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« Ontario, Miami-Dade BSL repeals move forward | Main | Another great TV commercial featuring shelter pets »

February 27, 2012


Lori Hoffman

When HSUS begins to stand for No Kill and no longer sends animals they "rescue" out to be killed in nasty dog pounds, they will have my support. Not til. No matter what else they do, they will not have my support nor that of my family. We support No Kill organizations only.

Thanks for getting this message out though.


Ironic. Rick Berman brags his strategy is to shoot the messenger. That is why he attacks hsus instead of debating the issues. If you don't like "shoot the messenger" then be consistent and call out Berman. Of course you would never do that.

Ted Moore

"It would have been really easy for HSUS to at least acknowledge...that the "takeaway" from the CCF's commercial, give to your local shelters, is actually a noble donation."

HSUS' messaging is professionally and carefully crafted and expertly delivered, in part, I'd guess, to produce the "71% approval rating" (so to speak) that you cite. Earnest but poorly-funded amateur rebuttals are "noble", but I prefer to bring guns to gunfights. So, thanks, Mr. Berman, for the ad, regardless of the motivation for funding and producing it (after all, corporations are people, too; if you disagree, make sure your local shelter turns down its next big donation from one).


I love this blog and read it regularly, but rarely comment. But the idea HSUS does little to help shelter animals frustrates me. Based on my experiences as a Disaster Animal Response Team volunteer, i believe the allegations are completely inaccurately being used to further the CCF agenda.

The goals of HSUS are far beyond companion animals -- they are interested in the welfare of all animals: livestock, marine life, wildlife, and exotics. But in terms of companion animals, The Haven Acres response in Gainesville FLA this summer responded to a hoarding situation of 700 cats. HSUS provided resources and man-power to run an emergency temporary shelter for five months while the case was adjudicated and placement was found for over 82% of those cats, including ferals, FIV+, and FELV+ cats. They underwrote thousands of dollars of grants to cover the medical needs and free transportation of these cats all over the nation. That operation--1of 51 last year-- cost well over $515,000. The on-going case regarding over 160 Malamutes in Montana will cost close to the same amount as the dogs are stuck in an emergency shelter until the case will be heard in May. In fighting cases, HSUS writes grants to rescues willing to take dogs that are independently assessed by CCBC evaluators to rehabilitate behaviorally and medically.

77% of HSUS donations go directly to companion animal programs, four sanctuaries, disaster response, large scale neglect and cruelty rescues, campaigns to stop animal fighting, canned hunts, to better conditions in factory farms, and wildlife protection. HSUS runs the largest horse sanctuary, exotic animal sanctuary, and two wildlife rehabilitation medical centers. They partner with Maddies Fund to provide grants and have two whole departments devoted to improving shelter standards. They run education programs for the public as well as professional education for shelter staff through Humane Society University.

HSUS spent over $78 million last year in fighting animal cruelty. HSUS does not exist as a grant-making organization, but they affiliate with organizations like Maddie's Fund for that purpose, and Shelter Outreach Services is there to allocate support, training, and help identify other grant options the shelter can qualify for.

HSUS supports companion animal welfare in different ways "Shelters Rock" and "Spay Day" events and campaign,large-scale pet adoption campaigns through Shelter Pet Project, a joint effort with Maddie's Fund and the Ad Council, training, education, and evaluation of shelters, and running the Animal Care Expo for shelter personnel.

They also supply emergency assistance to shelters in disaster zones and partner with law enforcement to seize animals from large-scale cruelty and neglect situations.

From my perspective, they do help shelter and companion animals. Through spay/neuter programs and awareness, physically removing animals from deplorable conditions, training staff to better meet the needs of those animals through courses and conferences, and providing grants to cover the costs of medical rehabilitation for those animals from horrific situations, they are helping shelter pets.

For me, legislation to cut down on the pet overpopulation problem through banning large-scale breeding facilities is helping shelter pets. Legislation that makes stiffer penalties for animal fighting helps shelter pets. Legislation that makes cruelty a felony is helping shelter pets.


In response to Mellissa's justifications for the HSUS's abuse of donor funds, I can't say I find it a particularly compelling argument that the HSUS uses funds to illegally raid animal keepers and then sticks local humane societies and rescue groups with the bill.

They're great at the publicity end, but once the cameras stop rolling, who's left holding the bag with the stressed-out, perfectly-healthy-prior-to-HSUS's-illegal-intervention horses and dogs? Local shelters. Who illegally raided Denisa Malott and a host of other innocent dog breeders and horse trainers? The HSUS.

I also can't say I find it a particularly compelling argument that they get involved in cases they promote as "dog fighting ring" saves--seeing as how they actively campaign in court to have those innocent dogs slaughtered while experienced local rescue groups are ready and willing to step up to the plate and ACTUALLY do the humane thing. Who raked in millions in the name of the Vick dogs while petitioning for their wholesale slaughter? The HSUS. Who showed up in court with a posse of lawyers to slaughter the Wilkes County dogs? The HSUS.

Who throws their considerable donor dollars and legal expertise toward fighting No-Kill shelter laws? The HSUS.

I routinely donate to my local shelters and bulldog rescue groups. They do a great deal of hands-on good. The CCF has never asked me for a penny. I honestly don't care who the "messenger" is in this case--I and a lot of other folks who love dogs and horses have known this stuff about them for YEARS before Berman and Co. came on the scene.

Good for them for getting the word out.



Note that I did not say that I think everything HSUS does is bad. There are indeed many good things they do. I'm not opposed to lobbying - -and in fact, think it is very important. I do understant that they do a good job on disaster response -- although often the animals in these situations are sent to fairly high-kill shelters and there is no support beyond the transfer.

That said, I DO think people think HSUS provides money to local animal shelters, and really, they don't. That's fine, if that's not their mission, but I don't think that the confusion is accidental and I do think if more people knew this, they would be more inclined to give to their local shelters - -most of whom badly need the $$$.

I do question some of your numbers, but is probably not the most important point. My biggest frustration is that in the in 20+ paragraphs defending themselves, they made no mention at all of local animal shelters....which should disturb anyone who works with one.


I have also "worked" with HSUS and have a completely different take than Melissa. HSUS reguarly sends a few t-shirted volunteers to participate in seizures that were planned by other groups. Those t-shirted individuals spend most of their time mugging for the camera and very little time actually helping in the task at hand. Once the press leaves, so does the HSUS. They then use the photos they set up for fund raising, and I have never worked with any organization on a seizure that received a dime from HSUS for help with aftercare or placement.

The "Shelter Pet Project" is NOT the brainchild of HSUS. It is well known that SPP was put together by others and HSUS was invited along as an afterthought. In fact, most animal welfare and rescue advocates I know refuse to use SPP because of its link to HSUS. That discrimination doesn't hurt the animals because SPP (coat-tails) links to Pet Finder - a non-HSUS venture.

It was in the news recently that yet another large-scale well-publicized HSUS seizure (of a Polish Arabian farm) was illegal and all the animals have been ordered returned. Once again consulting vets testified that HSUS blatantly misused cruelty laws to its own benefit, apparently for the purposes of later fundraising on the backs of the seized animals. In the Malott case, HSUS abandoned the horses they seized in a field with improper fencing and no food and water for nearly three weeks. That seizure was also ruled illegal by the courts. Fortunately those horses were reclaimed by their owner before their conditions deteriorated too far. That is just two examples of many.

As a long time shelter and rescue volunteer I have no love for HSUS, haven't for decades after working with them numerous times first hand. I, and many, many others in the rescue community see them for what they are - an organization that steals money from local shelters and rescues under false pretenses. You can't tell me that all those sad faced puppies and kittens in their obnoxious ads ever see one cent of the money HSUS takes in from those commercials. That is based on a close look at the HSUS tax returns which are cooked until burnt. But that is a rant for another day. As are their closed admission sanctuaries and the outrageous amount of money HSUS charges for "shelter evaluations" despite not owning or running ANY dog and cat shelters.

If CCF and HumaneWatch can do anything to make HSUS actually provide hands on care for animals, then they have done all of the animals a very nice thing. Bravo HumaneWatch.

And FYI, when Wayne says that anyone who doesn't agree with him supports dog fighting, cock fighting and animal clubbing - he loses the debate and his dwindling supporters. Mr. Pacelle has yet to come out with ANY facts to refute ANYTHING that CCF and HumaneWatch have reported, all he does in engage in childish name calling. Not very professional Mr. Pacelle, not very professional.


So it's HSUS' fault that 71% of the public doesn't care enough to find out what HSUS does and does not do? Their PSA's continally highlight their legislation activity, anti-puppy mill efforts, etc.

Carol Coe

What a great discussion, and one that is taking hold on a national level. I do not dispute that HSUS, PETA and the ASPCA do some great and necessary work. I regularly contributed to these organizations for many years, but in the past few years have stopped those contributions to concentrate on local concerns who desperately need the help. I find it puzzling that national groups with access to hundreds of millions in donations have not done more to stop kill shelters in the US, and all no kill efforts to date have been pushed and supported only by local grass roots efforts of animal advocates and concerned citizens, and with the help of recently created entities such as the No Kill Advocacy Center. There's nothing wrong with starting at the ground level - the no kill movement is widening the circle every day, so it is working - but it seems that a concentrated and coordinated effort by these mega organizations would have gone a long way by now in creating a nation where shelter animals no longer have to die. Instead they seem bent on fighting the likes of Nathan Winograd and Ryan Clinton and other proponents of no kill, instead of changing the national face of sheltering. Hence, my donations will continue to go to local concerns and organizations that I feel are following a no kill agenda to re-home the highest possible percentage of shelter animals. Like Brent, I wish the HSUS and others would do the same and help local shelters, particularly open intake shelters, achieve the goal of no kill and no more homeless pets. They certainly have the means to do so. A percentage of Wayne Pacelle's annual income alone would save thousands of animals.

doug williams

I love the CCF. I am an a adult and can make my own decision about pulling for a Big Mac or stopping at the health food store for a smoothie. ( I do both)I can decide if I want a glass of wine.. or to smoke a cigar. I can decide to eat a can of tune or not.. In other words i put on my big boy pants and run my own life as much as I can. I am not supportive or huge government telling me what to do or 'nanny staters'.
HSUS is mentioned here many times as "lobbyists".. are they? if they are and it seems they are even according to their own admission.. then they should lose their 501(c) 3.
They are masters at "create a crisis" and i guess Rick Berman is the next target of the "oh my the sky is falling.. and by the way send us money" campaign.
Rick does not need the money but it almost makes me want to send him some.. instead I will do as he ask and run down to my LOCAL shelter and give them a check TODAY in the name of Dr. Evil.. can you do the same?

Karen F

Melissa, when you say, "They partner with Maddies Fund to provide grants and have two whole departments devoted to improving shelter standards. They run education programs for the public as well as professional education for shelter staff through Humane Society University," what you're really saying is that HSUS, with all its wealth and influence, has allowed the shelter system to stay exactly the way it is.

As for Rick Berman, the animal rights activist Edward Duvin, in a 1990s essay called "Speciesism," explained that it is the enemies of the animal rights agenda who most clearly see the hypocrisy of animal rights groups who permit, endorse, or carry out shelter killing:

"So we railed at furriers, animal farmers, hunters, vivisectors, and all the rest for killing healthy beings, but humane societies and SPCAs weren’t held accountable for finding nonlethal solutions to overpopulation because they were us. Animal rights activists looked the other way, and this “free pass” given to shelters set the stage for companion animals to be the forgotten species of the animal liberation movement.

How revealing that our adversaries recognize the hypocrisy of this tragic omission, but we continue to wear incestuous blinders when it comes to double standards in our own movement. The American Trapper stated that our movement’s “expertise is, quite simply, the killing of the overabundance of pets. Nothing more.” Who can deny the hideous reality that we take more lives each year in our shelters than we save in our other noble pursuits!"


Melissa's defense of HSUS comes from HSUS. That means that every sentence requires a fact check. Here are some correctives that focus on the erroneous numbers.

Program Expenses: Melissa/HSUS state that HSUS spent $78 million, or 77% of donations last year fighting animal cruelty. (Animal People's Watchdog Report adjusts the 77% figure down to 57%.) The $78 million you claim to spend on programs includes telemarketing, direct mail with "free" gifts, TV infomercials begging for $19 a month and salaries for 600+ employees. "Raising awareness" of animal cruelty accompanied by a request for money is fundraising, not programs.

HSUS, Shelters and Sanctuaries: The 4 sanctuaries you mention are run by the FUND FOR ANIMALS, not HSUS. The Fund for Animals uses a NYC address in its fundraising mailings - plus telemarketing and online pitches to fund the sanctuaries. HSUS "merged" with the Fund in 2004, but tricks people into donating to both groups for the same purposes. Sleazy profiteering scheme.
Melissa/HSUS think lobbying for legislation translates to support for shelters. The only thing HSUS's excessive lobbying supports is the case for losing its tax exempt status. Melissa may not know that IRS rules do not allow charities to engage in more than a minimal amount of lobbying. HSUS exceeds the limits by 1000 miles. The bean counters try to hide a lot of the expenses, but Wayne can't stop talking about lobbying. He's obsessed with it. HSUS "partners with/affiliates with Maddie's Fund to provide grants." How many HSUS grant dollars does this involve? Bubkes. According to "The Death Hope at HSUS" by Nathan Winograd, Maddie's Fund actually wrote a big check to HSUS around the time the Shelter Pet Project was announced. HSUS also makes money selling their advice, "university" training, magazine and trade show to shelters. Nothing is free and much is mediocre in content.

HSUS Rescues: Tons of information about the Montana malamute case is available online. Had you read it, there is no way you could parrot HSUS's claim that it cost them $500,000 to assist. HSUS helped law enforcement and the Lewis and Clark Humane Society seize the animals on October 13, 2011. The shelter paid for the care ($11,000 a month) with the help of local donors. Only in December, when the judge ruled that the accused abusive breeder could help rehome 70 of the dogs did HSUS offer financial support. "HSUS has agreed to cover all costs associated with care and shelter not met by donations." The shelter continues to hold fundraisers for the malamutes' care. The trial is in May.

Melissa, please provide a real accounting (with links to documents and sources for verification) of the $500,000 for this case and $515,000 for the 700 cats in Florida. The cat hoarding rescue involved Red Rover, volunteer veterinarians from University of Florida, Petsmart, and local shelters as well as HSUS. You cannot. HSUS cannot. And Wayne Pacelle is enraged that countless people (not just CCF) are calling him to account.


Why don't the large groups help stop the killing in shelters? BECAUSE THEY DON'T WANT TO.

HSUS and PeTA are animal rights groups. This means they see humans as "oppressing" and "exploiting" animals, and want us all to stop eating meat, stop wearing fur and leather, and even to stop owning pets, as pet ownership is also "exploitation" according to their warped minds. I have browsed AR forums, and some of them do indeed have pets, but they call them "the friend that has to live with me." (I do find that sort of hypocritical, IMO).

Here is a whole page of quotes from the HSUS, it is in PDF format.

I draw your attention to these three:

When asked if he envisioned a future without pets, "If I had my personal view, perhaps that
might take hold. In fact, I don’t want to see another dog or cat born." Wayne Pacelle quoted in
Bloodties: Nature, Culture and the Hunt by Ted Kerasote, 1993, p. 266.

“I don’t have a hands-on fondness for animals…To this day I don’t feel bonded to any nonhuman
animal. I like them and I pet them and I’m kind to them, but there’s no special bond
between me and other animals.” Wayne Pacelle quoted in Bloodties: Nature, Culture and the
Hunt by Ted Kerasote, 1993, p. 251.

We have no ethical obligation to preserve the different breeds of livestock produced through
selective breeding. . One generation and out. We have no problem with the extinction of
domestic animals. They are creations of human selective breeding." Wayne Pacelle, Senior VP of
Humane Society of the US, formerly of Friends of Animals and Fund for Animals, Animal
People, May, 1993

Jay T

And yet they do nothing to clean up the disgusting NYCACC shelters in their very own city.


Actually Jay -- HSUS is based in the Washington DC area. It's the ASPCA that is located in NYC.


Melissa - "large scale breeding facilities" do not contribute to "pet overpopulation". Here in Missouri our commercial breeders breed small and Toy breeds, most of which are microchipped for inventory control, so if those dogs are filling the shelters they should be traceable back to the kennel. If shelters were full of Yorkies and Shih-Tzus the shelters would be rich.

HSUS came into Missouri and collected millions of dollars to pass a ballot initiative aimed at destroying our commercial dog breeding industry, which was already the most heavily regulated and inspected in the country. It took every facet of our agriculture industry, our legislature, and the Governor to send them packing and they're STILL trying to take us out.

Now HSUS, sore losers that they are, is supporting a ballot initiative here in Missouri that would amend our constitution and make it more difficult for the legislature to modify laws passed by ballot initiatives, i.e, the voters. Wouldn't it make more sense if they'd taken the millions of dollars they've spent trying to ruin our agriculture industry and give that money to cash-strapped animal shelters? Actually, they could just set fire to that pile of money and it would be more useful than using it to destroy people that make an honest living and pay taxes to support their community.

I've watched the HSUS rake in millions by manufacturing lies about the American Pit Bull Terrier as well, which has resulted in the death of tens of thousands of dogs - and probably more. Sorry, I'm flat out of patience with HSUS and I pray every day I live long enough to see the IRS yank their tax-exempt status and shuts them down. Seeing Wayne Pacelle in stripes would be the cherry on top of that sundae.

Go to - they have HSUS's 990s posted. They sure wire a lot of money overseas as "grants" to some pretty odd locations for some questionable programs.



I don't think it's a fair representation to paint quite that rosey of a picture of Missouri's Commercial Dog Breeding industry. There are certainly some that are doing a fine job of doing what they do -- but there are still many, many problems. And enforcement has been an issue. That said, HSUS's tactics on this were far over-reaching and problematic for a whole host of reasons. And the new ballot initiative is extremely problematic, with animal issues being probably the smallest of concerns about it.


When the messenger is as evil, corrupt and disgusting as CCF, I have no problem with "shooting" them.

Plus, they are not the "messenger", they are the message makers. There is nothing compassionate or awesome or inspiring about CCF. They are funded by animal killers, people who think drunk driving is the awesome, tobacco makers and the like. I have no interest in spreading, sharing or encouraging their "messages". And I think it's a damn shame anyone else, especially thoughtful compassionate people, would either.


Marji -- your contempt for the CCF is understandable...and I'd never call them "inspiring". And I would never just take their word for anything. But their message isn't necessarily inaccurate (I've read all of the annual reports and tax returns).

Even then, I wouldn't have posted on this had I not been taken aback by HSUS's response. CCF notes to "Give to your local shelter" (even though I acknowledge that they are not doing this for altruistic reasons) and HSUS's response never once mentions local shelters? That really is, IMO, a slap in the face to many of the people who work at these shelters, could badly use the extra cash flow, and are, by and large, among HSUS's biggest supporters. And that's a huge red flag IMO.

Montecristo Travels

New to this blog.
I believe that in the end it boils down to people doing their own research. Big organizations are the ones that usually know how to "spin" things the best. In our case, we try to always donate at the "boots on the ground" level. My recommendation to anyone is to find that one small group in your own community to donate to. Not because I think the larger organizations do not have their merit - but because I will not donate to an organization that uses my donation for salaries, advertising and publicity stunts. I would like my donation to go straight to the source; those organizations that are run by volunteers with huge hearts. Like with everything in this world, the bigger the organization - the less your money is actually ending up on the front line. So - if you can ... find that front line. This is true of all charitable campaigns.


Brent, I hate seeing nice, intelligent people conned into thinking that because CCF has some factual information, that it is in the best interest of the animals to spread it.

CCF gets their information from somewhere - go to the source, if you believe the information is good to share. (You, being editorial, not you personally).

CCF has no scruples, no morality, and they don't give one flying monkey's butt about animals in shelters. They just don't. And I think it sucks anyone believes a lobbying/PR firm that supports drunk driving, mercury poisoning, and increasing the availability of tobacco CARES about dogs and cats in your local shelter.

They care about whatever corporate "person" is paying them to care about. I just cannot get behind that, no matter how "accurate" the message-maker is.



Please reread the post. I acknowledge that they're not doing this because of some altruism. I know it's not. And I know they're doing it with the specific purpose to bring down HSUS.

That said, HSUS DOES contribute very little to local "humane societies' and shelters. It has been my experience that most people (again, whether their 71% is true or not is debatable) believe that they do. And I do think more money would go to local shelters (most of whom need it badly) if people realize this.

So no, I don't think CCF cares in the slightlest about local shelters. But given HSUS's response to this, I'm not sure their management does either.

I've learned a lot over the years in reading information from a TON of different sources -- and there are few people out there that I agree with on everything, and few that I disagree with on everything. I do "consider the source" when I read, but don't readily discount everything from groups I disagree with -- on either side of the equation.

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