[UPDATE: On Mar. 12, AG Pruitt released a consumer alert regarding national animal groups such as HSUS.]
Big news out of the Sooner State: Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt announced yesterday that his office will investigate the fundraising of the Humane Society of the United States. Speaking to the state farm bureau, Pruitt said:
“I think there are many across the state of Oklahoma when they give to the Humane Society they think it’s going to local concerns. They believe they are actually benefiting an organization that helps make sure animals are taken care of locally and at the state level. And there’s a concern that that is not happening. As those dollars go nationally, there is a concern, perhaps, that they’re not coming back.”
That’s absolutely true. Our polling has found that most of the public—and even HSUS donors—think that money given to HSUS largely helps shelter pets. You know—the cats and dogs that HSUS liberally stuffs its fundraising appeals with.
The case seems airtight. You have the ads with dogs and cats that give off the impression that HSUS is all about rescues and finding homes for animals, and you have the outcome of what HSUS’s own donors think. In fact, most HSUS donors we polled think HSUS misleads people.
However, we’re sure HSUS—which employs dozens of lawyers in-house with the money it deceptively raises—will try to weasel its way out of any accountability for its manipulative fundraising by saying that it never actively made misleading statements. But according to the Federal Trade Commission, “Most deception involves written or oral misrepresentations, or omissions of material information.” (Emphasis added.)
Omission of material fact—such as an ad that does not have a disclaimer that HSUS is not affiliated with local humane societies and that HSUS does not run a single pet shelter. According to copies of TV ads we received, between Jan. 2009 and Sept. 2011 about 99% of HSUS’s ads did not have a disclaimer that it is independent from local humane societies.
A full investigation into the nitty-gritty is necessary and timely. General Pruitt has taken a bold, and necessary, step toward keeping HSUS accountable. At the very least, the outcome will hopefully result in significant monies going from HSUS to Sooner shelters, which is likely where Oklahomans thought it was going in the first place.