Commentary: HSUS continues to deceive the public

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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 last Tuesday. He went on to say that of the millions that HSUS raises each year, much of it goes to lobbying, fund-raising, 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 web site and click on the “document library” tab.

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Terry Ward    
Pa  |  October, 21, 2011 at 08:51 AM

And yet HSUS donations are up.... More proof that no one of any importance is listening to this chicken-doo. How long is it going to take you all to realize that Berman's anti-humane propagandizing has had the opposite effect of what was intended and has turned public opinion against you? And that so-called'watchdog' sites like humanewatch are nothing but boomerangs turning all the filth back at themselves. You should have seen this bullet coming after the Chipolte Grill fiasco. Or woken up to the irreparable damage that was done as a result of the 'dogs are livestock' stupidity during Missouri's Prop B disaster. Millions of people who would have never even CONSIDERED any antipathy toward the ag community are now steeped in vitriol because of that lunacy. Yet you keep shootin' yourselves in the foot .... Go figure.

Owosso, MI  |  October, 21, 2011 at 04:24 PM

If that is true, then there is no reason for HSUS to continue deceptive advertising. They could just come right out and say what they are and what they are doing and spare us all the visuals of the pity-puppies/kittens.

Rob Wakeman    
Baltimore, MD  |  October, 22, 2011 at 11:22 AM

You do know there are other ways of helping dogs and cats than investing in animal shelters, right?e lobbying for tougher animal protection laws, spay/neuter, dogfighting laws, anti-chaining ordinances, etc. Not to mention speaking up for abused animals in a range of other contexts. These things cost money. It never ceases to amaze me that anybody bothers to listen to anything Rick Berman says.

Rob Wakeman    
Baltimore, MD  |  October, 22, 2011 at 11:34 AM

What's an example of how HSUS deceives donors into thinking they're supporting shelters, rather than tougher animal protection laws? Can you point to anything specific in any of HSUS's advertising campaigns or literature that would suggest this? Nevermind that besides their lobbying for tougher animal protection laws, they also undertake many rescue operations and are able to use their network to save the lives of many different kinds of abused animals (not just food animals). But of course they look out for farm animals too. No one, not consumers, not producers, not farmers, not animal rightists, nobody supports the abuse of farm animals. But it does happen.

alice smith    
usa  |  October, 25, 2011 at 11:46 AM

pay no attention to Terry Ward.. she is a paid shill for the HSUS. your article makes sense and is the truth.. she/he cannot stand that

Rob Wakeman    
Baltimore, MD  |  October, 26, 2011 at 12:14 AM

Yes, Alice, that makes a lot of sense. Obviously, HSUS pays "shills" to come on Dairy Herd to convince dairy producers to go vegan. Because that's a brilliant use of money.

Florida  |  November, 09, 2011 at 07:18 AM

Many of us in the dog world have known about the deceptive money raising practices and activities of H$U$ for years... way before Rick Berman and the Humanwatch org. From Katrina to Vick deception, deception, deception. Humane Society of the United States and Enron.. two birds of a feather and equally distasteful.

Florida  |  November, 09, 2011 at 07:18 AM

Many of us in the dog world have known about the deceptive money raising practices and activities of H$U$ for years... way before Rick Berman and the Humanwatch org. From Katrina to Vick deception, deception, deception. Humane Society of the United States and Enron.. two birds of a feather and equally distasteful.

Ethical One    
Canada  |  November, 15, 2011 at 10:56 PM

HumaneWatch are hypocrites. They claim HSUS financially exploit people while HW does the same thing. HumaneWatch financially exploit people and give 97% to this hick Rick Berman to buy more mansions. Rick is the worst human being on Earth. HumaneWatch 97% of income goes for PROFIT. Probably 3% goes to pay salary and 97% goes to hick Rick Berman. David Martosko the convicted drunk driver attacks MADD. The basic facts about Martosko's group: They've received funding from alcohol companies. They attack Mothers Against Drunk Driving. They've received funding from fast food companies. They attack U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention for its efforts to fight obesity. They've received funding from the factory farming industry. They attack the Humane Society of the United States for working to prevent animal cruelty. They've received funding from tobacco companies. They attack the Center for Science in the Public Interest (a public health charity). And again like they said before. Rick Berman He attacks Mother Against Drunk Drivers & the HSUS on behalf of corporate clients in the food & beverage industry. He claims tanning beds are good for you. He claims mercury in many fishes doesn't hurt you. He claims transfats cleans up your arteries. He claims secondhand smoking doesn't harm you. So who would be stupid and braindeaded enough to believe this fundamentalist-cult like organization called CCF and Humanewatch? Only hicks would be stupid. For more goto Who are Humane Watch? (not my vid) They're founded by big tobaccos and which means they're mass murderers. If you combine conquistador with terrorism, Nazism and black plague it won't compare NEARLY the amount that tobacco murdered people worldwide.

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