Rep. Kenny Imes Slams Humane Society's 'Deceptive Fundraising' in Op-Ed

Feb 9, 2016

Credit Credit: Jozef Polc, 123rf Stock Photo

State Rep. Kenny Imes of Murray is taking on the Humane Society of the United States, penning an op-ed slamming their fundraising methods.

In the op-ed - disseminated to news organizations by the Kentucky House Republican Caucus - Imes calls the nonprofit’s advertising deceptive, citing in his assertion that only 1 percent of HSUS' fundraising dollars is sent to local shelters. That website calls the HSUS, which does not actually operate any shelters in Kentucky, an "extreme animal liberation group".

Imes says ads depicting animals in cages make people believe their donations will help animals at nearby shelters.

“They want to sign you up for $19 a month and show you pictures of the animals in bad shapes and the puppy mills and all that," Imes said. "I want people that want to contribute to that sort of thing to know they are contributing to help local animals first, but there’s just very little of that.”

In the op-ed, Imes urges giving to local, independent organizations like the Murray-Calloway County Animal Shelter. He doesn't mention the Humane Society of Calloway County, which despite its name, is not affiliated with HSUS.

Rep. Kenny Imes (right)
Credit LRC Public Information

Imes said he has similar concerns about other nonprofits’ spending, like the Wounded Warrior Project.

“It’s just abuse of our charitable attitude in the United States and I think the more it goes on, the worse it’s going to get," Imes said. "It’s a scam and a game, I think, to a degree on a lot of these. I'm not saying all these are scams, but it's just not the proper way to donate, nor to advertise and promote."

The Kentucky chapter of the Humane Society issued a statement to WKMS in response:

“Kenny Imes misses the mark in his recent piece about the Humane Society of the United States. Our organization was rated most effective by our peers and is approved by the Better Business Bureau. We were named by Worth Magazine as one of the 10 most fiscally responsible charities. The HSUS tackles large-scale abuses that are beyond the reach of local humane groups, like animal fighting and puppy mills. Here in Kentucky, for example, we assisted the Logan County Humane Society, which is not affiliated with HSUS, in obtaining a grant for animals that have been taken as a result of a hoarding case. We have also conducted free animal cruelty and fighting investigation workshops for law enforcement in Kentucky and our affiliate has provided nearly $70,000 in medical services to animals in this state.”

Humane Society of Calloway County executive director Kathy Hodge said she worries that anti-HSUS rhetoric will impact organizations like hers that have no formal connection to the national Humane Society.

The full text of Imes' op-ed is below:

In a piece done by HUMANEWATCH.ORG in 2015 entitled Deceptive Fundraising Practices of the Humane Society of the United States, it was asserted that the Humane Society of the United States’ (HSUS) appeals on television, in print, and through telemarketing leave donors feeling deceived due to their grossly misleading image of how donor money will be used.

Indeed, this recent report is just another in a long line of evidence that points toward HSUS using advertising to deceive donors, but also toward committing actions that possibly violate state charitable solicitation and consumer protection laws. According to the report released by HUMANEWATCH.ORG, 71% of Americans believe HSUS is an “umbrella group” for local pet shelters, while 68% believe HSUS spends most of its money on those local pet shelters. However, the report found neither to be true. In fact, not only is HSUS not associated with local pet shelters, but it only donates 1% of the money it collects to local shelters.

Furthermore, a March 2015 poll of HSUS supporters found that nearly 90% were unaware that HSUS gives just 1% of its budget to local shelters.

No longer can we stand by and idly observe while the actions of HSUS seriously damage the ability of legitimate animal shelters to sustain themselves. Due to the constant fundraising appeals of HSUS, local animal shelters have increasingly expressed the difficulty to raise their own funding due to their inability to compete with the massive scope of the HSUS factory-fundraising machine.

I strongly urge your direct support for local animal shelters like the Murray-Calloway County Animal Shelter, which is not supported by HSUS, and not to be misled by slick television or other advertising asking for support for HSUS.