With billboards in New York City’s Times Square, today the Center for Consumer Freedom’s HumaneWatch project is advising Americans to “read the fine print” before donating to the Humane Society of the United States. Public polling shows that over two-thirds of Americans mistakenly believe that HSUS gives most of its money to pet shelters. Actually, it gives one percent of its budget to local pet shelters.
You can forgive HSUS’s donors for their confusion: According to our analysis of HSUS television fundraising ads aired from January 2009 to September 2011, 85 percent of the animals in HSUS ads were dogs and cats — and less than one percent of ad airings had even a tiny, fine-print disclaimer noting that HSUS isn’t affiliated with local pet shelters. It’s no surprise then that in a poll of shelter professionals, 71 percent of respondents agreed that “HSUS misleads people into thinking it is associated with local animal shelters.”
So if HSUS isn’t actually a pet shelter umbrella group, what is it up to? For starters, it’s trying to bankrupt farmers, rehabilitating the image of convicted dogfighting kingpin Michael Vick, and promoting strict vegetarianism. It’s also running high overhead costs, earning HSUS a “D” from the respected charity watchdog aptly named CharityWatch (formerly the American Institute of Philanthropy).
We made a video featuring some things Americans might not know about HSUS a few months back. Watch below to read the “fine print” about HSUS.