BY INGA GIBSON – A recent investigative story by Bloomberg News blew the cover off of a long-running charity scam undertaken on behalf of corporate interests by a Washington, D.C. lobbying operation.

It’s a story that should concern us all – a shocking account of how our charity laws are being twisted to benefit corporate interests. Just the other day, readers of the Hawaii Reporter got a first-hand glimpse of this scam. It occurred in a published press release from a group called HumaneWatch.

HumaneWatch painted a cynically false portrait of the work of The Humane Society of the United States. Why would someone criticize such a storied name in American charity as ours? Simply put, the efforts undertaken by HSUS in Hawaii, nationally and internationally to protect all animals threatens those who want to continue to profit from the exploitation and abuse of animals.

Our Hawaii office is working to crack down on puppy mills and pet stores who refuse to disclose the origin of their animals to protect pets and consumers, to end the bloodsports of dogfighting and cockfighting and to prevent the most egregious abuses against Hawaii’s marine and terrestrial wildlife. We’ve funded a project that has to date rescued and rehomed more than 400 feral donkeys on the Big Island. We’ve partnered with local shelters and rescue groups on a campaign to find a Lap for Every Cat, formed a coalition of animal advocacy and wildlife agencies to protect Hawaii’s threatened and endangered wildlife and brought critical spay-neuter services to underserved communities in the Pacific.

The HSUS has hosted town hall meetings and trainings with policymakers and law enforcement agencies on ending animal cruelty and fighting, offered more than $20,000 in rewards for information on wildlife abuse and animal cruelty cases and assisted with the passage of more than a dozen state laws to improve the welfare of Hawaii’s animals, including landmark efforts to prohibit shark-finning, dogfighting and the sale of endangered bear products. The HSUS provided numerous grants and provided emergency funding to Hawaii wildlife and animal care organizations since opening our Honolulu office in 2008.

At the national level, we are working with consumers and companies such as McDonalds, Burger King and hundreds of others to reduce the suffering of farm animals.

Since those who profit from animal abuse cannot defend cruelty, they hire HumaneWatch to attack The HSUS. It’s a tired old tactic. In fact, the man behind this front group is beltway lobbyist Richard Berman, who takes pride in his moniker “Dr. Evil.” To see independent reports about Berman by many of the nation’s top news outlets, go to HumaneSociety.org. There you’ll find Bloomberg’s scathing investigation of Berman quoting experts who raise serious questions about their abuse of the tax code, robbing the U.S. Treasury of millions of dollars in much needed revenue.

You’ll also see that the work of The HSUS is on display for all to see. The “video” link will take you to stories of our staff and volunteers rescuing animals and reuniting them with their families after Hurricane Sandy. You can also visit each of our state webpages, including Hawaii’s, to see what we are doing on the ground in your community every day.

The HSUS is proud that our peers have ranked us the country’s most effective organization at protecting animals, and that leading charity evaluators rank us among the nation’s top nonprofits.

 

Inga Gibson is the Hawaii State Director for The Humane Society of the United States

 

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