How Little Does This “Humane Society” Give to Pet Shelters in Your State?

You’ve probably seen ads from the Humane Society of the United States: Slow, sad music and pictures of needy dogs and cats that your donation will help—supposedly. In reality, these ads are perpetuating a massive deception on animal lovers. Only 1% of the money raised by the Humane Society of the United States is given to local pet shelters, and HSUS runs zero pet shelters of its own. Despite calling itself a “humane society,” it is not related to the numerous humane societies in towns and counties across America. Thanks to name confusion and misleading ads, however, HSUS collects millions from unsuspecting donors and local shelters get shortchanged.

How little of the money raised by HSUS goes to pet shelters in your state? Click the map below, which was made using data from HSUS’s tax return to determine the amount of grant money going to help local shelters care for pets. And if you’re wondering where the money does go, here’s a start: Over $100 million in Caribbean “investments,” a multimillion-dollar bribery lawsuit settlement, and a big fat paycheck for CEO Wayne Pacelle.

US Map HSUS Giving

Posted on 02/04/2016 at 11:27 am by Humane Watch Team.

Topics: Financial DocumentsFundraising & MoneyGovernment Documents


  • MidWestGal

    Contact your Senators/Congress. Have them investigate H$U$. H$U$ needs to lose their tax exempt status and be shut down.

    • Vicki

      so does PETA

      • mayberry

        PETA KILLS!!! The Animal Rescue Corp comes when called and SAVES lives!!! PLEASE DO NOT SUPPORT PETA IN ANY WAY, PETA KILLS!!! PETA Killed over 88% of the Shelter animal last year!!!

        • Vicki

          see my above response to Louis Walker

        • Madalina Ammiano


      • Louis Walker

        PETA is hypocrisy personified. They rake in millions on their advertising and celebrity endorsements but operate kill shelters, do nothing to support local no-kill shelters, and have been cited for the cruel conditions in the shelters they DO run. I wouldn’t give a cent to that bunch of self-entitled dimwits. They’re the Scientology of animal “protection”.

        • Vicki

          yeah. that was my point. i was agreeing with MidWestGal that certain “organizations” need to lose their tax exempt status and be shut down.

    • Barb Aucoin

      And The United Way and all so-called “cancer research” groups. Especially all buildings (including shabby mobile homes) that claim to be a “church” and every person who says they’re a “pastor”

    • bigtony8

      Here is how to find who your US Congressman is….

  • Susan Beals

    You have this labeled as coming from the 2015 tax return. Pretty sure that is a typo. The most recent return filed is the 2014.

    • ABall

      Hmmmm….I filed my 2015 last week and a customer of mine told me he got his refund today

    • Susan Beals

      HSUS typically does not file their tax returns until the last day of the last extension which for the 2014 return was probably 9/15/15 for them if they are on a calendar year. So don’t expect to see their 2015 numbers until late in 2016.

  • Pam T

    So, why aren’t they investigated to find out why they don’t give more money?

  • Robert Crutchfield

    I have heard about this so OFTEN. Why can’t or doesn’t the government take any ACTIONS against this obvious SCAM?!!!!!!

    • whoselineisitanyway

      Because they’re on the dole.

    • Andy

      Cause do you really think the government is honest.
      They take hard earned money from us everyday.

    • Truthbug

      Placing your trust in “the government” for real corrective action almost always leads to disappointment and/or more problems.Both places are populated by the same kind of people. Direct personal action as suggested by others here in this forum is far more likely to result in improvement.

  • My Freedoms

    The government doesn’t do anything because they have their hand out getting huge pay offs to pass these communist laws that HSUS supports and forces on society. Someone needs to find out and post how much money HSUS spends on lobbyists to bribe our elected politicians. That’s the $$$$ I want to see.

  • MisterCadet

    Not only does HSUS intentionally divert countless millions of dollars from America’s pet shelters, those TV infomercials actually discourage people from adopting from shelters. The No Kill movement is all about making pet shelters inviting environments where robust efforts are made to find forever homes for dogs and cats in their care. Shelters will always be needed, but as temporary homes for animals in need, not places where they are sent to die. Euthanasia will always be needed as well, but not needless killing and excuses for killing. Shelter misery is HSUS’s longest running fundraising scam. It is not in their best interest to change the status quo. That is why HSUS has fought shelter reform efforts and legislation.

    Because HSUS makes big money graphically depicting pet shelters as houses of suffering and death, animal lovers with sensitive hearts will find it painful to walk into a sea of faces begging for relief. And pet stores and breeders will be able to successfully compete. That helps HSUS pour more money into it’s puppy mill war chest. The ASPCA, with it’s “shelter porn” TV ads, is guilty too. Shame on all of them.

    • Karen Oliver-Paull

      You’re right and I refuse to donate to either them. I prefer to donate to local shelters where I can see what is going on. Our local Humane Society Shelter gets nothing from HSUS. They have a no kill shelter in a state (SC) that spends next to nothing on shelters.

      • DaveA

        I’ve gone to buying pet food for the No Kill shelters! Every other month, I buy online, and give it to them. After talking to some volunteers to see what is needed, I send Kitten food! Chewy’s is an online supplier, and when they make mistakes shipping, they ask you to donate it to a shelter.

    • Candy Hannan

      You are spot on!

    • marsham618

      I guess it backfires on me because I find their commercials so revolting that I cannot stand to watch them. I have also heard that very little of their donations actually go to rescuing animals. I also cannot stand any charity that really plays on my emotions. I feel that if they stoop to that, there must be something wrong. I believe that supporting local no-kill shelters is the way. I have rescued kittens from the local “pound” and rescued them from the side of the highway. We all can do our part.

    • Peter Ford

      My God, I’m shocked if what your saying is true. But am ALWAYS sceptical of animals right’s and donations with actors saying,, we’re for the animals,, but as with the one where the singer says, it must be terrible to witness finding these animals in this condition,, they themselves never do anything hands on, and probably get paid to do the commercial? I’m disgusted. These people that live fat lives off the heart breaking pictures and commercials should be boiled in animal waste. I cant afford to give, but am taking care of 13 cats that we’ve had spayed or neutered and that no-one wants. If these millionaires would fund camps or locations for animals to live out their lives with decency I’d be truly thankful and give them an reward of thanks. But they don’t,, for the most part. I’m so sick of supposed charities that spend tons on fancy offices and frills,, and exorbitant saleries, but give hardly any to the actual people or animals. It makes donating an almost hated desire.

  • teriquajones

    I didn’t know they had any shelters that the corporate HQ actually funded. Any local shelters I’ve known of have been supported by the community. Do they pay the shelter managers?

  • Dog Lover

    Good job on this info graphic. Wayne cannot hide any longer using his good looks and charm and winning smile.

  • Ray Grant

    Why do people still give? Give locally so you can see what is happening with your money.

  • DJ49

    Well, they won’t be getting any more of my money.

  • Karen Oliver-Paull

    I’m totally surprised NC spends as much as it does! Quite frankly, I’m surprised SC spends as much as it does. I wish states would give tax credits to people for getting their pets spayed or neutered. I think if they did, they would a) have fewer animals going into shelters in the first place and b) by having fewer animals in shelters, they could afford the tax credits.

  • cellertson

    This freaking burns my backside.. particularly when I am such an avid animal rescue supporter.. Hmm need to pay more attention to this! I guess my next question who can we trust to save the animals besides ourselves. Animal rescuers can only take care of so many! Trust me, I have several.

  • Jacqueline Martin

    NEVER give a dime to the HSUS!!

  • Yanela

    Why don’t we all just give directly to our local shelters? Then we will know EXACTLY where the money is spent. I never give to organizations whose sole purpose is to collect money for charities. Give directly to the organization in need and bypass the money grabbers.

    • WiddoMouse

      This is exactly what I do. I then know for sure how my money, food, litter, etc is being used. I can’t watch the HSUS and ASPCA tv ads. They make me physically ill. When they come on I immediately change channels or hit mute and look away.

    • Whitney

      I never understood why people give to organazations. They all seem to get under fire one time or another. I say just give directly to the place you want to help?

      • Shotgunner 849

        Just imagine how much money they’re given goes into the commercials they make trying to lure more people into giving them more money!

    • Barb Aucoin

      I’ve been saying that for decades. The United Way is the biggest scam of all!! If you want to donate $10 or $10,000 to your favorite worthy cause, hand it directly to the person in charge of that shelter, that hospital, that hospice, that local Boy/Girl Scout Council, etc., etc. That’s the only way you know that your generosity will 100% help that worthy cause, not pay for the National headquarters staff’s salaries and trips.

    • John Stires

      As a volunteer to a local shelter I know of the extreme passion and dedication to animals that goes on here (Rancho Coastal Humane Society). It’s outrageous that the USHS exploits the exploited.

  • Candy Frye Helin


  • kay

    i quit contributing to them long ago. its said these big shelters give so little money to the animals.

  • Joan English

    Very Disappointed!

  • Deby Morgan

    Yes this IS disgusting and people should also do their research on PETA. PETA is in no way, shape, or form an advocate for animal rights! Check it out folks…these organizations are in it for the cash and could give a shit less about the animals.

    • cellertson

      Deby: I know what you are saying, and can’t argue the point, but they still do a measure of good by the exposure of atrocities if nothing else. I have seen it myself, and I’ve been around animals all my life. I do not belong to PETA, and rattle their cage from time to time when I let them know it (they are known extremists..), but I still think they provide a service to the animals which is better than none at all, despite the administrators getting paid handsomely for it. In that regard, I agree with Pam. What we all need to be doing is directing our efforts to reconfigure the laws so that these organizations do what they are supposed to be doing and what they say and/or imply they are doing. They skirt around it by how their bylaws are written; how the law leaves loop holes for charities in general sometimes (as in politics..which are exploited..). We are all aware of so many of the big charities (Goodwill comes to mind..whose CEO makes more annually than the president of the United States I believe.) getting away with their rather opaque operational activities. We also need to work harder on accountability of being animal owners, and I believe in much harsher sentences for blatant abuse of any animal. You have to admit that without HSUS and PETA as well as the use of social media, that many if not most of these cases would go unnoticed except perhaps for a local blurb where someone barely gets their hands slapped, and is only being broadcast because they don’t have enough other tintillating news to project. To make matters worse, you throw in the states that have the unmitigated gall to try to make it illegal for anyone to report (for example farm) abuses, and it makes you wonder what the world is coming to! Exposure makes he difference in many cases, and those do serve as a deterrent..for example the horrible man who picked cattle up by the hipbones with a loader while they were still alive! It was hideous! Only undercover video exposure revealed what those poor animals were experiencing. Everyone who saw it wanted to go through their screens and get their hands around the guy’s neck! It absolutely defied the imagination to think people can be so cruel! Makes you wonder how he treated his wife and kids if he had any. He was apprehended, and was sentenced to 3 years in jail if I remember right. Couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy. Hope they put him in general population at the penitentiary.. You get the point though. What I tell people about any of those organizations is to support the issues on an individual basis..Issues you would support with or without them. You don’t have to belong to them to do that, but we all DO need to do more followup on the issues we are supporting, to see that they follow through. Then if they do media works both ways. Any help at all that the animals get is invaluable..I have seen it work. The problem is the uncontrolled breeding by both feral and privately owned animals, and people thinking of animals as chattel rather than the sentient beings they the people who dump their aged and debilitated family pets at shelters and walk away, leaving them traumatized and grieving! I believe that education is one of the big issues here, but we have to be able to offer them an alternative, or it won’t happen. We can’t pay for everyone’s pet, but making them aware of ways to care for them, giving more clinics, etc., might be of help. Either that, or they need to stay the hell away from animals.. Humans are very egotistical.. when they start to look bad for their actions, they begin to notice..because it changes their opinion of themselves one way or the other. If they’re going to give little Johnny or Susie a cute little puppy (kitty, bird, guinea pig, bunny, whatever), then they should be responsible for what happens to it..the same way they are responsible for that child..

      • DaveA

        I agree with you especially about Goodwill. Here is a person who gets everything for free, then sells it, giving himself, and family members a very good wage. He in turn gives the less fortunate (handicap) a minimum wage. I don’t know who is worse, them or The March of Dimes!

  • Julie Stevens- Cross

    I am curious to find out how much of our donations goes to the ASPCA. I see mass rescued of 50 to 70? Is mgt donation going too the CEO ? I would hope it would be used towards medical Bills, and rehab.

    • Debbie Specht

      ASPCA is not HSUS. SPCA’s actually help and rehome the animals they take in, and many of their people are volunteers!

    • PoFoke

      someone please correct if wrong, but I read somewhere that all monies donated via the SPCA commercials go stricly to the NYC ASPCA.

  • imarancher

    Sickening. They are abusers in their own rights.

  • Stu Seashols

    Local run shelters or county pounds are the places to help!

  • Susan Beals

    Yes – but that doesn’t mean they have filed their 2015 return. Like a lot of corporations don’t expect to see their 2015 numbers until late in 2016.

  • jerseydevil
  • Candy Hannan

    That’s why I give directly to the shelter. I always go with my gut that HSUS really gives little to my state of Michigan. Here the CEO gets a huge payout. Sad that the animals suffer because of people like Wayne Pacelle care’s only for himself and not for the welfare of animal’s.
    Like the old saying goes, Every dog will have their day. Yes Wayne you will have your day.

  • Andy

    Yes, donate to your local shelter.
    I have rescued 6 dogs and 3 cats myself .
    Just pick them up on side of road where some heartless SOB just threw them out.
    I’m beginning to think all these big organizations that ask for donations is a big scam.
    We are just filling somebody’s pockets

    • DaveA

      Before I donate anymore, I check out the CEO’s and other workers. If most of the money is going for salaries, then I won’t give to them.

  • DonnaLColeman

    I see Nevada is at the bottom AGAIN

  • Kathy McKinny

    If you hear Sarah Mclachlan singing in the commercial, you KNOW its a scam. The way her voice GRABS at your heart strings NO WONDER they use it relentlessly in their ads.

  • The difference is that Charity Navigator is allowing HSUS to count some fundraising costs as “program expenses.” It’s a misleading accounting gimmick. The real program expense for HSUS is probably closer to 60-65% once you factor that in. CharityWatch (a tougher watchdog) explains more here:

    • cellertson

      Thank you for that information source. Worth looking into.

  • Cap_nbob

    They are the biggest “killers” of all of the shelters. The management gets rich off donations and nearly nothing goes to the actual shelters.

    • PoFoke

      they are an advocacy group, not a shelter…

  • We donate 50 lbs of cat food and 50 lbs of dog food to our local shelter every month. It’s not much, but at least it’s helping our no kill shelter.

    • PoFoke

      actually it is “much” good work!

    • Louis Walker

      That’s 600 lbs of each during the year. Saying it’s “not much” doesn’t give you the credit you deserve. GOOD for you

    • mayberry

      Thank you. All is appreciated!!

  • Mona Mehas

    My state, Indiana, is sad, but great compared to some of the others. Unbelieveable!

  • Irene Friedman

    What do all of you do with the free gifts you get from them? The mugs, labels, socks, umbrellas, etc. I always think I should send in money and “pay” for these items.

    • HopeFaith

      that is all that they seem to spend $ on and that is only to get you do feel like you should send more! Don’t!!

  • JenellYB

    It is not only the money-making scam aspect of HSUS that needs to be made more well known, but the real meaning and agenda of “animal rights.” Too many people are still unaware that AR is NOT about or even related to concern for humane treatment of animals or prevention of animal abuse and cruelty. The AR agenda actually promotes cruelty. The goal is ending all relationship between people and animals. Animals should be “free” from any “interference” from humans. The AR lie is an image of animals living wild and ‘natural’ and ‘free’ in a Disney paradise world of nature. They would end even human intervention in forms of wildlife management and protection.

    There was a near disaster in one of the western states related to wildfires, and an AR-style “horse refuge,” a few months ago, that I wish had been promoted to the public awareness more than it was.
    When the “refuge” where horses run “free” over a large area of land was threatened by spreading wild fires, and the area was being evacuated, the real “meaning” of AR “wild and free without human intervention” was made evident. It meant there was neither intent, concern, or the means by which to evacuate the horses. “Wild and free” means the horses were at the same risk as any other wild life that may be endangered by the fires.

    It may have been fortunate in some ways that the “sanctuary” was spared as wildfires did not reach that area, but, perhaps in another way, unfortunate. Because the horses were not caught in the fires, the story quickly dropped out of the news.

  • cellertson

    Funny you would say that. I was just saying to someone that perhaps we should just deliver dog food to a local shelter directly, rather than negotiable funds that can be redirected. I am also an avid horsewoman, and most of my animals for the past 20 years have been rescues (3 out of 5 which I still own, and have respectively owned for 6-20 years). It costs a ton of money to care for them, and with little actual return except the obvious. That’s why you don’t see me ante’ing up for the donations on all the sites I support morally (petitions, public awareness, etc.). I donate every single month to what I have, and its a LOT! Not counting the tremendous and obvious labor and food bills, there is monthly farrier bills, vet bills, and on and on. Ditto with every dog I’ve had for 30 years (only 4 in that time because they lived so long), so donating even more on top of that is a hardship on a limited budget, but I still feel the compulsion, whether I can or not, and figure I could do the food now and then as I am able to. I also want to address Deby Morgan on PETA below.

  • cellertson

    Wow.. a full third of their budget for their CEO?? Hmm. Keep looking for that gap between the cost of doing business and the actual good they are doing..Sounds like Purcelle is doing alright for himself! These guys no a good gig when they see one, just like any other big business. Compare it to the McDonald House’s CEO and you will get the drift. (I think he serves free or very cheap..). If these organizations are not being transparent with their expenditures, you can always go the Freedom of Information route..

    • 501c3bee

      Umm…0.28% is not 1/3, it’s 1/3 of a percent. And they are transparent–any nonprofit organization with more than $300,000 in revenue is required, by law, to do an audit. They are also required to file a form 990–the tax forms for 501c3s, annually to keep their tax exempt status. The information that lumax428 provided comes directly from the form 990 and is legitimate. Also, if you spend any time at all on the HSUS website, you will realize that they do not claim to support or run shelters in any significant way. They do help those animals on the commercials, just not in the way a local shelter might. Local shelters aren’t normally involved in multi-state dog fighting investigations or disaster response or creating legislation that makes sure animal abuse is considered a crime. 77% of HSUS’ revenue is spent directly on programing to help animals in some way shape or form–that can be disaster response, legal advocacy, mobile veterinary clinics, wildlife support, etc. etc. If you want to support local shelters–that’s fantastic, but not all animal welfare work can be done at the local level. Don’t vilify HSUS because they work on the macro level

      • Joanne L. Thomas

        Correct you are! And, it was the philosophy of my local society to avoid establishing a shelter, as they are often used as a dumping ground for irresponsible pet owners. We worked hard on spaying/neutering programs; fostering; and EDUCATION of humane treatment of animals. All very effective. The strays were drastically reduced.

    • HopeFaith

      3% not 33% which would equal 1/3 pay to CEO per this data

  • cellertson

    I read that HSUS doesn’t even have any shelters of their own. They just do all the “fun” stuff (my words) they get paid handsomely for. I would be interested in the proof about that.

  • deprivedfed

    I have enough animals of my own instead of paying for everyone else’s too!

  • HopeFaith

    SPCA nationally is also not always connected well to the local SPCA’s–at the same time SPCA has a high kill rate too, many no/low kill [for sake of animal suffering only] rescues pull from SPCA shelters on a regular basis

  • Dianna Borsch-Ranum

    Donate to your local shelter and humane Society so you know where your money is going

  • MisterCadet

    You are correct about PETA not paying high salaries and that is a very good thing. PETA also has many high level female staff members. I do not donate to PETA for a variety of reasons, most importantly, Ingrid Newkirk’s bizarre philosophy regarding companion animals. She wants to see dogs and cats phased out because (cats and most dogs) have to eat animal protein to survive. Wayne Pacelle believes the same thing (Newkirk and Pacelle were influenced in this by Peter Singer’s writings) but Newkirk is much more honest about her beliefs. As far as HSUS concentrating on large rescues and disaster relief, the facts do not in any way support HSUS’s claims. HSUS’s entire Emergency Response Team quit in 2009-2010 and it has never been replaced. HSUS has done almost nothing meaningful against dogfighting and the same goes for puppy mills. HSUS’s money goes to (mostly useless and failed) lobbying – grossly violating IRS restrictions on lobbying by 501(c)(3) charities. A huge sum goes to fundraising, marketing, PR, dubious corporate food policy “victories” and countless “campaigns.” Donors would be shocked to see their hard-earned money paying for Wayne Pacelle’s book tours. His newest tome is a vanity project, it isn’t selling and reviews are hard to find. It is one of the most boring and self-glorifying books ever written by an animal advocate. HSUS raises 90% of it’s huge income via fundraising pitches focusing on DOGS and it is currently making a killing off the dog meat industry in Asia and by pretending to help pets in poverty stricken cities in the U.S. Very, very little of their $150 million a year haul ever reaches canines but over $100 million has reached the Caymans (Islands).

  • Steve Merkel

    Were they inspired by the Clinton’s “charity?”

  • SL Abrin

    A cat wandered into my home 20 years ago and I’ve been donating to the welfare of a stray ever since. Of course, he thinks he owns the place.

  • joshzzz

    Disgraceful! Fortunately, I have a media connection and will alert subscribers.

  • Swampmom

    $15.75 Million, and it is readily available. Just not well publicized.

  • Mary Bausum

    Sounds like this is something that needs to be in the hands of, oh, ?Consumer Affairs? Someone regulatory can pursue this somehow. It’s disgusting.

  • 55alive

    I haven’t donated in a very long time because of an incident that happened to my sister and her dog. It opened my eyes to how ineffective this group is and how little money there really is to do anything. There are many organizations that are really just money making machines like this. We all have to do our research when we feel drawn to a cause. There is a local shelter that is run on donations and is very public and I give to that, it has no association with either HSUS or the ASPCA.

  • Truthbug

    There are some significant differences in the circumstances. I suspect you already knew that.

  • Wilbur

    I never give them money, you know why…It’s like that pleading voice to feed the children. They get about two cents of every dollar…BS

  • Heywood

    Please don’t confuse them with the Associated Humane Society here in New Jersey.

  • bigtony8

    This is really terrible. We need to do something instead of just posting angry comments. Please Call your State Representative and/Or Your Congress people. We need both the State Level and Federal Level to pass some type of Law that People would know what their donations are being used for. Also how much they use for the Animals. It shouldn’t be used for a CEO making millions off of us donating . . Here is a site to find your Congress person. Just put in your Zip Code. The Congress can do something about this and they don’t want the Animal lovers to come down on them so hold them accountable and tell them introduce a Bill about Animal Groups or you will hold them accountable.