A recent letter to the editor included several false statements about the Humane Society of the United States, and we appreciate the opportunity to provide readers with a more accurate account of our life-saving work.

The Humane Society is the nation’s largest and most effective animal protection organization, helping all kinds of animals in a variety of ways.

Our far-reaching anti-cruelty work has real impacts upon economic interests that abuse animals and has prompted such industries to finance the attack advertisements against the Humane Society.

It’s no surprise that we have some small band of critics, since we take on powerful special interests.

No one, however, has the right to make up the facts even if they oppose the idea of protecting animals from cruelty and harm.

The writer made a ludicrous claim about our CEO’s salary, and the number cited isn’t even close to reality.

The truth is, his salary is below the norm for CEOs of large charities, and it’s even one-quarter the salary of the head of the National Rifle Association and half that of the head of the American Farm Bureau Federation.

For a letter writer to assert an obviously false claim to tarnish our work should be unacceptable in our civic conversations. Haven’t we had a belly-full of these kinds of cynical smears?

Millions of Americans actively support our work, and we are proud to be rated a 4-star charity (the highest possible) by Charity Navigator, approved by the Better Business Bureau for all 20 standards for charity accountability, voted by Guidestar’s Philanthropedia experts as the No. 1 high-impact animal protection group, and named by Worth Magazine as one of the 10 most fiscally responsible charities. We take financial stewardship seriously.

The Humane Society provided direct care to more than 76,000 animals in 2011 alone, and our teams have been hard at work providing care for almost 60,000 animals so far this year.

Our Animal Rescue Team deploys in response to natural disasters, working with other organizations to rescue, shelter and reunite lost animals with their families, and we assist law enforcement in saving animals from dogfighting and cockfighting rings, puppy mills, animal cruelty and hoarding cases, and other human-caused crises.

Last year, the Humane Society set up and operated about 20 emergency shelters for rescued animals, and this year we’ve been there to help when hurricanes, floods and wildfires struck.

The Humane Society also provides free spaying and neutering, vaccinations and other wellness services to dogs and cats in rural areas and communities under-served by the veterinary profession.

We also operate a network of care centers where animals such as horses, bobcats, kangaroos, chimpanzees, donkeys and a hippopotamus live out the rest of their days after being rescued from abusive or neglectful establishments.

In Maine, the Humane Society recently assisted Casco Animal Control with the rescue and sheltering of more than 50 cats from a hoarding case and held a three-day Disaster Animal Response Team training.

Additionally, we are an active participant with the Maine Federation of Humane Societies and helped create the Maine Equine Welfare Alliance.

The Humane Society also has played a significant role in passing legislation to improve anti-cruelty laws.

We partnered with local businesses, non-profits and government agencies to create the state’s animal welfare license plate, which provides a steady source of funding for low-income spay/neuter programs to help Maine families and pets.

The Humane Society also provides training initiatives for local animal shelters, hosts the nation’s largest trade and educational show for shelter professionals, and advances national shelter standards.

We sponsor a national advertising campaign to promote the adoption of shelter animals, and have secured tens of millions of dollars of advertising time at no cost to local shelters.

Our primary mission is to prevent cruelty before animals end up in distress, and we have major advocacy campaigns to combat animal cruelty, dogfighting and cockfighting, Canada’s notorious killing of baby seals, inhumane factory farming practices, illegal poaching and the wildlife trade, and large-scale puppy mills.

The animal welfare movement is strong and growing. Although there is no official registry, as many as 20,000 groups, big and small, are estimated to be engaged in the important work of safeguarding animals.

People are invited to support their local animal protection organizations, and to join with us at humanesociety.org to find out how they can support our wide-ranging efforts to prevent animal cruelty and to come to the aid of animals in crisis.


Katie Hansberry is the Maine state director for the Humane Society of the United States.

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