HSUS and ASPCA Are Not Your Local Animal Shelter (and Likely Not Helping the Animals in Your Local Animal Shelter)

Confusion reigns, sadly. I just got off the phone, again, with someone furious that "we" just sent her an expensive 2016 calendar since she already donates, can't afford to donate more, and resents that "we" are using her donation to pay for something she does not need after telling her that the money is needed for the animals. Well, the money is indeed needed for the animals - and we did not send her that calendar.

Both ASPCA (the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) and HSUS (the Humane Society of the United States) spend a great deal of money advertising on television and sending mail throughout the nation asking for charitable funds. Neither the ASPCA nor HSUS, however, are YOUR local animal welfare organization. They do not operate the shelter for homeless animals in your community. They are not "parent" organizations and the local humane societies and SPCAs are not their chapters.

I won't and I don't criticize the work done by these national organizations. You should take the time to form your own opinions about the programs and services of any charitable organization you are thinking about supporting. What I do take exception to is those organizations making statements about their work designed to lead to questionable conclusions. With that in mind, let's take a look at some of the claims made in that new HSUS calendar.

Asking for support and claiming that your support of HSUS has made the following possible, we read: "Our (that is, HSUS) spay/neuter and adoption campaigns, combined with our intensive collaboration with local shelters and other partners around the county, have led to a dramatic 80% decrease in euthanasia of healthy, treatable animals." There is no such HSUS campaign in this community, nor is there any offer of collaboration, "intensive" or otherwise, with the Peninsula Humane Society & SPCA which is of course the local shelter here in San Mateo County. What is true, however, is that PHS/SPCAs spay/neuter and adoption campaigns, its dedication to spaying and neutering which has been supported by this community's residents since we opened the first low-cost spay/neuter clinic in the nation, has led to a 97% reduction of euthanasia in this community.

We go on to read that HSUS "programs in Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia and Atlanta" have helped provide pet food, sterilization and vaccination to low-income pet owners. I applaud that, I truly do. However, those are four cities (and there's mention of "mentoring" rather than hands-on help being offered to shelters in twenty-six additional cities). So the organization with the national name is helping 4, arguably 30 cities, when the U.S. Geological Survey recognizes some 35,000 cities in the nation. And to put that 4 in context, as one local humane society PHS/SPCA is providing such service in 21 cities.

The HSUS calendar goes on to state "Our (HSUS) longtime work with shelters is transforming short-term 'pounds' into true community centers that provide animals with a more comforting environment...." New shelters throughout the Bay Area have been built (in Oakland, Santa Clara, Berkeley, San Jose, San Francisco, Sonoma, Contra Costa, and of course here in San Mateo County, to name just a few) without any "transforming" assistance - financial or otherwise - from HSUS. For PHS/SPCA, that truly transformative help came from thousands of local animal lovers who not only support our everyday work to save animals' lives but also contributed, above and beyond that operational support, to build this "true community center", a tool which does in fact help save lives.

When it comes to animal abuse and neglect, tragically, there's more than enough work to keep the thousands of local humane societies, SPCAs, and animal care and control organizations very, very busy. There is work to be done on the national as well as on a local level, and I welcome anyone anywhere who wishes to be a collaborative partner in that work. But please, let's all of us make sure we are transparent in explaining what work is done by whom.

P.S.: ...and this just in, a friend over in Oakland called to say he received a request for funds from Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Utah. Someone wanting to help the homeless animals in Oakland might want to first consider the animals in the care of East Bay SPCA and Oakland Animal Services.