This is a sad, but important story, and there’s no better time to bring it up since the big game is tomorrow. A consumer interest group named the Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF) has bought some Super Bowl advertising time to run an ad asking people not to donate money to the Humane Society of the United States. Instead, they are urging people who care about animal welfare and rescuing lost and abused pets to donate directly to their local animal shelters, not the national organization. (Oklahoma Farm Report)

The nonprofit Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF), which runs the watchdog www.HumaneWatch.org, notes that this is just the latest example of waste and abuse at the Humane Society of the United States. “For years HSUS has fundraised on the backs of cats and dogs to pay for exorbitant executive salaries, legions of lawyers, and parking $50 million into offshore accounts,” said CCF Managing Director Will Coggin. “It’s clear that HSUS is humane in name only. It does not value its female staff, its donors, or the animals it uses as window dressing.”

In light of these new developments, CCF will run an informational ad during the Super Bowl asking Americans to give to their local shelter. Local humane societies are not affiliated with HSUS despite the similarity in names. You can see the ad in the video box below:

Here’s the advertisement, which you can look for during the Super Bowl if you happen to be watching.

The details being revealed by the CCF are heartbreaking, particularly to me, though apparently people have known about this for a while now. I suppose I just didn’t want to believe it and turned a blind eye. It’s true that the HSUS has gotten into trouble recently with their own #MeToo allegations, as Karen reported already. But these other issues are very troubling and have supposedly been going on for a quite a while.

The first thing to know is that Humane Society of the United States is not directly affiliated with the local Humane Society shelters you probably see near where you live. Those shelters are run independently by local groups and subsist almost entirely on charitable contributions from their communities. You may have thought (as I did) that if you send money in to the address you see on those HSUS television advertisements that it’s going to help the animals in the shelters. Sadly, as CCF points out, less than one percent of their donations go out to local shelters. And that’s not the only problem being identified. From the CCF press release:

  • HSUS runs deceptive advertising full of homeless cats and dogs yet does not run any shelters and gives only 1% of the money it raises to local pet shelters, while spending millions on executive salaries and pension plans.
  • HSUS paid $11 million in 2014 to settle a racketeering lawsuit after the organization was caught paying a witness who lied under oath (Pacelle personally signed a check in this scheme).
  • In 2014 the Oklahoma Attorney General issued a public “consumer alert” about HSUS fundraising. Charity Navigator gives HSUS a low 2 star (out of 5) rating.
  • According to their tax returns HSUS has $50 million of donor money sitting in offshore accounts.

This is simply terrible. I really wasn’t aware of this situation, even though I spent years volunteering at a Humane Society shelter (that’s actually where I met my wife, who was also volunteering) and have adopted many pets from them over the years. I was already aware of the awful record that PETA has and the fact that they don’t actually rescue any appreciable number of animals with the massive amounts of money they raise, but I somehow felt that the Humane Society was a far better organization. But if this national organization is withholding 99% of their donations from the actual animal shelters, that’s not a good use of funds for anyone who wants to directly save dogs and cats.

With Charity Navigator giving them a pathetic two-star rating (which is even worse than PETA’s), there are obviously better ways to directly help animals. The suggestion in the CCF ad is a good one. Donating money locally puts the help closer to the animals in need. Better yet, go down and help them clean the shelter, drop off some food, cat litter or even old, used blankets for the dogs and cats to sleep on. And, of course, the biggest gift you can give is to make room in your home and your heart for one of the lost animals stranded at the shelter and looking for a forever home.