Last week the animal-rights “Humane Society” of the United States hosted its 2010 Animal Care Expo in Nashville, Tennessee. It’s a trade show for local pet shelters. The sad irony is that HSUS gives less than one percent of its $100 million budget to those same underfunded shelters—choosing instead to charge them for attending what should have been a complimentary meet-and-greet. (HSUS, after all, could easily afford to present the Expo as a public service instead of a profit center.)

Despite the image portrayed in HSUS’s ubiquitous fundraising infomercials, the ones showing homeless puppies and kitties, HSUS gave just $10,000 to Tennessee shelters in all of 2008, while spending millions on a bloated staff of lawyers, animal-rights lobbying, and efforts to cripple America’s livestock farmers.

On Friday we spread the news—fittingly, to readers of The Tennessean, the state's largest newspaper:

You can see the group's money — your money, really — at work in statehouses, courtrooms and ballot boxes. That's where the organization pushes for animal rights, not to be confused with animal welfare. HSUS is driven by the belief that animals deserve legal rights, including the right to not be eaten as food and the right to sue people in court…

The Humane Society of the United States plasters its ads with images of pets. The warm-and-fuzzy approach is clearly fundraising gold. But is the animal-rights industry's agenda really what well-meaning Americans want to support with their $19 monthly donations? I doubt it. 

It's getting so that there's only one way animal lovers can be sure their donations actually go to help pet shelters and animal welfare programs: Give locally. Help the shelters in your community, not the big-bucks animal-rights lobby in Washington.

Read the whole piece here.