A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing – New ‘animal welfare’ agency not what it seems

February 28, 2012 by Tails Magazine in Featured, Home, March 2012 with 8 Comments

More to this message? On the surface, it seems easy to agree with the sentiment in the HSSP ad. But with just a bit of digging below the surface, it’s clear there may be more to their motives.

By Janice Brown

In early December, I received an email introducing the Humane Society for Shelter Pets, a new non-profit animal welfare organization. The press release stated: “In these difficult economic times, pet shelters are feeling the shortfall in charitable giving. Many shelters already operate on tight budgets to provide needed hands-on care and don’t have the time or money to spread a ‘give local’ message. So we’ve established a national advocate to do just that.” As TAILS was founded with a goal to support local rescue and adoption, I initially agreed with their sentiment wholeheartedly.

However, as I read on, I quickly realized this “feel good” message was covering up another, much larger agenda—to attack the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS).

But I was confused. Why attack the HSUS? There are many national organizations working on behalf of the animals to address issues regarding legal policies, humane treatment, emergency rescue, and much more. Most of them do not duplicate the important efforts of local shelters by design.

We Need National Animal Welfare Groups
These non-profits’ large footprints and healthy budgets make them ideal groups to focus on the bigger issues—which often means taking on industries that spend enormous amounts of money lobbying to force their agribusiness agendas through. While these non-profits may not be facilitating adoptions on a daily basis, their hard work greatly impacts the state of animal welfare.

Later in the month, I received another press release from the HSSP, touting full-page ads they took out in USA Today, the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and Los Angeles Times. The goal of the ads was to let the public know that according to them, in 2010, the HSUS gave only 1 percent of their donation revenue to local shelters.

In the past I had received similarly negative attacks on the HSUS from a group called the Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF). In a release from August of 2010, for example, the CCF disputed the HSUS claim that, “expensive ‘cage-free’ egg production lowers the public-health risk from Salmonella.”

After a little digging, I discovered the CCF was initially created by Richard Berman, owner of the Berman and Company PR firm, with $600,000 from Philip Morris. The company pledged the funds to fight restrictions on cigarette smoking. So it didn’t shock me to see the address on the Humane Society for Shelter Pets press release—1090 Vermont Ave NW, Washington, DC—was the same address as Berman and Company, also home of the CCF.  One of the HSSP’s biggest complaints is the “humane confusion” that exists. Their website states: “Despite the words ‘humane society’ in its name, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is not formally affiliated with any humane societies that operate at a city, county or regional level.” This from a group that also has “humane society” in its name, but does not run a shelter, either?

I do understand it can be easy to infer that local humane societies are somehow connected to the HSUS, or that a local society for the prevention of cruelty to animals is connected to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. However, these organizations proudly share the depth of their reach in the animal welfare arena beyond shelter pets. And if the HSUS and other national animal welfare groups funneled all of their money to local shelters, who would be in Washington, DC lobbying for stronger animal abuse laws? Who would show up in places like Joplin and New Orleans after natural disasters strike? Who would be looking out for the rights of horses, seals, chimps, and other animals?

Don’t be Fooled
To me, the HSSP is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. I could not agree more that we need to “help shelter pets by donating locally …” as the ads state. But their message does not end there. The full plea says, “Please help shelter pets by donating locally, not to the HSUS.” Why?

People routinely donate money to many different charities, because each one takes on a unique role in being part of the solution. If you are passionate about fighting breast cancer, for example, you may give to one organization focusing on research, another that pays for wigs during chemo, and one that organizes local charity walks. They all fall under the breast cancer umbrella, and all are critical. If people are fooled, buy into what the HSSP is saying, and decide to stop donating to a national animal welfare organization based on a few ads containing limited and confusing information—the state of animal welfare will be negatively impacted.

Searching for a Motive
A quick Google search of Richard Berman pulls up a plethora of articles that may make your stomach churn. SourceWatch.org cites a 1999 interview with Chain Leader, a trade publication for restaurant chains (no longer  published), where Berman himself admits his tactics are harsh: “‘In effect, our work is restricted to and focused on issues that affect shareholder value. We always have a knife in our teeth,’ he said. Since activists ‘drive consumer behavior on meat, alcohol, fat, sugar, tobacco and caffeine,’ his strategy is ‘to shoot the messenger … We’ve got to attack their credibility as spokespersons.’”

Berman’s industry ties have been raising red flags for years. As far back as 2002, VegSource.com reported: “According to publicly available tax returns, in 1998 alone Berman paid himself $1.011 million in salary and for ‘consulting services’ out of the approximately $1.272 million total of tax-free donations raised for Employment Policies Institute (which fights against raising the minimum wage) that year. Another way to look at it: Berman paid to himself about 79 percent of all the charitable donations raised that year by EPI. And that million-plus bucks was from just one of the non-profits Berman operates.” (See side bar below for list of some others.)

While there is no concrete evidence of who is truly behind the HSSP, it would seem that attacking the HSUS—who is working tirelessly to create laws that might cost big business more money in the name of humane treatment of animals—would not make sense unless you are being funded by those big businesses.  

Editor’s Note:
While researching and writing this editorial, no one from the HSSP or Berman and Company responded to our inquiries by press time. We will report new facts and information as we receive them. Please check TailsInc.com for updates, and sign up for our e-newsletter to stay informed.

Some of Berman’s other websites:
ActivistCash.com (Attacks public interest groups. Sock puppet used to give unsubstantiated claims authority)
HumaneWatch.org (Attacks HSUS)
AnimalScam.com (Attacks animal protection charities)
PetaKillsAnimals.com/PetaSavesAnimals.com (Attacks People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals)
PetaPetition.com (Inactive. Attacked PETA)
CSPIScam.com (Attacks Center for Science in the Public Interest)
PhysicianScam.com (Attacks Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine)
PCRMScam.com (Attacks PCRM)
CrewExposed.com (Attacks Citizens for Responsible Ethics in Washington)
MadCowScare.com (Inactive. Downplayed dangers of Mad Cow disease)
HolyVeal.com (Inactive. Attacked animal protection groups and downplayed cruelty of veal)
FishScam.com (Downplays dangers of mercury in seafood)
TunaScam.com (Alias of FishScam.com)
MercuryFacts.com (Alias of FishScam.com)
FishTruth.com (Inactive)
HowMuchFish.com (Skewed mercury “calculator” aimed at persuading pregnant women
to consume more mercury-laden fish)
ObesityMyths.com (Downplays dangers of obesity and unhealthy foods)
SweetScam.com (Downplays dangers of high fructose corn syrup)
LawsuitAddiction.com (Attacks trial lawyers, especially those against trans-fats)
Trans-FatFacts.com (Inactive. Downplayed dangers of trans-fats)
SpicySprouts.com (Inactive)
NeoProhibition.com (Expired)

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  1. AnitaFebruary 12, 2013 at 11:51 amReply

    Perhaps you folks who think HSUS is extreme confuse them with ALF? HSUS is a centrist organization focused on humane treatment of ALL animals, not just shelter animals. IF they are so extremist, why do they have a pork producer on staff? Why do they work in tandem with meat and egg producers? Why do they work with fast food corporations, no bastion of veganism last I checked? You know they are centrist when the organizations that truly support animal RIGHTS as opposed to PROTECTION, gun for HSUS. As for the list of problems with HSUS that were copied straight from CCF, only one has any real validity – I think that HSUS’s treatment of the Vicks’ case was deplorable.

    They focus heavily on legislation – THE most effective way to protect the biggest number of animals. Sure, you can save one dog, or you can spare thousands upon thousands being mistreated in puppy mills, or sold at pet stores and destined to be euthanized at some poor shelter. Take your pick, but don’t be disingenuous about your choice.

  2. SandyJuly 22, 2012 at 3:58 pmReply

    Doug Williams, care to quote your source for Wayne Pacelle, along with a link so we can see it for ourselves? His book is called The Bond, I have met Wayne and read his book. I don’t believe this quote. Give us proof.

  3. Conservatives Are ScumJune 4, 2012 at 7:32 amReply

    looks like berman’s staff is busy cranking out the propaganda responses even to small stuff like this.

    the facts on berman and his scams are out there.

    you interns really need to do a bit better with the talking points, btw. maybe less talking while sitting next to each other. the two of you writing those responses, too much alike.

    nice astroturfing attempt.

    get the facts on berman, he is scum.

  4. JanMay 15, 2012 at 5:50 amReply

    I’m sorry, but it is the H$U$ who is the wolf in sheep’s clothing. It is they who are trying very hard to make it illegal to breed animals for any reason, it is they who are perpetuating the myth of pet overpopulation and breeders’ role in it, while supporting the importation of pets from other countries to meet shelter needs. The H$U$ donates less than 1% of the money they collect to local shelters, the rest goes into lobbying, payroll, benefits, and pension plans. You need to remove the wool from your eyes.

  5. ElizabethMay 14, 2012 at 9:27 pmReply

    9 Things You Didn’t Know About HSUS
    1. The Humane Society of the United States scams Americans out of millions of dollars through manipulative and deceptive advertising. An analysis of HSUS’s TV fundraising appeals that ran between January 2009 and September 2011 determined that more than 85 percent of the animals shown were cats and dogs. However, HSUS doesn’t run a single pet shelter and only gives 1 percent of the money it raises to pet shelters, and it has spent millions on anti-farming and anti-hunting political campaigns.
    2. HSUS receives poor charity-evaluation marks. CharityWatch (formerly the American Institute of Philanthropy) reissued HSUS’s “D” rating in December 2011, finding that HSUS spends as little as 49 percent of its budget on its programs. Additionally, the 2011 Animal People News Watchdog Report discovered that HSUS spends about 43 percent of its budget on overhead costs.
    3. Six Members of Congress have called for a federal investigation of HSUS. In April 2011, six Congressmen wrote the IRS Inspector General showing concerns over HSUS’s attempts to influence public policy, which they believe has “brought into question [HSUS’s] tax-exempt 501(c)(3) status.”
    4. HSUS regularly contributes more to its own pension plan than it does to pet shelters. An analysis of HSUS’s tax returns determined that HSUS funneled $16.3 million to its executive pension plan between 1998 and 2009—over $1 million more than HSUS gave to pet shelters during that period.
    5. The pet sheltering community believes HSUS misleads Americans. According to a nationally representative poll of 400 animal shelters, rescues, and animal control agencies, 71 percent agree that “HSUS misleads people into thinking it is associated with local animal shelters.” Additionally, 79 percent agree that HSUS is “a good source of confusion for a lot of our donors.”
    6. While it raises money with pictures of cats and dogs, HSUS has an anti-meat vegan agenda. Speaking to an animal rights conference in 2006, HSUS’s then vice president for farm animal issues stated that HSUS’s goal is to “get rid of the entire [animal agriculture] industry” and that “we don’t want any of these animals to be raised and killed.”
    7. Given the massive size of its budget, HSUS does relatively little hands-on care for animals. While HSUS claims it provides direct care to more animals than any other animal protection group in the US, most of the “care” HSUS provides is in the form of spay-neuter assistance. In fact, local groups that operate on considerably slimmer budgets, such as the Houston SPCA, provide direct care to just as many or more animals than HSUS does.
    8. HSUS’s CEO has said that convicted dogfighting kingpin Michael Vick “would do a good job as a pet owner.” Following Vick’s release from prison, HSUS has helped “rehabilitate” Michael Vick’s public image. Of course, a $50,000 “grant” from the Philadelphia Eagles didn’t hurt.
    9. HSUS’s senior management includes a former spokesman for the Animal Liberation Front (ALF), a criminal group designated as “terrorists” by the FBI. 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.”
    Want evidence? Vist: http://www.ConsumerFreedom.com * http://www.HumaneWatch.org * http://www.ActivistCash.com
    Revised February 2012. Complete sources and documentation available upon request.__._,

  6. doug williamsMay 14, 2012 at 11:24 amReply

    LOL this reader quotes “Vegsource’.. not exactly an unbiased source since it is a VEGAN site chock full of dire consequences about eating an egg, yogurt or a burger.. or even ice cream..
    In the mean time HSSP is only a place to find out where to donate locally.. type in your zip code.. and there it is .. all of the shelters near you that need help.. no crying, whining music, no sad faces of puppies and kitties saying.. will i die today.. yes I will if you don;t send 19.00 per month..
    the author says:
    “These non-profits’ large footprints and healthy budgets make them ideal groups to focus on the bigger issues”—

    HEALTHY? really ?160 MILLION dollars at the HSUS alone.more money in their pension fund that they use the “help animals” Expensive banquets ( vegan of course) parties for celebrities ( did you get an invite?). Travel first class for their employees.. I say that is more like BLOATED or OBESE rather than healthy.
    think they really like animals.. here are a few snippets of what they have to say:
    “I don’t have a hands-on fondness for animals…To this day I don’t feel bonded to any non-human animal. I like them and I pet them and I’m kind to them, but there’s no special bond between me and other animals.” Wayne Pacelle HSUS.

    “We have no ethical obligation to preserve the different breeds of livestock produced through selective breeding. . One generation and out. We have no problem with the extinction of domestic animals. They are creations of human selective breeding.” Wayne Pacelle, HSUS
    “I dream of a vegan world – that’s where I want everything to go.” Gene Baur, Farm Sanctuary ( division of HSUS)

    “My goal is the abolition of all animal agriculture.” JP Goodwin, employed at the Humane Society of the US,

    Friends Don’t Let Friends Donate to the HSUS

  7. CharlyMay 14, 2012 at 10:23 amReply

    Your heart may be in the right place, Janice Brown, but your research is faulty. The real scam is HSUS, and it isn’t hard to figure that out if you can get the stars out of your eyes. I was a donor to HSUS for many years, but a VERY long time ago – 15+ years – I began to see a change in the goals of HSUS, which didn’t match my values. I had a heck of a time getting them to stop sending me free stuff, they probably still have my name listed as a donor, but I digress. HSUS is a ‘charity’ in name only, and their enormous $100 Million Plus budget is not spent on the welfare of animals – except when there is publicity involved. The HSUS multi-million-dollar budget goes to lobbying that squeezes OUR rights to live with and care for our animals, playing shamelessly on your emotions. Your “only $19 a month” goes into legislation to restrict and limit our human interactions with animals. Only a tiny percentage of their resources goes towards the direct care of animals, and usually that pittance goes towards events that promote more fund raising, like “Spay Day”, and free literature in your vet’s office. I have friends who were on the ground in NOLA after Hurricane Katrina. They saw for themselves how HSUS used the suffering of animals for shameless begging, while running to the bank with people’s heartfelt donations – nearly $40 million, most of which was never fully accounted for in the area of the most suffering.

    You have the entirely wrong idea, both of HSUS and HSSP – I suggest you reverse your stance. Fifteen years ago there was no one listening to the few of us who were seeing what HSUS became under the leadership of Wayne Pacelle. There is finally some help for those of us who have been voices in the wilderness, an organization with the clout and the financial wherewithal to call out HSUS for what it is – a fraudulent ‘charity’. HSUS is an animal ‘rights’ organization that lobbies against all human interactions with animals, incrementally pulling people from both ends, making all animal and human connections more difficult, expensive, burdensome and challenging. HSUS is a VEGAN organization. You are entitled to your beliefs, but please don’t fall for HSUS as an animal “welfare” organization – it is an animal “rights” group, which is very different.

  8. DCMay 13, 2012 at 9:34 pmReply

    There is no secret to who is behind HSSP. We started HSSP in response to donor confusion about what HSUS does with donated cash. I do work in a shelter and I used to work at HSUS. There is no wolf in sheep’s clothing since we are not asking for any money. We are simply encouraging donors to know where their money goes and donate to local shelter rather than political groups when they want to support hands on animal care. It’s It’s great that people are talking about this on either side. There is no reason that pointing out confusion and misunderstandings need to be seen as attacks. I certainly don’t consider your column here to be an attack, just misinformed. Didi Culp Humaneforshelterpets.com

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