While thousands of people prepared to leave their homes in the face of Hurricane Matthew, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) was preparing to swoop in with their big rig of misleading promises. The disgraced charity is fundraising off the tragedy of Hurricane Matthew, asking for donations and insinuating that they will be on the scene to help animals. While legitimate animal welfare organizations are struggling to save as many displaced animals as possible from these natural disasters, HSUS is making their jobs harder.
As with any flimflammer, the devil is in the details, or rather the details they don’t want you to know. In 2015, HSUS reeled in over $120 million in donations, yet less than 1% of went to animal shelters. That’s right, the organization famous for the sad puppy TV ads pleading for your help doesn’t actually spend that money to help sad puppies. In fact, HSUS does not operate a single pet shelter. In 2013, they declared over $5 million in lobbying expenses—more than it granted to shelters.
HSUS has a history of betraying the public, and just their name alone perpetuates confusion. HSUS is a master at deception while their ultimate goal is to eradicate animals from our lives. HSUS CEO, Wayne Pacelle, has openly said, “I don’t want to see another cat or dog born.” Despite naming one of this books The Bond, Our Kinship with Animals, Pacelle has said, “I don’t have a hands-on fondness for animals. I did not grow up bonded to any particular nonhuman animal. I like them and I pet them and I’m kind to them, but there’s no special bond between me and other animals.” It is clear Mr. Pacelle is invested in selling a completely different message to the public. One that brings in donations.
Unfortunately, Hurricane Matthew is not the first time HSUS has tried to capitalize on tragedy. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, HSUS fundraised for the purpose of helping animals displaced by the catastrophe. Of the $34.6 million that was donated, only $8.6 was given in grants, an action that prompted the Louisiana Attorney General to conduct an official . After the devastating 2013 tornadoes in Oklahoma, HSUS again fundraised to help displaced animals from the storm. Between 2011 and 2013, HSUS raised $1.7 million in Oklahoma but only gave $110,000 back to organizations in the state. This action prompted Oklahoma Attorney General E. Scott Pruitt to issue a warning to Oklahomans about their unscrupulous ways. Oklahoma has since opened up an investigation into HSUS’s deceptive fundraising practices and their “duplicitous war of misinformation.”
Federally, HSUS has come under scrutiny too. Six members of the United States Congress have called for a federal investigation into HSUS’s practices. In 2014 HSUS paid $15.75 million to settle a federal racketeering and bribery lawsuit, listing the vast majority of the payments as “program expenses.” These financial gymnastics, coupled with various methods of deception even prompted leading charity watchdog Charity Navigator to remove its rating of HSUS and replace it with a donor advisory in 2014.
Since HSUS doesn’t operate any shelters, gives less that 1% to legitimate shelters, and doesn’t deliver on promises to help displaced animals, then where does the money go? According to their tax returns, over $100 million of it has gone into offshore Caribbean hedge funds and bank accounts. In 2014 alone half of the funds raised from the public were “invested” in the Caribbean. Half.
While countless people are worrying if their lives will be blown away by Hurricane Matthew, HSUS is already raising money off their tragedy. In the coming days and weeks there will, no doubt, be animals that need our help in Florida, but let’s make sure Floridians and animal lovers around the country don’t fall prey to the HSUS scam. Make sure you donate to local shelters where it will truly make a difference in the life of animals.
Mindy Patterson is the President of The Cavalry Group, a member based company protecting and defending the Constitutional and private property rights of law abiding animal owners, animal-related business, hunters, and agriculture concerns legally and legislatively nationwide. Follow Mindy Patterson and The Cavalry Group on Twitter: @cowgirlathart and @TheCavalryGroup