Humane Society of the United States (HSUS)

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is a radical animal rights group that inaccurately portrays itself as a mainstream animal care organization. The words “humane society” may appear on its letterhead, but HSUS is not affiliated with your local animal shelter. Despite the omnipresent dogs and cats in its fundraising materials and television commercials, it’s not an organization that runs spay/neuter programs or takes in stray, neglected, and abused pets. And quite unlike the common image of animal protection agencies as cash-strapped organizations dedicated to animal welfare, HSUS has become the wealthiest animal rights organization on earth.

  • Click here to see proof of how HSUS gives 1 percent of its budget to pet shelters
  • Click here to see evidence of how HSUS deceives Americans
  • Click here to see evidence that HSUS wants to eliminate meat, cheese, and dairy foods
  • Click here to read about how HSUS’s CEO has said he doesn’t want to see another dog or cat born
  • Click here to discover how HSUS’s CEO said dogfighting kingpin Michael Vick would “do a good job as a pet owner”
  • Click here to see how HSUS funnels more money into its pension plan than it gives to pet shelters
  • Click here to learn about why the American Institute of Philanthropy gives HSUS a “D” rating
  • Click here to read why six Congressmen recently called for a federal investigation of HSUS

HSUS is big, rich, and powerful. While most local animal shelters are under-funded and unsung, HSUS has accumulated $195 million in assets and built a recognizable brand by capitalizing on the confusion its very name provokes. This misdirection results in an irony of which most animal lovers are unaware: HSUS raises enough money to finance animal shelters in every single state, with money to spare, yet it doesn’t operate a single one anywhere.

Instead, HSUS spends millions on programs that seek to economically cripple meat and dairy producers; eliminate the use of animals in biomedical research labs; phase out pet breeding, zoos, and circus animal acts; and demonize hunters as crazed lunatics. HSUS spends more than $4 million each year on travel expenses alone, just keeping its multi-national agenda going.

Then HSUS president Wayne Pacelle described some of his goals in 2004 for The Washington Post: “We will see the end of wild animals in circus acts … [and we’re] phasing out animals used in research. Hunting? I think you will see a steady decline in numbers.” But Pacelle may have more ambitious anti-hunting goals. In 1991, while he was the National Director of the Fund for Animals, Pacelle told the Associated Press: “[I]f we could shut down all sport hunting in a moment, we would. Just like we would shut down all dog fighting, all cock fighting or all bull fighting.”

More recently, in a June 2005 interview, Pacelle told Satya magazine that HSUS is working on “a guide to vegetarian eating, to really make the case for it.” A strict vegan himself, Pacelle added: “Reducing meat consumption can be a tremendous benefit to animals.”

Shortly after Pacelle joined HSUS in 1994, he told Animal People (an inside-the-movement watchdog newspaper) that his goal was to build “a National Rifle Association of the animal rights movement.” And now, as the organization’s leader, he’s in a position to back up his rhetoric with action. In 2005 Pacelle announced the formation of a new “Animal Protection Litigation Section” within HSUS, dedicated to “the process of researching, preparing, and prosecuting animal protection lawsuits in state and federal court.”

HSUS’s current goals have little to do with animal shelters. The group has taken aim at the traditional morning meal of bacon and eggs with a tasteless “Breakfast of Cruelty” campaign. Its newspaper op-eds demand that consumers “help make this a more humane world [by] reducing our consumption of meat and egg products.” Since its inception, HSUS has tried to limit the choices of American consumers, opposing dog breeding, conventional livestock and poultry farming, rodeos, circuses, horse racing, marine aquariums, and fur trapping.

A True Multinational Corporation

HSUS is a multinational conglomerate with regional staff operating in 33 states and a special Hollywood Office that promotes and monitors the media’s coverage of animal-rights issues. It includes a huge web of organizations, affiliates, and subsidiaries. Some are nonprofit, tax-exempt “charities,” while others are for-profit taxable corporations, which don’t have to divulge anything about their financial dealings.

This unusually complex structure means that HSUS can hide expenses where the public would never think to look. For instance, one HSUS-affiliated organization called the HSUS Wildlife Land Trust collected $21.1 million between 1998 and 2003. During the same period, it spent $15.7 million on fundraising expenses, most of which directly benefited HSUS. This arrangement allowed HSUS to bury millions in direct-mail and other fundraising costs in its affiliate’s budget, giving the public (and charity watchdog groups) the false impression that its own fundraising costs were relatively low.

Until 1995 HSUS also controlled the Humane Society of Canada (HSC), which Paul Irwin (HSUS president from 1996 to 2004) had founded four years earlier. But Irwin, who claimed to live in Canada when he set up HSC, turned out to be ineligible to run a Canadian charity (He actually lived in Maryland). Irwin’s Canadian passport was ultimately revoked and he was replaced as HSC’s executive director.

The new leader later hauled HSUS into court to answer charges that Irwin had transferred over $1 million to HSUS from the Canadian group. HSUS claimed it was to pay for HSC’s fundraising, but didn’t provide the group with the required documentation to back up the expenses. In January 1997 a Canadian judge ordered HSUS to return the money, writing: “I cannot imagine a more glaring conflict of interest or a more egregious breach of fiduciary duty. It demonstrates an overweening arrogance of a type seldom seen.”

From Animal Welfare to Animal Rights

There is an enormous difference between animal “welfare” organizations, which work for the humane treatment of animals, and animal “rights” organizations, which aim to completely end the use and ownership of animals. The former have been around for centuries; the latter emerged in the 1980s, with the rise of the radical People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).

The Humane Society of the United States began as an animal welfare organization. Originally called the National Humane Society, it was established in 1954 as a spin-off of the American Humane Association (AHA). Its founders wanted a slightly more radical group — the AHA did not oppose sport hunting or the use of shelter animals for biomedical research.

In 1980, HSUS officially began to change its focus from animal welfare to animal rights. After a vote was taken at the group’s San Francisco national conference, it was formally resolved that HSUS would “pursue on all fronts … the clear articulation and establishment of the rights of all animals … within the full range of American life and culture.”

In Animal Rights and Human Obligations, the published proceedings of this conference, HSUS stated unequivocally that “there is no rational basis for maintaining a moral distinction between the treatment of humans and other animals.” It’s no surprise, then, that a 2003 HSUS fundraising mailer boasted that the group has been working toward “putting an end to killing animals for nearly half a century.”

In 1986 John McArdle, then-HSUS’s Director of Laboratory Animal Welfare, told Washingtonian magazine that HSUS was “definitely shifting in the direction of animal rights faster than anyone would realize from our literature.”

The group completed its animal-rights transformation during the 1990s, changing its personnel in the process. HSUS assimilated dozens of staffers from PETA and other animal-rights groups, even employing John “J.P.” Goodwin, a former Animal Liberation Front member and spokesman with a lengthy arrest record and a history of promoting arson to accomplish animal liberation.

The change brought more money and media attention. John Hoyt, HSUS president from 1970 to 1996, explained the shift in 1991, telling National Journal, “PETA successfully stole the spotlight … Groups like ours that have plugged along with a larger staff, a larger constituency … have been ignored.” Hoyt agreed that PETA’s net effect within the animal-rights movement was to spur more moderate groups to take tougher stances in order to attract donations from the public. “Maybe,” Hoyt mused, “the time has come to say, ‘Since we haven’t been successful in getting half a loaf, let’s go for the whole thing.’”

HSUS leaders have even expressed their desire to put an end to the lifesaving biomedical research that requires the use of animals. As early as 1988 the group’s mailings demanded that the U.S. government “eliminate altogether the use of animals as research subjects.” In 1986 Washingtonian asked John McArdle about his opinion that brain-dead humans should be substituted for animals in medical research. “It may take people a while to get used to the idea,” McArdle said, “but once they do the savings in animal lives will be substantial.”

McArdle realized then what HSUS understands today — that an uncompromising, vegetarian-only, anti-medical-progress philosophy has limited appeal. At the 1984 HSUS convention, he gave his group’s members specific instructions on how to frame the issue most effectively. “Avoid the words ‘animal rights’ and ‘antivivisection’,” McArdle said. “They are too strange for the public. Never appear to be opposed to animal research. Claim that your only concern is the source of animals.”

In a 1993 letter published by the American Society for Microbiology, Dr. Patrick Cleveland of the University of California San Diego spelled out HSUS’s place in the animal-rights pantheon. “What separates the HSUS from other animal rights groups,” Cleveland wrote, “is not their philosophy of animal rights and goal of abolishing the use of animals in research, but the tactics and timetable for that abolition.” Cleveland likened it to the difference between a mugger and a con man. “They each will rob you — they use different tactics, have different timetables, but the result is the same. The con man may even criticize the mugger for using confrontational tactics and giving all thieves a bad name, but your money is still taken.”

Targeting Meat and Dairy

In 2004 HSUS promoted long-time vice president Wayne Pacelle to the position of President. Along with Pacelle’s passionate style and his experience navigating the halls of Congress, HSUS got its first strictly vegan leader.

One of Pacelle’s first acts as HSUS’s new chief executive was to send a memo to all HSUS staffers articulating his vision for the future. HSUS’s new “campaigns section,” Pacelle wrote, “will focus on farm animals.” For Americans accustomed to eating meat, eggs, and dairy foods, the thought of an animal rights group with a budget three times the size of PETA’s targeting their food choices should be unsettling. And Pacelle has hired other high-profile, unapologetic meat and dairy “abolitionists” since taking over.

In 2005, former Compassion Over Killing (COK) president Miyun Park joined HSUS as a staffer in its new “farm animals and sustainable agriculture department.” Around the same time, HSUS hired COK’s other co-founder, Paul Shapiro, as manager of its derogatorily named “Factory Farming Campaign.” COK’s former general counsel Carter Dillard joined shortly afterward, as did vegan doctor and mad-cow-disease scaremonger Michael Greger. Like Pacelle, these new HSUS hires are all self-described vegans. Their arrival in the world’s richest animal-rights group signals that HSUS is giving anti-meat campaigns a prominent place.

In October, just a few months before he became an HSUS staffer, Shapiro told the 2004 National Student Animal Rights Conference that “nothing is more important than promoting veganism.” And Shapiro noted during an August 2004 animal-rights seminar (hosted by United Poultry Concerns) that after just 10 weeks at the helm, Pacelle had “already implemented a ‘no animal products in the office’ policy … You know, they’re going to have actual farmed-animal campaigns now, where they’re going to be trying to legislate against gestation crates and all this stuff.”

Americans who enjoy meat, cheese, eggs, and milk may soon come to regard HSUS as a new PETA, with an even broader reach. Shortly after taking office, Pacelle announced a merger with the $20 million Fund For Animals. The combined group estimated its 2005 budget at “over $95 million” and also announced the formation of a new “political organization,” which will “allow for a more substantial investment of resources in political and lobbying activities.”

Domestic Deception

It takes tens of millions of dollars to run campaigns against so many domestic targets, and HSUS consistently misleads Americans with its fundraising efforts by hinting that it’s a “humane society” in the more conventional sense of the term. Buried deep within HSUS’s website is a disclaimer noting that the group “is not affiliated with, nor is it a parent organization for, local humane societies, animal shelters, or animal care and control agencies. These are independent organizations … HSUS does not operate or have direct control over any animal shelter.”

For instance, a 2001 member recruitment mailing called those on the HSUS mailing list “true pet lovers,” referring to unspecified work on behalf of “dogs, puppies, cats, [and] kittens.” Another recruitment mailing from that year included “Thank You,” “Happy Birthday,” and “Get Well Soon” greeting cards featuring pets such as dogs, cats, and fish. The business reply envelope lists “7 Steps to a Happier Pet.”

A 2003 recruitment mailing also included those “Steps,” as well as free address labels with pastel pictures of dogs and cats. The fundraising letter subtly substituted the animal-rights term “companion animals” for “pets.”

“Our mission is to encourage adoption in your neighborhood and throughout the country,” reads another HSUS fundraising appeal. “Even though local shelters are trying their best to save lives, they are simply overwhelmed.” That last sentence, at least, is true. But don’t count on the multi-million-dollar conglomerate HSUS to do anything about it. HSUS doesn’t operate a single animal shelter and has no hands-on contact with stray or surplus animals.

In 1995 the Washington (DC) Humane Society almost closed its animal shelter due to a budget shortfall. HSUS, which is also based in Washington, DC, ultimately withdrew an offer to build and operate a DC shelter, at its own expense, to serve as a national model.

In exchange for running the shelter, HSUS wanted three to five acres of city land and tax-exempt status for all its real estate holdings in the District of Columbia. The DC government offered a long-term lease, but that wasn’t good enough. HSUS refused to proceed unless it would “own absolutely” the land. The district declined, and what might have become the only HSUS-funded animal shelter never materialized.

HSUS claims that it supports local animal shelters by sending in teams that conduct audits on how to improve performance. But this supposedly professional advice isn’t free. Despite its $195 million in assets and a 2012 budget of $120.3 million, HSUS charges cash-strapped shelters as much as $25,000 just to assess their operations. At the very least, shouldn’t this super-rich charity that purports to love animals make such audits a part of its own operations? In 2012, HSUS made $10.1 million in grants–but most of that money went to affiliate groups that HSUS controls. Only 1 percent of HSUS’s budget consistent of grants to support pet sheltering.

In 2008, HSUS paid out $4.7 million in grants in 2008 to other organizations and individuals. Yet the multi-million-dollar conglomerate gave less than $450,000 in grants to provide hands-on care to dogs and cats. That is a mere 0.45 percent of what HSUS spent that year.

But even some of those grants appear dubious. For example, David Mastio of The Washington Times wrote that HSUS in Iowa gave $9,044 to a shelter in Fairfield. According to the shelter’s web site, the money was used to give HSUS animal rights propaganda to grade school teachers. This material asked the children to pressure their schools to use only cage-free eggs and write to their congressmen.

HSUS frequently runs infomercials, replete with heartrending images of abused animals, in which actress Wendy Malick or Pacelle tell you that for “just $19 a month” you can help HSUS care for these animals. But if someone took up HSUS on that offer and donated $228 over the course of a year, just $1.03 will reach a pet shelter.

Not being forthright about the puny amount of money HSUS dedicates to hands-on care is not the only problem with its ad campaigns.

Most egregious is how HSUS cynically exploits cases of animal abuse to boost its fundraising. In 2009, John Goodwin issued a fundraising appeal to raise $1 million to support animals like “Faye”, an abused fighting dog rescued in a major bust of a dog fighting ring (Actually, the dog’s name was “Fay” – HSUS couldn’t even get the name right). The fundraising letter made it sound like HSUS was responsible for saving Fay. “She was in tough shape, but we found her in the nick of time,” wrote Goodwin. “She now sleeps in a warm bed in a safe place.” But HSUS was not spending any money in caring for Fay or the vast majority of the dogs rescued from the dog fighting ring. The woman who was caring for Fay stated: “I am rather sad that HSUS has chosen to use Fay (not Faye) in their fund drive. Fay has never received a dime from HSUS.”

In March 2008, HSUS announced its home-foreclosure pet relief fund. This program was meant to help pets abandoned by their owners after losing their homes to foreclosure. But in March 2010, Pilot Travel Center, a retail operator of motorist travel centers, announced it would stop contributing money to HSUS in response to complaints about its anti-agriculture agenda. An HSUS statement made it sound like this withdrawal of support would hurt the Foreclosure Pets Fund: “We regret they are no longer being given the opportunity in stores to support our work to help animals abandoned in the foreclosure crisis.” The problem, though, is that HSUS discontinued this relief fund in May 2009 – 10 months prior to Pilot Travel Center ending its support.

Promotes Dog Killer Michael Vick

The day after NFL quarterback Michael Vick was indicted for operating a dog fighting operation on July 17, 2008, HSUS issued an online fundraising appeal asking people to “… make a special gift to help The Humane Society of the United States care for the dogs seized in the Michael Vick case … your gift will be put to use right away to care for these dogs.”

This is yet another instance of HSUS misleading donors. Two weeks later, Pacelle told The New York Times that HSUS didn’t even have custody of the Vick dogs or “know how well they are being kept.” Pacelle also recommended to federal government authorities that all of the dogs should be euthanized.

However, other animal groups didn’t agree with HSUS’s euthanasia recommendation. The Best Friends Animal Society was caring for 22 of the seized pit bulls. In a statement on its website, Best Friends said its goal was to rehabilitate them and criticized suggestions they be killed for their own good: “Other national organizations had simply called for the dogs to be killed. But what kind of message does that send about how our society treats the victims of such horrible abuse?”

HSUS wasn’t done with the Vick scandal. After his release from prison in May 2009, Vick began working with HSUS by speaking at churches, schools and community groups about the evils of dog fighting. “Michael Vick approached us and said he wanted to be part of the solution instead of the problem,” said Michael Markarian, CEO of HSUS.

Other animal rights groups weren’t as forgiving – or perhaps opportunistic – as HSUS. Hope Bohanec of the Defense of Animals led a protest in Oakland when Vick arrived with the Philadelphia Eagles for a football game. Bohanec said she had not detected any remorse in Vick’s statement since being released from prison. ”He seems sorry he was caught,” said Bohanec.

What does HSUS actually do then with the millions it raises using the furry faces of Fido an Fluffy? For one thing, HSUS believes in taking care of itself. In 2008, it spent nearly$38 million on salaries and benefits for its staff of 555 employees. Worse, HSUS employees have complained to the press that their organization wastes its resources on fundraising expenses and high salaries for its chief executives. Since Pacelle took over in 2004, HSUS has spent $8.5 million on just the executive pension fund. And according to its 2008 annual report, HSUS spent $27.5 million on fundraising and over $28 million on “campaigns, litigations and investigations.” Robert Baker, an HSUS consultant and former chief investigator, told U.S. News & World Report: “The Humane Society should be worried about protecting animals from cruelty. It’s not doing that. The place is all about power and money.”

Influencing Communities

HSUS doesn’t save flesh-and-blood animals the way local “humane societies” do, but it does lobby heavily to change the laws of communities across the country. “HSUS was the financial clout that rammed Initiative 713, the anti-trapping measure, down our throats,” reports Rich Landers of the Spokane (WA) Spokesman-Review. “I pleaded [with Wayne Pacelle, then HSUS’s government affairs VP] at least four times for examples of HSUS commitment in Washington [state] other than introducing costly anti-hunting and anti-wildlife management initiatives. He had no immediate answer but promised to send me the list of good things HSUS does in this state. That was six months ago, and I presume Pacelle is still searching.”

Like other national animal-rights groups, HSUS has learned that pouring huge sums of money into ballot initiative campaigns can give it results normal public relations and lobbying work never could. Along with other heavy hitters like the Fund for Animals and Farm Sanctuary, HSUS scored a big victory in Florida in 2002 when a ballot initiative passed that gave constitutional rights to pregnant pigs. HSUS donated at least $50,000 to the Florida PAC that managed the campaign.

Florida farmers were banned from using “gestation crates,” usually necessary to keep sows healthy during pregnancy and to prevent them from accidentally rolling over and crushing their newborn piglets. After this amendment passed, raising pigs became economically unsustainable, and farmers were forced to slaughter their animals rather than comply with the costly new constitutional requirements. Today, the Florida pork industry has largely vanished. In an August 21, 2009 St. Petersburg Times article, Frankie Hall, director of agriculture policy at the Florida Farm Bureau, said, “I think we’ve got only one hog farmer left with more than 100 sows.”

Florida represented Pacelle’s first major ballot victory to place restrictions on animal confinement methods. It also represented the HSUS philosophy of patiently accumulating small victories in moving toward its overall goal of radically restricting conventional agriculture. Florida ranked only 33rd in hog production and its population centers were largely located on the coasts away from farmland. So the relatively small pork industry and the urban demographics facilitated HSUS’s ability to sway voters with the simple but inaccurate claim that animals need a place to “stand up, lie down and turn around freely, and fully extend all limbs.”

In 2006, HSUS scored another victory in Arizona – the 28th ranked hog producer – when voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot measure restricting pork producers.

It was after Arizona when farmers began to realize the dire threat that the HSUS political machine posed to their interests and way of life. Mace Thornton, spokesman for the American Farm Bureau, noted that rather than go straight for Illinois, the largest pork-producing state that allows ballot measures, HSUS went first went after what he called the “low-hanging fruit.”

Assault on California Egg Industry

HSUS scored one of its biggest victories in California when voters approved Proposition 2 in November 2008. This HSUS-financed measure will make it illegal – starting in 2015 – for California farmers to raise egg-laying hens in cages. Proposition 2 targeted housing systems for veal calves and pregnant sows as well as hens. Because there is virtually no veal production and a relatively small pork industry in California, egg farmers will feel the brunt of its onerous provisions. Many experts believe Proposition 2 will destroy the California egg industry, the nation’s fifth largest producer, by driving up costs so high that egg farmers will be forced to flee to other states or Mexico.

A study released in July 2008 by the University of California Agricultural Issues Center estimates the increased cost at 90 cents per dozen. A dozen conventionally-produced eggs cost about 60 cents, according to Paul Sauder who is a major East Coast egg distributor. The increased labor accounts for part of the extra expense of raising cage-free chickens. Cage-free birds also eat more which leads to higher feed costs.

A Fresno Bee editorial warned just before voters went to the polls that passage of Proposition 2 would result in a situation where “we’d have humane new standards for caging farm animals that applied to no one, and we’d be buying eggs from other states and from Mexico, where the old practices would still be in place.”

Steve Adler of the California Farm Bureau Federation reported in March 2010 that “recruiters from other states began encouraging California egg farms to move almost as soon as the Proposition 2 results were announced, a recruitment process that continues.”

To date, seven states have enacted HSUS-backed ballot initiatives limiting animal confinement systems. In 2009, lawmakers in four states introduced similar legislation.

Doesn’t Endorse “Humane” Rearing Practices it Claims to Support

HSUS doesn’t even endorse the supposedly humane animal-rearing practices it spends millions lobbying to enact into law. In March 2008, a company called Eggology issued a press release boasting that it was the “First Egg Products Brand … Endorsed by The Humane Society of the United States.” Within a matter of hours, however, Eggology had to issue a press release retracting its claim that it was backed by HSUS. If there is anyone in the agriculture industry still operating under the illusion that the radical vegans at HSUS like Pacelle can be placated by supposedly humane meat-production, this should put to rest that notion.

Ironically, HSUS’ advocacy of caged-free egg production is flawed on both humane and health grounds. One of the more unsavory aspects of caged-free chickens is that they lay eggs on floors piled up with layers of chicken excrement. Obviously, these eggs have to be cleaned. And chickens crowded together peck each other incessantly. Arizona Republic columnist Linda Valdez reported that the “cage-free block” at a farm she visited had “twice the mortality rate” of a caged environment. And cage-free chickens are also more prone to disease. Dr. James McWilliams – an outspoken critic of modern agriculture – says even critics of conventional farming have to admit that it has made meat safer to eat.

HSUS won’t stop at initiatives aimed at livestock farmers and trappers. At the 1996 HSUS annual meeting, Wayne Pacelle announced that the ballot initiative would be used for all manner of legislation in the future, including “companion animal issues and laboratory animal issues.” Pacelle has personally been involved in at least 22 such campaigns, 17 of which HSUS scored as victories. These operations, he said, “pay dividends and serve as a training ground for activists.”

HSUS is also a part of the Keep Antibiotics Working (KAW) coalition, a slick Washington-based PR campaign to end the “inappropriate” use of antibiotics in livestock animals. This coalition, comprised largely of science-deprived environmental groups, claims to worry deeply about antibiotic-resistant bacteria found in people. KAW doesn’t, however, devote any attention to the rampant over-prescription of the drugs to humans.

Why doesn’t HSUS want animals to receive disease-preventing antibiotics? Raising livestock without antibiotics is much more difficult and costly, and the resulting meat, eggs, and dairy are considerably more expensive. It’s possible that the KAW coalition’s goals would give Americans an economic incentive to lean toward vegetarianism; HSUS would, of course, not object.

Farmers Fight Back

The Ohio Farm Bureau looked at the triumph of Proposition 2 in California and rightfully feared Ohio could be next. Instead of waiting for HSUS to come to the state, the farmers organized and lobbied the state legislature to approve a bill that put a farm-friendly measure on the November 2009 ballot. Called Issue 2, the measure would create a 13-member livestock standards board composed of farmers, veterinarians, scientists and other experts approved by the Governor and legislature. The board would establish standards governing the care of livestock and poultry.

Keith Stimpert of the Ohio Farm Bureau said Issue 2 represented a “more comprehensive and thorough approach” to livestock standards than the method of “out-of-state activists.”

HSUS strongly opposed Issue 2 but it had the support of both political parties. On November 3, HSUS experienced its first significant setback in its ballot initiative campaign when Ohioans voted for Issue 2 by a resounding 64 to 36 percent.

But HSUS ignored this popular mandate and immediately went to work to overturn it. In a statement released after the vote, Pacelle vowed: “Now that the Issue 2 campaign is over, we can get on with such real reform … a measure to phase out the extreme confinement of animals in veal crates, gestation crates, and battery cages, where they cannot even turn around and stretch their limbs.”

HSUS is engaged in a petition drive to place its measure on the ballot in November 2010 to ban what it terms “extreme confinement.” But there is still strong bipartisan support for the new Livestock Care Standards Board which includes the veterinarian for the state Department of Agriculture and the chief of Cincinnati’s Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Ohio Democratic Governor Ted Strickland and GOP gubernatorial candidate John Kasich declared their opposition to HSUS’s proposed ballot measure. “If we want to eat, and if we want access to affordable and inexpensive food, it is important for the agricultural community within our state not to be hamstrung,” Strickland told a forum hosted by the Ohio Farm Bureau. Referencing HSUS’s “extremism,” Kasich told the group, “No outsiders ought to come in here and try to destroy our farms.”

The Ohio counterattack to the radical HSUS agenda may be catching on. Lawmakers in at least 9 states are considering adopting similar boards.

School Activism 101

Despite a radical animal-rights agenda similar to PETA’s, the Humane Society of the United States has gained entry to countless segments of polite society. One of the more worrisome consequences of this is the group’s relatively unfettered access to U.S. schools.

Through its National Association for Humane and Environmental Education, as well as a series of animal-rights-oriented publications, HSUS spreads animal-rights propaganda to schoolchildren as young as five.

One package, titled People and Animals — A Humane Education Guide, suggests films and books for teachers to present to their students. In these recommended teaching tools, sport hunters are called “selective exterminators” and “drunken slobs” who participate in a “blood sport” and a “war on wildlife” with “maniacal attitudes toward killing.” Another teachers’ guide contains anti-circus stories in which animals are repeatedly depicted as overworked and abused.

At the same time, HSUS hypocritically complains that it is inappropriate for the federal government to distribute educational materials about the need for laboratory research animals, complaining: “These materials inappropriately target young people, who do not possess the cognitive ability to make meaningful decisions regarding highly controversial and complex issues.”

HSUS has even been able to insert itself into 4-H, a 6.5 million member youth organization administered by the United States Department of Agriculture that provides civic education and other training. In March 2010, the National Headquarters allowed HSUS to lead a session, entitled “Animal Instincts: Service Learning and Animal Welfare,” at the National 4-H Conference. Congressman Steve King (R-IA) issued a statement criticizing the National Headquarters for allowing a radical anti-agricultural group to participate in the event. “4-H has a rich history of livestock care and production,” said King. “In the summer, 4-H members put in long hours raising and training animals for county fairs across the country. What could 4-H leaders be thinking to invite HSUS to make a presentation to young 4-Hers?”

Leadership Problems

In Feb. 2018, HSUS CEO Wayne Pacelle resigned after credible accusations that he had sexually preyed on staff members. His deputy, vice president Paul Shapiro, resigned the previous month after also being accused of sexual harassment. HSUS board member Erika Brunson shockingly blew off the allegations against Pacelle, saying, “We didn’t hire him to be a choir boy.” The board also voted to close an internal investigation into Pacelle, before public and donor outrage forced his resignation.

Longtime HSUS chief policy officer Mike Markarian, who left in 2018, had written, “A perfect example of effective rebellion is an Animal Liberation Front raid on a laboratory.” HSUS food policy director Matt Prescott wrote, “I also believe in the actions of the ALF and other such groups.” HSUS president Wayne Pacelle hired John “J.P.” Goodwin in 1997, the same year Goodwin described himself as “spokesperson for the ALF” while he fielded media calls in the wake of an ALF arson attack at a California meat processing plant. In 1997, when asked by reporters for a reaction to an ALF arson fire at a farmer’s feed co-op in Utah (which nearly killed a family sleeping on the premises), Goodwin replied, “We’re ecstatic.” As of 2023, Goodwin still works for HSUS as a senior director.

Kitty Block is the chief executive officer and president of the Humane Society of the United States and also chief executive officer of Humane Society International. Block was formerly an employee of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, a radical animal rights group that seeks “total animal liberation.” She also earns a lucrative compensation–over $450,000–while the group gives only about one percent of the money it raises to local pet shelters.

The “Humane” Web

In addition to the HSUS flagship offices in Maryland and DC, the organization’s global network includes control over the following legal corporations (this list is evolving as new information becomes available):

Nonprofit affiliates:

  • Alice Morgan Wright-Edith Goode Fund (DC);
  • Alternative Congress Trust (DC);
  • Animal Channel (DC);
  • Association Humanataria De Costa Rica;
  • Center for the Respect of Life and Environment (DC);
  • Charlotte and William Parks Foundation for Animal Welfare (DC);
  • Conservation Endowment Fund (see ICEC) (CA);
  • Doris Day Animal League
  • Earth Restoration Corps. (DC);
  • Earthkind Inc. (DC);
  • Earthkind International Inc. (DC);
  • Earthkind USA (DC);
  • Earthkind USA (MT);
  • Earthkind UK [ also affiliated with the International Fund for Animal Welfare];
  • Earthvoice (DC);
  • Earthvoice International (DC);
  • Eating with a Conscience Campaign (DC);
  • The Fund for Animals
  • HSUS Hollywood Office (formerly The Ark Trust Inc.) (CA);
  • Humane Society International (DC), which also operates
  • the International Center for Earth Concerns (ICEC) in Ojai, California,
  • the Center for Earth Concerns in Costa Rica, and
  • the Conservation Endowment Fund in California;
  • Humane Society International Australian Office Inc.;
  • Humane Society International of Latin America;
  • Humane Society Legislative Fund
  • Humane Society of the United States (DE);
  • Humane Society of the United States (MD);
  • Humane Society of the United States (MT);
  • Humane Society of the United States (PA);
  • Humane Society of the United States (VT);
  • Humane Society of the United States California Branch Inc. (CA);
  • Humane Society of the United States New Jersey Branch Inc. (NJ);
  • Humane Society of the United States Wildlife Land Trust (DC);
  • Humane Society of the United States Wildlife Land Trust (KS);
  • Humane Society of the United States Wildlife Land Trust (OK);
  • Humane Society of the United States Utah State Branch (UT);
  • Humane Society University (DC);
  • Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association
  • Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust
  • Institute for the Study of Animal Problems (DC);
  • Interfaith Council for the Protection of Animals and Nature (GA);
  • International Society for the Protection of Animals (UK);
  • Kindness Club International Inc. (DC);
  • Meadowcreek Project Inc. (AR);
  • Meadowcreek Inc. (AR);
  • National Association for Humane and Environmental Education (DC);
  • National Humane Education Center (VA);
  • Species Survival Network (MI);
  • Wildlife Rehabilitation Training Center (MA);
  • World Federation for the Protection of Animals Inc. (DC);
  • World Society for the Protection of Animals (DC);
  • World Society for the Protection of Animals (IA);
  • World Society for the Protection of Animals (ND);
  • World Society for the Protection of Animals (VT);
  • World Society for the Protection of Animals – Canada;
  • World Society for the Protection of Animals – Deutschland;
  • World Society for the Protection of Animals International (UK);
  • World Society for the Protection of Animals UK (UK); and
  • Worldwide Network Inc. (DC).

For-profit affiliates:

  • The Humane Catalog (VA);
  • Humane Equity Fund [defunct] (DC);
  • Humane Society Press (DC);
  • Humane Society of the United States Connecticut Branch Inc. (CT);
  • Humane Society of the United States Virginia Branch Inc. (VA);
  • World Society for the Protection of Animals (MA);
  • World Society for the Protection of Animals – Australia;
  • World Society for the Protection of Animals Executor Services (UK);
  • World Society for the Protection of Animals Trading Company (UK).