Topic: Pets

  • Fake News or Fact? See Our USA Today Ad

    Today’s edition of USA Today has a challenge from us in it: Can you spot the fake news about the Humane Society of the United States? Here’s the ad (click here to view the whole ad):

    Here’s the answer: None of it is fake news. It’s all fact.

    If you’d like more information about these issues, here’s some further reading. But if you want a general look, view our “10 Things You Should Know About HSUS.”

    HSUS settles racketeering/bribery lawsuit for $11 million: Here, here, and here.

    HSUS only gives 1% of its money to local pet shelters: Here and here.

    HSUS shovels donor money into Caribbean funds: Here.

    HSUS CEO Wayne Pacelle said Michael Vick, a convicted dogfighting kingpin, “would do a good job as a pet owner: Here, here, and here.

    Posted on 02/21/2017 at 3:45 pm by Humane Watch Team.

    Topics: Animal FightingAnnouncementsPets


  • Did HSUS Let Dogs Suffer in China?

    We’ve always suspected that HSUS’s work in China fighting the dog meat trade had a hidden dark side. While a worthy cause, the fact that it occurs half a globe away means that it’s a situation that could be ripe for abuse. Given HSUS’s history of attorney general investigations, paying $11 million to settle a fraud suit, and using high-profile events to pocket donations, we were skeptical that everything was as clean as a preacher’s sheets.

    And we were wise to be distrustful.

    A Nov. 29 piece written by Martyn Stewart, “Activism Gone Bad,” alleges HSUS’s international arm let dogs suffer. The whole piece is worth a read. Essentially, it goes into the interaction between two efforts in China to rescue dogs, one by California-based activist Marc Ching, and another by Humane Society International. The article outlines some tension concerning the annual Yulin Dog Meat Festival.

    Here’s the part about HSI, for whom Peter Li is a consultant:

    The heat in Yulin was sweltering. Many of these dogs were emaciated and undernourished. Even the ones I saw the day before at the slaughterhouse were pretty lifeless. What Marc was about to tell me turned my stomach.

    Peter Li told Marc that if he didn’t make a statement on the his foundation social media page stating that HSI was helping Ching’s organization save dogs, Li would have the dogs they’d bargained for put back in the slaughterhouse (obviously Li must have had some deal with these people, too). Li told Ching that he had one hour to post the statement or the dogs would go back as promised. Marc told me he was forced to do what Li asked for the sake of the dogs’ lives.

    Li then loaded an estimated 140 dogs into a truck and transported them 35 hours north of Yulin without any water, shelter, or food. When Marc found out he told Li to turn back and leave the dogs with him so he could put them in his shelter in Nanning rather than allow them to endure such a deadly journey. Li basically told Ching that the dogs would survive on adrenaline and if they die they die. Many of those dogs did perish. (PLEASE LISTEN TO THE AUDIO BELOW IN MARC’S OWN WORDS)

    Marc told me this information was off the record but I have insisted that this be told for the sake of the animals and donors. I wrote to HSI in July, asking them to make a statement, but to this day they have ignored me.

    The story seems to have struck a nerve, as Peter Li posted an official response from HSI to his Facebook page three days later saying in June Ching had “approached HSI’s team to ask us to take an additional 100 dogs. However, while HSI was providing post-rescue care for the first batch of dogs, HSI was attacked on social media because we had refused to help with the dogs Marc had purchased.” […] In addition, the Chinese advocates who had helped in the rescue of the first 120 dogs were not available to help with the additional 100 dogs. Therefore, HSI was not in a position to help with the second batch of dogs.”

    Wait, what? Why wouldn’t HSUS/HSI help care for 100 dogs?

    Consider this: Marc Ching’s foundation brought in $118,000 in revenue in 2015, according to Guidestar. That same year, HSUS brought in 1,000 times more money. And yet HSI is admitting it wouldn’t care for 100 dogs. Is that really such a hard lift when you’re a wealthy group with local partners? We can’t imagine so.

    Consider also: How much money has HSI/HSUS raised to help stop the dog meat trade in China? We don’t know, but with all of the publicity HSUS gets around the issue, it must be in the millions. On top of that, HSUS put over $150 million into offshore Caribbean funds between 2012 and 2015. It has no shortage of cash to help animals—if it wants to.

    For HSUS to turn its back on dogs in China is a regrettable betrayal of its mission.

    And Ching looks terrible as well. On Nov. 26, the Daily Mail broke a story that “Ching’s high-profile operation deteriorated into farce, and ended with hundreds of dogs suffering slow and excruciatingly painful deaths within days of being rescued.”

    It appears that there are two troubled operations. Given the seriousness of the allegations, HSUS should make a full accounting of all of its fundraising related to China and all of its expenditures and activities. Any honest and transparent leadership would.

    Posted on 01/23/2017 at 3:15 pm by Humane Watch Team.

    Topics: Fundraising & MoneyPets


  • “Fake News” Rolling Stone Publishes HSUS Propaganda


    What do you get when you combine a former spokesman for animal rights terrorists and a former drug user? You get this week’s Rolling Stone article on dog breeding.

    The article, published online Monday, is being heavily touted by HSUS and its notorious CEO Wayne Pacelle. The article appears to be laying the groundwork for a lobbying campaign in North Carolina. In fact, Rolling Stone is a fitting place for HSUS propaganda. You may have seen Rolling Stone in the news recently as the loser of a defamation lawsuit involving a false story about an alleged rape at the University of Virginia. Rolling Stone has retracted the story, and, with the reporter, is now on the hook to pay $3 million in damages to a university dean who was defamed. To use post-election lingo, it now appears that Rolling Stone is vying for the title of Fake News Central.

    And perhaps there’s no more fitting author here than Paul Solotaroff. Solotaroff has a history of being chummy with HSUS, writing suck-up pieces for Rolling Stone and Men’s Journal, calling Pacelle the “film-star-handsome president and CEO of the Humane Society.” In writing this latest piece, Solotaroff turned for help to HSUS employee John Goodwin—a former spokesman for the FBI-designated domestic terrorist group Animal Liberation Front. Solotaroff, meanwhile, has his own checkered past, having admitted to using hard drugs. Solotaroff has been condemned by Village Voice—where he once worked—as a “charlatan” who “engaged in an array of misleading, dishonest, and unethical behavior. So appropriate for someone flacking for Pacelle.

    So what’s wrong with the article itself? Let’s dig in.

    The piece hinges on a raid conducted by law enforcement and HSUS on a woman in North Carolina who was allegedly running a puppy mill.

    The connection? HSUS is pushing legislation that would ban the sale of pets at pet stores if those pets come from a breeder—even if the breeder runs the equivalent of a Ritz Carlton for dogs. But these laws exempt pets that come from shelters and rescues. HSUS’s entire media strategy, including the Rolling Stone piece, relies on the false dichotomy “breeder bad, shelter good.”

    But here’s the catch: The dogs in North Carolina appear to have come from a shelter. The woman raided in September had operated an animal shelter that had had its license revoked in 2015. Incredibly, this fact isn’t mentioned in the story.

    What’s more, dog breeders are already regulated under federal animal welfare laws (hobby breeders with a couple of animals are exempted). And in many states, there are “lemon laws” for pets. So there are standards for commercial breeders that are enforceable.

    But there appear to be fewer standards for operating a “shelter” or “rescue.” Michigan State University’s Animal Law site notes, “There are no national laws regulating pet rescues or foster care homes. Also, very few states define these terms in their statewide legislation.” Other regulations “may” apply—or may not. “Although there are few laws that directly regulate rescue and foster care groups, there are a small handful of laws that do. However, even with the laws in place, often there is a lack of enforcement,” the site continues.

    In the case of this North Carolina shelter, state inspectors had found problems since 2013. At the time its license was revoked in April 2015, the “shelter” had 55 dogs and 7 cats. At the time of the raid in September, authorities seized 105 dogs and 20 cats.

    So at least in North Carolina, there are some regulations of shelters. But this raises several questions:

    1)      If state authorities revoked the animal shelter’s license, why did they wait a year and a half before seizing the animals?

    2)     Would HSUS’s lobbying for pet store bans have helped prevent this situation from occurring?

    3)     Would HSUS’s lobbying for state regulations on (already federally regulated) breeders have helped here?

    The answers to 2 and 3 seem clear to us: No. The Rolling Stone article noted that the North Carolina shelter operator “supported herself for years on the profits from her kennel.”

    What seems most productive would be to address the first question, perhaps through enforcing existing laws better. Yet in Solotaroff’s article, HSUS rattles on about increasing regulations on already regulated breeders.

    Further, in the bigger picture, how many shelters or rescues are out there, unregulated or loosely regulated, that are not treating animals humanely? Do these animals even matter to HSUS, or are they more concerned with the breeders who are in the business of providing pets? One clue is Pacelle’s admission that “I don’t want to see another cat or dog born.”

    Everybody is in agreement that animals should be treated well. But HSUS is (once again) seemingly more concerned with politics than with logical policy. And stories like Solotaroff’s are part of the weak stable of Pacelle sycophants who are on the edge of real journalism.

    After the UVA fiasco, Rolling Stone should be doing better.

    Posted on 01/05/2017 at 6:07 pm by Humane Watch Team.

    Topics: Pets


  • The “Humane Society of the U.S.” Hardly Cares for Any Animals in America

    sad-dogThe Humane Society of the United States, like an unfortunate number of large, bloated charities, wastes a lot of money that could be used for good. But the real crime might be in how the organization concocts talking points that make it seem otherwise. In fact, it appears that much of HSUS’s “hands-on care” consists of merely snipping street dogs’ testicles in foreign countries, to put it bluntly.

    HSUS does not run a single pet shelter despite its name. Its CEO gets a sizeable $450,000 compensation package; the group has shoveled $150 million into offshore funds since 2012; and it has gotten “D” and “C” grades from the respected evaluator CharityWatch for high overhead.

    HSUS tries to deflect this criticism by claiming it cares for a lot of animals. We’ve debunked this talking point time and again over the years, but this year HSUS is now claiming it has cared for 300,000 animals—three times the number it claimed just two years ago.

    HSUS provides no formal accounting of this figure, so that’s the first hint that this figure is preposterous. But from the organization’s website we’ve been able to tease out some specific programs in the United States:

    South Florida Wildlife Center: 12,000 animals

    Black Beauty Ranch: “hundreds”

    Pets for Life: 14,000

    Which leaves about 283,000 missing. Where are they? Most of those appear to be street dogs that are sterilized in India, Bhutan, and other developing countries. HSUS signed a two-year agreement in 2015 to sterilize or vaccinate 400,000 dogs in India. And HSUS isn’t doing this for free—local governments are compensating them. HSUS even canceled an agreement with one Indian locality last year because it felt it wasn’t being paid enough. This, from an already wealthy charity, mind you.

    So there you go. When you give to the Humane Society of the United States, you’re probably not helping any animals in the US. Instead, you’re helping money-grubbing blowhards who act far more pious than they really are pad their salaries, pension plans, and Caribbean funds.

    The solution? Give to your local shelter directly. They’ll appreciate it—and they’ll be a lot more upfront about how they use your donation.

    Posted on 12/09/2016 at 2:24 pm by Humane Watch Team.

    Topics: Annual ReportsHSUS PublicationsPets


  • Wayne Pacelle’s Revisionist History Begins a New Chapter

    HSUS CEO Wayne Pacelle recently spoke at the Dole Institute of Politics at the University of Kansas. Speaking at an event entitled “Animal Welfare in America,” Pacelle fed the hungry attendees a healthy serving of vegan tripe as he continued his masterful evasion of his past/current radical views on the relationship between animals and humans. (Side note: Of all the meat substitutes, what vegans were crying for a tripe option?)

    In the interview, Pacelle harkens back to his childhood where he reminisces about always having a love for animals and feeling a sense of kinship with them. This charming anecdote may fit the whimsical narrative that he has crafted for himself with books like The Bond. But it seems like nothing more than a good work of fiction.

    During his tenure at Yale, Pacelle displayed a dismissiveness to the idea of having a bond with pets. He frequently boasted about his radical views on pets saying things such as “I don’t love animals or think they are cute” as well as “animals are no one’s property.” Pacelle even remarked in an interview in 1994 that he could envision a future without pets by stating, “If I had my personal view perhaps that might take hold. In fact, I don’t want to see another cat or dog born.” To the same interviewer, he also remarked:

    “I don’t have a hands-on fondness for animals. I did not grow up bonded to any particular nonhuman animal. I like them and I pet them and I’m kind to them, but there’s no special bond between me and other animals.” (Emphasis added.)

    So who should we believe: Past Pacelle, who had no incentive to lie, or current Pacelle, who has a carefully crafted public relations strategy? These statements not only put into question the idea that Pacelle is in favor of pets, but also the claims by Pacelle of “always” having an unshakeable bond with animals. As if Kansas needed more BS on its hands.

    Only time will tell if Pacelle will have to revise his own history again by changing the cover of his book The Bond from a child hugging his loyal companion to a child crying in a field as Mr. Pacelle heartlessly takes the poor boy’s loyal dog away.


    Posted on 10/04/2016 at 10:39 am by HumaneWatch Team.

    Topics: Executive StaffPets


  • Did Cesar Millan Commit Animal Cruelty?

    Millan_TodayShowThe Internet has a new target of scorn, and this time it’s animal trainer and “dog whisperer” Cesar Millan. A recent episode of Millan’s show “Cesar 911” featured a French bulldog/terrier mix nipping a potbellied pig in the ear. Cue the outrage mafia, which is demanding that the show be canceled and he face criminal charges. A petition to get the show off-air has reportedly gathered 11,000 signatures.

    The dog in question was aggressive towards pigs and was being trained to become non-aggressive. Millan responded to the controversy by saying people are blowing this way out of proportion, and the dog’s owner has come to his defense. The dog, meanwhile, appears to have benefitted from the training, as seen in a subsequent clip of it with the pig in which the latter doesn’t appear distressed at all.

    Outrage mobs are notoriously self-righteous, and this is no exception. But, as an animal control officer notes, context is vital in any investigation of animal abuse. A short video clip may be misleading.

    Sound familiar? That’s exactly what happens when groups like the Humane Society of the United States try to mislead the public about farming practices. They might show a video—horror movie soundtrack optional—that makes something look bad.

    Maternity pens for pregnant pigs are a good example. A video can be manipulated to make it seem like the pigs are distressed—for example, by shooting film during feeding time, when the pigs are simply more excited. We’ve actually been to farms that use them. The pigs are quite content.

    What’s the lesson? Don’t rush to judgment. But in the age of 24/7 news and instant “hot takes” on social media, that’s easier said than done.

    Posted on 03/14/2016 at 4:40 pm by Humane Watch Team.

    Topics: PetsVideo


  • HSUS’s America: Where Wolves Eat Family Pets?

    A wolf in Duluth, Minnesota, brutally attacked and killed a family’s dog last week, and if the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has its way, we can only assume incidents like this are going to happen a lot more often.

    Terry Irvin was walking his dog Leo, an 11-year-old retriever-corgi mix, along a wooded trail near Lake Superior – something he does two or three times a week – and decided to let the dog off its leash. Irvin told the Star Tribune he got a little bit ahead of the dog and waited around for him to come, but the dog never made it.

    After about five minutes went by, Irvin turned around and went to look for Leo. “I walked into the woods, and I saw him,” Irvin told the paper. “It was a traumatic sight. I will never forget it. … It was heartbreaking.”

    Keith Olson, a conservation officer with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, called the attack rare, but said they are happening a lot more often than they used to. There are estimated to be around 2,400 wolves in Minnesota, but very few options available to control them thanks to legislation pushed by the HSUS that put wolves back on the Endangered Species List.

    The federal government had tried to de-list gray wolves beginning in 2003, when the wolf population reached a sustainable level – the federal recovery goal for Minnesota wolf numbers is around 1,300. It finally succeeded in 2012, but the HSUS quickly filed a lawsuit and the wolves were back on the Endangered Species List by the end of 2014.

    Under the law, it is illegal to kill a wolf unless it is in the defense of a human life – even if a dog is being eaten alive. This leaves pets in serious danger as wolf populations continue to outgrow their food supply. Deer are by far the largest food source for wolves, and with deer numbers down across Minnesota, wolves are hungry and prowling for pets. There were 18 reported wolf attacks on dogs in 2015, far more than in years past.

    An HSUS lobbyist tried to push similar legislation in Oregon last month, but Lawmakers weren’t convinced, noting that some of the most horrific footage they’d ever seen came in the aftermath of a wolf attack that left dozens of sheep disemboweled, not from a hunter with a dead animal.

    Posted on 02/19/2016 at 9:35 am by HumaneWatch Team.

    Topics: MainNews SummariesPets


  • This #GivingTuesday, Support Your Local Pet Shelter, not HSUS

    After the national shopping days on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, which many people use to buy Christmas gifts for others, comes Giving Tuesday, a relatively new day meant to encourage people to donate to charity. Last year the promotion raised $46 million for charity.

    Unfortunately, there are unscrupulous charities that look to take advantage of people, such as the recent case of a veterans charity where little of the money was going to veterans. One of the worst examples of ripping donors off, however, comes from the Humane Society of the United States.

    Despite its name, the Humane Society of the United States is not affiliated with local humane societies across the country. The Humane Society of the United States does not run a single pet shelter—anywhere—despite its ads being full of dogs and cats. Only 1% of the money raised by HSUS goes to local pet shelters.

    Where does the money go? A lot of it is blown on overhead costs—HSUS has consistently earned poor marks from the American Institute of Philanthropy, a charity evaluator. HSUS also earned a “Donor Advisory” from Charity Navigator for a year after it settled a bribery and racketeering lawsuit for nearly $6 million. HSUS put $50 million into Caribbean hedge funds last year—money that could’ve helped animals. The organization also paid its CEO, Wayne Pacelle, a whopping $425,000 compensation package last year, according to HSUS’s tax return.

    The Humane Society of the United States raises a lot of money from well-meaning and unsuspecting people by showing them pictures of pets. To help those animals, however, you’re better off giving to an animal shelter or rescue near you. Find one by entering your zip code here.

    Posted on 12/01/2015 at 11:31 am by Humane Watch Team.

    Topics: Fundraising & MoneyPets


  • HSUS Hoards Money Meant for Animals

    News broke last week that PetSmart Charities, which gives out grants to animal welfare groups, is undergoing a reorganizing, laying off all its staff and rehiring for some positions. The idea is presumably to cut costs and increase the amount of money for program work, although the organization already received excellent charity-evaluation marks. But Animals 24-7, an animal-rights website, reports that this leaves one program to help pets, called Pets for Life, in some limbo.

    Notes Animals 24-7:

    The largest project funded by PetSmart Charities in recent years may have been Pets for Life,  providing veterinary care and services to underserved neighborhoods in Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia since 2011, under management by the Humane Society of the U.S.

    Having invested about $1 million a year in Pets for Life in 2013 and 2014, PetSmart Charities expanded the program to five more cities in 2015.

    The future of PetSmart Charities involvement in Pets for Life is now unclear.

    In fact, perhaps the future of the program should be considered unclear. Why? Because the Humane Society of the United States is not known for shelling out. HSUS has over $200 million in assets, and yet socks money away instead of using it to help animals. HSUS put over $50 million into offshore hedge funds in the Caymans and Bermuda in 2012 and 2013, which is money it could have used to help animals. It’s a valid concern that Pets for Life will take a hit now that the (charitable) PetSmart Charities is reorganizing if it means the (stingy) HSUS will have to pony up.

    Remember, HSUS is constantly fundraising even if it only has a small involvement in the issues of the day—see our report “Looting in the Aftermath” for examples of HSUS profiteering.

    What HSUS is good at is credit-grabbing. HSUS was a reportedly late invite to take part in the Shelter Pet Project, a PSA campaign urging adoption of pets that received substantial seed money from Maddie’s Fund. Yet if you read HSUS’s take on the project you’d think it was HSUS’s idea all along. With Pets for Life, we get the same vibe: Lots of money from PetSmart, lots of self-congratulation by HSUS.

    Both seem like worthy programs. But with HSUS, there always seems to be a “What’s in it for us?” angle. That’s the opposite attitude that any charity should have.

    Posted on 11/11/2015 at 4:04 pm by Humane Watch Team.

    Topics: Pets


  • HSUS Doesn’t Give “Squat” to Pet Shelters

    We’ve got a new billboard up in Times Square showing New Yorkers and visitors from all over the country exactly how the Humane Society of the United States treats local pet shelters. HSUS is not affiliated with local humane societies and gives only 1% of the money it raises to local shelters, according to its tax return, all while running ads full of dogs and cats that give off the impression HSUS is all about caring for pets.

    We’ve collected quotes of what local humane societies have to say about HSUS, and they aren’t happy about the situation. But often times, these local shelters are too busy spending resources caring for animals to have a broad, national message. So we’re happy to provide one that helps them: Give local. (Click the photos to enlarge.)



    Posted on 10/06/2015 at 9:15 am by Humane Watch Team.

    Topics: MediaPets