prop B” ballot initiative was picked apart by a bipartisan group of Missouri legislators. And now even one local humane society is speaking out against a ballot initiative in North Dakota that HSUS is raising money for.

    So HSUS may not be as potent as it would like the rest of us to think. But here’s another point: Are these shenanigans really what donors think their dollars are going towards?

    Posted on 10/09/2012 at 9:32 pm by The Team.

    Topics: Courtroom DramaPets


  • What’s Wrong with Outdoor Cats?

    The New York Times recently reported on its website that researchers in Georgia developed a project in which mini cameras were attached to house cats in order to track what outdoor felines prefer to do with their time. Those that hunt (slightly less than half) mostly kill reptiles, in case you’re curious, and cats often wind up in dangerous spots. Curiosity and all, we suppose.

    The Times called up HSUS for its take, and a spokeswoman pooh-poohed the very idea of outdoor cats:

    There are many other reasons to keep cats inside besides harm to wildlife. “Cats are safer, wildlife is safer and communities are safer when cats are indoors,” said Katie Lisnik, the director of cat protection and policy for the Humane Society of the United States.

    She said outdoor cats are in danger of being hit by cars, attacked by other animals or contracting diseases. The most humane way to care for cats, she said, is to keep them inside in a stimulating environment “so that they can express their natural behaviors.”

    Here in the D.C. area, there are certainly good reasons to keep cats indoors, heavy traffic being a major one. But here’s the irony in HSUS’s advocacy of keeping cats indoors: When farmers move their animals indoors for some of the same reasons, HSUS is up in arms.

    Farmers moved animals indoors and into maternity pens or hen cages in part to protect them from the environment, disease, and other (predatory) animals. And it’s scientifically measureable that, for example, egg-laying hens indoors in cages have lower mortality rates and are more protected from predation than those housed outdoors.

    However, HSUS doesn’t want hens in cages or pregnant pigs in maternity pens. It has pushed for cage-free systems, which can be indoors. But even this isn’t enough, with HSUS campaigners saying that cage-free is just a “step in the right direction” and “If anyone says ‘cage-free’ is 100 percent humane, 100 percent cruelty-free, just know that that’s not accurate.”

    What’s the next step from cage-free? Free-range, which includes outdoor access. It also means, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association’s review of the science, that the hens are exposed to more disease vectors and face a higher risk of being picked off by a predator.

    Gee, whiz—aren’t those some of the same risks faced by outdoor cats?

    That’s not to knock one animal-farming system in favor of another. Different systems can work if managed properly. But HSUS’s goal with farm animals isn’t so much to maximize animal welfare as it is to “get rid of the entire industry,” to quote a former vice president. Farmers and veterinarians are the ones who know best about animal welfare and are in the best position to make these decisions—not an animal rights group that doesn’t boast a single veterinarian among its executive staff.

    Posted on 09/14/2012 at 2:17 am by The Team.

    Topics: Animal AgriculturePets


  • HSUS's Potemkin Village of Shelter Support

    It’s our job to watch the Humane Society of the U.S., and for all that could be improved, we do occasionally see something it does that is worthy of praise. Turns out that HSUS does, in fact, know how to help pet shelters with some timely support.

    The Montclair Animal Shelter in New Jersey has been struggling with a faulty air conditioning unit for several weeks, making it particularly tough on the cats kept in the downstairs kennel. (The dogs are lucky enough to have a few portable units on their floor). Although the heat wave in the Garden State was going strong, HSUS was able to help recently by covering the cost of a six-week rental for industrial-sized portable air conditioners. The rental costs $3,000.

    That’s all well and good, but this one particular grant—and the typical self-aggrandizing HSUS press release accompanying it—speaks volumes about what HSUS doesn’t do. HSUS raises well over $100 million annually from the public, meaning it could help hundreds of shelters in this same way every year. Heck, if HSUS made 1,000 such grants, that would only take up about 2 percent of its budget. Its deceptive advertising would certainly have you believe that’s what it does. We’re sure some of its disappointed donors wish that was the case, but the latest numbers tell us that’s far from how HSUS spends donor dollars. HSUS puts up a good façade and its media personnel put out a lot of press releases, but it seems there’s not much behind the curtain when it comes to giving support to shelters.

    Meanwhile, pets sweating it out elsewhere hope for support from others. In Indiana, a local business donated an air conditioning unit. But others, such as one in Tennessee, spent a few days without power and had to buy a generator and fans to try to keep the pets cool.

    With millions and millions at their disposal, HSUS should be able to swoop in to these communities and save shelter and rescue pets from this basic suffering that can be so easily remedied. But instead, CEO Wayne Pacelle spends his time on Capitol Hill and on blog rants about members of Congress.

    The pets at the Montclair Animal Shelter should consider themselves doubly lucky to be the recipients of HSUS’s generosity. It’s a rare position to be in.

    Posted on 08/10/2012 at 9:38 pm by The Team.

    Topics: Fundraising & MoneyPets


  • Shelter Gasses 9 in 10 Pets. HSUS Offers Award.

    The Humane Society of the U.S., not to be confused with your local humane society that generally does good, hands-on work, offers little support to pet shelters. Just 1 percent of the money it raises is sent to local pet shelters—a sordid little factoid that even 90 percent of HSUS’s own donors don’t know. (And they apparently aren’t too impressed upon learning it.)

    So while it doesn’t have a whole lot of grant money to go around—hey, pension plans don’t fund themselves—it does have the occasional award to hand out. Last month, HSUS and another group gave a “Shelter We Love” award to the Davidson County Animal Shelter in North Carolina.

    But the award is rubbing some animal lovers the wrong way. According to YesBiscuit!, DCAS had an 88 percent kill rate in 2010, which went down to 87 percent in 2011. And DCAS euthanizes animals in a gas chamber—a tool that even HSUS said it “extremely disfavor[s]” after several animals it rescued and dropped off at a shelter partner were put down via gas chamber. (Some “rescue,” eh?)

    We’ve only seen one animal shelter with a higher kill rate: PETA. Indeed, People for the “Ethical Treatment” of Animals regularly kills over 90 percent of the cats and dogs in its care, according to documents it files with the Commonwealth of Virginia. Would PETA also qualify for a “Shelter We Love” award from HSUS? Given that the two groups have a nearly identical animal rights agenda, it wouldn’t surprise us.

    Now, HSUS says DCAS is making improvements, thanks to local volunteers. (HSUS didn’t make any grants to DCAS in 2009 or 2010, according to its tax returns.) That’s good, but we’re betting that DCAS could substantially reduce its euthanasia rate a lot faster if HSUS charitably offered some of the $32 million it has stuffed away in hedge funds, or it could at least get rid of that “extremely disfavored” gas chamber.

    In fact, that’s probably true of a lot of underfunded shelters around the country. But HSUS apparently can’t bear to tap more into its $200 million in assets—which certainly tells you a lot about its priorities.

    Posted on 07/24/2012 at 1:28 am by The Team.

    Topics: Pets