The Humane Society of the United States has been busy in Tennessee in recent weeks, desperately lobbying against a proposal to get law enforcement involved more quickly in animal abuse cases. But it hasn’t been particularly busy helping out pet shelters in the state. According to tax records, HSUS made a pitiful $11,000 in grants to hands-on Tennessee pet shelters in 2010 and 2011 to support sheltering. (HSUS raised 23,000 times more money across the country in those years, and it has $37 million parked in hedge funds.)
Now, FOX17 in Nashville has taken notice of how little money HSUS gives to local pet shelters. In a powerful report that aired last night, anchor Stacy Case interviewed local animal groups and reported on the sparse amount of money that HSUS gives to local groups.
The ex-director of the Dickson County Humane Society told FOX17: “I think people give to the HSUS thinking their dollar gets down to the local shelter and I think the HSUS meets their mission in supporting policies, but doesn’t always support the small communities in the U.S.” Meanwhile, Natasha Farmer of Cheatham County Animal Control said of HSUS’s TV ads, “They’re tear jerkers…It gives me more of the impression that they’re helping on a locally communal base.”
These are similar to the sentiments we’ve heard from other local shelter advocates across the country. These groups tirelessly work to save, care for, and house animals with limited resources, and they don’t have the means to do professional campaigns to clear up the name confusion between local humane societies and HSUS.
HSUS doesn’t have that same resource problem. FOX17 found that most of the money HSUS raises is spent on “fundraising, advertising, legislation to protect animals, and the lobbyists to push it through.” That’s especially true with fundraising—HSUS gets a “D” grade from the American Institute of Philanthropy for spending up to half of its budget on overhead and up to 48 cents to raise every dollar. Meanwhile, HSUS constantly runs its deceptive ads in which 85 percent or more of the animals are dogs and cats, giving the impression that donations to HSUS will go primarily to that end.
As for HSUS’s spending on lobbying, FOX 17 reported on the request of six Members of Congress for an IRS investigation of HSUS. Is the IRS investigating? It’s not public information—but the agency reportedly did reply to one Congressman to say it was looking into the matter.
Apparently FOX 17 asked HSUS CEO Wayne Pacelle for three weeks to comment and he wouldn’t. We can’t say we’re surprised that he’s dodging hard-hitting questions.
This is an important report that will help clear up the widespread confusion among donors and the public about HSUS and their local pet shelter. Be sure to watch the piece and share it with your friends.