The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has a warning for tender-hearted Americans getting into the gifting spirit of the holidays: Watch out for Internet scammers playing on your weakness for animal welfare.
During the holiday season, new websites tend to pop up promising to rescue animals in peril. The problem is these sites have no real connection to humane societies or animal shelters.
One such group that was recently created is called the "Humane Society for Shelter Pets," a name the HSUS believes is meant to trick people into associating with The Shelter Pet Project, a legitimate charity. The organization has a slick website, yet lists no street address, is not registered with the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance, Charity Navigator, GuideStar, or any other charity watchdog, and has more than a dozen complaints against it pending before the Federal Trade Commission, according to the HSUS.
"This holiday, the nation’s responsible news media and opinion leaders can help by spreading the word that Richard Berman’s Humane Society for Shelter Pets is the work of a man with no record of helping animals or people – and in fact has a long history of defending puppy mills, seal clubbing, factory farming and other economic interests that jeopardize animals," said the HSUS.
There may be as many as 20,000 groups in the name of animal protection that truly do work for animals and whose donated funds actually go towards the cause. The HSUS urges Americans to be generous this holiday season, but to also be cautious when determining which organizations to donate to.
"Animals deserve far better this holiday and so do the thousands of people who give so much as employees, volunteers and supporters of our many legitimate humane societies, locally and nationally," said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States. "We encourage everyone to donate to the local animal shelters addressing the symptoms of animal abuse, and also to the national organizations working every day to help those efforts and also to stop the root causes of animal suffering."
Image: Gary Paul Lewis / via Shutterstock