HumaneWatch.org, a project of the nonprofit Center for Consumer Freedom, recently released its fourth annual report documenting the total contributions by the Humane Society of the United States to local pet shelters. The study concludes in 2012, HSUS spent a total of $120 million, but less than 1% of that went to supporting local sheltering organizations nationwide. Ohio shelters received a single grant worth a total of $500 during the year.
The full report, "Not Your Local Humane Society," is available online, and includes an accounting of all grants to Ohio pet shelters made by HSUS during the years 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012. All data is drawn directly from HSUS's Form 990 tax returns filed annually with the IRS.
The report comes in the wake of a September 2013 poll of 1,050 self-identified HSUS donors in which 87% said they were unaware that HSUS gives such a miniscule portion of its annual budget to local pet shelters. When informed of this sad reality, a full 83% of HSUS's own donors agreed the group "misleads people into thinking that it supports local humane societies and pet shelters," and 59% were less likely to support the group going forward.
"The Humane Society of the United States is making money off of manipulating Americans," says Will Coggin, CCF's senior research analyst. "HSUS rakes in millions during the holiday season from Americans who believe their donations will go to pet shelters near them. Because HSUS siphons so much money out of local communities, there's less to go around for local groups that save homeless pets."
Wayner Pacelle, CEO of HSUS, denied the claim, retorting, "…CCF/Humanewatch issue press releases like the one you received every month, and they turn it up in December as part of an effort to deflate contributions to the HSUS during an important season in which we communicate the results of our work to our donors and to the general public. We don't put any credence in the poll Berman (Rick Berman with CCF), commissioned on the topic, and as a general observation, I'll say that such claims (specifically that there is confusion between The HSUS, and the ASPCA on the one hand, and local shelters on the other) is a contrivance."
"Our investment in the Shelter Pet Project public service campaign has resulted in $137 million in advertising to promote local animal shelters – and that type of national campaign is something the local shelters could not do on their own. Since the campaign launched in 2009, shelter euthanasia has declined by 10% nationwide. Of course, because we are conducting this advertising campaign directly, and not giving this money to shelters Berman doesn't count it," Pacelle says.
The CCF report, however counters, "Instead of spending its money where it is most desperately needed – at local shelters – in 2012 HSUS spent $50 million on fundraising expenses alone, bankrolled PETA-style propaganda campaigns, maintained a huge staff of lawyers and lobbyists, and rewarded its top brass with bloated salaries and benefits, including $3 million in pension contributions."
"HSUS has $200 million in the bank," Coggins says. "Animal shelters in Ohio are struggling day in and day out to help save the lives of pets, but it appears HSUS has other priorities. Animal lovers should demand better from this self-titled 'humane society,' and give to their local shelter this holiday season."