Ads Assail Humane Society of the U.S.

A new nonprofit stirs controversy with a message to give locally this holiday season.

The Humane Society for Shelter Pets launched, Nov. 30, with full-page ads in each of USA Today, Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune urging readers to donate to local animal shelters instead of to the Humane Society of the United States.

Along with its goal to encourage Americans to donate to local animal shelters, the HSSP also hosts a database of local shelters on its website and plans to create a network of veterinarians and sheltering professionals and provide them with tools to promote the HSSP’s “give local” message to their clients. The organization is funded by individuals, corporations and foundations that are supporters of the pet industry, according to HSSP co-director Jeff Douglas.

The advertisement taken out by the HSSP today includes a quote from Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, which says “We never said we funded animal shelters.” The advertisement also says, “Please help shelter pets by donating locally, not to HSUS.”

In response, Pacelle wrote a blog post on the HSUS website deriding the HSSP and claiming the organization is the brainchild of public relations executive Richard Berman, whom he identified as an opponent of animal welfare reform.

Douglas said the organization hired Berman’s firm, D.C.-based Berman and Co., but denied that Berman is the “man behind the curtain,” as Pacelle said in his blog post. Douglas could not say who came up with the idea for the HSSP.

Not sure who you should be donating to this year? Check out the DOG FANCY Charity Investigation, and find out where your gifts are going.

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