Sucker, Can You Spare a Dime (for HSUS)?

Wayne Pacelle, president of the animal-rights advocating Humane Society for the United States (HSUS), sent out an urgent appeal yesterday: HSUS needs to raise $25,000 in order to run pressure ads to badger a restaurant company into using only “cage free” eggs. We have to wonder: With a $100 million annual budget and $200 million in the bank, doesn’t HSUS already have enough cash to throw its PETA-inspired weight around? After all, it’s not like HSUS’s bottom line is burdened by, say, contributing any more than 4 percent of its budget to the real “humane societies” that operate hands-on dog and cat shelters.
If the past is any indication, this is just another animal-rights switcheroo. You might remember that after Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005, the tel-evangelical Pacelle went on national TV and pledged to reunite pets with their owners. HSUS, of course, just needed people to send in checks.
How’d that work out? In May, investigative reporters at Atlanta’s WSB-TV did an exposé on the murky finances and accounting of HSUS following its Katrina money haul. (An alternate link to the report is here). WSB reported that of the $34 million that HSUS raised in the wake of Katrina, only $7 million could be publicly accounted for. Is it any wonder that the Louisiana Attorney General opened an 18-month-long investigation?
Let’s not forget that HSUS has an abysmal record of waste when it comes to its fundraising. A 2008 Los Angeles Times investigation found that less than 12 percent of money raised for HSUS by California telemarketers actually ended up in the animal rights group’s bank account. (The rest was kept by the telemarketing firm.)
It’s laughable to see the head preacher of a $100 million animal-rights megachurch practically begging for another $25,000. Picture Bill Gates holding a sign that says “Will work for food.” (Of course, money sent to Microsoft just might bring something of value in return.) But what’s not so funny is this: For every dollar Pacelle shakes out of the naïve and unwise, farmers and research scientists move one step closer to holding that sign themselves.

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