Meet the 2.6 Million Dollar Man

Many of you, after looking at the evidence, agree with us that there’s a lot of room for improvement at the Humane Society of the United States. HSUS shares shockingly little of its donors’ money with pet shelters. It’s really more concerned with its own animal rights agenda.

HSUS doesn’t have many defenses for these facts. Instead of engaging in open discussion, they just attack their critics. HSUS calls critics defenders of animal abuse. And a favorite tactic of CEO Wayne Pacelle is to act as if opponents are just hacks of “industry”—essentially implying they’re only motivated by money. (The word “industry” turns up 466 times on Pacelle’s blog.)

It’s totally shameless, but that’s the kind of people in charge at HSUS. Where there’s no defense, they simply accuse opponents of profit-mongering. It’s an outrageous smear on animal lovers who simply want accountability and change.

Lately Pacelle has been complaining publicly about the way this blog’s parent organization is run. Unlike HSUS, we operate with remarkable efficiency by contracting out some of our more expensive day-to-day expenses to a management firm, essentially sharing costs with other organizations. Pacelle seems to think this means the people running HumaneWatch are capturing huge sums of money in the process.

This is nonsense. It’s a shame Pacelle, who makes more than a quarter-million dollars a year, doesn’t have a basic understanding of business economics.

Here’s the short course, Wayne: “Revenue” is not the same thing as “income.” Expenses like rent, advertising, web hosting, and human resources get deducted from revenue. And our organization has only about one-fortieth as much as yours.

The long course is a little more complicated, so we’re offering Pacelle his choice of two books, on us. He can choose either Managerial Economics and Business Strategy or the paperback version of The New Totally Awesome Business Book for Kids. The first book is available for the Kindle, but the second one has more pretty pictures.

We’re confident Pacelle already knows a thing or two about income, since he collects so much of it. We’re publishing some new data today that might make some of his employees wonder if the Big Boss is really worth the millions HSUS has paid him.

The HumaneWatch Document Library now contains every tax return HSUS has filed since Wayne Pacelle was hired in 1994. (They were all signed under penalty of perjury.) With three exceptions, these documents list Pacelle’s income and the value of his benefit package. Assuming his salary increases during those three “missing” years were steady (as opposed to sudden), Pacelle personally took more than $2.3 million out of HSUS through the end of 2009.

HSUS hasn’t filed its 2010 tax return yet. But assuming Pacelle didn’t take a pay cut last year, his personal take is now more than $2.6 million.

Will Pacelle’s total HSUS earnings top $3 million by the end of 2011? It’s quite possible.

The chart at left lists his compensation numbers for the last 17 years, including his $269,180 compensation package during 2009. The “starred” numbers in red are our low-ball estimates, based on the compensation totals that appear before and after.

Make no mistake: $2,636,197 is a lot of doggie-dollars. It’s nice work if you can get it. And this doesn’t include the money Pacelle previously earned as Executive Director of The Fund For Animals—a group whose later merger with HSUS he engineered.

It seems clear that Wayne Pacelle is all about the Benjamins, and not so much about the Benjis. Under his leadership, HSUS has been socking $160 million away for future animal rights initiatives and recklessly playing the overseas markets. Meanwhile, hands-on pet shelters are left with table scraps—when HSUS isn’t charging them $25,000 a pop for “evaluations,” that is.

The next time Wayne Pacelle points a finger at his political opponents and claims they’re motivated by money, someone should remind him to check his own pay stub.

Posted on 01/15/2011 at 12:11 am by HumaneWatch Team.

Topics: Document AnalysisFundraising & Money


  • allan jeffries

    I think (since I donate) that I’ve a right to see where my money is going. Just as businesses open the books, the HSUS should do the same. If his salary has gone up 7 times in 16 years, I, personally think that is too much. I don’t begrudge a good living, but where is the ceiling on his salary for an organization set up to fight for the rights of animals? Has he lost his focus? Are animal donations starting to pay for a fancy lifestyle? I hope not. I am donating to help animals, not make someone rich.

  • Laurie Bishop

    Per Charity Navigator, the HSUS CEO’s salary at present (May 2014) is $347,675.

    • john

      how can a person survive on that? Slave labor….

  • Jessica Daily

    does anyone know how much they donate to Pat Quinn in the state of IL? Or how much they donate to Dan Kotowski? They are file legislation in the house to shut down pet stores and the Humane society reps are all behind them.

  • Marty Collins

    1-6-15 I’m tired of my money going to the C.E.O’s. lavish lifestyles .. …Everyone should support their local shelters…. I now support the ” S.P.C.A. of Maryland ” and ” Alley Cats Allies “

  • Dr. Bags

    I’m into animal welfare big time, giving to 5 organizations each month on a regular basis. Now that I’ve learned this I’m moving my donation elsewhere. Checking into the ASPCA as i read they are much more realistic on salaries.

    • Dawn Mello

      Go to charity Navigator.

  • Rob Carnival

    This is why I have stopped giving to big corporate charities. They hide under the charitable unbrella but the CEO’s make millions. When you look into giving to a charity first let it be known. They get paid big time.

  • john

    It might be good to see where he gets all of his money and if the many corporations he has become the CEO or head of has his wife or other family members working for it… and if they pay expenses what do the expenses include… I remember I went to a church (a non profit) where the expenses included the pastors house, car, airplane, boat, membership to a golf course and his wife had a salary as well as his mother-in-law and brother-in-law…… as a nonprofit they also gave huge amounts to the retirement accounts (tiered from the top) with “excess” money not committed by the nonprofit…. seems the only ones that did not profit were the people putting the money in the “offering” plate……

  • TruthYourFreedom

    haha…give to a big organization and then get upset because all the money goes to ceos and advertising firms ? duh, uh…..

  • reality22

    Maxing this occurrence is the name of the game for Good old Wayne……

    Take a good look….. If Wayne could have this happening all over the lower 48 he would be tickled pink….. good for business.

  • Andrea Smith

    Don’t give to the HSUS or other big organizations. Give to your local Humane Society. They are the ones that need your help, and they get little if any help from the HSUS and others. Don’t blame the breeders of purebred dogs. Breeders are generally the most regulated, and are required to upgrade their kennels and pass inspections from USDA and the state inspection services (also AKC inspections if the dogs are AKC). Licensed breeders also have to pass their veterinarian inspection. People have the right to purchase a purebred pet if they choose. The shelters are full of animals from irresponsible pet owners that don’t get their pets spayed or neutered. The HSUS and like organizations should use their millions to help spay and neuter pets —-but then they would not have all that money coming in. I think that in most cases, the pictures you see on T.V. of animal cruelty are staged. I have gone to many kennels, and I have never seen anything like the awful conditions they show. Breeders love their animals, and they would not work that hard if they didn’t. It is a seven days a week, 365 days job. If there are any kennels that do not comply to USDA rules, then USDA needs to work harder to make sure rules are followed. You know what they say about a bad apple. It is a shame that the bad apples spoil all the good ones.

  • Ernie Meyer

    thats called inflation