The Center for Consumer Freedom, a nonprofit coalition of food industry groups and individuals, has launched HumaneWatch.org, a new Web site dedicated to scrutinizing the activities of the Humane Society of the United States.

HumaneWatch will include a blog written by David Martosko, the center’s director of research; a document library; and a database for tracking the non-profit and for-profit organizations involved with the Humane Society of the United States. Other features of the Web site include details of organizations opposing intensive livestock production, their press releases, and personalities involved in animal rights activism. The Web site also includes Humane Society International’s IRS form 990 for fiscal years 1999 through 2008, declarable activities by animal rights lobbyists, contributions to politicians from animal rights groups and a link to the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan organization that evaluates how money influences politics and advocates for transparency in government.

“Someone has to ask the hard questions about the Humane Society of the United States, and HumaneWatch will be a relentless source of useful information,” said Martosko. He said that most donors to the Humane Society of the United States believe that their money goes to local pet shelters, although such grants make up only a small portion of expenditures.

The Center for Consumer Freedom said in a press release that, “in 2008, less than one-half of one percent of HSUS’s budget consisted of grants to actual hands-on ‘humane societies’ that deal with the thankless task of sheltering unwanted pets,” while HSUS reported that 5.4% of expenditures went to animal care facilities in 2008.

The Center for Consumer Freedom placed an advertisement in the February 23 edition of The New York Times asserting that HSUS allocates less than 0.5% of its annual income to supporting animal shelters. The ad included the punch line, “the dog-watchers need a watchdog.” 

According to the HSUS Web site, the organization “protects all animals through legislation, litigation, investigation, education, science, advocacy and field work.” Local shelters that operate under the name Humane Society are independent organizations that affiliate with the national group.

“HumaneWatch will create an open dialogue for farmers, scientists, fashion designers, entertainers, and countless Americans who love both their pets and their chicken sandwiches,” said Martosko.