Despite its name, the Humane Society of the United States is not affiliated with your local humane society. HSUS doesn’t run a single pet shelter and gives only 1 percent of its budget to local shelters.
This is news to most Americans. According to public polling, about 70 percent of Americans mistakenly believe that HSUS is a pet shelter “umbrella group” and that HSUS gives most of its money to pet shelters.
Why the massive perception-reality gap? We can certainly thank HSUS’s multimillion-dollar ad campaign. You know the formula: Slow music, B-list celebrity spokeswoman, and pictures of sad-looking dogs and cats. And that fine-print disclaimer that HSUS is independent of local humane societies? It’s on less than 1 percent of the ads. See how the scam works?
Here’s what an honest HSUS TV appeal might look like. There’s no confusion, and no need for a disclaimer. But we’re going to go out on a limb and guess it wouldn’t be quite as lucrative for HSUS.