It was only a matter of time before local SPCAs (with Humane Societies sure to be next in line) started calling the bluffs of the ASPCA when it comes to donated funds. For decades, the ASPCA has been airing tear-jerking commercials about homeless shelter pets and asking the public to donate towards saving them. In reality, however, almost none of the ASPCA’s budget goes towards helping local SPCAs or shelters, and in fact, many of the animals they show in puppy mill raids or hoarding busts end up dead. And now, the State Humane Association of California has filed a complaint against the national group.
According to an MSNBC.com story: “The complaint alleges that ASPCA’s unfair and deceptive fundraising practices harm local humane societies and SPCAs by capitalizing on and reinforcing the widely-held mistaken belief that the ASPCA is a parent or umbrella organization to the thousands of humane societies and SPCAs across the country.”
The complaint alleges that the aggressive fundraising practices by the ASPCA harms local shelters & rescue groups – which is completely logical. After all, the ASPCA can afford national TV commercials, while local shelters who are lacking in large budgets would have trouble competing.
Additionally, the Humane Society of the US is also facing issues. This week, several Missouri legislators requested an inquiry into the tax-exempt 501c3 status of the HSUS, claiming that the group is primarily a lobbying group. Any organization deemed a 501c3 cannot have lobbying as a substantial part of its ongoing activities, but many would argue that lobbying is the HSUS’ primary function.
According to the legislators’ complaint: “We believe that HSUS’s own public documents show beyond question that lobbying is a “substantial part” of its activities and feel that IRS’s failure to act is attributable to the politically sensitive nature of HSUS’s activities,” they wrote. Under the definition of Section 501 (c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Service code, an organization “may not attempt to influence legislation as a substantial part of its activities.”
These type of accusations were bound to happen eventually – organizations that operate under a veil of secrecy and obtain most of their donations through misleading the public through deceptive advertising/PR can’t get away with it forever. The truth will be revealed.