Humane Society???

What does the term “humane” really mean? Does it mean kindness, mercy, and compassion? Does it involve a concerted effort to inflict the minimum of physical and emotional pain… in an attempt to minimize suffering? Does it insist on giving consideration to all living creatures?

Shouldn’t “humane” mean that we aim to treat all humans and animals as we'd wish to be treated? That we throw good in the face of evil? That we shed light in the darkness? That we provide hope instead of despair?

Sadly, the word “humane” has been widely abused and misused by some “perceived” animal welfare organizations… in their attempts to provide misleading and deceptive descriptions of their extremely inhumane practices.
And everyone is falling for it…

When the general public hears the term “humane society,” they often feel hopeful, comforted, and appreciative. People assume that justice is being done, animals are being cared for, and homes are being found. While there are some AMAZING humane organizations out there, in truth, the vast majority of local and national humane societies are anything but “humane.”

So often, the term “humane society” refers to a high-kill shelter, with both public and private funding, and a limited concern for animal welfare. While donations are solicited for animal care, the money coming in often isn't reaching the animals for which it’s intended… and in fact, the majority of pets are being killed despite the available funds and space to help them. In these cases, I’d say there’s a major ethical issue with using the term “humane.” Yes, they’ll gladly take your donations… and they’ll still euthanize the animals anyway.

Sure, they’ll admit to killing the sick or aggressive animals. But what they don’t admit… is that they’re often killing everything else too. And they’re using YOUR donation money to do it.

Yet… because this information isn’t reaching the public, communities continue to support and donate toward the unethical groups. In addition, people dump their pets at these shelters… assuming that because the term “humane” is in the name… it must be so. But the truth is this: many (NOT all) “humane societies” are euthanizing more pets each year than the high-kill pounds in their area. At the same time, they take donations that could go to the small, under-funded rescue groups… the ones who are actually doing the saving.

These high-kill “humane societies” use their name to gain the public’s trust, support, and money… and it’s working. There’s a national misconception that “humane” means “good” and “pound” means “bad.” Trust me… kill shelters understand this concept, and they capitalize on it. By simply calling themselves the “Humane Society” instead of “Over-Funded, High-Kill Shelter,” they’re able to gain immediate credibility… even if their actions don’t support the false advertising in their name.

While small, under-funded rescue groups fight to save lives, people rally behind their local high-kill humane societies instead... under the false notion that these organizations are no-kill facilities. The public doesn’t realize that the rescue groups are the ones working to save these precious lives, while certain unethical “humane societies” get the funds… which are often used for salaries and killing. Sadly, the high-kill “humane societies” are given credit for saving thousands of lives… when in reality, these shelters are usually killing more lives than they ever intend to save...

If you don’t believe me, then consider this: Would you call a shelter that has historically killed more than 50-90% of incoming pets “humane?” Would you donate to a “humane society” that euthanizes a massive number of animals… despite having a state-of-the-art facility, an abundance of funding, and the ability to care for these pets? Would a decent organization send all of their adoptable animals out to rescue groups, but then pocket the donations intended for those animals? Would a truly “humane” group willingly take funds from no-kill groups and rescues, when they themselves are known for killing the animals instead of spending money on their care?

If you think the public would never support groups like these, think again. Despite a track record of massive killing and a lack of care, certain "humane societies" have received and continue to receive an overwhelming amount of public support, donations, goods, and services.

And still, no one has publicly mentioned their high-kill status. Until now.

Injustice, misinformation, and greed in the animal welfare world need to end NOW. The public must understand the reality of what’s happening, and therefore place their financial support in the hands of those who actually help the animals of this world… not those who simply kill them without any humane effort.

So, how can YOU change this?
1)     Please don’t waste your money by donating to national groups that don't put the animals first. Have you ever asked yourself how they pay for all the advertising etc? That’s right… through your donations.
2)     Instead, you should donate to your local rescue group or shelter, or give to a rescue that speaks to your heart and clearly puts the funds toward the animals. Support the small, under-funded groups that fight to do what’s right. Without your help, they can’t continue.
3)     Educate yourself on the actions of local “humane societies” in your area. Most (NOT all) will surprise you with their extremely inhumane practices and disregard for life. Support the amazing humane societies, shelters, and rescue groups out there.
4)       ADOPT... whether it be from your local humane society, shelter, or rescue group. The killing can be reduced through adoption and spay/neuter. Let's put the "humane" back in humane society.
5)       SHARE this blog post. We must educate the public about this topic. Good-hearted public support is going to all the wrong people. Let’s change that.

*There are SO MANY amazing shelters & rescues saving lives. Make sure your goodwill has an impact! Support the groups who fight for what's right!


  1. Brenda J - Terre HauteJune 8, 2011 at 2:40 PM

    Thank you, Ashley for continuing to get the word out to uneducated/ignorant people (for lack of a better word)to try to get the REAL TRUTH out to more folks about HUMANE SOCIETIES! I'm always telling people Adopt, don't buy! and Spay & Neuter your pets! and I try to Advocate as many furbabies as I can on facebook daily to help in doing my part. We have 4 dogs & 6 cats currently & all of them are spayd & neutered & vet maintained. We love our furbabies as they are considered part of our family and are treated as such. Keep up the good work & I look forward to reading more of the Lucky Dog Blogs!!

  2. Thanks and well said.

  3. Shared, this definitely give me pause and the need to research my locals humane societies. Thanks for sharing. :)

  4. Same thing goes for SPCAs! The local SPCA here calls themselves no kill, but fails to tell the public that it's nearly impossible for each animal to pass the test to get into the "no kill" program, especially considering that the dogs are terrified when they get there. It sets them up to fail, and then they kill them.

  5. This blog has given me the courage to ask more questions and see for myself! I will be putting my money into my local rescues!
    Thanks Ashley for all you do!!

  6. All great points, and things we need to think about. I would counter that, while big groups like the HSUS and the ASPCA use far less of their money on animal rescue than they should, they do fund many educational programs. Educating people about why they should treat animals with decency (I don't understand how this isn't an inherent human trait!) and how they can properly care for them is important in lowering pet overpopulation and abuse.

    Happily, my local Humane Society is a great shelter where I spend a good deal of time volunteering. :)

    Thank you for all the hard work!

  7. Great post, Ashley. I'm grateful that the Humane Society of Greater Akron does not fall into this category. They are a great shelter in our area. I'm not sure if they are no-kill, but I know that they have over 400 animals on hand at any given time, and that they are the better alternative to the Summit County Animal "Shelter" which is high kill.

  8. I agree it is of little benefit to the animals to support large organizations like HSUS or ASPCA. It is possible to view their financial status on a website known as charitynavigator.com. They receive millions of dollars. Why give them more when a local rescue is the one saving the animals in your own neighborhood?

    I personally volunteer for a local animal rescue BUT I am in support of my county's humane society. They advertise that they do not euthanize; they keep animals until they are adopted and partner with local rescue to make it happen. All that to say, I would not discredit anyone who uses the term "humane" but would instead encourage others to do research into any animal group in their own area.

  9. P.S. To Ariel: I actually volunteer in the Akron area myself! It is my understanding the Summit County Animal Shelter has not had to euthanize due to overcrowding in some time, due in large part to the hard work of area rescues.

  10. Amazing post Ashely, so glad your using your influrnce to awaken the public to what's really going down.

  11. Such a great and true post! We have got to get people educated about this issue!

  12. I totally agree Ashley! Its sad that these organizations feed off of peoples ignorance and take advantage of their kindness. It makes smaller shelters look so bad. Our local humane society (not affiliated by the HSUS nor receives any funding)is amazing where I spend a great deal of time volunteering. On May 19th I was asked by them to foster a 9 year old beagle mix with Lymphoma until its her time. They could have easily put her down due to her condition but they saw the beautiful old gal she truly is and found a hospice foster for her. Places like this and your amazing rescue need to be put into the spotlight to show the public what true "animal welfare" is about. Huge galas and shows geared toward politics and press, using "animal welfare" as a way to lure people in are pathetic. There is a shit hole place in heaven for lying cheats like them.

  13. Great post Ashley! I'm reposting on my blog.

  14. I got most interested in the HSUS because they had articles about trying to fight dog fighting. I would like to think that they are doing SOMETHING with all their donations. But unfortunately I'm sure you're right. :( I think your article is a great eye opener. Everyone should definitely look in to a shelter/rescue before they donate. Make sure that their money is going directly to the animals. That's what you're donating for after all!

  15. I agree. The Houston Humane Society had a kill rate of 89% the last time that they willingly produced their records. They refuse to produce their current records (I've asked twice) so we have to assume that their kill rate is still the same or worse. But a lot of people think they are great--one person even called them "angels".

    Also, the Houston SPCA had a 65% kill rate the last time that their produce their records (they also refuse to produce their current records). This organization also runs advertisements claiming to save "100% of healthy and behaviorally sound animals". (http://exm.nr/eeI8wW) Clearly this is a blatant lie, but they get away with it and a lot of people believe them.

    The HSPCA also has a telethon every year in which they raise hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations in just a few hours---from people who I am sure have no idea that the HSPCA kills 65%.

    This is one reason that we need the Companion Animal Protection Act in every state. This law would require that the non-profit "shelters" honestly report their numbers to the public. It is time to stop the secrecy that helps to continue the killing.

    And BTW: Although neither of the "humane" organizations listed above are Open Admission facilities (they can say no), they have 89% and 65% kill rates which are equal to or higher than Houston's city and county animal facilities which are both Open Admission.

  16. I volunteered for a year at my "humane" society (my local SPCA). The final straw was the day I took one of the dogs who was obviously very sick to the vets. Ironically, the shelter vet was in the office when I got permission to take the dog to my vet; she did not even offer to look at the sick dog. The dog had Parvo -- she was so far gone I had to carry her to my truck, and the vet euthanized her. And the other thing -- she was in a kennel with a puppies (not her own). I saw too much there to think about, and have heard similar stories from others. And volunteers had to "stay in line" or they would be prohibited from volunteering. I only donate to no kill rescues I trust and the local non-profit spay-neuter clinic.

  17. Love this article! If this isn't enough, check out what some of the CEO'S make per year. I quit donating to large groups when I realized my money was helping them to kill and paying enormous salaries. The magazine Animal People puts out a list every year of what non profits pay their top people(and there are many top people)

  18. I run a small rescue organization in Coos Bay, Oregon. I have several donors who were donating to these large groups but now donate to us. They can see what we do, they can see the animals we help and they know their hard earned money is not going for someone's salary. I appreciate each and every dollar we get as a donation.

  19. Chelsea Kowitz: The HSUS's approach to stopping dogfighting has been a dismal failure in every way. It does, however, bring in many millions of dollars every year - and tons of PR ops for Pacelle and his minions.

    The newspaper "Animal People," mentioned earlier, publishes an analysis in its Jan/Feb issue each year with stats on the number of animals impounded as a result of dogfighting raids, puppy mill and hoarding cases, failed rescues, etc. Since the Vick case, the number of fighting dogs rescued has actually gone down, with just approximately 700 last year. HSUS saved very few of them, but takes credit for all. Arrests, convictions and sentences are also down. Read the "Cruelty is a Crime" blog by former Chicago animal abuse task force police officer John Keene for some insights about these issues.

    HSUS's fixation on legislative solutions hasn't worked and their law enforcement training programs are mainly pricey classes at their lame "Humane Society University". HSUS very briefly (2002-2004) partnered with the University of Missouri's Law Enforcement Training Institute's National Cruelty Investigations Program. They did a lousy job and were replaced by a organization with experienced, dedicated specialists. HSUS still falsely claims to train thousands of law enforcement officers every year. HSUS's $2,500/$5,000 rewards program is a big fundraising theme, but the few rewards actually handed out as a result of HSUS involvement are paid with an outside foundation's money. Dogfighting for Michael Vick's buddy Wayne Pacelle is about everything but the welfare of dogs.

    Cacodaemonia: HSUS counts tens of millions in direct mail solicitations and those manipulative TV ads as "public education" programs on their tax returns and annual report. Their KindNews for school kids is paid for by outside sponsors. They really don't do much educating, though other groups I support do.

    Sorry to be so negative but HSUS really deserves it and the public needs fact checks for so many of their grandiose claims.

  20. Well said, Ashley! We are sharing your post far and wide.

    Your friends at New Mexico Pets ALIVE!

  21. I liked your article. I think the most important thing people can do is learn about the organization they donate to. I donated to a local organization in my area because I believed in the cause. All the programs were programs I believed in. But there was something I missed. Public disclosure. I learned about that after I donated. When questions started to be asked about finances and decision makers, I was now a bad guy just wanting to cause trouble.

    I now go by these items listed here

    It's not enough for an organization to say they save animals or even that they actually do. I need written proof, otherwise how can I vet an organization. No free passes. Everyone should be under scrutiny and the good organizations shouldn't mind that.

  22. check out http://ecchaexposed.wordpress.com/
    these people are trying to change their animal shetler by educating the public of what goes on there.



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