Topic: The Best of HumaneWatch

  • HSUS Shelter Spending in Your State

    (Coming from a gun-rights site? See also, “Why Gun Rights Activists Should Care About HSUS.”)

    As we’ve previously reported, only about 1% of the budget of the deceptively named Humane Society of the United States goes to local pet shelters, and the organization doesn’t operate any shelters of its own. Not that you’d learn these facts from HSUS’s ads, which are full of dogs and cats.

    An examination of HSUS’s 2013 tax return (the most recent available) reveals that although the extreme animal-liberation group took in more than $130 million in revenues, very little went to local pet shelters. How much went to help pet shelters in your state? Take a look at the map below (PDF). The answer may shock you.


    Of its $130 million in revenues, HSUS gave less than $10,000 to help local pet shelters care for pets in 29 states. Shelters in 11 states – Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Nevada, Rhode Island, Utah, and Wyoming – didn’t receive a single dime from HSUS to help them care for pets.

    If only 1% of HSUS’s budget goes to local pet shelters, where does the other 99% go? A few examples of wasteful HSUS spending:

    Instead of funding the lavish lifestyles of HSUS execs who are socking away your donations in off-shore hedge funds, consider donating to pet shelters in your area.


    Posted on 02/09/2015 at 9:50 am by HumaneWatch Team.

    Topics: MainThe Best of HumaneWatchVisual HSUS


  • What Doesn’t HSUS Want the OK Attorney General to Know?

    Under Investigation ImageJust days after being forced to defend itself for socking millions of dollars away in Caribbean hedge funds and overpaying staff, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is suing the Oklahoma Attorney General in an effort to stonewall an investigation into its deceptive fundraising practices.

    According to news reports, HSUS has refused to release documents that the Oklahoma official has requested as part of a civil investigation. HSUS was given several time extensions but responded with a lawsuit instead of coming clean.

    Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt announced last February that his office would open an investigation into the extreme animal rights organization, which is known for selling overpriced jewelry to misled pet lovers. A statement from the Attorney General’s office explained:

    The concern is that the HSUS projects heart-wrenching imagery of puppies and kittens in solicitations in order to extract donations from unsuspecting Oklahomans who believe their donations are going to help local animal shelters, but instead, their hard-earned money may go to high-powered lobbying and special interest campaigns that are determined to shape state and federal legislation that would harm farmers, ranchers and other Oklahomans.

    Not long after the announcement of the investigation, HSUS and its co-defendants, including two HSUS employees, agreed to pay $15.75 million to settle a long-fought lawsuit filed against them in New York under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act—a law that’s been used to go after the mob.

    The settlement prompted Charity Navigator, a charity evaluator, to remove its rating of HSUS and replace it with a “donor advisory.”

    As HumaneWatch has documented, only 1 percent of HSUS’s budget is given to local shelters. Following that revelation, public support for HSUS declined.

    If it has nothing to hide, HSUS should stop stonewalling and cooperate fully with Attorney General Pruitt’s investigation into its fundraising practices. Of course, it’s likely that a group that paid millions to settle a federal racketeering, fraud and bribery lawsuit has plenty it wants to keep under wraps.



    February 18, 2014 – AG Pruitt announces investigation into fundraising efforts of HSUS. (more information)

    March 12, 2014 – AG Pruitt releases a consumer alert regarding national animal groups such as HSUS. (more information)

    May 15, 2014 – HSUS and its co-defendants, including two HSUS employees, agree to pay $15.75 million to settle a long-fought racketeering lawsuit filed against them. (more information)

    June 17, 2014 – Charity Navigator removes its rating of HSUS and replaces it with a “donor advisory”. (more information)

    July 22, 2014 – AG Pruitt announces that he has issued subpoenas to HSUS. This comes following HSUS fundraiser Quadriga Art paying $25 million to settle claims of misconduct involving solicitations for veterans charities. (more information)

    January 21, 2015 – HSUS sues AG Pruitt in an attempt to stonewall his ongoing investigation into their deceptive fundraising practices. (more information)

    Posted on 01/26/2015 at 4:23 pm by HumaneWatch Team.

    Topics: MainThe Best of HumaneWatch


  • The Pet Shelter Wheel of Misfortune

    The misnamed “Humane Society” of the United States only gives 1% of its budget to local groups to help them shelter pets. That fact is the subject of our new video, the “Pet Shelter Wheel of Misfortune.” Recently we went out and about in Washington, D.C.—including right out front of HSUS’s headquarters—in our quest to inform people about the deception.

    Watch the video below. When you’re done, sign our petition to ask Discover to stop giving money to the deceptive and wasteful “Humane Society” of the United States. Oh, and give to your local shelter.

    Posted on 12/03/2014 at 4:00 pm by Humane Watch Team.

    Topics: MainThe Best of HumaneWatch


  • Unpacking the HSUS Gravy Train (2014 Edition)

    The 2013 tax return of the deceptively named Humane Society of the United States, which was just filed this week, tells a familiar story: While dogs and cats fill up HSUS’s ads, the organization gives little money to pet shelters while wasting a pretty penny. (Read our report on HSUS’s spending, state-by-state.)

    Only about 1%—one penny on the dollar—of HSUS’s $120 million budget is grants going to support pet sheltering. Local humane societies, despite having a similar name to HSUS, are not affiliated with HSUS, a common misconception among the public and HSUS donors.

    Some good news is that HSUS’s contributions from the public were essentially stagnant. Based on HSUS’s annual report—which was released in May—it appears that general contributions to HSUS are down, but this is offset by an increase in bequests. Do your parents or grandparents have HSUS in their will by accident?

    Here are some key points of what we’ve seen:

    • HSUS sent $26 million to the Caribbean and Central America—just as it did in 2012. HSUS has now sent over $50 million to the Caribbean in the past two years. In 2012 most of this money wound up at Cayman Island and Bermuda funds—in other words, HSUS is putting tax shelters ahead of pet shelters.
    • HSUS spent $42 million on fundraising-related expenses—35% of its budget. In other words, HSUS is a “mail mill” or “factory fundraiser,” wasting millions on direct mail calendars—even socks—in an effort to simply raise more money.
    • HSUS’s membership magazine only went to 562,000 people in 2013—up only 3% from 2012. While HSUS claims to represent 11 million Americans—presumably counting every last Twitter follower, real or fake—the membership magazine circulations shows that HSUS is inflating its true constituency.
    • HSUS put $2.5 million into its pension plan—more than it made in grants to support pet sheltering. Pensions get more than pet shelters at HSUS.
    • HSUS CEO Wayne “I don’t love animals” Pacelle pulled in over $400,000 in total compensation. Overall, HSUS spent $44.3 million on salaries and compensation.
    • HSUS paid $7.7 million to Quadriga Art, a direct mail firm that this year agreed to pay $25 million to settle an investigation by the New York Attorney General. Quadriga was exposed by CNN in 2012 in connection with charity scams. Quadriga was HSUS’s second-largest independent contractor in 2013 and HSUS has paid about $40 million to Quadriga over the past several years.
    • HSUS declared over $5 million in lobbying expenses, including $600,000 that went to a Maine front group pushing a ballot measure to restrict bear hunting. That measure failed earlier this month.

    Overall it’s a picture of waste and—thankfully—stagnation at HSUS. With the holiday fundraising season around the corner, we’ll do our part to help Americans understand that HSUS is an inefficient and deceptive organization. You can help too by spreading the word to those you know. For all you know, a family member could be giving to HSUS.

    Posted on 11/20/2014 at 3:51 pm by Humane Watch Team.

    Topics: MainThe Best of HumaneWatch


  • New Report: HSUS Uses Crises for Financial Gain

    LootingWe’re at the tail end of hurricane season, and no major storms have hit the U.S. this year. That’s good for people—and animals.

    It was two years ago that Hurricane Sandy slammed New York and New Jersey, causing mega-damage to people and putting animals in harm’s way. Many charities showed up, including the Humane Society of the United States. But did you know that HSUS kept about two-thirds of the money it raised following the storm, only spending one-third on Sandy relief?

    Unfortunately, this isn’t the only time HSUS has taken advantage of goodwill following a crisis. Today we’re releasing a new report called “Looting in the Aftermath” that documents how HSUS has abused high-profile events for monetary gain. That includes:

    • Raising money after dogfighter Michael Vick’s arrest on the promise to “care for” the dogs seized—despite not having custody of the animals;
    • Raising money off of dogfighting victim “Fay”—who was not in HSUS’s custody;
    • Raising money after the 2010 Haiti earthquake because “Haiti’s animal survivors desperately need care”—despite admitting elsewhere that “no animal issues are here that are related to the event of the earthquake.”

    Unfortunately, there are more than these. Read the full report to learn more.

    If a disaster or other high-profile event occurs, expect the Humane Society of the United States to try to take advantage of it. You can help by wisely choosing a charity that has a good track record. If you want to help animals after a disaster, that means helping local groups on the ground, or national groups with good records, such as American Humane Association’s Red Star or Red Rover. HSUS may claim that “We’re There”—but they’re there to take photography and pad their bank accounts.

    Posted on 10/29/2014 at 8:12 pm by Humane Watch Team.

    Topics: MainThe Best of HumaneWatch


  • HSUS Fundraisers Reach $25 Million Settlement with Attorney General

    QuadrigaHSUSThe Humane Society of the United States has long engaged in misleading and deceptive fundraising, using the pictures of needy cats and dogs to pull on Americans’ heartstrings while only giving 1% of its money to pet shelters. Now one of the top fundraising firms used by HSUS—if not the top fundraising firm—is being held to account in a major way for some of its other activities. Quadriga Art, a direct-mail firm that HSUS has paid over $20 million in the past few years, and a second firm have come to a $25 million settlement with the New York Attorney General over deceptive fundraising for veterans causes.

    New York opened an inquiry into Quadriga after CNN reported that Quadriga was keeping the vast majority of the money raised on behalf of the Disabled Veterans National Foundation. At that time, DVNF had reportedly raised $55.9 million since 2007, yet paid Quadriga more than $60 million between 2008 and 2010. Quadriga was able to (ab)use a contract that allowed it to assume the cost of a fundraising campaign and keep the money that came in.

    New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman summed up the case: “Taking advantage of a popular cause and what was an unsophisticated start-up charity, these direct-mail companies used cleverly designed but misleading mailers to raise tens of millions of dollars in donations from generous Americans, nearly all of which went to the fundraisers and their agents, and left the charity nearly $14 million in debt.”

    With HSUS, it’s somewhat similar—except that it’s a charity taking advantage of a popular cause. HSUS direct mail suckers people in with images of pets but does not contain a disclaimer that the organization doesn’t run any pet shelters or that it isn’t affiliated with local humane societies. Further, about half of the money spent by HSUS goes to overhead, according to charity watchdogs, and that includes solicitation campaigns where the fundraiser keeps all or almost all of the money raised.

    Interestingly, a second fundraiser that was part of the settlement, Convergence Direct Marketing, also has ties to HSUS. The firm is run by Craig Irwin, son of former HSUS CEO Paul Irwin, who left in 2004. The elder Irwin had his own scandals at HSUS. Irwin reportedly had a vacation home in Maine renovated on HSUS’s dime. Irwin may have introduced the head of another scam charity, SPCA International, to Quadriga Art. And in 2008, The New York Times reported that a contractor hired to do software development for HSUS had significant ties to Internet porn. (That didn’t fly well with Irwin’s new employer, the American Bible Society, where Irwin had continued to work with this businessman.) The Times reported that this fellow with ties to Internet porn also hired Irwin’s son Christopher, though it’s not clear for how long.

    According to Craig Irwin’s official bio with Convergence, he has “worked with” HSUS along with the Disabled Veterans National Foundation. So that makes two HSUS fundraisers who have been held to account. Kudos to the New York Attorney General for seeing this case through. With the Oklahoma Attorney General announcing an inquiry of HSUS in March, HSUS has got to be sweating.

    Posted on 07/02/2014 at 1:48 pm by Humane Watch Team.

    Topics: MainThe Best of HumaneWatch


  • 6 Deceptions Spun by the Humane Society of the U.S.

    (Wayne Pinocchio gifIf you’d like to see a version with cat and dog GIFs, head over to Buzzfeed:

    Wayne Pacelle, fat-cat CEO of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), deceives animal lovers in order to line the pockets of his organization. HSUS raises over $100 million a year from the public using ads showing needy dogs and cats, and yet it only gives 1% of that money to pet shelters. HSUS isn’t affiliated with local humane societies, but it benefits from name confusion. HSUS also doesn’t run any pet shelters of its own. Instead, the money HSUS raises is used to fund a radical, PETA-like agenda.

    How far does the deception go? Here are six things said by Wayne “Pinocchio” Pacelle.

    1: “You can help save the life of one desperate animal right now.”

    So says Pacelle in an HSUS ad. But the Humane Society of the United States does not run any pet shelters, and gets a “C-minus” grade from CharityWatch for spending so much of its budget on overhead. That $19-a-month donation that HSUS asks for is too often simply plowed into more fundraising campaigns.

    2: “We’ve never said we run animal shelters”

    Pacelle uses this excuse when he’s challenged about HSUS’s deceptive practices. It’s a dodge: HSUS certainly implies it runs animal shelters with its ads full of dogs and cats.

    3: “[Michael Vick] would do a good job as a pet owner.”

    Pacelle said this in 2010 after HSUS had received $50,000 from Vick’s then-employer, the Philadelphia Eagles. Vick had just been released from prison on dogfighting-related charges about 18 months before. Did anyone else in America think that Vick would be a good pet owner?

    4: “Our supporters, know exactly what The HSUS does and what we stand for”

    Pacelle has admitted “I think there’s occasional confusion with donors.” He can’t have it both ways. Polling shows that most HSUS donors think their money is going to help shelter pets, yet only 1% of the money HSUS raises goes to pet shelters. When informed of this the vast majority of donors think HSUS is misleading.

    5: “The HSUS’s program expenses as a percentage of total expenses were 78 percent”

    That’s true only by counting direct-mail costs—which add up to tens of millions of dollars—as “program spending” through a misleading accounting practice.

    6: “In the end, no donor dollars from The HSUS will go to Feld [Entertainment].”

    In May 2014 HSUS, along with co-defendants, settled a racketeering lawsuit for $15.75 million filed by Feld Entertainment over alleged illegal witness payments, bribery, and obstruction of justice. Wayne Pacelle promised HSUS donors that insurance, not their $19-a-month donations, would cover the settlement. There’s one small detail that Pacelle omitted: HSUS was denied insurance and did not have coverage for the settlement. (Donor funds will also be used to cover the increase in HSUS’s future liability insurance premiums.)

    Bonus: “I don’t love animals or think they are cute”; “There’s no special bond between me and other animals”; “I don’t want to see another cat or dog born

    Actually, these may well be true. Pacelle said these things before he went to work for the “mainstream” HSUS, back in a time when he could freely speak his mind. Now that he has to hide his real agenda since donations (and his $400,000 compensation) are on the line, he has an incentive to be much less open.

    Posted on 05/22/2014 at 3:45 pm by Humane Watch Team.

    Topics: MainThe Best of HumaneWatch


  • 13 Things You Didn’t Know About HSUS

    MrWhiskers1) HSUS scams Americans out of millions of dollars through manipulative and deceptive advertising. An analysis of HSUS’s TV fundraising appeals that ran between January 2009 and September 2011 determined that more than 85 percent of the animals shown were cats and dogs. However, HSUS doesn’t run a single pet shelter and only gives 1 percent of the money it raises to pet shelters, and it has spent millions on anti-farming and anti-hunting political campaigns.

    2) Six Members of Congress have called for a federal investigation of HSUSIn April 2011, six Congressmen wrote the IRS Inspector General showing concerns over HSUS’s attempts to influence public policy, which they believe has “brought into question [HSUS’s] tax-exempt 501(c)(3) status.”

    3) HSUS’s own donors feel deceived. A 2012 poll of over 1,000 self-identified HSUS donors found that 80 percent of HSUS’s own donors think the group “misleads people into thinking that it supports local humane societies and pet shelters.” A second poll, conducted last year, found that 84% of donors think “HSUS misleads people into thinking that it supports local humane societies and pet shelters.”

    4) HSUS receives poor charity-evaluation marks. CharityWatch (formerly the American Institute of Philanthropy) has issued several “D” ratings for HSUS in recent years over the group’s wasteful spending practices. CharityWatch , finding that HSUS spends as little as 50 percent of its budget on its programs. CharityWatch now gives HSUS a “C-minus” grade for being slightly less wasteful. Additionally, the 2013 Animal People News Watchdog Report discovered that HSUS spends 55 percent of its budget on overhead costs.

    5) HSUS regularly contributes more to its own pension plan than it does to pet shelters. An analysis of HSUS’s tax returns determined that HSUS funneled $16.3 million to its executive pension plan between 1998 and 2009—over $1 million more than HSUS gave to pet shelters during that period.

    6) The pet sheltering community believes HSUS misleads Americans. According to a nationally representative poll of 400 animal shelters, rescues, and animal control agencies, 71 percent agree thatHSUS misleads people into thinking it is associated with local animal shelters.” Additionally, 79 percent agree that HSUS is “a good source of confusion for a lot of our donors.”

    7) While it raises money with pictures of cats and dogs, HSUS has an anti-meat vegan agenda. Speaking to an animal rights conference in 2006, HSUS’s then vice president for farm animal issues stated that HSUS’s goal is to “get rid of the entire [animal agriculture] industry” and that “we don’t want any of these animals to be raised and killed [for food].”

    8) Given the massive size of its budget, HSUS does relatively little hands-on care for animals. While HSUS claims it “saves” more animals than any other animal protection group in the US, most of the “care” HSUS provides is in the form of spay-neuter assistance.  In fact, local groups that operate on considerably slimmer budgets, such as the Houston SPCA, provide direct care to more animals than HSUS does.

    9) HSUS’s CEO has said that convicted dogfighting kingpin Michael Vick “would do a good job as a pet owner.” Following Vick’s release from prison, HSUS has helped “rehabilitate” Michael Vick’s public image. Of course, a $50,000 “grant” from the Philadelphia Eagles didn’t hurt.

    10) HSUS’s senior management includes a former spokesman for the Animal Liberation Front (ALF), a criminal group designated as “terrorists” by the FBI. HSUS president Wayne Pacelle hired John “J.P.” Goodwin in 1997, the same year Goodwin described himself as “spokesperson for the ALF” while he fielded media calls in the wake of an ALF arson attack at a California meat processing plant. In 1997, when asked by reporters for a reaction to an ALF arson fire at a farmer’s feed co-op in Utah (which nearly killed a family sleeping on the premises), Goodwin replied, “We’re ecstatic.”

    11) HSUS’s senior management includes others who have voiced support for terroristic acts. HSUS chief policy officer Mike Markarian has written that “A perfect example of effective rebellion is an Animal Liberation Front raid on a laboratory.” HSUS food policy director Matt Prescott, meanwhile, has written that “I also believe in the actions of the ALF and other such groups.” (Prescott is a former PETA activist.)

    12) HSUS is being sued under federal racketeering law. Feld Entertainment sued HSUS and two of its in-house lawyers under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act for allegedly participating in a scheme to pay a witness who lied in court. Court documents indicate that HSUS sent at least four payments to one of the witness-paying vehicles in the alleged scheme.

    13) CharityWatch found that HSUS violated IRS rules for three years. The watchdog group pointed out in its Fall 2013 issue that HSUS had improperly inflated its revenue. HSUS has since revised its revenue figures.

    Posted on 03/28/2014 at 3:21 pm by Humane Watch Team.

    Topics: MainThe Best of HumaneWatch


  • HSUS Has Quietly Sent $26 Million to the Caribbean

    DiggingDogA sharp-eyed reader pointed us to something buried in HSUS’s latest tax return, covering the year 2012. On page 32, HSUS states that it made an “investment” total $25.7 million in the “Central American and the Caribbean” region. We went back to HSUS’s 2009, 2010, and 2011 tax returns. There were no reported investments of any kind abroad.

    Strange? We think so.

    Where exactly is this $26 million “invested”? It turns out HSUS funneled mega-bucks to several funds located in the Cayman Islands. You know, the secretive place where secretive people stuff their secretive money. Bond villain-type stuff.

    So where did HSUS donor money go? According to its 990-T and supplemental forms:

    • $500,000 to Ascend Partners Fund I, L.P., a Cayman hedge fund
    • $253,000 to BKM Holdings (Cayman) Ltd.
    • $8 million to Fore Multi Strategy Offshore Fund, Ltd., in the Caymans
    • $5 million to Hayman Capital Offshore Partners, L.P. in Bermuda
    • $6.7 million invested in Fir Tree International Value Fund in the Caymans

    We did a little more digging into these groups, which appear to mostly be hedge funds. But why would a U.S. charity be putting $26 million in the Caribbean? (And the figures above only add up to a little over $20 million—where’s the other $5 million?)

    HSUS is a non-profit. It’s not in the business of investing money in hedge funds to make a profit. It’s in the business—according to its ads—of saving animals now. Now means right away—not in 10 years when HSUS may have made a loss on its Caribbean investments. (HSUS reports in its 990-T losing $61,000 in 2012 on various partnerships.)

    The bottom line: It’s hard to save animals when you’ve parked $25 million offshore.

    There’s a reason people write “H$U$.” It’s because money seems to come first for the cynics and the bean-counters running HSUS. And it’s one more reason to give to your local shelter directly, not to a questionable national organization that might stick your donations in the Caymans.

    Posted on 03/19/2014 at 5:18 pm by Humane Watch Team.

    Topics: MainThe Best of HumaneWatch


  • HSUS is Not Your Local Humane Society

    There’s widespread confusion among the public about the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and local humane societies. Public polling has found that people are widely confused about what HSUS is and isn’t. And surveys have found that HSUS donors are confused. Even HSUS’s CEO admits this—at least, privately.

    Here are the facts:

    We’re releasing a new report showing just how little HSUS gives to your state in terms of grants to support pet sheltering. You can read it here, and we’ve boiled the numbers down to a state-by-state basis on this chart. Feel free to print this and disseminate it as you see fit at trade shows, events, and so forth.

    Update: Where do funds go? See here for an idea.


    Posted on 12/23/2013 at 2:53 pm by Humane Watch Team.

    Topics: Financial DocumentsMainThe Best of HumaneWatchVisual HSUS