What are humane societies and SPCAs?
Humane societies and SPCAs are:
- Individually-incorporated 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations that work to eliminate cruelty toward and suffering of animals as well as pet overpopulation.
- Not affiliated with one another or with the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) or the American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).
- Distinguishable from animal control agencies, which provide government-operated animal care services and sheltering. However, some municipalities do contract with humane societies and SPCAs to provide sheltering, issue licenses, etc.
- Spread throughout the state of California, the largest of which has an annual budget of $10 million.
- Organizations that are tightly woven throughout their respective communities and have an extensive donor base that is both wide and diverse.
How are humane societies and SPCAs different from HSUS and the ASPCA?
The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) are separate and distinct organizations from the State Humane Association of California (SHAC) and humane societies and SPCAs in California.
- State Humane Association of California represents the collective voice of California’s humane societies and SPCAs.
- In contrast, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) are national organizations headquartered in Washington D.C. and New York, respectively, that advance a national agenda.
- ASPCA operates one companion-animal shelter in New York City and HSUS does not operate any companion-animal shelters.
- ASPCA and HSUS are not umbrella, parent, or sister organizations to local humane societies and SPCAs, contrary to the conclusion many reach based on the inclusion of “United States” in HSUS’s name and “American” in ASPCA’s name.
- While ASPCA and HSUS may give individual shelters funding from time to time for particular projects, ASPCA and HSUS do not regularly fund California’s shelters and are not involved in their management or operations.
Often, the interests of SHAC and its member humane societies and SPCAs are coextensive and SHAC endeavors to work HSUS and ASPCA when it promotes the collective good of California’s shelters. Only SHAC promotes an agenda that is exclusively based on the needs and interests of California’s shelters. From time to time, the interests of SHAC and those of HSUS and ASPCA may not be parallel. Therefore, it is important to look to SHAC as the collective voice of California’s humane community.
Why did SHAC file a complaint against the ASPCA with the Attorney General?
The State Humane Association of California filed a complaint on May 3, 2011 with the Office of the Attorney General against the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). The complaint alleges that ASPCA's unfair and deceptive fundraising practices harm local humane societies and SPCAs by capitalizing on and reinforcing the widely-held mistaken belief that the ASPCA is a parent or umbrella organization to the thousands of humane societies and SPCAs across the country.
"Ever since the ASPCA began to aggressively fundraise several years ago, humane societies and SPCAs throughout the country have suffered," explained Erica Gaudet Hughes, Executive Director of the State Humane Association of California. "Our member humane societies and SPCAs frequently report hearing from people who gave to the ASPCA believing they were giving to their local shelter. These shelters believe they are missing out on funds that were intended for them."
The State Humane Association of California does not take issue with the work that the ASPCA does, however. In fact, SHAC works with the ASPCA from time to time. Rather, SHAC simply wants the ASPCA to stop capitalizing on and reinforcing public confusion regarding its relationship to local SPCAs and humane societies.
SHAC's Press Release (PDF)
CBS Los Angeles video and article
NBC Bay Area video
NBC Bay Area article
Central Coast News video (#1) and article
Central Coast News video (#2)
KSBW Monterey video
Monterey County Weekly blog
Oroville Mercury-Register article
Inland SoCal article
Roseville Press article
Chronicle of Philanthropy post
WCVB (ABC) Boston video and article
Boston Globe article
Concerns about Solicitations from the North Shore Animal League (Article on SFGate.com by Ken White)