Rebuttal: HumaneWatch.org responds to The Times' editorial board
HumaneWatch.org published a response to last week's Times editorial about its advertising campaign against the Humane Society of the United States. The editorial critiqued a series of recent ads that feature wide-eyed dogs with the caption: "SURPRISED to hear the Humane Society of the United States shares only 1 percent of your donations with local pet shelters?"
The editorial board took the position that although the ad is true, the Humane Society never claimed to donate to animal shelters and thus HumaneWatch.org is misguided in its ad campaign. Here's an excerpt from the editorial:
The ad is true on both counts. But it's also misleading. The Humane Society has never claimed that its mission is to fund local animal shelters. Among the projects it does fund are legislative campaigns to pass animal protection laws in various states, investigations into animal cruelty (including dogfighting, puppy mills and factory farms), three wildlife rehabilitation centers and two horse sanctuaries, emergency shelter operations in areas hit by disasters and veterinary services in rural areas. In some communities it also has supported low-cost spay and neuter facilities. While some people may mistakenly believe that the Humane Society of the United States does the same job local humane societies do, it should not surprise anyone who has looked at the organization's website that only a small percentage of its money goes to local shelters.
Both sides of the argument are on the same page about where the majority of the Humane Society's donations go -- namely, not to local shelters. But HumaneWatch.org, which is part of the Center for Consumer Freedom, contends that the public perception of where donations to the Humane Society go is more important than what it technically advertises. Here's an excerpt:
There's a Grand Canyon-sized gap between what HSUS does (promote a PETA-like animal rights agenda) and what the public thinks HSUS does. And HSUS continues to rake in the donations based on that mistaken identity.
Perception, ultimately, is reality. Although HSUS never explicitly claims to support hands-on pet shelters, it does go out of its way to perpetuate the myth that its primary focus is helping homeless dogs and cats. More than 90 percent of the animals appearing in a recent HSUS adare cats and dogs, for example. And visitors to HSUS's website are inundated with pictures of pets. If donors are confused by this massive spin campaign, it's certainly not their fault.
It's all about the animals, but should the Humane Society of the United States do more to make sure the public knows which animals?
Photo: A kitten looks out of its cage at a shelter in Joplin, Mo., on June 14. Credit: Charlie Riedel / Associated Press