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Consumer group wants probe of Humane Society ads

Jason Bridge | Valley News Dispatch Intended for VND pub on 10-21-10
JDB 21PitBulDay 1 Animal Protectors veterinary technician Lindsay Joyce holds 4 month old Sitka Rose, a pit bull, at the animal shelter in New Kensington on Wednesday, October 20, 2010.

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Friday, July 13, 2012, 12:01 a.m.

An organization wants attorneys general in Pennsylvania and 11 other states to investigate whether advertisements by the Humane Society of the United States violate laws by implying that money from donors supports animal shelters.

HumaneWatch, a nonprofit project of the Washington-based Center for Consumer Freedom, released a report on Thursday claiming that the Humane Society gives 1 percent or less of its income to local animal shelters, despite ads showing animals in shelters.

“Consistently, there is a disconnect between what they use to raise money and what they spend that money on,” said Justin Wilson, senior research analyst at the Center for Consumer Freedom.

Humane Society of the United States spokeswoman Stephanie Twinings said the Center for Consumer Freedom represents food industry interests in Washington and is more interested in stopping the Humane Society's lobbying efforts than steering more money to shelters.

“This is all just their desperate attempts to pull fundraising away from us because we're effective in getting regulations changed for the food industry,” she said.

Nils Fredricksen, spokesman for Pennsylvania Attorney General Linda Kelly, said his office neither confirms nor denies the existence of any investigations, but said Kelly reads and responds to any petition that crosses her desk.

“There is a belief in the public that the Humane Society of the United States is the mothership, so to speak, and that all the local humane societies ... must answer to them. That's not true,” said Gretchen Fieser, spokeswoman for the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society in the North Side.

Local shelters and humane societies are concerned with animal welfare, rather than animal rights, food-industry issues or national campaigns, she said.

“(HSUS) can get better cages for chickens in factory farms,” Fieser said. “When we get chickens, they were someone's pet or a science project that got too big.”

Matthew Santoni is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5625 or

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