Humane Society of the United States

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The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) was established in 1954 and is currently the nation's largest animal protection organization with a membership of 11 million (one out of every 28 Americans).


The Humane Society of the U.S. endeavors to reduce suffering and create social change for animals by advocating for sensible public policies; conducting cruelty investigations; enforcing existing laws and working with corporations on animal friendly policies. They also educate the public and conduct hands-on programs. HSUS programs include disaster relief for animals and direct care for thousands of animals in their sanctuaries, rescues, wildlife rehabilitation centers and mobile veterinary clinics. They also provide guidelines, evaluations, training programs, direct support and national conferences for local humane societies. HSUS publishes a bi-monthly magazine for shelter personnel. HSUS is building a Humane Wildlife Services program for homeowners and businesses to provide humane and effective alternatives for dealing with conflicts with wildlife.

HSUS confronts national and global cruelties through major campaigns which target barbaric practices of dogfighting, cockfighting, puppy mills, factory farming, "canned hunts" of captive exotic animals; horse slaughter, seal hunts and the commercial fur trade. Their track record of record of effectiveness has led to meaningful victories for animals in Congress, state legislatures, courtrooms and corporate boardrooms.[1]

Campaigns & programs

  • Animal Cruelty and Fighting
  • Factory Farming
  • Fur
  • Wildlife Abuse
  • Puppy Mills
  • Chimps in Research
  • Seal Hunts
  • Horse Slaughter
  • Pets for Life
  • Wild Neighbors
  • Animals & Religion [2]

Selected campaigns

Farm animals

HSUS investigation of Hallmark Meatpacking Co. in Chino CA reveals downer cows destined for USDA school lunch program. - Fall 2007

Approximately 10 billion land animals are raised and killed for food every year in the U.S. (over a million an hour). HSUS asserts that farm animals have individual personalities, curious natures and preferences and suffer from pain, boredom and frustration. Hundreds of millions of animals are intensively confined in restrictive pens, cages and stalls where they are unable even to engage in basic movement. No federal law protects them from cruelty. In fact, states exempt "customary agricultural practices", no matter how abusive, from animal cruelty statutes. HSUS has documented what they describe as routine mistreatment on industrialized factory farms in undercover investigations and videos.[3] See also animals raised & hunted for food.

Meat recall & lawsuit

In the fall of 2007, a 6 week HSUS investigation of the Hallmark/Westland Meat Packing Company in Chino, California revealed "downer" or sick and injured dairy cows being processed to enter the food supply. (right) Hallmark is one of the leading suppliers of the USDA's national school lunch program and supplies carcasses to the Westland Meat company. Hallmark is a federally inspected facility and the two companies operate as one entity. [4] The investigation prompted a government meat recall. [5]

On Feb. 27, 2008 HSUS filed suit against the USDA to close a dangerous loophole in its regulations which contributed to the recall of over 143 million pounds of beef; much of which was destined for school lunches in 40 states and the District of Columbia. The investigation documented shocking acts of animal cruelty to non-ambulatory or "downer" cattle at the USDA inspected slaughter house. In February of 2008, the Wall Street Journal reported that Hallmark/Westland would likely shut down permanently. Also in February of 2008, two former employees were charged with animal cruelty in an unprecedented legal action. [6]

Smithfield, Cal-Maine & Willmar Poultry

Sows in gestation crates

In December of 2010, HSUS released findings from a month long undercover investigation documenting inhumane treatment of breeding sows and piglets at a Waverly, Virginia contract farm. The farm was owned by Murphy-Brown, a subsidiary of Smithfield Foods, the world's largest pork producer. Breeding sows crammed into gestation crates and barely able to move for virtually their entire lives, engaged in neurotic behaviors such bar biting. Some so incessantly that blood ran from their mouths and coated the fronts of their crates. The sows suffered injuries from sharp crate protrusions and open pressure sores from extreme confinement and immobility. A veterinarian was never seen on the premises during the entire course of the investigation. During the investigation, a barn manager advised the investigator to ignore a sow with a basketball sized abscess on her neck. He then proceeded to cut the abscess open with an unsterilized razor. In another incident, employees used gate rods on a lame sows neck and back in an effort to force her to move. On three occasions, the investigator informed employees that a pig was thrown into a dumpster alive. The animal had been shot in the forehead with a captive bolt gun (to render it unconscious) before being thrown into the dumpster. Other abuses included mishandling and throwing piglets into carts. Prematurely born piglets fell through slats in gestation crates and into manure pits below. According to HSUS President & CEO Wayne Pacelle:

"If this is the best that Smithfield can do, it is evident that there are terrible problems in the nation's pig industry. It is indefensible for Smithfield to allow its sows to linger in crates barely larger than their bodies for months on end."

In January 2007, Smithfield pledged to phase gestation crates within 10 years. However, by June of 2009, the company backtracked on its self-imposed time frame. He added that:

"Now that Smithfield just posted its highest ever quarterly profit, it's a good time to make a public pledge to honor its previous commitment. The company can no longer claim that economic circumstances don't allow for facility improvements. Other large pork producers, such as Maxwell Foods, are already gestation crate-free, while Cargill is 50 percent gestation crate-free."

Photos and video footage revealed approximately 1,000 large breeding sows. Sows are trapped in their crates for the entire duration of their four month pregnancies. After giving birth, they are moved into a crate large enough to nurse for about 3 weeks before again being artificially inseminated and forced back into gestation crates. In one video, a large, lame pig with the word "kill" spray painted on its back is dragged by the snout after being shot in the head with a stun gun. The struggling pig is thrown into a large trash bin, then breathes heavily as it lay dying and surrounded by dead pigs. [7], [8] See also Smithfield Foods.

In November, HSUS conducted a similar investigation of Cal-Maine Foods, the country's largest egg producer. In October, Willmar Poultry Company, the nation's largest turkey hatchery, was investigated. HSUS found systemic, appalling animal abuses and violations of even the few, minimal animal welfare regulations in place during the course of both of these investigations as well. [9], [10]

Yet, according to industrial farmers and groups such as the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), which represent industrialized farming, farm animal abuses are rare and/or are routine farm practices (therefore cannot be considered abuse). [11], [12], [13]

Horse slaughter

HSUS investigation: horse slaughter cruelty uncovered. - December 2006

Horses going to slaughter are shipped on crowded, double-decker cattle trucks without food, water or rest for over 24 hours. Pregnant mares, foals, injured and blind horses are shipped for slaughter. Under cover footage obtained by HSUS shows fully conscious horses being shackled and hoisted by their rear leg to have their throats slit. It is particularly difficult to align them to the captive bolt gun that renders them unconscious, since horses are skittish by nature. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 92.3% of horses sent to slaughter are not in danger of abandonment or neglect. The remaining 7 to 8% may require rescue or have to be placed into one of over 400 horse rescues and sanctuaries in the U.S. or simply be humanely euthanized. According to HSUS, it is market forces which dictate the horse slaughter industry. At least 5,000 horses have been imported into one of the three foreign-owned slaughter plants in the U.S. since August of 2004. In California, where horse slaughter was banned in 1998, there was no corresponding rise in cruelty and neglect cases. However, horse theft dropped 34% after the ban. There are hundreds of equine rescue and retirement facilities which rescue horses from slaughter. The New York Racing Association sponsors the Ferdinand Fee for retired racehorses in honor of Ferdinand, a former Kentucky Derby winner who went to slaughter. [14] See also War on Animals, section 3.

In January of 2009, a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers introduced legislation to stop Mexico and Canada from killing and butchering tens of thousands of healthy American horses and to codify a de facto ban on horse slaughter plants shipping meat to Europe and Asia. [15]

Premarin & PMU ranches

Approximately 50,000 foals are born out of the Premarin (Pregnant Mare Urine) or PMU industry annually, most of which are sent to slaughter for overseas markets. The approximately 40,000 horses comprised of 20,000 mares and their foals, has created an impossible burden for existing rescue facilities, groups and sanctuaries. The majority of PMU farms are lacated in North Dakota and Western Canada. [16] For more information on the abusive PMU industry and the health dangers of the drug Premarin, see also Premarin.

Asian imports: dog & cat fur

Over two million dogs and cats are slaughtered each year for their furs and skins, mostly in China and other Asian countries. China produces 85% of the world's fur and has no animal welfare laws. A Swiss Animal Protection Agency documented the slaughter of millions of dogs and cats being bludgeoned, hanged, bled to death, and strangled with wire nooses. Investigators documented 50,000 to 100,000 cat pelts stockpiled at animal byproduct factories in China. At least ten dogs are slaughtered to make a single coat, more if puppies are used. Up to 24 cats are slaughtered to make one fur coat. Dog and cat fur is used in trims, linings, hats, decorative figurines, and folk remedies. Skins are used in dog chew toys and shoe leather. Since 1997, HSUS and Humane Society International (HSI) have investigated the international fur trade from Asian countries to wholesalers in the U.S., Russia and the European Union. In the Asian fur trade, cats are strangled inside their cages as other cats look on. Dogs are noosed about the neck by metal wires and then slashed across the groin. The wire noose cuts into their throats as they struggle before losing consciousness. In Harbin China, investigators from HSI documented a German shepherd still blinking and conscious as he was being skinned. Although dog and cat fur is banned in the U.S., the U.S. Fur Products Labeling Act exempts products $150.00 and under (the price range for fur trimmed garments and accessories). [17], [18] See also War on Animals, section 5 on animals used for clothing.

Puppy mills

HSUS & Wayne County, NC Animal Control rescue 300 dogs in puppy mill raid. - Feb 2009

During a November 2008 news conference in Washington, DC, the HSUS revealed the results of an 8 month investigation into Petland Inc., the country's largest chain of stores that sell puppies. According to the investigation, many of the company's stores support puppy mills. The 140 Petland stores sell tens of thousands of puppies every year. In the largest puppy mill investigation on record, HSUS visited 21 stores and 35 breeders and brokers who sold puppies to the stores. The investigators also reviewed interstate import records of an additional 322 breeders, USDA reports and more than 17,000 individual puppies. [19]

Nationwide investigations, raids & legislation

HSUS's Stop Puppy Mills campaign has held several national demonstrations against Petland's support of cruel puppy mills, in coalition with other humane groups. There are also regular demonstrations held by local groups against this company. [20] At the first rally in January of 2009, demonstrations were held in front of 22 different Petland stores. Organizers included HSUS state directors, other humane groups and local citizens. [21]

In February of 2009, HSUS partnered with local Animal Control to rescue approximately 300 dogs were rescued in an early-morning raid at a Wayne County, NC puppy mill (right). [22] For information and updates on investigations and puppy mill raids, see also Stop Puppy Mills. [23] For a chronological listing of news, videos, and information on HSUS' Petland investigations, see also Petland: The HSUS Investigations. [24]

See also puppy mills & Missouri puppy mills & Prop B.

Pet overpopulation

According to HSUS, 6 to 8 million companion animals a year enter U.S. shelters and 3 to 4 million of those animals are euthanized. Every day in the U.S., thousands of companion animals are born due to uncontrolled pet breeding and lack of spay/neuter laws. Other negative byproducts include transformation of shelters into warehouses and incredible stress on shelter workers. Aggression and temperament issues can be attributed to uncontrolled breeding as can over 4.5 million dog bites annually. Neutering helps to reduce aggressive behavior. Every year, communities spend millions of dollars and vast amounts of volunteer hours coping with surplus pets. [25]

Chained & penned dogs

Dogs are naturally social beings who thrive on interaction. A dog chained to one spot for hours, days, months becomes neurotic, unhappy, anxious and often aggressive. In some cases, a dogs neck becomes raw from improperly fitted collars and constant straining to escape. Dogs have even been found with collars embedded in their necks from years of chaining. Dogs are protective of their territory and respond to perceived threats with an instinctive "fight or flight". When a chained dog cannot escape from a perceived threat, he will often attack an unfamiliar animal or person who unwittingly enters his/her territory. Tragically, victims of dog attacks are often children. A tethered or penned dog who escapes from confinement is also more likely to chase and attack people and pets. Over 100 communities in over 30 states have passed laws that regulate chaining and penning of dogs. [26] See also War on Animals, section 7 on companion animals.

Primates in research

Chimps struggle and scream while being sedated. HSUS investigation of New Iberia in Louisiana. - 2008 - 2009

Investigation of New Iberia Research Center

A nine-month undercover investigation by HSUS revealed a rare glimpse of the everyday abuse and neglect behind the razor wire facilities of secretive laboratories like the New Iberia Research Center (NIRC) in Louisiana. The investigation resulted in a 108 page complaint to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) alleging a minimum of 338 possible AWA violations. Isolated primates engaged in severe self mutilation and routine procedures included the use of powerful, painful dart guns and squeeze cages for sedation. Infants screamed as they were forcibly removed from their mothers. [27]

In spite of their ineffectiveness as models for human diseases like HIV, chimpanzees continue to be subjected to painful and invasive experiments; some for over 40 years. The vast majority of laboratory chimps are not being used, while their care is financed by tax dollars. [28] The European Union (EU) has long considered a ban on the use of wild-caught primates and great apes. It has been widely accepted that the chimpanzee model for HIV was a failure as infected chimpanzees do not develop AIDS. [29] As scientists began steering away from the chimpanzee model, they turned their attention to monkeys. However, after years of pursuit and tens of millions of dollars, the failures of the monkey models are increasingly evident as well; with AIDS patient advocacy groups calling for an end to funding this type of research. Over 85 vaccines have failed human clinical trials, with some actually increasing the likely hood of HIV infection. [30], [31]

On September 8, 2010, the EU voted in favor of a ban on the use of great apes, as part of drastically tightened rules to scale back the number of animals used in scientific research. [32] See also AIDS industry.

Alamogordo chimps

On November 18, 2010, HSUS joined joined former Gov. Bill Richardson, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine and the Animal Protection of New Mexico at a joint press conference to request the USDA stop the transfer of retired chimpanzees in Alamogordo, New Mexico, to the Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research. See also SFBR.

Canadian seal hunts

Seal and her pup

Canada's annual seal hunt is the largest commercial hunt of marine mammals on the planet. Canadian regulations stipulate that hunters may kill seals with wooden clubs, hakapiks (ice picks) or guns. Each method is demonstrably cruel. In areas where hunters shoot from moving boats, pups are often only wounded. Also, Canada's main sealskin processing plant deducts $2 from the price for each bullet hole, so hunters do not like to shoot seals more than once. As a result, wounded seals are left to suffer in agony or slip beneath the surface and drown. [33] Rebecca Aldworth is Director of Humane Society International, Canada. She has been a firsthand observer of Canada's commercial seal hunt, escorting over 100 scientists, parliamentarians and journalists to witness the slaughter. On June 15th, Canada’s 2009 commercial seal slaughter came to an end. Over 72,000 defenseless baby harp seals were killed, almost all of them just weeks of age. [34]

Canadian seafood boycott

The Protect Seals Network' is sponsored by the HSUS and Humane Society International. The network includes organizations representing tens of millions world wide, that oppose Canada's annual seal hunts. Over 5,000 restaurants and grocery stores have joined campaign to boycott Canadian Seafood; including Whole Foods Markets, Ted's Montana Grill, Trader Joe's, BI-LO, WinCo Foods, Harris Teeter, Fresh Market, Oceanaire Seafood Room, Bon Appetit Management Company and Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville Cafes. [35]

Anti-HSUS disinformation campaigns

Anti-HSUS propaganda and disinformation campaigns are generated by industry front groups such as the Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF). Such organizations have clients who have been subjects of campaigns and investigations for animal cruelty and welfare violations. They also perceive the general direction of their advocacy as a threat to commercial interests.

See also A visit to the web site & Richard Berman cares about animals: clients exposed & Missouri puppy mills & Prop B.

Not only do these groups have no interest in animal welfare, they often campaign directly against animal welfare legislation and perpetuate overpopulation. The National Animal Interest Alliance (NAIA) is particularly concerned with HSUS's spay/neuter, anti-puppy mill and anti-horse slaughter advocacy. NAIA director and founder, Patti Strand, is a board member of the American Kennel Club (AKC), which is funded by commercial dog breeding operations or puppy mills. See also NAIA & AKC. The Americans for Medical Progress (AMP) is also an industry-funded organization whose clients have been subjects of HSUS campaigns.

For more general information, see also Humane Movement.


HSUS publishes "All Animals" for its members and "Animal Sheltering", a bi-monthly magazine for shelter professionals. [36]


EarthVoice, the Center for Respect of Life and Environment and the Wildlife Land Trust are affiliates of HSUS.

Humane Society International

See also Humane Society International.

Annual reports & financial statements

For annual reports & financial statements for the fiscal year ending in December of 2009, see also Annual Reports and Financial Statements. [37]

Selected staff

Board of Directors

  • David O. Wiebers, M.D., Chair of the Board
  • Anita W. Coupe, Esq., Vice Chair
  • Walter J. Stewart, Esq., Board Treasurer
  • Wayne Pacelle, President & CEO
  • G. Thomas Waite III, Treasurer & CFO
  • Roger A. Kindler, Esq., General Counsel, VP & CEO
  • Andrew N. Rowan, Ph.D., Executive VP, Operations
  • Michael Markarian, Executive VP, External Affairs
  • Janet D. Frake, Secretary
  • Leslie Lee Alexander
  • Patricia Mares Asip
  • Peter A. Bender
  • Eric Bernthal, Esq.
  • Barbara Brack
  • Anita W. Coupe, Esq.
  • Neil B. Fang, Esq., CPA
  • Jane Greenspun Gale
  • David John Jhirad, Ph.D
  • Jennifer Leaning, M.D
  • Dwight E. Lowell, II
  • Kathleen M. Linehan
  • William F. Mancuso
  • Mary I. Max
  • Patrick L. McDonnell
  • Gil Michaels
  • Judy Ney
  • Judy J. Peil
  • Marian G. Probst
  • Joshua S. Reichert, Ph.D.
  • Jeffery O. Rose
  • Marilyn G. Seyler
  • Walter J. Stewart, Esq.
  • John E. Taft
  • Andrew Weinstein
  • Persia White
  • David O. Wiebers, M.D. [39]

National Council Members

  • Susan Atherton, Chair
  • James Costa, Vice Chair
  • Howard Berk
  • Dennis Erdman
  • Jennifer Faga
  • Frances Hayward
  • Cathy Kangas
  • Allison Pittman
  • Donna Glazer-Pressman
  • Richard Pressman, Esq.
  • Cheri Shankar
  • Beth Shaw
  • Gary Tobey
  • Anna Ware [40]


The Humane Society of the United States
2100 L Street, NW
Washington, DC 20037

Phone: 202-452-1100

Web address:

Articles & sources

Sourcewatch articles


  1. About Us, Humane Society of the United States, accessed January 2011
  2. Campaigns & Programs, HSUS, accessed May 2009
  3. About Farm Animals and Factory Farming, HSUS, 2005
  4. Wayne Pacelle After the beef recall: Exploring greater transparency in the meat industry, HSUS, April 2008
  5. Ed Schafer Statement by Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer Regarding Hallmark/Westland Meat Packing Company Two Year Product Recall, Release No. 0046.08, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Press Office, February 2008
  6. Investigative Update: Cruelty at CA Slaughter Plant, HSUS, April 2008
  7. HSUS Exposes Inhumane Treatment of Pigs at Smithfield: Systemic abuses at factory farm, HSUS, December 2010
  8. Smithfield Pig Cruelty: Leading Pork Producer Caught Abusing Pigs, Huffington Post, Associated Press, December 2010
  9. Appalling Animal Abuse and Food Safety Threats at Top Egg Producer: The HSUS' undercover investigation of Cal-Maine, HSUS, November 2010
  10. Inhumane Treatment at Turkey Industry’s Largest Hatchery: New HSUS investigation exposes abuse, HSUS, November 2010
  11. Anna Schecter, Brian Ross Got Milk? Got Ethics? Animal Rights v. U.S. Dairy Industry: Undercover Videos Show Ugly Realities Behind the Scenes of 'Factory Dairy Farms', ABC News, January 2010
  12. "Nightline" Exposed Dairy Cruelty, HSUS, January 2010
  13. About Us, American Farm Bureau Federation, accessed April 2010
  14. Myths About Horse Slaughter, HSUS, October 2007
  15. Congress Addressing Horse Slaughter Cruelty in Federal Legislation, HSUS, January 2009
  16. The HSUS Demands Wyeth Laboratories Take Responsibility for Premarin Horses, HSUS, October 2003
  17. The Price of Fur: You May not know This!, Anti-fur Society, accessed July 2009
  18. European Union Ban on Dog and Cat Fur, HSI, accessed June 2009
  19. HSUS Investigation Ties National Petland Chain to Large-Scale Puppy Mill Cruelty, HSUS, November 2008
  20. Stop Puppy Mills: Petland Rallies, HSUS, accessed November 2009
  21. Demonstrators Rally Nationwide to Tell Petland to Stop Selling Puppies, HSUS, January 2009
  22. Approximately 300 Dogs Rescued from N.C. Puppy Mill, HSUS, February 2009
  23. Stop Puppy Mills, HSUS, accessed November 2009
  24. Petland: The HSUS Investigations - Find out how Petland is supporting the cruel puppy mill industry, HSUS, accessed November 2009
  25. The Crisis of Pet Overpopulation, HSUS, May 2007
  26. The Facts About Chaining or Tethering Dogs, HSUS, January 2008
  27. Undercover Investigation Reveals Cruelty to Chimps at Research Lab, HSUS, June 2009
  28. Chimps Deserve Better, HSUS, July 2009
  29. (Bailey, 2008; Nath, Schumann and Boyer, 2000, and others)
  30. Dr. Jarrod Bailey An assessment of the role of chimpanzees in AIDS vaccine research. Alternatives to Laboratory Animals, 36(4):, 2008
  31. An Introduction to Primate Issues: The Value of Primate Research is Challenged, HSUS, accessed November 2009
  32. Great apes protected as EU restricts animal testing, Agence France-Presse, September 8, 2010
  33. About the Canadian Seal Hunt, HSUS, accessed July 2009
  34. Rebecca Aldworth Stop Canadas Cruel Seal Hunt: The Beginning of the End, Humane Society International, June 2009
  35. The Protect Seals Network, HSUS, access July 2009
  36. About Us, HSUS, accessed May 2009
  37. Annual Reports and Financial Statements, HSUS, October 2010
  38. Executive Staff and Subject Experts, HSUS, accessed September 2008
  39. Board of Directors, HSUS, accessed November 2007
  40. The HSUS National Council, HSUS, accessed September 2008

External articles

External resources