Yesterday, the Center for Consumer Freedom announced the results of a study they did that essentially says that 7 out of 10 Americans are confused about what role the Humane Society of the United States plays in animal welfare.
According to their study, which involved 1,008 Americans:
79% of people are either very or somewhat familiar with HSUS
71% Think HSUS is an ubrella group that represents local humane societies around the country
63% Think their local humane society is affiliated with HSUS
59% think HSUS contributes most of its money to local organizations to care for dogs and cats.
48% thinks their local humane society receives financial support from HSUS.
The reality, of course, is that all of these people are wrong. HSUS does none of those things. And while it would be easy to dismiss CCF's study because, well, the CCF has an agenda to stomp on HSUS, I can certainly say that this research passes my sniff test. I can't even tell you how many times I've had the conversation with people telling them that the local shelters are not affiliated with HSUS (or, by the same token, local SPCAs are not affiliated with the ASPCA) that this information certainly passes my sniff test.
What may be worse than the countless dollars that are donated each year to the Humane Society of the United States believing the money will go to local shelters -- is that, in my opinion, this is EXACTLY what HSUS wants people to believe. And that's just wrong.
I've written about this recently, but the way HSUS raises money is disingenuous (at best) in leading people to believe that the money is going to help animals cared for at local shelters. Incidences where HSUS has sent out email donation solicitations that seem to purposefully lead people to believe that they are caring for dogs kept at local shelters when they really aren not. Recently they've solicited money to "Care for the dogs seized in the Michael Vick Case" even though the dogs were in the actual care of other organizations, and to help save thousands of animals "just like Fay" -- even though neither Fay, nor any of the dogs confiscated with here, were being cared for by HSUS. The last case was particularly disturbing because the solicitation email went out the Monday after a Time Magazine article was published focusing on the dogs from this Dog Fighting Bust and the role the Humane Society OF MISSOURI was playing in the care of these dogs.
Last week, HSUS sponsored their annual Spay Day -- which was forcasted to have over 600 organizations offering free or low-cost spays and neuters for dogs. However, if you read the fine print, it looks like only 11 of the 600 organizations actually received grants from HSUS -- the rest foot the bill on their own or with help from other organizations.
This is an organization that spends roughly $39 million a year in promoting itself for fundraising and other strategic communication....it seems as if it would be impossible for people to be so confused as to what it was HSUS did....unless it was sort of intentional that people were confused.
And that's my beef. People are confused. Yes, we could (and should) hold people accountable for not using the internets to be able to understand what organizations do with their money -- but more importantly, we need to continue to push HSUS to be honest in their fundraising tactics so that when people donate money to HSUS, they know it is going for legislation activites and for buying stock in fast food restaurants, and not much is going to support animals that are in local shelters.
If you are out there and want to give money to help you local shelters -- then by all means, it's a great way to help animals in your local community. But please, just give $$$ to them at the local level.