I look back from time to time at what I’ve accomplished in this job. Which stories have made a difference? Which stories am I most proud about?
One story I like to tell occurred two and a half years ago. An Atlanta, Ga., TV station aired a piece on the Humane Society of the United States, describing how little of the money that HSUS raises every year goes to local animal shelters. The report appeared on YouTube, but mysteriously got pulled within a few days of airing. I wasn’t going to take “no” for an answer and kept looking for the video to pop up again. I made periodic queries on YouTube and Google. About three weeks later, I saw the video referenced in, of all places, an Iranian video-sharing site known as Vidoosh. We grabbed the link and made it available to our readers.
Even though I did not produce the information in that report, I was able to bird-dog the video until it popped up again.
Since that time, we have heard similar stories about HSUS and how it spends less than one-half of 1 percent of its budget on local animal shelters. In fact, of the $126.4 million spent by HSUS last year, just $528,000 or 0.4 percent went to pet shelter grants.
“You can assume more money went into their pension plan than to local shelters,” Rick Berman, executive director of the Center for Consumer Freedom, told an AgriTalk radio audience on Oct. 18. He went on to say that of the millions that HSUS raises each year, much of it goes to lobbying, fundraising, staff compensation — and, he said, there are millions of dollars parked in Wall Street hedge funds. This bothers me for two reasons:
• It is deceptive. People who see the heart-tugging TV commercials of abused dogs and cats think that by contributing $19 a month to HSUS, their money will make a difference for those poor animals. But, in reality, their money is feeding a lobbying organization and they are wise to donate their money directly to their local animal shelters rather than sending it to HSUS.
• HSUS has a hidden agenda. While HSUS features dogs and cats in its commercials, the organization really has its eye on farm animals. Based on the organization’s lobbying efforts and various ballot initiatives, their real agenda is to change the way farmers raise livestock. “They are trying to make it more expensive to raise animals for food,” Berman said in his AgriTalk interview. And, if animal protein becomes more expensive, consumers are less likely to buy it, which supports the group’s vegan agenda.
To see HSUS tax returns obtained by the Center for Consumer Freedom, go to the site www.humanewatch.org and click on the “document library” tab.