These days, who can you trust? Americans are losing faith in the media and our political leadership. I’ve got bad news: Even groups that appear to be charities that help cats and dogs are part of the problem.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has one of the most recognizable TV ads, with Sarah McLachlan singing a sad song while tear-jerking images of cats and dogs scroll by. For just a few dollars a month, you could help millions of shelter animals find homes. Right?

If only. Sixty-six percent of U.S. homes have pets, and many of these individuals and families donate to national animal charities.

Most have no idea their money isn’t being used to help pets. Instead, it’s being used to support radical politics.

The ASPCA’s recent tax return sheds some light on where the donations go. It shows the ASPCA gives only about 2% of its budget as cash grants to local SPCAs and pet shelters. Despite its name, the ASPCA is not affiliated with local SPCAs, running only one pet shelter, in downtown Manhattan.

About half of the ASPCA’s money goes to overhead, mostly fundraising. ASPCA’s CEO, “Million Dollar” Matt Bershadker, reportedly made a total of $990,525 in 2021. In total, 259 employees made six figures and the organization is sitting on over $300 million in investments.

Waste isn’t the only problem. This year, the ASPCA announced that it will lead a campaign on Capitol Hill to insert anti-farmer measures into the Farm Bill. It’s working with an alliance of extremist animal groups that have the stated goal of shutting down meat, dairy and eggs.

Will Ms. McLachlan sing about veganism in the next ASPCA ad? Of course not. That doesn’t bring in the dollars like sad cats and dogs.

It’s a bait-and-switch that isn’t unique to the ASPCA, but pervasive among national “humane” groups. 

You’ve probably seen commercials for the Humane Society of the United States; they’re basically a rip-off of the ASPCA’s. HSUS is the second-largest animal group in the country. And just like the ASPCA, its ads feature cats and dogs while pushing a radical political agenda.

HSUS doesn’t run a single pet shelter and isn’t affiliated with local humane societies that do. HSUS CEO Kitty Block makes nearly half a million dollars a year. Over half of HSUS’s budget is spent on overhead. And HSUS even reports having $60 million offshore in the Caribbean — money that could help shelter animals. Yet only about 1% of HSUS’ budget is cash grants to local shelters. 

Instead, HSUS spends millions attacking farmers, restaurants, supermarkets, pet providers, and other businesses. Why? Because HSUS is not an animal welfare organization, but an animal liberation group.

Ms. Block is formerly a lawyer for PETA, which tells you all you need to know about her radical beliefs.

You won’t see that in the fundraising letters.

Many Americans also donate to PETA, thinking the group truly is all about the “ethical treatment of animals.”

But according to government documents, PETA has killed 47,049 cats and dogs at the “animal shelter” at its Virginia headquarters — which was once compared to a “euthanasia clinic” by a state investigator. PETA’s kill rate is calculated to be over 80% cumulatively. In comparison, the kill rate for other shelters in Virginia was 8% in 2022.

Would PETA still raise $83 million a year if its donors knew about its pet killing spree? Unlikely.

Combined, the ASPCA, HSUS and PETA raise over $500 million a year. That money could have real, tangible benefits for shelter animals, including the 1 million animals euthanized in the U.S. each year. But instead it’s being used to fund huge executive salaries and radical extremism.

Animals deserve better than what the ASPCA, HSUS and PETA have to offer. But the only way to make things better is for donors to vote with their money. Give to your local shelter.

• Jack Hubbard is an owner and partner at Berman and Co. He is also the executive director of the Center for the Environment and Welfare.


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