The Humane Society of the United States is being investigated for possible misuse of funds received as direct contributions from those wanting to help animal and animal owner victims of recent hurricanes in the United States.

Louisiana Attorney General Charles Foti, Jr., reports that his office opened an inquiry into allegations involving funds raised for pet/owner reunions by HSUS. The Attorney General's Office is asking the HSUS for an accounting of all funds HSUS raised for the purpose of pet rescue and reunion with pet owners in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

According to the Attorney General's office, it received numerous complaints from pet owners about problems many are having finding their pets following the hurricanes. Through its association with other animal welfare organizations nationwide, HSUS documented and placed animals in shelters around the country, often resulting in the displaced pets' adoption. The Attorney General's office notes that in some cases, pet owners claim that those who are currently caring for the displaced pets are refusing to reunite the pet with the proper owners.

''Once again we will be on the lookout to make sure that those who seek to raise money for Hurricane victims in our state, do exactly what they claim to do when soliciting funds,'' says Attorney General Foti, ''While I commend the work of the many wonderful charitable organizations that have come forward to help us in our time of need, I also want people to know that they cannot take advantage of our situation in any way.'' .

''If HSUS, as alleged, did misuse funds received from contributions made by individuals or businesses that thought they were directly helping animal victims of the hurricanes, then the organization should be held accountable,'' says Kay Johnson, executive vice president for Animal Agriculture Alliance.

According to Johnson, ''This would not be the first time a national animal rights non-profit organization has misused funds from donations. In 2002, Farm Sanctuary, an animal rights non-profit that often works closely with HSUS on farm animal issues, was charged with misuse of donations raised for a campaign to amend Florida's state constitution. In that case, Farm Sanctuary was fined $50,000 by the Florida Elections Commission.''

The Louisiana Attorney General is asking anyone with information about questionable fundraising activities by animal groups or any other groups to contact the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Section at (800) 351-4889 or visit the state Attorney General's website at www.ag.state.la.us

Animal Agriculture Alliance