We told you last week about some serious issues we had with the Humane Society of the United States’ (HSUS) latest fundraising drive, which is raising money in the wake of the devastating Haiti earthquake. Today, new concerns come from a disaster expert with Humane Society International (HSI), the global arm of HSUS itself. Lloyd Brown from Wildlife Rescue of Dade County deployed with HSI to Haiti, and tells The Horse magazine that his team has determined nothing can be done at the moment to help animals there:
Our team has been doing assessments for several days now and it is our professional opinion that no animal issues are here that are related to the event of the earthquake. There are a lot of animal issues here, but after speaking with a local American expatriate veterinarian here (who is very well connected in this country) we must agree with her that now is not the time to deal with them.
Let me give you an example: If we were to set up a spay/neuter clinic while so many people are displaced and homeless, it could be disastrous–they don’t understand neutering here. People are hungry, they have no homes, they have no shelter, they are sleeping in the streets. They don’t understand the concept of a PET, they are an agricultural community–animals are for work or to sell food or to help them feed their families.
So let’s recap: A large proportion of the livestock and pet populations in Haiti was reportedly ravaged following strong storms in 2008. Another Haiti observer reports that he didn’t notice any stray cats just six days before the quake. And now, a disaster relief expert with an HSUS-affiliated organization says none of the animal issues that do exist are even related to the earthquake.
Looks like the growing concern that HSUS is raising money to help “animals which don’t seem to exist” is dead-on. But you’d never get that from HSUS’s urgent fundraising appeal pleading for an “emergency donation.” On its own website, just yesterday, HSUS wrote that “Humane Society International’s team on the ground in Haiti continues its work of helping animals in distress.”
Those would be the animals Brown says are either nonexistent or beyond HSI’s ability to help.
We’re calling on HSUS to stop its Haiti fundraising drive, do an immediate public accounting, and give back all of the money that isn’t earmarked solely for Haiti operations. If there’s nothing to do in Haiti with its money haul, who’s to say HSUS won’t funnel the cash elsewhere in its organization—to support a bloated staff of 30 lawyers, PETA-inspired campaigns and litigation, and money counters, perhaps? Now is the time for fundraising transparency—something HSUS has lacked in the past.