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Published July 12, 2012, 05:37 PM

Group asks for probe on HSUS fundraising

HumaneWatch.org, self-described watchdog group, says it has asked North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem to investigate what it alleges are deceptive fundraising practices of the Humane Society of the United States.

By: Mikkel Pates, Agweek

HumaneWatch.org, self-described watchdog group, says it has asked North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem to investigate what it alleges are deceptive fundraising practices of the Humane Society of the United States.

A dozen attorneys general are being solicited in the first round of requests, says J. Justin Wilson, a senior research analyst for the Washington, D.C.-based group. Besides North Dakota, the group has approached attorneys general in Idaho, Colorado, Kansas, Arkansas, West Virginia, Iowa, Tennessee, Utah, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Washington state. He says they were chosen based on each state’s consumer protection and charitable contribution statutes.

Stenehjem was out of the office this week and not immediately available to say whether he would pursue the request.

HumaneWatch.org, is a project of the Center for Consumer Freedom in Washington, D.C. On July 12, it released a report that it says details HSUS’s telemarketing, direct mail and television appeals. The CCF is a non-profit coalition supported by restaurants, food companies and consumers. Wilson declined to say which companies. Its parent company is Berman & Company, a consulting firm owned by its executive director, Rick Berman.

CCF says its new analysis reveals that the animal rights group might violate charitable solicitation rules, which attorneys general should investigate. The report says HSUS “actively perpetuate(s) the misperception that HSUS’s primary focus is to care for abandoned and abused cats and dogs,” while only 1 percent of its budget goes to “hands-on shelters and rescues.”

HumaneWatch says HSUS should not “spend its donations funding its PETA-like agenda (on the) backs of America’s needy pet shelters (by) misleading Americans.”

HSUS is backing a North Dakota anti-cruelty measure for which signatures are being gathered in anticipation of a November vote. The effort is criticized by the North Dakota Stockmen’s Association and others for the support of HSUS as anti-animal agriculture. HSUS issued its own response to the CCF effort, saying its mission is to protect all animals, including farm animals, and “animals are at risk in part because of the policies and business practices of corporations” that pay CCF to attack the HSUS. “The man behind the absurdly named CCF started as a mouthpiece for the tobacco industry, and this kind of attack is just more of the same nonsense,” the HSUS said.

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