The Humane Society of the United States

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HSUS logo.svg
Tax ID No.53-0225390
Founded1954 (as National Humane Society)
Founder(s)Fred Myers, Helen Jones, Larry Andrews, Marcia Glaser
Coordinates38°54′14″N 77°02′49″W / 38.904°N 77.047°W / 38.904; -77.047
Key peopleWayne Pacelle, CEO
Area servedUnited States
Focus(es)Animal rights
Revenue$133,577,658 (2011)[1]
Motto"Celebrating Animals, Confronting Cruelty"
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HSUS logo.svg
Tax ID No.53-0225390
Founded1954 (as National Humane Society)
Founder(s)Fred Myers, Helen Jones, Larry Andrews, Marcia Glaser
Coordinates38°54′14″N 77°02′49″W / 38.904°N 77.047°W / 38.904; -77.047
Key peopleWayne Pacelle, CEO
Area servedUnited States
Focus(es)Animal rights
Revenue$133,577,658 (2011)[1]
Motto"Celebrating Animals, Confronting Cruelty"

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), based in Washington, D.C., is the largest and most controversial nonprofit organization advocating animal rights in the world. It claims more than 11 million Americans among its members and supporters.[2][3] In 2009, HSUS reported assets of over US$160 million,[4] despite only 1% of their budget going to shelters.[5][6]


Journalist Fred Myers and three others founded HSUS in 1954 to address what they saw as cruelties of national scope, and resolving animal welfare problems by applying strategies beyond the ability of local organizations.[7] HSUS operates animal sanctuaries in five states. It does not run local shelters or oversee local animal care and control agencies, but promotes best practice and provides assistance to shelters and sheltering programs.[8] The group's current major campaigns target five issues: factory farming, animal fighting, the fur trade, puppy mills, and wildlife abuse.[9]

HSUS publishes Animal Sheltering, a bi-monthly magazine for animal sheltering professionals.[10] HSUS distributed the magazine to more than 450,000 people in 2009.[4] It also operates the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association, which provides free veterinary services for animals in impoverished communities.[11] The Genesis Awards have been awarded annually since 1986 to individuals in the major news and entertainment media for producing outstanding works which raise public awareness of animal issues.[12]


The values that shaped the HSUS's formation in 1954 came from the humane movement that originated in the 1860s. The idea of kindness to animals made significant inroads in American culture in the years following the Civil War. The development of sympathy for creatures in pain, the satisfaction of keeping them as pets, and the heightening awareness about the relationship between cruelty to animals and interpersonal violence strengthened the movement’s popular appeal.[13]

Albert Schweitzer

The most immediate philosophical influence on 1950s-era advocates, including those associated with HSUS, was the reverence-for-life concept advanced by Albert Schweitzer. Schweitzer included a deep regard for nonhuman animals in his canon of beliefs, and animal advocates laboring to give their concerns a higher profile were buoyed by Schweitzer’s 1952 Nobel Peace Prize speech, in which he noted that "compassion, in which ethics takes root, does not assume its true proportions until it embraces not only man but every living being."[14]

Myers and his colleagues found another exemplar of their values in Joseph Wood Krutch (1893–1970), whose writings reflected a deep level of appreciation for wilderness and for nonhuman life. With The Great Chain of Life (1957), Krutch established himself as a philosopher of humaneness, and in 1970, HSUS’s highest award was renamed in his honor.[15]

The growing environmental movement of the early 1970s also influenced the ethical and practical evolution of HSUS. The burgeoning crisis of pollution and wildlife-habitat loss made the public increasingly aware that humans needed to change their behavior toward other living things. By that time, too, the treatment of animals had become a topic of serious discussion within moral philosophy.

The debate spilled over into public consciousness with the publication of Peter Singer’s Animal Liberation (1975). Singer’s book sought to recast concern for animals as a justice-based cause like the movements for civil rights and women’s rights.[16]

Much of what Singer wrote concerning the prevention or reduction of animals’ suffering was in harmony with the HSUS’s objectives. Singer’s philosophy did not rest solely upon the rights of animals. His principal concern, like that of the HSUS, was the mitigation and elimination of suffering, and he endorsed the view that ethical treatment sometimes permitted or even required killing animals to end their misery.[17]

The 1980s witnessed a flourishing of concern about animals and a proliferation of new organizations, many influenced by the emergence of a philosophy holding that animals had inherent rights. Those committed to the purest form of animal rights rejected any human use of animals. In this changing context, the HSUS faced new challenges. As newer animal organizations adopted more radical approaches to achieve their goals, the organization born in anti-establishment politics now found itself identified - and sometimes criticized - as the "establishment" group of record.

While the HSUS welcomed and benefited from growing social interest in animals, it did not embrace the language and philosophy of animal rights. The HSUS representatives expressed their beliefs that animals were "entitled to humane treatment and to equal and fair consideration."[18]

Like many of the organizations and individuals associated with humane work, the HSUS did try to come to terms with the shift toward rights-based language and arguments. In 1978, attorneys Robert Welborn and Murdaugh Stuart Madden conducted a workshop at the HSUS annual conference, "Can Animal Rights Be Legally Defined?", and the assembled constituents passed a resolution to the effect that "animals have the right to live and grow under conditions that are comfortable and reasonably natural... animals that are used by man in any way have the right to be free from abuse, pain, and torment caused or permitted by man... animals that are domesticated or whose natural environment is altered by man have the right to receive from man adequate food, shelter, and care." [19]

In 1980 the notion of rights also surfaced in an HSUS convention resolution which, noting that "such rights naturally evolve from long accepted doctrines of justice or fairness or some other dimension of morality" and called for "pursuit on all fronts... the clear articulation and establishment of the rights of animals" [20]

In 1986, the HSUS director of laboratory welfare, John McArdle, opined that "HSUS is definitely shifting in the direction of animal rights faster than anyone would realize from our literature".[21] The HSUS fired McArdle shortly thereafter, he alleged, for being an "animal rights activist.".[22] At about the same time, HSUS president John Hoyt stated that "this new [animal rights] philosophy has served as a catalyst in the shaping of our own philosophies, policies, and goals." [23]


In 1954, HSUS’s founders decided to create a new kind of animal organization, based in the nation’s capital, to confront national cruelties beyond the reach of local societies and state federations. Humane slaughter became an immediate priority and commanded a substantial portion of the organization’s resources. Myers and his colleagues also viewed this first campaign as a vehicle for promoting movement cohesion.

Humane slaughter legislation[edit]

When the Humane Slaughter Act passed in 1958, only four years after HSUS’s formation, Myers pointed out that the movement had united, for the first time, to achieve enactment of federal legislation that would affect the lives of tens of millions of animals. He was encouraged that "hundreds of local societies could lift their eyes from local problems to a great national cruelty."[7]

Regulation of experimentation upon animals[edit]

HSUS also made the use of animals in research, testing, and education an early focus. In the post–World War II era, an increasingly assertive biomedical research community sought to obtain animals from pounds and shelters handling municipal animal control contracts. Local humane societies across the nation resisted. HSUS sought to bolster the movement’s strong opposition to pound seizure, believing that no public pound or privately operated humane society should be compelled by law to provide animals for experimental use.[24]

HSUS took the position that animal experimentation should be regulated, and in the 1950s it placed investigators in laboratories to gather evidence of substandard conditions and animal suffering and neglect.[25] The HSUS was not an anti-vivisection society, Myers explained in 1958. Rather, it stood for the principle that "every humane society … should be actively concerned about the treatment accorded to such a vast number of animals."[7]

Pictures of injured dogs are often used today to misrepresent HSUS's agenda.

Exposure of cruelty in the dog trade[edit]

In 1961, HSUS investigator Frank McMahon launched a probe of dog dealers around the country to generate support for a federal law to prevent cruelty to animals destined for use in laboratories. The five-year investigation into the multilayered trade in dogs paid off in February 1966 when Life published a photo-essay of a raid conducted on a Maryland dog dealer’s premises by McMahon and the state police.[26][27]

The Life spread sparked outrage, and tens of thousands of Americans wrote to their congressional representatives, demanding action to protect animals and prevent pet theft. That summer the U.S. Congress approved the Laboratory Animal Welfare Act (later renamed the "Animal Welfare Act of 1966"), only the second major federal humane law passed since World War II.[28]

Goals and expansion[edit]

Other broad goals during this time included a reduction in the U.S.’s homeless dog and cat population, the reform of inhumane euthanasia practices, and the restriction of abuses by the pet shop and commercial pet breeding trades.

HSUS and its state branches operated animal shelters in Waterford, Virginia, Salt Lake City Utah, and Boulder, Colorado, and elsewhere, during the 1960s, and part of the 1970s.[29]

In the 1970s, HSUS would branch out into the arenas of wildlife and marine mammal protection.

Recent history[edit]

In the spring of 2004, the HSUS board appointed Wayne Pacelle as CEO and president. A former executive director of The Fund for Animals and named in 1997 as "one of America's most important animal rights activists,"[30] the Yale graduate spent a decade as HSUS’s chief lobbyist and spokesperson, and expressed a strong commitment to expand the organization’s base of support as well as its influence on public policies that affect animals.[31]

Since Pacelle’s appointment, HSUS has claimed among its successes the adoption of "cage-free" egg-purchasing policies by hundreds of universities and dozens of corporations;[32] the exposure of an international trophy hunting scam subsequently ended through legislative reform;[33] a number of successful congressional votes to outlaw horse slaughter; progress in securing legislation at the state and federal level to outlaw animal fighting and the interstate transport of fighting implements;[34] the enactment of internet hunting bans in nearly all of the states;[35] announcements by Wolfgang Puck and Burger King that they would increase their use of animal products derived under less abusive standards;[36] and an agreement by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to begin enforcement of federal laws concerning the transportation of farm animals.[37]

Seals being clubbed

The HSUS’s campaign to end the hunting of seals in Canada secured pledges to boycott Canadian seafood from 300 restaurants and companies, plus 120,000 individuals.[38]

Hurricane Katrina animal rescue[edit]

In September 2005, when thousands of animals were left behind as people evacuated during Hurricane Katrina, HSUS joined other organizations in a massive search-and-rescue effort that saved approximately ten thousand animals, and raised more than $34 million for direct relief, reconstruction, and recovery in the Gulf Coast region. HSUS led the campaign that culminated in the federal passage of the PETS Act in October 2006, requiring all local, state, and federal agencies to include animals in their disaster planning scenarios.[39]

On the third anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, HSUS reported that it had spent or committed $7.3 million on direct response and efforts to reunite people and lost pets, $8.3 million on reconstruction grants for 54 humane societies in the Gulf Coast region, and $2.3 million on reimbursement grants to 130 humane societies from around the country that assisted in the response. The society also reported that it had committed $800,000 and $900,000, respectively, to shelter-medicine programs at the veterinary schools of Louisiana State University and Mississippi State University, and $600,000 to the construction of an emergency overflow shelter at the Dixon Correctional Institute in Jackson, Louisiana. HSUS reported that it had directed $2.76 million in in-kind contributions to the relief effort, and collected another one million dollars from other donors in grants to Gulf Coast societies.[40]

In August 2008, Pacelle appeared with Louisiana Attorney General James "Buddy" Caldwell at a press conference marking the enactment of a law prohibiting cockfighting in Louisiana, the last state to do so. The prohibition resulted from a longtime campaign led by HSUS.[41]

The HSUS remains active in the Gulf region, funding a number of projects aimed at reducing the area's pet overpopulation problem, and improving access to pet care for the Gulf Coast residents.[42]

Legislative victories[edit]

During 2006, HSUS helped to secure the passage of 70 new state laws to protect animals. Two successful November ballot initiatives conducted with the support of the society outlawed dove hunting in Michigan and, through Proposition 204, abusive livestock-farming practices in Arizona.[43] In 2008, HSUS helped to pass 91 state animal-welfare laws, including Proposition 2 in California.[44][45]

Investigation into "faux" fur[edit]

In late 2006, HSUS broke the story of its investigation into the sale of coats trimmed with real fur but labeled "faux" or fake. Laboratory testing found that the fur came from purpose-bred raccoon dogs in China that were sometimes beaten to death and skinned alive. The story of fur animals beaten to death and skinned alive is disputed by a fur industry trade group.[46] As of October 2011, HSUS continues to use the video in its fundraising efforts and campaigns to end human use of fur.[47]

The investigation reportedly prompted several retailers including Macy’s and J.C. Penney to pull the garments from the sale floor. Legislation was introduced in the U.S. Congress to require that all fur jackets be properly labeled, and to ban raccoon dog fur.[48]

In July 2007, HSUS led calls for the National Football League to suspend Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick in the wake of allegations that he had been involved with dog fighting activity.[49] Vick was prosecuted and convicted under federal law.

Exposure of Petland's reliance on puppy mills[edit]

In the fall of 2008, HSUS also launched a campaign to expose the reliance of the pet store chain Petland on puppy mills where animals are raised under inhumane conditions.[50] However, Jessica Mitler from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the government agency that regulates dog breeders,[51] provided the following response to the HSUS investigation: "The agency has received no complaints from the Humane Society about a particular kennel or Petland; so they have not investigated this specifically."[52] On November 24, 2008, Petland responded to the HSUS campaign video footage of the Petland investigation[53] by stating: "Petland is outraged that HSUS would intentionally use video footage of unrelated kennels in the report to try to mislead the general public into believing these facilities have a connection to Petland."[54] In another statement dated February 19, 2009, Petland stated they turned over death threats and threats of kidnapping generated from the HSUS campaign against Petland to the proper authorities for further investigation. Petland continued by asking HSUS to cease and desist in any actions that may promote malicious intent (directly or indirectly).[55]

On March 17, 2009, HSUS launched a class action suit against Petland on behalf of patrons who allegedly purchased sick animals from the chain, under the alleged pretense that the animals had come from the nation's finest breeders.[56] On August 8, 2009, the case was dismissed by a United States District Judge for lack of facts concerning the case.[57] Petland responded to the dismissal by stating: "The Humane Society of the United States touted the lawsuit in furtherance of its fundraising and media campaign seeking to end the sale of animals through pet stores. Petland denied that it had done anything unlawful, and it believes strongly that consumers have the right to purchase and keep pets."[58] The HSUS does not oppose the ownership of pets, but maintains that the desire for profit in commercial pet stores undermines proper care of companion animals.[59]

Corporate expansion[edit]

The corporate expansion forged by Pacelle included mergers with the Fund for Animals (2005) and the Doris Day Animal League (2006). This made possible the establishment of a separate campaigns department, a litigation section, the enhancement of signature programs likes Pets for Life[60] and Wild Neighbors,[61] and an expanded range of hands-on care programs for animals.[62] During the first 2½ years of Pacelle’s tenure, overall revenues and expenditures grew by more than 50 percent.[63]

In June 2007, HSUS launched Humane Wildlife Services, a program to encourage and provide humane wildlife-removal services when wild animals intrude on human dwellings.[64]

In early 2008, HSUS re-organized its direct veterinary care work and its veterinary advocacy under a new entity, the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association, which was formed through an alliance with the Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights (AVAR), a group of veterinarians that support the animal-rights movement.[65]

Investigation of Westland Meat Packing Company[edit]

In February 2008, after an undercover investigation conducted by HSUS at the Westland Meat Packing Company alleged substantial animal abuse, the USDA forced the recall 143 million pounds of beef, some of which had been routed into the nation's school lunch program.[66] HSUS had been a longtime advocate for the elimination of downer animals from the nation's food supply, and the undercover investigation led to the USDA adopting the policy.[67]

Successful political initiatives against animal abuse[edit]

HSUS was a leader in the Proposition 2 in California, which gained eight million votes on Election Day 2008, more than any other initiative on the ballot. The measure, which prohibits certain intensive confinement practices in agriculture beginning in 2015, passed by a 63.3 to 36.7 percent margin, winning in 46 of 58 counties, and gaining support throughout the state's urban, suburban, and rural areas. It garnered votes from Democrats, Independents, and Republicans alike, as well as among Caucasians, African-Americans, Asian-Americans, and Latinos. Nearly 800,000 Californians signed petitions to place the measure on the ballot.[68]

In March 2008, HSUS released the results of a nine-month undercover investigation of the NIRC laboratory in Louisiana, alleging widespread mistreatment of chimpanzees and other primates. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack ordered an immediate investigation of the facility.[69]

HSUS was also a participant in a ballot initiative campaign focusing on inhumane treatment of farm animals in Ohio.[70] The livestock-agriculture initiative was withdrawn from the ballot after a compromise was brokered between HSUS, Ohioans for Humane Farms, the Ohio Farm Bureau, and Ohio Governor Ted Strickland.[71]

HSUS led a campaign against puppy mill cruelty in Missouri in 2010. The Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act, known as "Prop B", was narrowly passed by Missouri voters.[72]

In the summer of 2010, HSUS named pop music artist Ke$ha as their "first global ambassador for animals" for their international branch, Humane Society International.



HSUS does not advocate for the keeping of pets, and seeks to free all animals from captivity as an animal liberation front.[73]

Feral cats[edit]

While initially opposed to Trap-Neuter-Return programs, calling them "a form of subsidized abandonment",[74] HSUS reversed its position on March 2006 and endorsed TNR as part of a multi-pronged approach to feral cat management.[75]

Animals in sports and entertainment[edit]

HSUS opposes greyhound racing, animal fighting, and works to limit the use and abuse of animals in certain display and spectacular contexts like zoos, circuses, aquariums, and roadside exhibits.[76]

Animals as food[edit]

HSUS opposes cruelty in the raising and slaughter of animals used for food, encouraging its constituents to reduce their consumption of meat and to choose products from humanely raised animals instead of factory farm products.[77] HSUS is a supporter of Certified Humane, one of the programs that aims to certify that farm animals have been humanely treated.[78]

Former chief executive officer John Hoyt once declared, "We are not a vegetarian organization, and as a matter of policy do not consider the utilization of animals for food to be either immoral or inappropriate -- a position that, as you might expect, earns us a great deal of criticism from various animal rights organizations." [79]

HSUS President and CEO Wayne Pacelle is a board member of the Global Animal Partnership, which recognizes humane producers with an animal welfare ratings standard that measures and rewards commitment to high welfare approaches.[80]

Wild animals[edit]

HSUS has taken a strong stand against the private ownership of exotic animals as pets.[81] It has campaigned for legislation banning ownership of wild animals in the few states that have not yet made it illegal. In Ohio, the HSUS negotiated last summer with Governor Ted Strickland and leaders of 8 agricultural commodity organizations in the state for improved animal welfare legislation. One of the points in the law that was passed prohibits owning wild animals as pets.[82] HSUS opposes the hunting of any living creature for fun, trophy, or sport. HSUS only supports killing animals for population control when carried out by officials and does not oppose hunting for food or subsistence needs.[83]

Governance and expenses[edit]

The Humane Society of the United States headquarters located in the West End neighborhood of Washington, D.C.

A nonprofit, charitable organization, HSUS is funded almost entirely by membership dues, contributions, foundation grants, and bequests. It receives a small amount of federal money in support of particular programs.

HSUS is governed by a 27-member, independent board of directors. Each director serves as a volunteer and receives no compensation for service.

In 2010, HSUS’s program expenses comprised 77.9% of its budget.[84] HSUS’s financial efficiency ratios exceed the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance (BBBWGA) standards which require that program expenses as a percentage of total expenses be 65% or greater. HSUS meets all 21 BBWGA financial and administrative standards,[85] and all 20 of the BBB's Standards for Charity Accountability.[86]

For four years, HSUS received the top four-star rating from Charity Navigator, but in 2010 was downgraded to three stars. Under the new 2.0 rating system implemented by Charity Navigator in 2011, HSUS receives three stars overall, and the top four-star rating for "Accountability & Transparency".[87] HSUS's international affiliate, Humane Society International, received a two-star rating from Charity Navigator in 2011.[88] As of 2012, Charity Navigator has rated both the Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society International with 4 stars.[89][90]

In 2009, HSUS was ranked at 168 in the Chronicle of Philanthropy's Philanthropy 400 survey of America's largest charities.[91]

In 2010, Worth Magazine named The HSUS as one of the 10 Most Fiscally Responsible Charities.[92]

In 2011, a study by GuideStar's Philanthropedia ranked HSUS the number one high-impact nonprofit making a positive impact in the field of animal protection.[93]


Food and beverage lobby[edit]

The Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF), an organisation that lobbies on behalf of the food and beverage industry, has been critical of HSUS for many years. They have produced several advertising campaigns alleging various improprieties by HSUS and accusing HSUS of misrepresenting itself to supporters and donors. HSUS has rejected CCF's accusations as "falsehoods and distortions" by "a flack agency and industry front group for tobacco, alcohol, and agribusiness interests."[94]

Charity Watch[edit]

The American Institute of Philanthropy has been critical of the HSUS. Charity Watch, the AIP's independent watchdog group, gave the HSUS a "D" in 2012, indicating "Unsatisfactory."[95]

They determined that HSUS spends an insufficient percentage of donations on programs, and an inordinately high percentage on fundraising. Using different estimates of fundraising expenses and efficiency, the American Institute of Philanthropy AIP's rating system heavily penalizes charities for possessing large assets or maintaining more than three years' operating expenses in reserve.[96]

Animal Rights or Human Responsibility[edit]

Animal Rights or Human Responsibility (AR-HR) is another organization that has done substantial original research into the HSUS. AR-HR has disclosed that it receives no compensation from the CCF, the agriculture industry, the fur industry, or the pet industry.[97] They agree substantially with many of the conclusions reached by the Center for Consumer Freedom: in particular, the HSUS's misrepresentation of itself in advertisements seeking donations.

Nathan Winograd[edit]

Nathan Winograd, an animal rights advocate and No Kill spokesman, has been particularly critical of the HSUS. He has accused the organization of aiding animal abusers by thwarting legislation designed to curtail abuse. Much of this was detailed in a Huffington Post article entitled: "Putting Abusers Before Animals Is Business as Usual at the HSUS."[98]

Specific criticism[edit]

IRS Complaint[edit]

In November 2013, a complaint was filed with the Internal Revenue Service against HSUS by the Center for Consumer Freedom. According to Bloomberg News, the IRS complaint alleges that HSUS "violated IRS rules by listing as contributions the $17.7 million value of air time for its public service announcements to promote pet adoption. The net effect is to raise the ratio of program expenses to total expenses, which the independent assessor Charity Navigator uses to rank the effectiveness of charities." According to Bloomberg News, a tax attorney claims that the “Humane Society shouldn’t count the public service air time as contributions.”[99]

Allegations of misappropriation of donations for Hurricane Katrina rescues[edit]

In 2006, the Attorney General of Louisiana opened an inquiry into the American Red Cross and HSUS after numerous complaints about the misuse of funds raised in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.[100] This inquiry was part of a wide-ranging effort to ensure that charities providing relief for the victims of the hurricane did not profit from the incident.[101] Neither Attorney General Charles Foti nor his successor Buddy Caldwell took any action, and the inquiry focusing on HSUS was called off in early 2008. AR-HR's analysis of the HSUS's tax returns has determined that 48% of the $34.6 million donated to the HSUS for the purposes of helping animals after Hurricane Katrina remain unaccounted for, despite the aborted investigation.[102]

Allegations of misleading fundraising materials[edit]

Many Critics, including the CCF, AR-HR, and Nathan Winograd have accused HSUS of misleading donors into thinking that their donations directly support local animal shelters, when HSUS has no affiliation with or control over local humane societies.

HSUS states on its website that it is not affiliated with local animal shelters,[103] and that the organization's role is to supplement and support the work of local shelters, not duplicate them. The fundraising materials of HSUS do not make the claim that HSUS runs local shelters, or that donations will be applied directly to local animal shelters.

They have also accused HSUS of a misleading fundraising pitch in relation to the Michael Vick dog fighting case.[104] Fundraising material on HSUS's website one day after Vick's indictment states that donations will be used to "help the Humane Society of the United States care for the dogs seized in the Michael Vick case" and that donations would be "put to use right away to care for these dogs."[105] It was later revealed that the dogs were not in the care of HSUS and that the group recommended the dogs be euthanized.[106] The donation pitch was altered to remove references to caring for Vick's dogs one week after the initial pitch.[107]

Position on horse slaughter[edit]

Veterinarians for Equine Welfare (VEW)[108] and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) have criticized HSUS and other organizations who lobbied for an end to horse slaughter in the United States, stating that instead of making things better "horses are being abandoned in the United States or transported to Mexico where, without U.S. federal oversight and veterinary supervision, they are slaughtered inhumanely."[109][110]

Questions about meat packing investigation[edit]

US Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer questioned the way HSUS handled its Westland/Hallmark Meat Packing Company investigation, stating that HSUS "sat on four months of production that went out into the marketplace that's now being recalled".[111]

Animal rights agenda[edit]

USA Today, The International Herald Tribune and The San Francisco Chronicle have described HSUS as devoted to "animal rights," as opposed to "animal welfare."[112][113][114] Shortly after Wayne Pacelle joined HSUS, he stated in an interview with the Animal People newspaper that his goal was to build "a National Rifle Association of the animal rights movement."[115] The IHT describes HSUS as the "least radical" of animal rights groups.[116] Feedstuffs, an agribusiness newspaper, has leveled the charge that HSUS is pursuing a vegetarianism and veganism agenda instead of animal welfare.[117] In 2010, one journalist in Oregon also claimed that HSUS "primarily works on animal rights legislation."[118]

Allegations of financial malfeasance[edit]

CCF alleges that a large network of affiliates and subsidiaries allows HSUS to "bury millions in direct-mail and other fundraising costs in its affiliate’s budget, giving the public (and charity watchdog groups) the false impression that its own fundraising costs were relatively low." According to them, HSUS’s Earth Voice International and the Humane Society of the United States Wildlife Land Trust received ratings of one and zero stars (out of four) respectively from Charity Navigator. Earth Voice International is no longer an affiliate of HSUS, and the HSUS Wildlife Land Trust is not rated by Charity Navigator. The Los Angeles Times reported that based on 1997 to 2006 data in the state of California, the HSUS has a net return of 11.3% while the Wildlife Land Trust has a -70% net return.[119] According to the "Pennies for Charity" report issued by the New York State Attorney General, of the $1.95 million raised in 2008 by fundraisers, only 5.29% went to HSUS. The average return for charities in the report was 39.5%. HSUS actually incurred a net loss of $5,358 (-0.32%) in 2007. Those figures in 2006 and 2005 numbers were more positive, with 7.27% and 19.99% of contributions going to HSUS.[120]

Misrepresentations of Canadian seafood boycott participation[edit]

In 2006, CCF conducted an informal poll of restaurants listed as boycotting Canadian seafood in protest of the slaughter of seals. CCF claims that 62% of the chefs and restaurant managers they spoke to on the phone were unaware that their companies were listed as "boycotters" on the HSUS website. In its report, CCF excluded those restaurants that were boycotting Canadian seafood prior to the HSUS boycott, and restaurants that serve any Canadian seafood (regardless of the type or quantity), and drew the conclusion that 78% of the interviewees were not actively participating in the boycott.[121] CCF quotes Loyola Hearn, Canadian Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, as saying: "Some animal rights groups have been misleading the public for years... it's no surprise at all that the richest of them would mislead the public with a phony seafood boycott."[122]

Michael Vick controversy[edit]

The football player Michael Vick was sentenced to prison for running a dogfighting ring; he was found to have buried dogs alive, drowned them, beaten them to death, and pulled out their teeth without anesthetic. After he had completed his sentence, Vick offered to volunteer his time to an HSUS campaign against dogfighting.[123] Pacelle's acceptance of Michael Vick's offer, and willingness to appear in public and be photographed alongside Vick, caused outrage among many donors, and caused one organization with the words "Humane Society" in their name to stress their non-affiliation with the HSUS.[124]

Sports Illustrated magazine published a major investigative cover story about Michael Vick's brutalized dogs, and what happened to them after they were seized from his dogfighting ring. The writer, Jim Gorant, was highly critical of the HSUS's immediate call for the pit bulls to be euthanized. Gorant went on to document the animals' rehabilitation, and how one went on to become famous as a therapy dog working in a hospital.[125]

In 2010, during an interview, Wayne Pacelle pointed out that Vick could own a dog "two or three years down the line"[126] after his sentence was completed. Wayne Pacelle toured schools with Vick, in the HSUS campaign against dogfighting, and was quoted as saying, "I have been around him a lot, and feel confident that he would do a good job as a pet owner."[127] Vick's sentence did not include a lifetime ban on owning pets, and Pacelle later issued a blog post explaining his stance on Vick as a potential dog owner.[128]

In October 2012, Michael Vick acquired a pet dog, which he purchased from a breeder.[129][130]

There was additional controversy when it was reported that HSUS had received a $50,000 grant from Michael Vick's team, the Philadelphia Eagles.[131] The Eagles' donation was made as part of the 2009 launch of their "Treating Animals With Kindness" (TAWK) program, which provides grants to animal welfare organizations to protect animals: the HSUS received a $50,000 grant, which they used to launch their anti-dogfighting and community intervention programs in Philadelphia.

Headquarters and regional offices[edit]

The Humane Society's national headquarters are in Washington, D.C. It has over 500 employees. The organization also maintains field representatives in 35 states.[132] Its international arm, Humane Society International (HSI), has offices in half a dozen nations and a broad range of international animal protection programs. HSI focuses on international treaties, animal birth control, humane slaughter education, and an end to the Canadian seal hunt. Many of the HSI campaigns and legal challenges are led by HSI vice president Cristobel "Kitty" Block.[133][134][135]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Form 990. Humane Society of the United States. 2011. Retrieved December 29, 2012. 
  2. ^ "About Us: Overview : The Humane Society of the United States". Retrieved 2011-03-30. 
  3. ^ "BBB Wise Giving Alliance: Overview : The Humane Society of the United States". Better Business Bureau. 2012-09-01. Retrieved 2013-05-26. 
  4. ^ a b "Form 990" (PDF). Humane Society of the United States. 2009. Retrieved April 8, 2012. 
  5. ^
  6. ^
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Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]