Tuesday, March 2, 2010

People don't bother with the internets anymore

The Center for Consumer Freedom (i.e. the Group That Loves Drunk Drivers, Agribusiness, Alcohol Companies, and Big Tobacco) funded an opinion survey that showed 71% of those interviewed think the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is an umbrella group for all other humane societies and spcas.

I'm not going to link to the press release because I think CCF is a disgusting and misleading (irony!) organization (and much of my opinion has little to do with their irrational behavior concerning HSUS).

Anyways, here's the deal peoples - visit HSUS's website. Go to About Us. Check out their FAQ.

How is The HSUS affiliated with my local humane society?
Local humane societies and SPCAs are independent entities and are not run by The HSUS or any other national entity. The HSUS works with local humane societies and supports their work through training, evaluations, publications, and other professional services.  Additionally, The HSUS operates its own network of animal sanctuaries and rescue operations, providing emergency care and homes to more animals than any other organization in the United States. Find out how The HSUS serves local animal shelters and provides direct animal care coast to coast.

This took me less than one minute to find. Amazing feat, I know.

Now, my fellow bloggers have called HSUS out when they have fund-raised off of animals they did not directly rescue or care for. Heck, they've fundraised off of dogs they wanted to kill (e.g. all those dogs rescued from fight busts). I am all for calling any org out for questionable fund-raising practices (it's not illegal, folks, and pretty much every organization stretches the truth when it comes to raising the dough).

But! I'm really tired of people not doing the most basic of due diligence. This is perhaps unfair of me. I'm like one of those crazy anal-retentive people who wants to see the last three years of financial statements and grill the director about the organization itself. For reals, I'm annoying. It's why I mainly donate to local groups - I can see the advocacy in action and stalk their director (just kidding!). I like that shit. Maybe most people just don't give a darn. Maybe it's too much work to google-fu their way to the HSUS's website and spend about five minutes there to see if the HSUS fulfills their charitable giving requirements. Maybe HSUS does play off of that name (and they should, it brings in money, which you may not like but is sorta a big requirement for a non profit). Maybe CCF can go suck it. Maybe I am just too darn harsh here.

Yeah, probably the latter. I know some of you reading this may be all WHAT? HSUS IS NOT MY HS? DAMN YOU, BLOGGER PERSON, DAMN YOU. And then maybe you'll be insulted because I basically just said you should have known better. I have done my fair share of "should have known better" stuff. Like I once donated to the Sierra Club and then found out they support sustainable hunting. And I was all, what? I'm vegan and think you should only hunt carrots. Then I felt real stupid because I just thought Sierra Club = NATURE LOVE MINUS HUNTING. That was silly of me. Of course, the Sierra Club doesn't have a nice FAQ that says We Support Hunting. HSUS does. I mean, not about hunting, but they do have a FAQ that says they're not affiliated with your local shelter. A smidgen more transparent. Practically see through when compared to CCF.


MAIN SLIGHTLY MORE MATURE POINT: Visit websites, google-fu, check out financial statements, do your part to make sure YOUR money is going to an organization and cause you can get 100% behind. This is your monies!


Amber Avines said...

Good post. I know how evil the Center for Consumer Freedom is, so I'm with you on that!

Early in my career, I did PR for the Los Angeles SPCA. It was a constant battle educating people that the organization was LOCAL and not funded by the SPCA (national). I later left because I didn't realize when I took the job that local SPCAs may do animal control, and thereby kill animals. The LA SPCA did indeed have animal control contracts at the time and did kill animals.

Over the years, I've learned that many environmental groups do support culling/hunting/management of animals. I do a lot of research nowadays before I financially support/volunteer/publicize any group. You're right, we must all be diligent in knowing where our money goes--and what it funds!

Thanks for the reminder!

Luisa said...

Heh. Saw this on the Nevada Humane Society home page: NHS has No Affiliation with Michael Vick.

There's a reason HSUS keeps their non-umbrella reality on pages Jane Q. Petlover will likely never visit. [Home page > About Us > Overview > Frequently Asked Questions, for those who'd like a map.]

I agree with you that the CCF is CAFO-lovin' propaganda, but even propagandists get it right sometimes.

[Also: I love this.]

Unknown said...

@Amber Avines: You're right, a lot of people confuse the ASPCA with your local SPCA...it's even more confusing b/c the A has an actual shelter to boot.

Maybe some folks don't care about how their money is used, but I do. So I'm like you - I do my research and support groups whose missions align with my own ethical beliefs.

@Luisa: Are you telling me people don't check out the FAQs at an organization's website? That's like the first place I go, especially if they have position statements! I found that page in 30-60 seconds without exerting too much effort. But even just a visit to the HSUS's home page gives a person insight - this isn't a dog and cat group.

And I don't think the survey is wrong. I think CCF is wrong. ;)

I heart let me google that for you. For reals. :)

Wait, am I talking to myself? *snerk*

Anonymous said...

In fairness -- people believe about HSUS exactly what HSUS has spent millions of dollars hoping they believe. The examples are endless (note that the example about Fay broke the Monday after the Time article on Friday talked about how the Humane Society of MISSSOURI was caring for most of those bust dogs). That was no accident -- they were hoping to confuse people to get the donations people thought were actually going to help those dogs.

HSUS has spent millions on promoting themselves -- and people believe exactly what they want them to believe. While I agree that people should do more research, to a degree I realize why people would assume that a animal rights organization wouldn't lie about what they stand for....right?

And just because CFF isn't the most reputable group, doesn't make them wrong.

Unknown said...

@btoellner: I'm all about fairness, mostly! The HSUS, like any good non profit, fundraises off of what gets them money. They stretch the truth. And hells year, call them out when that stretching of the truth means less money for an organization actually doing the work (e.g. Fay's case and Michael Vick).

I'm not sure I can reconcile this statement, though: "And just because CFF isn't the most reputable group, doesn't make them wrong." If a group isn't reputable, why trust them on issues like this? THe ONLY reason they did this survey was because they were hired to instigate a smear campaign against HSUS (and it's comical watching both groups duke it out, really). Their modus operandi ALWAYS includes marginalizing the advocates who fight against them. I mean, this is the group that doesn't believe there's a mercury problem in fish and that the drunk driving problem is really not a problem and, hey, obesity doesn't exist so 'f u CDC and scientists! Their spin campaigns are egregiously offensive and smarmy, it's amazing they have such clout (but hey, like HSUS, they have the big bucks backing them up).

I don't disagree with the survey results - I think they're unsurprising given that few people seem keen on really researching where their hard-earned money goes. But geez, the CFF...they're something else!

YesBiscuit! said...

CCF's research on HSUS and PETA is a great resource. One may hate who backs them and what their motivations are but I haven't found fault with their research on HSUS or PETA yet.
On the issue of FAQs and such, I would hazard a guess that the average pet owner (such as members of my family, co-workers, etc.) do not even know that HSUS *has* a website, let alone care to look up their affiliations. They hear the words "humane society", think that sounds like a good idea, they recognize the name as the same as (or close enough) a local shelter, and they see commercials on TV. That's as far as their curiosity takes them. I'd go a step further and say that many people don't realize HSUS and ASPCA are two different entities.

kcdogblog said...

What I meant by it wasn't that I trust CCF....I don't. And because of this, I research pretty much everything they post...and in spite of what I think of them as an organization, if the data checks out, then they are right.

Unknown said...

@kcdogblog: *THEY* are not right - the data set is perhaps statistically significant or accurate. But that doesn't make CCF right. I'm sorry, but this organization is a spiteful, hateful group that gets the big bucks to suppress scientific data and smear scientists and advocates who dare say stuff like "obesity is a problem" and "mercury is a problem in fish".

@YesBiscuit!: Even though CCF's information is full of spin, half-truths and obfuscation? I mean, this is the same stuff you and other bloggers seem to find repulsive when it comes to PETA and HSUS, but when it's a PR campaign funded by agribusiness and factory farmers, and aligns with your own personal biases about the groups, then it's all copacetic?

As to the general public: I know it's harsh, but I'll echo my previous sentiments - your money, your duty to make sure it's funneled into an org you approve of. Most people have access to the internet. It isn't asking much to do your due diligence and take personal responsibility for where your money goes.

But if I am to be fair, I think it's HSUS' duty to include a disclaimer on any ad that uses dogs and cats to fund-raise...a small statement to the effect "We are not directly affiliated with your local humane society or spca." This might help people unwilling to do any meaningful research, yes?

YesBiscuit! said...

Gee, ya don't gotta be mean. I use CCF for facts, for example the PETA trial transcript. I don't go for their spin any more than I go for anyone else's spin but their facts on HSUS and PETA are right on.

Unknown said...

@YesBiscuit!: I was not intending to be mean, my apologies if I came across as such.

CCF is just such a nasty PR org funded by equally nasty corporations that care very little about you, me or nonhuman animals. To see them touted as a bastion of good, factual source information just makes me sad.

HillaryHSUS said...

Hi Rinalia - I work at the HSUS and I appreciate you bringing up this issue. I know there a number of people, including folks who've commented here, that have legitimate disagreements and philosophical differences with the HSUS. I want to be clear that I don't blame the CCF for that. But in my mind, there's something particularly insidious about this group's strategy of attacking the messenger and trying to marginalize opponents.

As you note, one of the CCF's main charges is that the HSUS pretends to run animal shelters. But anyone who goes to our website can see that we focus on broader issues than companion animals. In fact, I don't think anyone would accuse our organization of being shy about publicizing our programs and campaigns!

When the CCF makes the claim that HSUS should be funding animal shelters because of our name, they imply that direct animal care is the only legitimate way to help animals. And I guess this strategy shouldn't be surprising, since sheltering homeless pets is much less threatening to their industry funders.

The CCF is skilled at convincing people that they're simply providing unbiased material when they're also selling a frame of reference. And that changes everything.