The REAL Deal About HSUS-They Lie

Posted on 05/09/2009


H$U$ Watch
Fund-raising on “factory farming”, siphoning cash away from real animal issues

By Teresa Platt, executive director, Fur Commission USA

By now everyone in the U.S. who cares about animals, wild and domesticated, is aware of the animal rights movement and its 300-pound vegan gorilla, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS).(1)

While animal abuse is already illegal in all 50 states, HSUS’s President/CEO Wayne Pacelle addressed a group of farmers and praised them, stating “Farmers are outstanding Americans and they know how to do their job.” He then enlightened them on how HSUS will allocate resources in its latest campaign, a crusade against cowboys, chicken farmers and modern-day animal agriculture which HSUS derisively calls “Factory Farming.”(2)

Just another battle in the animal rights war, HSUS relies on a highly effective blueprint developed in its zero-tolerance battle against the vital role animal research plays in our society. This blueprint has three components: The Three R’s: Refinement, Reduction and Replacement.(3)

Since HSUS recognizes that the overwhelming majority of Americans currently support raising animals for food and fiber, Pacelle reported that its “Factory Farming” campaign allocates over 95% of its campaign resources to the Refinement category. What this means in reality is that images of illegal animal abuse are being used to soften up the target, the farmers, “refining” how the farmers care for their animals, often forcing methods on them by an outraged public triggered by propaganda.

HSUS’s Refinements don’t have to make sense or be cost-effective. As the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) noted in the Proposition 2 battle in California over housing systems for egg-laying hens, HSUS’s Refinements threaten the health and well-being of the animals.(4) And farmers noted that HSUS’s nonsensical Refinements will also cost farmers a fortune, most of which can’t be passed along to consumers able to buy cheaper eggs produced out of state in modern, safe and cost-effective facilities. Therefore Californians are saying adios to their egg farmers. HSUS counts this as a victory.

Once HSUS has eroded trust in animal ag by broadcasting images of illegally abused animals, it will allocate a higher percentage of its campaign resources to the second category, Reduction. It will argue that, morally and environmentally, it is better if humans eat less animal products. Nonsense. In 2000, the UN reported that producers need to double livestock production by 2020 to feed a growing and healthier global population. Reducing this goal will result in malnourishment for many people.  

Eventually the campaign against animal ag will be fully mature and HSUS will move along to advocatingReplacements, offering the consumer alternatives to animal protein, arguing that humans should consume more protein from habitat-destroying soybeans than from free-range bison. With less than 3% of the planet’s surface capable of supporting crops for food and fiber, this agenda is nonsense, of course. But HSUS is very, very good at propaganda.

Look at the long-running campaign against fur, for example. Both HSUS’s wildlife and farming campaigners have attacked fur for decades.

Do you want animals to live completely natural lives, stretch their limbs and turn around? Wild fur is the ultimate in free-range product, but HSUS opposes it 100% no matter how “refined” the production process becomes. In 2009, Humane Society International/Canada stated, “We are opposed to commercial trade in wildlife products …”(5) Zero.

If you believe in cradle-to-cradle systems and want to recycle two tons of food production waste into biodegradable clothing, wear a farm-raised mink.(6) But HSUS is opposed. And while HSUS says it supports farming standards, mink farmers and veterinarians established guidelines for raising mink way back in 1989, the earliest such program in U.S. animal ag. Again, HSUS remains opposed.

HSUS continuously misleads the public by disseminating images of animals illegally abused as if this is common farming practice (Refinement); urges a zero goal for the number of animals used by the fur clothing business (Reduction); and even actively works to close markets while promoting “alternatives” to natural fiber fur clothing to the public (Replacement) in the form of nonrewable, nonbiodegradeable, unsustainable, petrochemical-based synthetics.(7) Again, it is all nonsense, but HSUS is very, very good at propaganda. It’s what it does best.

HSUS’s 990s

Second only to misleading people and dissemination of propaganda, HSUS excels at growing its reserves, now over $200 million. For those trying to get a grip on HSUS, the 2007 tax returns, “990s”, for this “non-profit” “charitable” corporation are online.

This tax return only covers HSUS and does not include the 13 other corporations it controls (Statement 19, page 71) as subsidiaries/affiliates nor the next layer, the subsidiaries/affiliates that these 13 corporations in turn control, or the next. 

These layers of subsidiaries/affiliates pay millions in expenses and millions more to fundraisers every year. This is odd since most of their funds are simply transferred from HSUS. So one must ask why fundraisers are needed when a subsidiary is “raising” virtually all its income from the main corporation? Perhaps one day the IRS will require consolidated financial statements of all these affiliates/subsidiaries. Without it even Enron style bookkeeping is hard to track.(8)

The Golden Goose

HSUS declared $101 million in total revenue (page 1, line 12 of the 2007 tax return) of which $85 million was from direct public support (page1, line 1b), down from $91 million in 2006. Out of this $85 million in funds from the public in 2007, over 11%, almost $10 million, came from four donors (page 18).

HSUS owned $83 million in corporate stocks, $21 million of which was in foreign corporations (Stmt 12, page 65). In 2007, in a challenging market, HSUS racked up an impressive $5.6 million profit on about $55 million in securities traded (Stmt 2, page 20).(9)

HSUS, which constantly promotes oil-based synthetic cold weather clothing over natural fibers, is in the oil business. It earned $676,499 on an oil and gas lease (page 1, line 7).

HSUS closed 2007 with over $200 million in net assets, even after a downward adjustment of $31 million (line 20, page 1). Of this amount, $5.4 million reflects an adjustment to recognize long-term retirement liabilities for pensions. Another $25.8 million dropped off the balance sheet as an “adjustment to reflect changes in reporting entity and transfers” (Statement 4, page 21).

Hands On Animal Care and Better Documentation

The good news revealed by HSUS’s tax returns is that some of HSUS’s money is actually going to help animals, which is a nice shift.

After HSUS declared it had raised over $30 million for relief for homeless animals in the Hurricane Katrina disaster, the Louisiana Attorney General took note and opened an investigation. HSUS was forced to actually spend some of its money on hands-on animal care in Louisiana and Mississippi. You can see it in some of its 2007 outgoing grants.

The bad news? It’s still a tiny fraction of what HSUS declares was raised on that disaster, and just 4% of its total income goes to hands-on animal care. It is, however, a record, the highest level since 1970 when HSUS abolished its commitment to share 60% of all income with local chapters for use in humane shelters.(10)

Another step forward, after at least a decade of HSUS and its subsidiaries/affiliates using Share Group, Inc. as its telemarketing firm, HSUS has finally actually listed it on its tax return as required by tax code. Share Group, Inc. is among the top 5 contractors receiving over $50,000 (page 10). Share, HSUS reports, received $1.7 million in fees in 2007. But it could be more. The Los Angeles Times, among others, has commented on the fact that each time HSUS uses Share Group, Inc., this telemarketer keeps over 90% of the funds raised, far beyond the normal ratios paid to telemarketers.(11)

Members Go Missing

HSUS regularly claims it has 10 million members and constituents. In 2009, HSUS’s President Wayne Pacelle clarified this, stating that 10 million Americans are “associated with” HSUS, whatever that means.(2)

But HSUS’s 2007 tax filings tell a much different story, revealing that membership is nowhere near even one million (Statement 9, page 62):

Membership services handles tens of thousands of public and member/donor communications annually.

Common sense says this volume is far too low for any group with 10 million members, reflecting the activity generated by just a few hundred thousand people. And further review of the tax returns (page 62) confirms it:

Publications produces … a quarterly magazine sent every other month to 420,000 members.

HSUS has 420,000 members, just 4.2% of what is commonly reported or 0.15% of the US population of 280 million, or one out of every 666 people, not the 1 out of 30 bantered about.  

And even while HSUS’s income rose from $21 million in 1991 to $101 million in 2007, the HSUS membership actually declined. In 1991, HSUS President/CEO John Hoyt stated:

I am happy to report that during this past year our voting membership has increased from 397,385 to 458,378 persons.(12)

So HSUS apparently lost 38,378 members between 1991 and 2007.

Perhaps some members discovered how little HSUS supports local humane shelters and left in disgust. And many of the remaining members are those engaged in animal ag and wildlife pursuits who reluctantly join HSUS simply to monitor what it’s up to.

That said, with membership numbers this low, HSUS does not have a mandate to impose a nonsensical vegan lifestyle on the world’s omnivores and pet owners.

It’s time to demand accountability from HSUS for its exploitation of abused animals for financial gain, for diverting hundreds of millions from humane shelter resources over to advancement of a vegan agenda while ruining the lives of hard-working people around the world. 

Omnivores of the World, Unite!


(1) For detailed information on HSUS, visit the Center for Consumer Freedom’s HSUS’s new CEO/President Wayne Pacelle is vegan and, after just 10 weeks at the helm, he had “already implemented a ‘no animal products in the office’ policy”, an office vegan food and clothing policy, reported Compassion Over Killing (COK) co-founder Paul Shapiro (at a seminar hosted by United Poultry Concerns, Aug. 22, 2004), shortly before he too joined HSUS. See “The New Anti-Meat ‘Humane’ Goliath,” Apr. 5, 2005.

(2) “HSUS official says public concerns drive initiatives,” by Ken Anderson, Apr. 28, 2009, Brownfield Network is worth listening to. Pacelle is defensive in several sections of the presentation over attacks on HSUS’s sincerity by those involved in hands-on animal care. Pacelle’s full Apr. 27, 2009 speech to the National Association of Farm Broadcasting with Q&A is at and direct In his speech, Pacelle discussed how fears over BSE were tied to images of workers using legal and illegal methods to get cattle to their feet when the animals refused to stand after a long transport to a slaughterhouse. The result? 50 nations shut their doors to US beef. Ignoring the fact that cattle are often transported long distances as a direct result of the closure of local slaughterhouses, HSUS raised lots of money, sadly, on a problem they appear to have helped create. Ditto for the battles over horse slaughter. HSUS believes that this option for horse owners should not exist. In Nebraska, the Farm Bureau donated hay to feed neglected horses that had been transferred from the BLM to private ownership, another HSUS campaign gone awry. But listen to Pacelle complain that cowboys didn’t want to work with HSUS when it organized a photo op with the neglected horses as props. Attacks on feral horse control and horsemeat, combined with closure of slaughter facilities (resulting in longer transport times for horses), appears to be tied to an increase in abandoned horses. This has overtaxed the safety net of humane shelters set up by responsible animal owners. HSUS uses this sad state, which they helped created, as one more opportunity to raise more money and while little goes to hands-on animal care and much goes to promoting policies that exacerbate the problem. No wonder the cowboys are angry! Perhaps it’s time for HSUS to spend some of its $200 million in reserves on actually caring for horses and other animals in distress.

(3) Russell and Burch first coined the “Three Rs” and ordered them Replacement, Reduction, Refinement. The order HSUS gives them, Refinement, Reduction and Replacement, may carry importance in understanding what it thinks is possible for their campaign given current public views on animal ag. HSUS’s interpretation differs from the way the Three Rs are viewed by scientists since, not surprisingly, HSUS has modified the original meaning. In science, “Reduction” means using fewer animals to meet your goals, perhaps by decreasing variance by using cloned animals. “Replacement” means using computers or cell cultures (which originally come from animals, of course) when one can. If one’s goal is to use natural biodegradable fibers for cold weather clothing, then “reduction” and “replacement” differ from the claim that the vegan “alternative” “plastic” synthetic fibers is the same thing. “Reduction” might be served by efficiently using fewer animals to provide the same amount of fur by increasing the fur yield per animal, a common goal of most farmers who operate within the confines of the free market system and its emphasis on cost effectiveness, reduction of waste and production more from less.

(4) The AVMA issued a statement condemning Proposition 2 as inhumane, saying it “contains livestock confinement standards that may hurt the animals they are intended to help” and “ignores critical aspects of animal welfare that ultimately would threaten the well-being of the very animals it strives to protect.” For a specific comparison of the health of conventionally caged chickens vs cage-free chickens, see “More scrambled claims from animal activists,”Center for Consumer Freedom, May 5, 2009.

(5) Transcription by Media Q Inc. of Press Conference, April 21, 2009 10:30 a.m., National Press Theatre, Ottawa, Canada; Principals: Rebecca Aldworth, Director, Humane Society International/Canada; The Honourable Mac Harb, Senator; Subject: Senator Mac Harb and Representatives of Humane Society International/Canada Hold a News Conference to Discuss Ending the Commercial Seal Hunt. Statement on HSI/Canada’s opposition issued by Rebecca Aldworth, Director, Humane Society International/Canada.

(6) See “Super duper recyclers – how fur farmers turn waste into beauty,” FCUSA commentary, October 1999. Or if you still believe petrochemical synthetics are the way to go, see “Plastic bags on our backs,” FCUSA commentary, Mar. 14, 2008.

(7) For an example of HSUS’s marketing of synthetics, see this video footage from the 4th Annual Cool vs. Cruel Competition, 2008.

(8) See FCUSA recommendations to the IRS, Oct. 2, 2005.

(9) The IRS now requires info on security trades so look forward to seeing more detail on how HSUS had such an impressive trading record. See Implementing FAS 158 for Year-End Financial Reporting, by JP Morgan, Jan 18, 2007.

(10) See “Humane Society of the United States does little to help homeless dogs and cats. Animal rights group devoted less than 4% of its budget to pet shelters in 2007,” Center for Consumer Freedom press release, Apr. 7, 2009.

(11) See “HSUS calling? Hang up,” Center for Consumer Freedom press release, July 7, 2008.

(12) Page 3, “Report of the President 1991” by John A. Hoyt at the HSUS Annual Membership Meeting, Saturday, October 12, 1991, Embassy Row Hotel, Washington, DC.

See also:

FCUSA press kit special feature: Regulating the conflict industry.

In their own words: Revealing quotes from the mouths of HSUS.

For further information contact: Teresa Platt, Executive Director, Fur Commission USA, PMB 506, 826 Orange Avenue, Coronado, CA 92118-2698 USA, (619) 575-0139, (619) 575-5578/fax,,

To take a cyber-tour of a fur farm, visit Fur Commission USA’s Fur on Film at

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