The recent release of the Center for Consumer Freedom’s (CCF) 50-state report, “Not Your Local Humane Society,” reminds Americans not to be fooled by the Humane Society of the United States’ (HSUS) advertising and to donate locally to the needy animals in their community. In interviews with media outlets, shelter directors echoed CCF’s findings and confirmed that a large portion of Americans incorrectly believe their donations to HSUS filter down to pet shelters, directly improving the lives of dogs and cats in their community. CCF encourages reporters to contact their local pet shelters to discuss how this widespread misperception affects local animal care.

HSUS’s advertisements employ the images of downtrodden dogs and cats to tug at the heart strings and wallets of America’s pet lovers. But CCF’s new report finds HSUS is a “Humane Society” in name only, sharing a meager $527,566, or 0.4 percent of its $120 million budget with sheltering organizations nationwide in 2010. In the same year, HSUS spent an astounding $47 million in fundraising-related costs (37 percent of its total budget) and parked $32 million in hedge funds.

“Not Your Local Humane Society” includes an accounting of all grants to pet shelters made by HSUS during the years 2008, 2009, and 2010. The data is drawn directly from the animal rights group’s tax returns.

In a recent interview with News 12 New Jersey, Roseann Trezza, Executive Director of New Jersey’s Associated Humane Societies, commented: “We receive nothing from them. And the amount of money they get nationally and don’t share with needy shelters like ours is a shame.” Amanda Welby from the Seattle Humane Society told Fox Spokane that the misunderstanding between HSUS and local shelters is “a good source of confusion for a lot of our donors. […] We have had issues with people who would intend to name us in their will, but actually name the Humane Society of the United States.”

HSUS raised a staggering $131 million in 2010, mostly from Americans who believed their donations would filter down to local pet shelters. According to a recent national poll, over 71 percent of Americans mistakenly believe that HSUS is a pet-shelter umbrella group, while 59 percent incorrectly believe HSUS contributes most of its money to local hands-on pet-care groups. In August, HSUS earned a “D” grade from the American Institute of Philanthropy, a respected charity watchdog that analyzes how well charities use donations.

“With over $215 million in assets HSUS could clearly afford to live up to its undeserved reputation as a major contributor to local shelters,” said Rick Berman, Executive Director of CCF. “By continuing to drain precious resources from local shelters, HSUS is only proving it’s not a true humane society.”