HSUS’s Inefficient Animal Care

money_drainThe PR flacks for the Humane Society of the United States like to falsely claim that HSUS is the “most effective animal protection organization” in the United States. We know that’s false because HSUS regularly gets “D” and “C-minus” grades from the American Institute of Philanthropy for spending so much of its money on overhead. HSUS spends millions sending out ankle socks and other direct-mail doodads that the group could be using to care for the needy pets in its commercial. And we won’t even get into the $16 million racketeering and bribery settlement from earlier this year.

But nevertheless, HSUS claims to provide more direct care for animals than any other group. HSUS and its affiliate organizations had a combined budget of about $165 million in 2013. And between them, HSUS claims to have cared for about 170,000 animals last year, or a cost of about $1,000 per animal provided “direct care.”

Let’s add a few caveats: It’s unclear what exactly “direct care” means. HSUS doesn’t run a single pet shelter anywhere, so it’s not as if “direct care” simply means long-term care of dogs and cats. Further, it’s unclear whether or not that counts spay-neuters conducted by other groups under the banner of HSUS’s “World Spay Day.” Further, the animals HSUS rescues are often dumped off on other groups for longer-term care and adoption. So for all we know, “direct care” is simply a pat or a head-scratch or short-term transport. (HSUS is a group that paid a witness who lied in federal court, after all, so intellectual honesty isn’t necessarily a major value of the top brass.)

And how does HSUS stack up to other groups? Not well.

But we decided to survey local humane societies to see how many animals they cared for. And we discovered that, conglomerating their efforts, for $162 million they care for over three times more animals than HSUS claims to.

HSUS may raise a lot of money, but that’s because it’s spending a lot of money on fundraising and benefitting from name confusion. If you need a reason to give local, this is it.


Organization Name Budget Animals Helped
Animal Welfare League (Chicago)



SPCA of Texas



Associated Humane Societies (NJ)



Houston SPCA



San Diego Humane Society and SPCA



Louisiana SPCA



Washington Humane Society (DC)



Erie County SPCA (NY)



Michigan Humane Society



Sacramento SPCA



Humane Society of Utah



Denver Dumb Friends League



Humane Society of Missouri



Wisconsin Humane Society



Animal Humane Society (Minnesota)



Arizona Humane Society