I hope you’re not offended by my calling you Wayne. You don’t know me but my name is Carrie Mess and I am a Wisconsin Dairy Farmer. A few weeks ago you posted an open letter to Agriculture Journalists and Leaders. While I’m just a blogger and don’t consider myself anywhere near a journalist, I do think of myself as a leader in my community, so I am taking your letter to be directed towards me and my peers.
After reading your open letter, I had a few thoughts that I wanted to share in response. I like your format so I figured an open letter back would work well. Your letter is pretty long winded so I’m just going to pull out a few bullet points to discuss.
- It’s quite obvious that you don’t care for Rick Berman and Humane Watch. If I was in your current position after years of being fast and loose with the facts and I suddenly had a group calling my organization out, I wouldn’t like them much either. I find it funny that you call out Rick Berman for being a lobbyist when HSUS spends millions on lobbying each year.
- You state that the HSUS is governed by a 27 person board of directors and that those directors are unpaid volunteers. That sounds about right for a nonprofit organization to me. However, according to the HSUS 2012 tax filing you make $347,000 a year. Your organization has another 38 people making over $100,000 a year. I know that my local human society would be able to make a world of difference with just a fraction of your salary. How many animals would be helped if you took a pay cut and sent that money on to local shelters?
- You claim that HSUS has the highest charity rating from the Better Business Bureau and Charity Navigator. Never mind that the Better Business Bureau is Pass/Fail and seems to have serious issues with your organization. In the last 12 years, HSUS has only been ranked at the top of Charity Navigator’s scale 50% of time. You also leave out your D grade from Charity Watch. UPDATE: Charity Navigator has now issued a donor advisory against HSUS’ on their site. Read more HERE.
- Here’s a big one, you claim that The Humane Society of the United States shouts from the rooftops their involvement in all facets of animals, from pets to farm animals to wild animals. Yet the commercials you use to solicit donations show dogs and cats being rescued from horrible situations. You seem to think that’s alright because you feel certain that the people who give your organization money to save the puppies and kitties also want to end the use of lead bullets and whaling. Maybe they do, but it’s pretty presumptuous to guess that the little old lady who loves her cats and wants to help other cats also wants to change how farmers raise their pigs. You know what they say about people who assume… Your organization has 41% of it’s budget devoted to fundraising, Almost half of the money you take in is used to ask for more money!
- By now I think a lot of people have heard that that you give about $.01 of every $1.00 donated to local shelters. I hope they also know that your organization has assets over $180,000,000. Earlier this week I was told by Joe Maxwell, HSUS Vice President of Outreach and Engagement, that while you don’t give very much money to local animal shelters you help shelter animals by putting on the largest trade show for rescues and humane societies out there. A trade show? With all of the money you take in, a trade show is your crowning achievement in helping homeless animals? Tell that to the 30+ dogs I have fostered in our home. I bet they will pee on your leg. At $250 per person plus lodging and travel to sunny Daytona Beach, I wonder how many local shelters can afford to send their overworked and underpaid staff to your show? I guess for as little as $20, they can always subscribe to your industry magazine instead.
- Speaking of shelters, Joe Maxwell also shared that you guys are directly responsible for the placement of 100,000 pets last year. By your own estimates there are 6-8 million animals in shelters each year. You’re proud that with the $120 million dollars you spent in the same year your organization only helped about 1% of those animals find their forever homes? Seriously? If I had your money and and made such a tiny impact in something so important, I would be ashamed.
Let’s look at the bottom line here Wayne. You can tout that your organization is above the board. You can say that you’re being honest with your donors and that your interest is in helping all animals. You can say that you are not against the use of animals for food. But as Joe Maxwell confirmed for me the other day, your organization is still subscribing to the 3 R’s. Reduce, Refine and Replace. From your website “The HSUS promotes eating with conscience and embracing the Three Rs—reducing the consumption of meat and other animal-based foods; refining the diet by avoiding products from the worst production systems (e.g., switching to cage-free eggs); and replacing meat and other animal-based foods in the diet with plant-based foods.” I think you missed another R, redundant. Your goal is for us to both reduce and replace meat in our diets. That agenda is where the dollars donated are going. That is what The Humane Society of the United States stands for.
Let’s stop pretending, you may be a vegan wolf, but you’re still a wolf. The three little pigs have had enough of your tofu and they have joined up with Little Red Riding Hood and her buddy the lumberjack to show the world exactly what you and your organization is about. Welcome to reality, you’ll probably not like it here.