Transcript from this week’s episode of The Web-DVM:
The Humane Conflict
The images are designed to enflame our anger and tug at our hearts. Matted
dogs and wounded cats linger on the television screen and in our minds.
Throughout the ninety second infomercial, celebrity voices plead with us to open
our hearts, and our wallets, to save these poor creatures.
The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has spent more than fifty
years standing on the front lines in the battle against animal cruelty. So,
with such a positive agenda, why would anyone criticize their efforts?
Critics claim that the tear-jerking commercials mislead animal lovers into
donating $19 per month that is then used to fuel questionable lobbying efforts,
pay six figure salaries and fund yet more infomercials.
HumaneWatch.org, a watchdog website dedicated to â€œwatching the Humane
Society, issued a press release detailing a survey in which more than 70% of
respondents believed that HSUS is an â€œumbrella organization for local humane
societies. Not true.
Beyond that, more than 60% of surveyed adults believe that their local animal
shelter is actively associated with HSUS. 59% believed that HSUS used â€œmost of
its money to provide care and support at their local humane organizations.
Again not true.
HumaneWatch has evaluated IRS forms from HSUS and found that less than Â½ of
1% of donated monies went to the care of dogs and cats in local shelters. The
total returned to local shelters was less than $500,000 for 2008 out of $100
Million dollars raised!
The Humane Society counters HumaneWatch claims by stating that they â€œprovide
direct care for thousands of animals at our sanctuaries and rescue facilitiesâ€.
What is left unsaid is that these five facilities are focused on the care of
wildlife and animals â€œrescuedâ€ from circuses, zoos, farms and laboratories.
Even local animal shelters and humane groups are often left wondering about
the motives of HSUS. Some small shelters have been overwhelmed with animals
after well-publicized raidsby the HSUS and feel that the Humane Society
should offer more financial support.
Still, as an animal protection organization, HSUS has done much to help
criminalize abuse of animals. Their legislative efforts have helped pass animal
protection bills in almost every state. Their lobbying and legislative
experience enables them to take on larger animal welfare concerns beyond the
reach of local groups.
But, critics are increasingly concerned that HSUS is not transparent with how
donations from millions of animal lovers are being spent. Many who donate to
HSUS see their local shelter struggle financially to care for the homeless and
stray pets in their community. They believe their donation to HSUS is going to
help those animals. Instead, it appears that the bulk of Americanâ€™s donations
fund efforts to make laws based on emotion rather than fact and, of course, for
If you wish to help your local shelter give to them directly where you know
your money and your time will be used to help pets in your community. Talk with
your veterinarian or local shelter manager about what groups have the biggest
needs and how you can help. It’s the best way to insure that your donation will
have the biggest impact!
Don’t forget to catch my live call-in radio show Wednesdays 9PM EST. Listen via podcast live or archived here:
Blog Talk Radio
Dr. Roger Welton is the President and chief veterinarian at Maybeck Animal Hospital in West Melbourne Florida, as well as CEO of the veterinary advice and health management website Web-DVM.net.