HumaneWatch.org, a project of the nonprofit Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF), petitioned Tennessee Attorney General Robert Cooper, Jr. to investigate the deceptive fundraising practices of the animal rights group Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). HumaneWatch.org released a report citing HSUS's "misleading telemarketing, direct mail, and television appeals." The new analysis speculates that these tactics could violate some charitable solicitation or consumer protection laws in the Volunteer State.
The new report delves into years of HSUS's direct mail, telemarketing, and television appeals, which actively perpetuate the misperception that HSUS's primary focus is to care for abandoned and abused cats and dogs, Humane Watch says. However, a look through the group's tax returns reveals just 1% of its multi-million dollar budget goes to local hands-on shelters and rescues. That's a surprise to many of HSUS's own donors. Recent public polling by ORC International determined that 71% of Americans mistakenly believe that HSUS is a pet shelter umbrella group, and 68% wrongly think that HSUS spends most of its money on pet shelters.
"HSUS is a factory fundraising machine, sucking valuable dollars out of local communities with its advertisements that mislead donors into believing a majority of its budget benefits local cats and dogs," said J. Justin Wilson, CCF's Senior Research Analyst. "HumaneWatch's new report clearly demonstrates that HSUS is fully aware of its deceptive fundraising tactics."
The report documents multiple occurrences, including an appeal for donations in 2010 that begs donors to "please send your best new membership gift of $8, $12, $15 or as much as you can give to protect and save precious puppies' and kittens' lives." However, HSUS doesn't run a single pet shelter and local shelters aren't seeing much of HSUS's donations, with several local organizations going so far as to change their names in order to prevent donor confusion.
"The truth is HSUS knows what opens Americans' wallets and it's not photos of HSUS's sad-looking lawyers and lobbyists," continued Wilson. "If HSUS wants to spend its donations funding its PETA-like agenda, it shouldn't be doing it on the backs of America's needy pet shelters and by misleading Americans."
The report is available here.