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May 15, 2009

Response to WSB-TV

Television Station Should Have Checked Sources

WSB-TV reporters should have checked their sources when they relied on information from the widely discredited Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF). While organized as a 501(c) (3) charity, CCF is a front group for a wide range of animal abuse industries and other corporate interests who wish to conceal their attacks on public interest groups and government. The group’s stock-in-trade involves taking aim at organizations that promote food safety, public health, or animal welfare. CCF has even attacked the National Cancer Institute, Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for their anti-drunk driving and public health campaigns.

CCF has consistently sought to undermine The HSUS’s work to combat factory farming, puppy mills, the Canadian seal slaughter, commercial whaling, and other large-scale cruelties, and it would be most satisfied if we spent all of our money on animal sheltering instead of these industries that it so dutifully defends. The group attacks The HSUS precisely because we are effective and diligent, and because we pose the greatest threat to businesses that choose to continue to abuse animals as a core part of their operations.

The WSB-TV story is chock full of inaccuracies, one of which concerns the HSUS response to Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana. HSUS was recognized nationwide for its enormous deployment in response to the crisis created by Katrina. Since Sept. 1, 2005, The HSUS has committed or spent more than $34 million on general disaster relief and recovery efforts in the Gulf Coast states, the enhancement of its disaster response capacities, and the transformation of public policy concerning animals in disaster. The most recent accounting is available to the public here.

The line of argument that we did not spend money properly was promoted by Louisiana cockfighters, CCF, and other political opponents of ours, and it never had a basis in fact. These groups exhibited little knowledge of our actual spending practices—they just did not like the level of public support and media attention we received during the Katrina crisis. The HSUS and state authorities in Louisiana and Mississippi work very closely on disaster planning and response, and we continue to fund a range of projects to help shelters, vet schools, and other institutions in the Gulf Coast. The HSUS is the lead disaster response agency for animals in the nation.

The HSUS has invested millions of dollars in local spay and neuter programs and is about to launch a national public service campaign encouraging people to adopt dogs and cats from their local animal shelters. We gave more than $6 million in direct grants to those organizations in 2007 alone and provide extensive ongoing training, evaluations, and other support. The HSUS also operates a network of animal care centers, provides rural veterinary services throughout the country, and offers a range of other hands-on programs. In 2008, we rescued and/or cared for 70,460 animals. We also work with law enforcement agencies to rescue animals from dogfights, puppy mills, and other large-scale cruelties. For four out of five consecutive years, we have been rated a 4-star charity (the highest ranking possible) with Charity Navigator, America's premier independent charity evaluator. And in 2007, 84 percent of our costs were spent on animal protection programs.

In no written materials do we claim that all of our money goes only to animal shelters. Rather, we provide a wide range of support services to shelters because they serve critical functions in their communities. But they would be the first to concede that they do not have the reach or the resources to tackle the national and international problems of animal fighting, puppy mills, inhumane slaughter and transport, canned hunts, the fur trade, and other problems—campaigns that we work on every day. Through our wide range of programs, we help tens of millions of animals every year and prevent cruelty to countless others. Our work is complementary to these organizations, and we work with them throughout the nation.

The HSUS is very active in Georgia, particularly on anti-dogfighting efforts. We staff a 24-hour hotline for Atlanta-area residents to report dogfighting activity, and we offer up to $5,000 for information leading to arrests and convictions in dogfighting cases. We’ve paid four rewards and provided information to law enforcement agencies resulting in seven dogfighting busts in Georgia alone. We also run a community-based program that reaches young people on the streets of Atlanta to make sure they don’t get involved in dogfighting in the first place.

The full range of our programs is set out on our web site, and we invite people to participate in the wide range of programs that make The HSUS the largest and most effective animal protection group in the world.

Wayne Pacelle
President & CEO

editor's note: updated March 31, 2010

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