The mental gymnastics played by the Humane Society of the United States is both amusing and startling. On the one hand, HSUS is arguing in federal court—where it is defending against an anti-racketeering lawsuit alleging illegal witness payments—that is a different entity from the Fund for Animals, an affiliate, and that therefore this should absolve HSUS from legal responsibility for the Fund’s alleged actions.
But when it comes to fundraising, well, HSUS is happy to double-dip on the Fund’s work.
The Fund for Animals, primarily an anti-hunting group, has operated the Black Beauty Ranch in Texas for some years. The Fund merged with HSUS in 2004/2005, but it remains a separate group with separate fundraising. It seems fair for the Fund to raise money off its work at this ranch and a few other facilities it runs—which is exactly what it has been doing, according to a telemarketing script filed with North Carolina authorities:
Yet, HSUS has also used these same Fund care centers in its tele-fundraising. Here’s one campaign:
The 75,000 animals count not only includes animals in the Fund’s care centers—it includes tens of thousands of animals in Bhutan and other foreign countries. That’s not exactly what people think of when the Humane Society of the United States calls, now is it?
This double-dipping seems unethical to us. And it gets even stranger since it seems to run two ways.
HSUS claims to represent 11 million “supporters” or “members and constituents.” Yet Humane Society International, HSUS’s foreign arm, wrote a letter to the EU commissioner claiming the same thing:
I am writing on behalf of the more than 11 million members and supporters of Humane Society International (HSI), one of the world’s largest and most respected animal welfare organisations…
Wait—so which is it? How can HSI, a separate group—one that has a much smaller budget and that runs a few offices in locales like Costa Rica—claim to represent 11 million people, when it doesn’t?
This may seem like we’re tilting at windmills, but there’s a pattern of HSUS playing fast and loose with numbers. HSUS, for instance, tells the public that about 80 percent of its budget is spent on programs—when that number really is as low as 55% (according to CharityWatch) or 45% (according to Animal People). HSUS claims 80% goes to programs because it uses a misleading accounting method that counts tens of millions in fundraising costs as “program” spending.
There’s no shortage of deception and intellectual dishonesty at the Humane Society of the United States. This is just one more straw for the haystack.