Unpacking the HSUS Gravy Train (2017 Edition)

When it comes to the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), we have never had high hopes that it would live up to its heart-wrenching advertisements and actually help shelter animals. Historically, HSUS would rather spend money on lawyers and lobbyists. But after analyzing its financials from the most recent IRS Form 990 tax return, even we were stunned at the paltry 0.68% of the total budget that was spent on grants for pet care in 2015.

More takeaways include:

  • HSUS has stashed away over $58 million in Caribbean hedge funds, showing how it prioritizes Caribbean tax shelters over American animal shelters.
  • Wayne Pacelle, CEO of HSUS, received a nearly $24,000 raise, increasing his compensation to $448,980, or about half of what HSUS spent on pet-care grants. No wonder he could buy a $1.1 million house in cash.
  • HSUS spent $5.8 million of donor money on hiring Quadriga Art—a fundraising group that was exposed in national media and paid over $20 million to the New York Attorney General to settle a deceptive-fundraising investigation the previous year.
  • HSUS spent over $40 million on fundraising costs, or over 29% of its total expenses. Including management and general expenses that total increases to 31%. That’s not an overhead percentage to write home about.
  • HSUS spent $4.1 million on lobbying, with $1.1 million going to Massachusetts Question 3, a referendum that dramatically increases the cost of pork and eggs by banning the sale of commonly produced eggs and pork products. This will ultimately hit the poorest residents of Massachusetts the hardest.
  • HSUS spent over $3 million on its pension plan—more than three times its grants for pet care.

As “charities” go, HSUS is a bad investment. With so much money spent on superfluous legal and lobbying staff and fees, it’s no wonder that the organization’s impact on helping shelter pets is so limited. If you want to help pets, then please donate to a local shelter where your dollars will go the furthest, and spread the word about the deceitful advertising by HSUS.

Posted on 04/12/2017 at 1:52 pm by HumaneWatch Team.

Topics: Annual ReportsDocument AnalysisExecutive StaffFinancial DocumentsFundraising & MoneyGov't, Lobbying, Politics


  • laurelladesborough

    Brilliant analysis! This will be shared widely. Thank you.

  • Liz Lufrano

    I’ll bet the money spent in areas where there were natural disasters went to the costs of bringing in their trailers where people thought their pets would be safely boarded, but in reality their pets were shipped out of state and their pets were never to be seen again!

  • This crooked group is now trying to prevent a bear hunt in Florida. Are they really trying? No way, it just serves as a way to get more donations. HSUS has a few flunkies write letters to the editor, so that they get attention…and donations from the weak of mind.

  • MisterCadet

    The biggest enabler in all of this is the Chairman of the HSUS Board of Directors, Eric Bernthal. Instead of doing his job of governance and oversight, he protects, covers up for, and rewards Wayne Pacelle with a sizable raise every year. That is exactly the wrong message to send. It is sick, actually. This out of touch white male geezer lawyer Bernthal is besotted with a Pacelle, a slick con artist committing so much fraud that HSUS is past the point of no return.

    I say “white male” because many HSUS staffers have spoken out online about how HSUS is run by a white male elite of overpaid, incompetent, arrogant ego jerks who have mismanaged donations, harassed and bullied female staffers, and driven out the best and brightest. Females still stuck there for now are overworked, ridiculed, devalued, and grossly underpaid. And employees are “told not to reach out to the Board.”

    I encourage animal lovers everywhere to contact Eric Bernthal and ask him to resign. A petition drive would also send a long-overdue message to Wayne’s kneepad wearing puppet.

  • Carol

    Wow. I copied that map and shared it on my Facebook page.

  • a80a

    the HSUS, PETA, and the ASPCA are are groups which should have their tax exempt status taken from them. under the guise of helping Animals, they destroy 90% of all Animals they (rescue) a word they use loosely, they spend more money advertising for more money ,than they spend on helping Animals, less than i% is spent on animal welfare, the local shelters do more for homeless animals than the big three does, if you want to donate to the animal welfare cause , donate to a local shelter, and quit feeding the overstuffed big wigs who profit from your generous contributions.