Answer me these three true or false questions with respect to the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS):

True or false: The Humane Society of the United States is an umbrella group that represents thousands of local humane societies all across America.

True or false: My local humane society or pet shelter is affiliated with the Humane Society of the United States.

True or false: The Humane Society of the United States contributes most of its money to local organizations that care for dogs and cats.

If you answered “true” to any of the above, you chose wrong. Here’s why: HSUS does not represent, nor is it affiliated with any shelter. Not a single one. And less than half of one percent of its collected monies is donated to the care of shelter animals.

Surprised? So were plenty of respondents to a recent poll undertaken by Humane Watch, an organization with a penchant for proving that, "…most Americans don't understand what the Humane Society of the United States is really all about, that the organization's money isn't going where the public thinks it's going, and that a lot more transparency will be required if the organization is going to earn a legitimate place in our national discussion about animals."


In case you’re searching for some solid truths in all this confusion, here’s where there’s little doubt: The HSUS is an organization outwardly dedicated to changing how America treats its animals (pets and non-pets alike). Its goals, however, have been increasingly questioned by a wide variety of animal welfare-based organizations — especially with respect to its increasingly radical-leaning politics.

Indeed, it’s alleged that HSUS recruits donations on the basis of donors’ ill-informed association with underfunded shelter care, only to spend it on a bloated bureaucracy devoted to developing a political machinery more akin to a PETA in sheep’s clothing than anything else. 

The sheep’s clothing thing? Here’s what I mean (again, according to the Humane Watch poll):

  • 79 percent of Americans say they are "very" or "somewhat" familiar with HSUS
  • 77 percent say they have a "very" or "somewhat" favorable view of HSUS
  • 63 percent believe that if they had $100 to donate to charity, HSUS "would be a worthy recipient of that money"

And out of these 1,008 polled persons, 71 percent, 63 percent, and 59 percent answered "true" to the above true or false questions, respectively.

So does that adequately display a disparity between perception and reality? I think so. And not just because the numbers reflect statistical significance, but also because it rings so true. After all, less than five years ago I would have answered "true" to at least two of the true or false questions. If you read back to my past posts (2006 or thereabouts), you’ll see proof of my previous ignorance. Which is why I wouldn’t blame you if you’re still skeptical of this post’s factual offerings.

But ultimately, this isn’t about the HSUS. It’s about where YOU allocate your pet-dedicated dollars. And you might still choose HSUS. But do so with an understanding of where your money goes, OK?

Dr. Patty Khuly

Pic of the day: "Pick me" by superfem