The earthquake that left Haiti in ruins last week is an unspeakable tragedy that calls for the support of humanitarians around the world to rescue and rebuild. But some “charities” may not have the most honest of goals. Human rights journalist Anai Rhoads writes that the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and other groups are engaging in deceptive fundraising by overstating the number of animals in need:

HSUS also claimed that there are companion animals. “…a large stray dog population, an untold number of companion animals.” This is really tough sell, in an area so poor that scanning trash for food was the norm. It would be utter suicide for the more than 80 percent of those are poor in the country to house and feed a companion animal.

Rhoads also points out that also much of the livestock and pet populations in Haiti were ravaged following strong storms in 2008. Another observer in Haiti reports that he didn’t notice any stray cats just six days before the quake. As Rhoads puts it, HSUS is raising money to help “a mass number of animals, which don’t seem to exist.”
Not that such technicalities have historically mattered to HSUS. If a boatload of donations is left over when it leaves Haiti, the money can be commingled with the other tens of millions in assets HSUS already has in the bank. From there, it can be spent on anything HSUS wants, from PETA-inspired lobbying to putting farmers out of business. Just don’t expect too much of it to go to hands-on dog and cat shhelters.
This latest situation is another chapter in HSUS’s history of questionable fundraising ploys. You might recall that after Hurricane Katrina struck Louisiana in 2005, HSUS head Wayne Pacelle went on national television and pledged to reunite pets with their owners. An investigation of the post-Katrina money trail by Atlanta’s WSB-TV found that public documents accounted for just $7 million of the $34 million that HSUS raised in the wake of the storm. (HSUS claims otherwise, of course.)
Louisiana’s Attorney General conducted an 18-month investigation into this fundraising, only closing it after HSUS announced its plan to contribute $600,000toward the construction of an animal shelter on the grounds of a state prison. And natural disasters aside, HSUS doesn’t exactly have a great record of caring for the animals it does rescue.
Watchdog groups have been warning readers to avoid deceptive charities trying to cash in on the disaster in Haiti. We have to wonder: Should HSUS be added to the list?