It’s clear that our campaign to expose the deceptive “Humane Society” of the United States has been successful. We have one main message: Only 1 percent of the money given to HSUS winds up at local pet shelters. Most people—including HSUS donors—don’t know this, and it’s due to HSUS’s deceptive fundraising chock full of cats and dogs that funds other things—attacking farmers, pushing a PETA-like agenda, buying cheap direct-mail gifts, etc.
Our success is in the numbers: HSUS’s contributions declined by millions in 2013 as people learned the truth (and, hopefully, gave to their local pet shelters instead, helping needy dogs and cats).
Now, predictably feeling threatened by the truth, HSUS has launched a new website to answer some criticisms about the organization (as of this writing, though, it doesn’t address the Oklahoma Attorney General’s investigation of HSUS, Charity Navigator’s Donor Advisory against HSUS, or CharityWatch’s “C-minus” grade of HSUS, or a whole host of other things). With tens of millions of dollars on the line from a group whose income relies on people being deceived, it’s no surprise that HSUS is once again misleading the public. Let’s debunk each of HSUS’s attempts to defend itself.
HSUS’s claim: “DECEPTION #1: The HSUS doesn’t run local animal shelters, and gives less than 1% of its budget to supporting them.”
Our response: This isn’t deception—it’s true. The deception is HSUS ads full of dogs and cats that trick people into thinking their donations will primarily help pets and that many people assume that their local “humane society” is linked to HSUS. This fact is well documented via surveys of HSUS’s own donors and the public. 84% of donors think “HSUS misleads people into thinking that it supports local humane societies and pet shelters.”
HSUS’s claim: “DECEPTION #2: The HSUS is against farming.”
Our response: Let’s see—HSUS’s top leadership is vegan. HSUS’s CEO instituted a “vegan only” office policy for events. The guys who run HSUS’s farm campaign are vegans and former PETA flacks. HSUS’s food policy director designed a campaign comparing farms to Nazi concentration camps. An HSUS VP said the organization wants “to get rid of the entire [animal agriculture] industry.” HSUS uses its resources to obsessively promote vegan recipes and foods. Are we really supposed to believe that HSUS is for using animals for food when it is against ice cream trucks for kids? This is another “deception” that isn’t a deception at all.
(Side note: We don’t say HSUS is “against farming.” This is just a straw man argument. HSUS loves farming soy for fake-meat products. We say HSUS is against animal farming.)
HSUS’s claim: “DECEPTION #3: The HSUS was forced to pay millions of dollars in a federal racketeering lawsuit.”
Our response: It’s not “deception” if it’s true. In May HSUS and other animal rights extremists settled a federal racketeering, bribery, and fraud lawsuit for $15.75 million. According to HSUS’s most recent financial statement, it paid for almost $6 million of that.
The real deception here is HSUS’s continued use of the misleading line that no donor money will pay for the settlement. HSUS’s insurance company denied it coverage for this matter years ago and the settlement was paid in May—and it wasn’t paid with Monopoly money.
By the way, let’s not forget that Wayne Pacelle himself signed at least one check used in the alleged witness-payment scheme.
HSUS’s claim: “DECEPTION #4: The HSUS socks away money in Caribbean hedge funds.”
Our response: Er…HSUS does sock money away in Caribbean hedge funds. Over the last two years, HSUS has put more than $50 million into funds in the Caribbean, according to its tax returns. Why does HSUS feel the need to put donor money in a place known for its lack of transparency? Why can’t HSUS spend that money now to solve problems—not investing it to earn a return? (And, HSUS’s most recent 990-T shows a net loss from its various partnerships.)
HSUS’s claim: “DECEPTION #5: The HSUS puts millions of dollars into pension plans and overpays its staff.”
Our response: Um, once again, HSUS does put millions into its pension plan every year, including $2.5 million in 2013 alone. And we generally use this as part of a comparative—HSUS puts more money into its pension plan than it gives to pet shelters—as a way of showing the public just how rotten this group’s core is.
As for overpaying its staff, look at the nice perks that HSUS CEO Wayne Pacelle gets. Here’s a guy with no credentials in animal care who has said fruitcake things like “I don’t love animals or think they are cute” and “I don’t want to see another cat or dog born,” and yet is using donor dollars to promote his personal brand as the guy who speaks for animals and gets paid $400,000 a year. He sends himself on a 100-city book tour to promote himself. Even now, he’s off in California doing a little tour to celebrate the enactment of an anti-egg law. (How many times will he swing through Napa?)
HSUS would be better off simply saying it’s sorry for ripping people off and promising to do better—but being honest won’t bring in $100 million a year.