Where Do Those HSUS Donation Dollars Go?

The HSUS loves lawsuits, I mean REALLY loves lawsuits! They currently have 58 pending cases on their legal docket, with most of them concerning chickens and cows. So it was no surprise that Wayne Pacelle announced on his blog yesterday the HSUS has launched a lawsuit against the The National Pork Producers Council and lovingly dubbed it the “Ham Scam”.

The HSUS alleges that the National Pork Board struck an unlawful backroom deal with the National Pork Producers Council for the purchase of the iconic “Pork: The Other White Meat” slogan. The deal allowed $60 million in pork producers’ money collected for marketing purposes to be diverted into industry lobbying efforts aimed at harming animal welfare and small farmers. You can read the full court document here.

Finally, Wayne writes;

“While we can’t force NPPC to care about animals or family farmers, through this lawsuit we can work to stop money from being unlawfully funneled straight to its lobbyists who work to kill essentially any legislation aimed at preventing cruelty to animals.”

Oh, the irony.

The HSUS knows all about “unlawful”, don’t they? I’m surprised that news of the HSUS, Fund For Animals, ASPCA, Animal Welfare Institute and the Animal Protection Institute (Born Free USA) being civilly charged under the Racketeer Influence and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) went over so quietly.

So why RICO charges? I thought that kind of stuff was only reserved for mobster types and other dubious characters. Over ten years ago, all the above mentioned animal welfare organizations banded together to sue Ringling Brothers, owned by Feld Entertainment, over the treatment of their elephants. Their star witness was a man by the name of Tom Rider who worked in the elephant barn.

In 2009, the case against Feld Entertainment was dismissed because;

  • Rider was a paid plaintiff, which he did not disclose during court proceedings. He was covertly paid by the law firm Meyer Glitzenstein and Crystal on behalf of the HSUS,  FFA, ASPCA, AWI & API. Over nine years of litigation he received $190, 000 which was his sole source of income.
  • Rider had been cited three times of animal abuse while under the employment of Feld Entertainment.
  • While Rider worked for Feld Entertainment and never once complained to management, veterinarians or legal officials about the elephants being poorly treated.
  • There was photographic evidence of Rider using a “bull hook” on elephants with a subsequent employer. His alleged distress of the Feld elephants being mistreated was dismissed by the court.

With the court case dismissed, Feld Entertainment filed a court case against the HSUS,  ASPCA, AWI, API and others that included allegations of Mail Fraud, Wire Fraud, Bribery, Money Laundering, Illegal Witness Payments & Obstruction of Justice.

This July, U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan dismissed the Mail and Wire Fraud charges, but ruled that the court case alleging the rest of the RICO violations could proceed. Interestingly enough, Judge Sullivan also agreed with Feld Entertainment’s accusation that members of the public were victimized since donors may have been improperly induced to make donations based on the manufactured lawsuit in question.

Feld Entertainment is looking to recover 20 million dollars it spent on court and attorney fees over the past ten years and there is a very good chance that they will win.

So that’s where some of those HSUS, ASPCA, AWI & API donation dollars go. Wasting the US courts’ time for ten years with a fabricated lawsuit and paying liars for false testimony. Money that could have directly helped animals was wasted on ten years of fruitless litigation. 20 million dollars that could have gone to helping animals will be flushed down the toilet if Feld Entertainment wins their court case.

The 2011 “Total Support and Revenue”  for the HSUS was 167 million dollars, yet they operate NO shelters for domestic dogs and cats. They do operate 2 horse sanctuaries and 4 wildlife sanctuaries.

Here’s another head scratcher that has been plaguing me for a while. At the beginning of the month the HSUS “helped” rescue 250 animals from a South Carolina puppy mill. During that rescue, PetSmart charities donated $90K of supplies to help with the rescue effort. It makes me wonder what donation monies are actually paying for? Animal rescue administration? The HSUS has enough money, they could have dug into their own pockets.

The 2011 “Total Operating Support and Revenue” for the ASPCA was 147 million dollars. They operate ONE shelter for dogs and cats in New York City.

This case will take years to resolve, but it will most certainly be “The Greatest Show On Earth”.

 

 

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11 Responses to Where Do Those HSUS Donation Dollars Go?

  1. Vicki Cook says:

    Karen – I can’t speak to the Ringling Brothers issue, but I do have friends here in Pittsburgh, who are actively involved with HSUS in dogfighting busts. These are very real and I would be happy to put you in touch with them.
    Vicki Cook recently posted..Wahl and Petfinder.com Foundation Host Search for America’s Dirtiest DogsMy Profile

    • Karen Friesecke says:

      I might actually give a shit about what the HSUS does for animal victims of dog fighting if they didn’t spend so much money on fundraising and direct mail fund solicitations.

      According to their 2010 IRS 990 tax form they spent 24 million dollars on fundraising expenses, 14 million on direct mail fund solicitation costs and 6.7 million dollars on financial aid to animal shelters.

      Why is it when I watch the “Animal Cops” shows on Animal Planet, the shelters seem to do just fine without the HSUS when they rescue animals in large scale hoarding or dog fighting situations? That is why I donate to local registered animal charities. They are the front line workers that need the money the most.

  2. jan says:

    Great post, Karen. I have been following this saga and you have presented it fairly as you always do. Expect to get a lot of idiot comments from people who still believe the wonderful work for animals that these corrupt organizations provide. They always want to provide links to the propaganda put out by their PR departments as if these are facts.

    HSUS does need money for those jackets they wear for the cameras when they rescue animals before dumping them into overcrowded local shelters. They seem to be brand new jackets each time so they show up well for the media.
    jan recently posted..WARNING: I have highjacked Jan’s blog today! –Taki the CatMy Profile

  3. Karen, the suit against Feld Entertainment was neither a “waste” nor “fabricated”. In fact, after this case, Feld Entertainment was hit with the largest AWA fine in history. The cruelty and abuse they inflict on their animals is appalling.

    Further, HSUS was not one of the original plaintiffs. They inherited the case from Fund for Animals, who they merged with in 2005.

    There is no such thing as a “civil charge”. What you are referring to is a frivolous, retaliatory lawsuit by Feld Entertainment, parent corporation of Ringling Bros.
    Ringling’s CEO has a net worth of more than $700 *million* dollars, largely gathered through his company’s abuse of animals — and that buys a lot of meritless lawsuits and lawyers.

    I don’t understand your spitting on the nation’s largest and most effective animal welfare organization. There isn’t a state, an animal, a welfare issue that HSUS hasn’t profoundly affected in its 58 year history. Many of the animal cruelty laws we have on the books are thanks to the efforts of the HSUS.

    You are correct that HSUS does not operate pet shelters. That’s not their purpose, and they have never suggested otherwise. If that is the basis for your contempt for the HSUS, you are sadly misguided. You have ignored everything that the HSUS *does* in favor of a straw man argument about what they were never intended to do.

    The HSUS confronts cruelty to all animals, not just shelter pets. That doesn’t make them unworthy of support.
    John Doppler Schiff recently posted..Breaking News: HSSP Leadership VanishesMy Profile

    • Karen Friesecke says:

      You mean this case that was brought up by the USDA

      http://www.businessweek.com/news/2011-11-29/ringling-bros-owner-to-pay-270-000-in-animal-welfare-case.html

      One elephant had cuts on it’s face from broken hardware in a trailer, one elephant was forced to preform after a diarrhea attack and a zebra escaped it’s enclosure and ended up on a road.

      I highly doubt that after 9 years of high profile litigation, the USDA suddenly woke up and decided to “spank” Feld Entertainment for animal abuse because the HSUS, ASPCA, AWI and API had their case dismissed.

      The RICO act has provisions a private individual harmed by certain actions to file a CIVIL suit, and if I was Feld Entertainment I would take full advantage of the LAW. Bribery, Money Laundering, Illegal Witness Payments & Obstruction of Justice are not frivolous allegations.

      There is a huge disconnect with what the HSUS actually does and what the public thinks they do ie. helping puppies and kitties. The HSUS is actually a political lobbying org, but the public thinks that all they do is help animals via physical aid and public education programs. If the general public perception of the HSUS was that it was a lobbying org., the donations would dry up pretty quickly.

      I might take their animal welfare concerns a little more seriously if they didn’t spend 24 million dollars on fundraising expenses and 14 million on direct mail fund solicitation costs in 2010. Doling out 6.7 million dollars for physical animal care when they had 148 million dollars in revenue is a little weak in my opinion, considering that it what the public thinks that they mostly do.

      • I disagree. I’ve been a member of HSUS for years, and I get a *constant* stream of information about what they are doing and how they are doing it. Donors know very well how their money is being spent, and they wholeheartedly approve.

        And despite the efforts of corporate smear campaigns from front groups like “HumaneWatch” or the fraudulent “Humane Society for Shelter Pets”, donations the HSUS are stronger than ever. Members see what they do to help animals. They like it. They support it.

        SB1221 just passed here in CA, and HSUS was instrumental in that. So don’t knock lobbying, it works. Laws are how we create meaningful, lasting change for animals.

        Meanwhile, shelters are a band-aid on a gushing wound. Aid for the victims of abandonment and neglect and cruelty is vital, but even more so is *stopping* that cruelty. If we can’t stem the flow of pets into shelters, we will never reduce euthanasia rates, and shelters will continue to be overwhelmed.

        Now, I can see where it’s easy to view the HSUS as a big fat piggy bank that shelters can dip into, but that glosses over the immense scale of our tragically broken sheltering system.

        If HSUS gave every penny of its resources to local shelters, it still wouldn’t make a dent in the problem — and in the following years, those shelters would be overwhelmed with the ever-growing flood of abandoned and homeless animals. I want to see the root causes of these problems addressed, and that’s why I split my donations between the HSUS and three regional shelters/rescues.

        You decry the fundraising expenses of the HSUS, but their fundraising *works*. Staggeringly well. HSUS has gotten high marks from the major charity evaluators: CharityNavigator, Philanthropedia, Wise Giving Alliance… even a shout out from Worth Magazine as one of the nation’s most fiscally responsible charities.

        And it’s not because people don’t know what the HSUS does. Quite the opposite.

        Please forgive me if I’m rambling. You’ve touched on half a dozen different topics, any one of which could prompt a lifetime of discussion. =)
        John Doppler Schiff recently posted..Breaking News: HSSP Leadership VanishesMy Profile

  4. houndstooth says:

    Oh boy! This is going to be another dogfight, but I’ve been very leery of the HSUS for a while now. I agree with you that there are much better places to spend your money if you want to make a difference for animals!
    houndstooth recently posted..Kuster Meets The Boy ScoutsMy Profile

  5. Thank you so much for this blog! So many people donate to these large organizations and never realize how little of their donation actually goes to helping animals. I wish people would do a little research and donate to smaller organizations (such as Amazon CARES, of course!), where even the smallest donation can make a big difference.
    Molly Mednikow recently posted..What Was the Sentence in Iquito’s First Animal Abuse Case?My Profile

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