Unpacking the HSUS Gravy Train (2014 Edition)

The 2013 tax return of the deceptively named Humane Society of the United States, which was just filed this week, tells a familiar story: While dogs and cats fill up HSUS’s ads, the organization gives little money to pet shelters while wasting a pretty penny. (Read our report on HSUS’s spending, state-by-state.)

Only about 1%—one penny on the dollar—of HSUS’s $120 million budget is grants going to support pet sheltering. Local humane societies, despite having a similar name to HSUS, are not affiliated with HSUS, a common misconception among the public and HSUS donors.

Some good news is that HSUS’s contributions from the public were essentially stagnant. Based on HSUS’s annual report—which was released in May—it appears that general contributions to HSUS are down, but this is offset by an increase in bequests. Do your parents or grandparents have HSUS in their will by accident?

Here are some key points of what we’ve seen:

  • HSUS sent $26 million to the Caribbean and Central America—just as it did in 2012. HSUS has now sent over $50 million to the Caribbean in the past two years. In 2012 most of this money wound up at Cayman Island and Bermuda funds—in other words, HSUS is putting tax shelters ahead of pet shelters.
  • HSUS spent $42 million on fundraising-related expenses—35% of its budget. In other words, HSUS is a “mail mill” or “factory fundraiser,” wasting millions on direct mail calendars—even socks—in an effort to simply raise more money.
  • HSUS’s membership magazine only went to 562,000 people in 2013—up only 3% from 2012. While HSUS claims to represent 11 million Americans—presumably counting every last Twitter follower, real or fake—the membership magazine circulations shows that HSUS is inflating its true constituency.
  • HSUS put $2.5 million into its pension plan—more than it made in grants to support pet sheltering. Pensions get more than pet shelters at HSUS.
  • HSUS CEO Wayne “I don’t love animals” Pacelle pulled in over $400,000 in total compensation. Overall, HSUS spent $44.3 million on salaries and compensation.
  • HSUS paid $7.7 million to Quadriga Art, a direct mail firm that this year agreed to pay $25 million to settle an investigation by the New York Attorney General. Quadriga was exposed by CNN in 2012 in connection with charity scams. Quadriga was HSUS’s second-largest independent contractor in 2013 and HSUS has paid about $40 million to Quadriga over the past several years.
  • HSUS declared over $5 million in lobbying expenses, including $600,000 that went to a Maine front group pushing a ballot measure to restrict bear hunting. That measure failed earlier this month.

Overall it’s a picture of waste and—thankfully—stagnation at HSUS. With the holiday fundraising season around the corner, we’ll do our part to help Americans understand that HSUS is an inefficient and deceptive organization. You can help too by spreading the word to those you know. For all you know, a family member could be giving to HSUS.

Posted on 11/20/2014 at 3:51 pm by Humane Watch Team.

Topics: MainThe Best of HumaneWatch


  • john d

    how are they allowed to send money overseas? That should be illegal they are tax exempt organization all the money should stay in the United States!

  • matt44644


  • Hobbs10

    It’s criminal, what they are actually doing.

    • Mark Syman

      Human Society of the US sounds more like a scam and a payroll-and-pension padding scheme than anything else.

  • foam

    While I share your skepticism about HSUS funding decisions, please elaborate on your support for bear-baiting in Maine. That’s what the referendum was about, since Maine is the only state to allow the use of bait, dogs and traps against bears. The narrowly defeated proposal would have allowed exceptions for safety, property protection or research. So you are objecting even when HSUS spends money for clearly humane purposes. Care to disclose the source of your funding?

    • Megan M

      Maine is not the only state that allows the use of bait and dogs to hunt bear, I live in Michigan and can tell you both are legal here. You’re asking questions but don’t have your own facts straight. Maine has a very high bear population that has grown over the last decade. Not managing the population through hunting would be inhumane to both wildlife and humans.

      • foam

        I see that I need to use words of one syl-la-ble with you. Mich-i-gan out lawed bear taps in 1952 ex-cept with spec-ial per-mits. Maine still al-lows dogs, bait and traps. En-ter-tain-ing hum-ans is not “man-ag-ing” wild-life, so stop the spin. And you ducked my quest-ion about this site’s real back-ers, but that must be your job.

        • tiko

          The young lady was accurate foam. The MAINE (also main) reason for the bear hunting season is to control the population…..just as any hunting is done for the same reason. Starving animals, animals and humans killed by auto collisions, destruction of property by aggressive bears, bee hive destruction (bees are extremely valuable as pollinators and increasingly endangered), beer attacks, etc. are the reasons for a hunting season when the population runs amok.

          Hmmmmm…..what is the source of YOUR funding “foam”? You seem to ignore the science of animal control and therefore obviously you are a paid antagonist.

          Do YOU entertain a juicy hamburger? You cad. You inhumane beast. Do you have bacon and eggs for breakfast? Do you eat grains or nuts as an alternative? Do you drive a vehicle? If so you are guilty of supporting the death of humans, insects. birds, bats, whales, etc. Get off the high horse that you are abusing as you ride the lies of the anti hunting crowd.

          BTW in Pa. we “dog” bears using human walls in a process call driving game. In 10 years of hunting bear I have shot one and therefore did my part to control the beasts. The meat was used and in the process I helped to set up and maintain parks and recreational areas for you uneducated to enjoy. YOU contribute little or nothing. We sportsmen and women contribute billions. Those billions are also used to protect and to nurture species that otherwise would be extinct. How much has the HS done? How much have YOU done? Nothing you say? Go figure…..I contribute more than the HS does and I hunt. Animal habitat and animal conservation, restoration of depleted species, protection of animals (yes we pay officers to patrol the ranks of hunters), buying millions of acres for the enjoyment of all including you who ride our backs, etc. That is what sportsmen and women do. What is it that YOU do again? Complain? I am happy to have my money go to something worthwhile rather than to further causes such as supporting Mexican criminals.

          In addition to the federal lands that we sportsmen and women bought, in Pa. we purchased and maintain 1.4 million acres of state game lands that ALL are allowed to enjoy…..again with many riding on our backs and contributing nothing. There is a move afoot to require a hunting licence or a purchased permit to use the property that hunters bought and continue to maintain for ALL people to enjoy.

          Yep, I enjoy hunting. Yes, I enjoy a good deer steak. That is what humans do to sustain life…..we eat. If you can derive a means of supporting life without protein while controlling wild animals you would become rich and famous. Until you do that I will continue en-ter-tain-ing a good hot bowl of bear stew. For a real treat try the back straps of the destructive rodent called a beaver.

          Interestingly enough the money that we sportsmen and women contribute has increased dramatically. Having an anti-gun, anti-hunting president increases sales of everything from ammo to guns to bows to clothing, to everything imaginable that we pay a special tax on to protect wildlife and habitat. At least his antics have one positive effect.