Friday, April 09, 2010

Regarding the Humane Society of the United States
An Open Letter to New York State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky

April 9, 2010

Dear Senator Stavisky:

The Dog Federation of New York is a coalition of individual dog owners and dog-related organizations devoted to responsible ownership, with a membership that spans the State of New York. We are committed to helping legislators respond appropriately to the concerns we all share, including providing for the public’s health and safety while addressing concerns on animal welfare issues.

We recently read of the award you received from the Humane Society of the United States, and whole-heartedly applaud the compassion for animals conveyed by your remarks. However, we fear you may be unaware of the facts concerning the Humane Society of the United States.

For example:

  • Despite its name and much of the language used in publications and on its website, HSUS is not an umbrella group of local shelters and animal rescues. A recent poll indicates that the vast majority of Americans mistakenly trust that contributions to HSUS will be used to shelter pet animals, but this is almost never the case.

  • HSUS does not operate a single shelter for pet animals anywhere in the United States, and devotes less than 1% of its budget to hands-on care for pets.

  • Since late 2009, more than 5,000 citizens have requested that the IRS investigate HSUS’ tax-exempt status in light of what appears to be excessive lobbying activities in state capitals across the country, including Albany.

  • HSUS is the subject of a federal lawsuit brought by Feld Entertainment and Ringling Brothers Circus alleging RICO crimes on the part of the Humane Society of the United States, its attorneys and several other radical animal rights groups.

  • The Humane Society of the United States is an extremist animal rights organization led by individuals whose agenda is deeply at odds with the values of New York citizens and voters, and the needs of the pets and animals they love.

Senator Stavisky, our members believe that all responsible and caring owners of animals share a concern for the well-being of pets, work companions and livestock, and we support legislation and legislators that further the goals of animal welfare advocacy.

Based on the above, unfortunately, it is clear that the Humane Society of the United States is not an ally in this cause. We urge you, as well as all public officials elected in the State of New York, to remember that your mandate is to represent the public's best interest. Please consider carefully both the organization and the policies it advocates. We believe there is an undeniable discrepancy between HSUS's outward veneer and the reality that lies beneath the surface.

Thank you for your consideration.


The Dog Federation of New York


Update April 10, 2010

DFNY encourages concerned pet and animal owners to forward this letter to their own legislators. The letter and attachments can be downloaded using these links:

Letter to Senator Stavisky

Attachment #1

Attachment #2

Attachment #3

Attachment #4


Anonymous said...

wow.. can the rest of us use this letter to send to our legislators.. you know the ones who love those awards.. meanwhile make sure you check out who the HSUS has donated to.. as see if it "gels"

The only New York organization dedicated to protecting the rights of caring dog owners said...

Absolutely! Please feel free to send the letter to any NYS public official.

We have updated the post to include links to the reference material we sent to Senator Stavisky, so that you can easily include it in your letters, too.

Hillary, HSUS said...

As someone who works at the Humane Society of the U.S., I'd like to address several points in this letter. First and foremost, the HSUS is not affiliated with local animal shelters, so it shouldn't be surprising that we dedicate our budget to tackling broader animal cruelty issues like puppy mills, factory farming, and Canada's seal hunt. Nowhere do we claim to run or oversee animal shelters. Our organization works closely with a number of shelters, but all of them are entirely independent entities.

The HSUS has been regularly audited by the IRS and our organization’s tax-exempt status has been confirmed.

The Fund for Animals, ASPCA, and Animal Welfare Institute were the original plaintiffs in the Ringling case in 2000, not the HSUS. After nearly a decade of litigation, we are disappointed that the court dismissed this case on the technical issue of standing, and never even considered the key question of whether Ringling Bros. is violating the Endangered Species Act. The idea that one of the witnesses was a paid plaintiff is nonsense and won’t stand up on appeal.

The work of the HSUS speaks for itself, and anyone can find out more by going to Although the issues we tackle extend well beyond companion animals, we are pet owners ourselves and we support reputable dog breeders.

The only New York organization dedicated to protecting the rights of caring dog owners said...

The facts are the facts. Nothing in Hillary's response changes them.

HSUS most emphatically does NOT “dedicate [its] budget to broader animal cruelty issues.” HSUS charges the shelters it “works closely with” significant fees for services provided.

HSUS is a lobbying machine. To quote HSUS CEO and President Wayne Pacelle, as published in the L A Times on April 8, 2010:
People know what happened in California, and they know it can happen again and again. They know that no group has passed more ballot measures than we have. They know we have a focused strategy. They know we have a budget of $150 million a year. And they know we're ready for a fight.

And yet the HSUS website reads: “Your donation will be used to stop animal cruelty inflicted by individuals and institutions, to rescue and shelter animals during times of disaster, and so much more.

No mention of paying for lobbyists at state capitals, though. Americans do not understand what HSUS is, and visiting HSUS' website isn't helpful.

A significant portion of HSUS’ budget goes to the salary, benefits and retirement fund for its executives. The Charity Navigator 2009 CEO Compensation study indicates that Mr. Pacelle’s salary is about 43 percent higher than the average for a charity CEO in Washington, DC. To quote, “Since 2004 (when “Humane Wayne” Pacelle took over), the HSUS pension slush fund has grown by more than $8.5 million. Instead of helping dogs and cats in pet shelters, that money will be fattening the wallets of HSUS big shots after they retire”.

As for HSUS’ continuing difficulties with both the IRS and the federal courts as it prepares to defend against racketeering allegations, and a possible tax audit: we have every confidence that justice will be served and that an organization which continues to solicit donations “to rescue and shelter animals” will get its just come uppance.

We do agree with Hillary on one point, though: HSUS’ work does speak for itself.