We’ve released a blistering new report over at HumaneWatch that you need to check out today. “Deceptive Fundraising Practices of the Humane Society of the United States” is an in-depth look into the ways that HSUS misleads the public and its contributors about where their donations are headed.
While HSUS television ads are dominated by imagines of cats and dogs—they constitute more than 85 percent of the animals in the ads—only one percent of HSUS’s budget goes to support pet shelters. HSUS has said it has a disclaimer, but our analysis found that it only appeared in less than one percent of HSUS commercials over a multi-year period. HSUS includes similar rhetoric about pets in its mail campaigns as well.
And the deception is effective: Our report found that 74 percent of HSUS financial supporters donate in order to either help homeless cats and dogs in shelters or to reduce the number of animals put down in shelters each year. And 90 percent of donors were unaware that only one percent of HSUS’s budget went to supporting local pet shelters.
HSUS is surely nervous about people finding out about this. Polls indicate that once its own donors are aware of where the money goes, 80 percent believe that HSUS “misleads people into thinking that it supports local humane societies and pet shelters.” In turn, almost half of the HSUS donors say they are less likely to give in the future once they know the facts. This deception is rampant and it is a nationwide problem.
That’s why HumaneWatch has also contacted 12 state attorneys general offices in states that protect their citizens against deceptive or misleading charitable solicitation. We told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that there is a disconnect between the fundraising tactics of HSUS and the way it actually spends its funds.
Needless to say, the heat is on at HSUS. So what’s its response? Rather than respond to the report’s findings, HSUS has decided to attack us instead. But no matter: A spokesman for the Pennsylvania Attorney General promised us a response, and we look forward to reading it.