Does the Humane Society really help? The ‘business’ of the pet population.

Now first things first. I need to make it clear that I do believe that there are two ways to look at the Humane Society here. Probably more than two but let me make my point. The local people who volunteer are good heart-ed, well meaning, often self sacrificing people who need to be applauded. Unfortunately, the numbers provided by the HS itself don’t support the idea that this idea carries on up the ladder.

Why doesn’t more money go to the animals? Why does it cost $175.00 to adopt a dog from the HS? What about horses? Where are all the donations going?

Here is another thought. Right now you can probably open a newspaper or go online and find a free puppy or kitten within miles of your home. Or you can go adopt one and pay, lets just say, $200. I know, I know, that money pays for the spay/neuter and shots…and in theory you will be paying that for your ‘free’ local pet. But lets say you don’t. You take the ‘free’ one and forget to get around to spaying or neutering until there are a few more litters of cats in town.

If this were a business (reducing unwanted animals) then you would have to be forced to look at the ‘free’ kitten down the road as competition. Now lets say you had some financial backing…maybe millions of people donating or something. How about this:

Spay and neuter pets and then GIVE them away. What customer, when shopping for a new pet, wouldn’t see THAT as an added benefit. Heck, they might even take a short class on proper pet care to receive that! And all those ‘ooops’ kittens don’t even exists….

What are your thoughts? How can this be modeled with horses?


  1. Caroline on March 31, 2014 at 2:47 pm

    “Humane Watch” is a group that spews propaganda and lies about the HSUS. They head of this supposed “watchdog group” is pro-horse slaughter and also runs campaigns against organizations like Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

    The HSUS does not claim to be an animal shelter. They are first and foremost an animal rights organization and most of the money goes towards their campaigns.

    • Didi Culp on April 1, 2014 at 7:17 pm

      I used to work for HSUS as director of training and education. Humane Watch is a PR campaign, much like HSUS’s anti seal or anti dog fighting campaigns. You may not like it’s motive – to critique HSUS fundraising – but the information HW has published is factual.

      Just because I don’t agree with the intent of the animal rights movement, which includes giving animals the “right” do die in nature without protection from humans and eliminating all uses of animals including as companions, does not mean their stories are false.

  2. susan vita on February 9, 2012 at 5:42 pm

    i’d like to see a reward program for spaying and neutering too.
    and also they could adopt out a free pet if they take a free class on pet care, or pay if they don’t take the class.

    • Didi Culp on February 9, 2012 at 10:01 pm

      I absolutely love this idea. Like the old dishwasher days….if you help clean cages and sit and listen to a speech about pet care you don’t have to pay the adoption fee. Love it!

      In the shelter I work in you have to do both; pay the fee and listen to my speech. That seems like it’s been a little unfair over the years.

  3. Janet on December 5, 2011 at 9:09 am

    Ok here my problem in all this. We have people out there that are so giving and willing to volunteer their time energy and money, also I know some local pet stores will even donate food to the shelter. K Now maybe our Vets should some of there time in there maybe one day a week where these animals in the shelters are spay and nuetured for free. I ask myself this question many time, and I keep coming up with the same answer. It wouldn’t matter if they donated there time because it would still cost the same to adopt the pet, because the administeration alway have to get there money’s worth. I live on a farm and barn cats are just apart of life they are farrel, and catching them can be an interesting project. As far as out beloved horses are concerned, we have a size problem, and although I know that the horse rescues are alway looking for good homes, the operation just to keep the animals fed and watered is huge undertaking, and the money need is astronomical. There is no easy answer to the problem of over population, because as humans we think that buying that pure bred puppy, kitty, rabbit, or horse is the way to go and we forget that sometime the best animals out there is the heiz 57, the one with the crooked tail, or one eye, or multi coloured you know the one’s with one ear shorter then the other, that give us the pleasure, of a great story when your showing them off in town or the neibgour hood park.

    My rant is over
    God bless you all and my you all have a awesome week.

  4. Judy on December 5, 2011 at 8:31 am

    I love animals and I wish everyone were able to have a pet, from a cat, dog, horse, chicken, calf, or pig, whatever the personal preference. They change you lives and teach you about responsibility, and give you unconditional love. With that said, I believe that not everyone is in a position, financially, emotionally, or maybe where they live, to have a pet. I feel that if you can’t afford a 175 to 200 dollar adoption fee, then you will probably not be able to properly care for a pet throughout its life. I am a firm believer in the old saying..”the least expensive thing about a pet is its purchase price.”

  5. Jayna on December 3, 2011 at 12:49 pm

    Well I am from Canada but I am sure There are similar shelters in the states. I have worked at a couple shelters here and know others that have too. They mean well and everything but they do have their flaws. Being locally owned can sometimes be a
    Drawback. Here the adoption fee only pays for half the spay/neuter it’s still up around 200 dollars but you are told you have 2 months to go spay/neuter your animal which you have to pay half the rate for or else you will lose the pet. This has many holes although it sounds good most don’t get around to paying that money and the shelters don’t follow through with the threat. Plus the shelters don’t actually pay the other half vets just give the discounts to pets bought from the shelter so the full adoption fee goes to the shelter. This again seems alright as more money would equal more food for the animals but in fact these same shelters often send free donated food home with it’s employees. I know a girl who had 3 dogs and 6 cats and although all but one was adopted and the girl was very nice she never paid a dime for her animals the whole time she worked for the shelter. She got free food brought free vaccinations home and even got to pick the toys/donations such as kennels and playhouses that she wanted.

    I would rather donate my time to the animals instead of my money. Most digs in a shelter are full of pent up energy they need exercise and structure. It’s sad but the dogs that are usually neglected at the shelter, not a lot of walks, are the ones that get put down. When I worked at the shelter I didn’t just feed and ignore them. I didn’t give them love and attention either I was working on training them. I never got paid extra for my training but te truth is the majority of the adopted dogs were those I had worked with. I think more shelters need to have a good trainer on staff and I think horse adoption places need the same thing. Structure in an animals life will give them piece of mind and a goal if the right trainer is hired.

    That’s my 2 cents.

  6. Colleene McMurphy on December 3, 2011 at 12:06 pm

    I have known for many years that the HSUS is NOT in the business of funding shelters and I will not donate a dime to them. They have very heart-wrenching commercials that mislead people into donating money for lobbying and “administrative” costs. I donate money to my local shelters as well as food and cat litter. One local organization offers low-pay spay & neuter clinics and free vaccination days. That is a better model for addressing the overpopulation of unwanted animals. Anytime the Federal government gets involved a problem, it costs more and becomes more inefficient. I agree that we do need more answers to the unwanted horse problem. There is only one horse rescue in our area and they are maxed out. I like the idea of gelding all stallions before selling them unless they are going to a professional breeder. When I was a cat breeder, we spayed/neutered all non-show-quality cats before selling them. Responsible breeders know what caliber of animal they have and can/should be responsible to sterilize those offspring that should not reproduce. That is more humane solution.

  7. Kristie on December 3, 2011 at 10:46 am

    Those adoption fees are only worth it if the pet has complete veterinary care. That means cats should have tested negative for FeLV/FIV and dogs should have tested negative for heartworm. Additionally, they should have basic vaccinations and ideally have been spayed/neutered before leaving the shelter. Most would likely have been dewormed, treated for fleas and cats may have been treated for earmites. Shelters in my area have an adoption fee of anywhere between $70 and $200. Someone who purchases a kitten or puppy should expect to pay between $400 and $700 during it’s first year in basic veterinary care if they do the full series of kitten or puppy vaccinations, less in following years. If they don’t vaccinate a trip to the ER with a puppy infected with Parvo and a kitten infected with Panleukopenia will cost about $200 just to be seen, much more for an overnight stay and lifesaving treatment. You can spend another $100 to $200 in obedience training classes for dogs and this is something that needs to be far more available in general.

    I volunteered in a local humane society for 8 years and I can you I was never paid a dime for any of the work I did. I cleaned the entire shelter, medicated pets, groomed dogs, ran fundraisers and paid for medical care of sick pets out of my own pocket when donations weren’t enough to cover the costs. Many local vets gave us discounts on the shelter pets but not 100% by any means. The donations we received paid for the building, the electricity (heat & lighting), the city water, cleaning supplies, the phone, building maintenance, etc.. We once received a grant that allowed us to buy a computer. Prior to that I ran the Petfinder Website out of my home at no cost to the shelter. Adoption fees helped pay for a discounted spay/neuter & vaccinations.

    We never received a dime from the HSUS.

  8. Linda O. on December 3, 2011 at 8:37 am

    I think all have good points, however, in the way of the economy with corn being grown for ethanol, the price has about doubled for corn. It reflects in everything we buy as well as food for animals. This reflects on how prices go. The genetically altered corn by Monsanto is not as good for humans and animals. Another issue.
    I also , although I hate to think of it but we have had slaughter houses since I can remember and it has only been brought to light from the anti movement. It is a vicious cycle, but we have become soft in our thoughts. Good or bad, legislation is not going to stop the over burdening. Who has the right to say not to have animals for consumtion. I do not think that an over passionate, should dictate how people should live, as long as it is within reason. Once laws are made they are hard to get off the books. We do need balance, but there are no balances with Peta or the HS. We can argue this forever, but what is right and what is wrong for them. I do not think a horse that is crippled or unusable shoulld be maintained instead of a healthy one. i am sure this will not sit well by anyone. However, truth be known, we need to get back to reality a little bit. I am a lover and provider for my animals in the best way. But if there is a problem, I have to make the decision as to whether they are being humanely kept.Not easy, but something that is a necessity for the well being of the animal.

  9. johanna on December 3, 2011 at 12:45 am

    as a previous writer pointed out, HSUS and shelters are a different thing.

    i work at a shelter hospital–and i agree that ”overpopulation” and the reasons for animals being in the shelter aren’t addressed, in my opinion, by the current model. i’ll say up front that my knowledge and experience pertains more to goats, and smaller animals (dogs, cats, etc), not as much with horses.

    a fact though:
    regarding the debate about costs: while some shelters are supported by SOME gov’t funding, many of the best ones are private and ONLY are supported by private donations and shelter thrift shops, etc.
    this is a problem, especially when the economy isn’t doing well, as donations NEVER equal what it costs to house, feed, treat, S/N and medically/surgically repair these animals’ problems.

    @ most shelters, staff members are paid extremely little compared to any other job–only a little more than minimum wage for the most part, and certainly much less when compared to regular vet clinics. shelters are also notoriously and sadly understaffed, especially in the vet clinic and PR dept’s–places that need staff the most for a successful shelter. (PR is an undervalued piece of the actual ‘business’ of giving unwanted animals homes.)
    the costs to keep the animals in the shelter are a lot more than a few scoops of kibble and some suture material. disease control, vet equipment, housing supplies and drug costs are HUGE, never mind advertising. there are no insurances to fund the shelter health care (and very few insurance companies in the animal industry in general)–a good thing IMO..

    so to pay 150 -250 to receive a fully treated, spayed/neutered, well-cared for animal does not seem a lot to me. your stray down the street WILL cost more than that for the most part to surgerize, groom, de-tick, test for tick diseases and treat appropriately, fix the injured limb, and what have you…shots, parasite exam and control and physical exam alone can run near 100-200. then you have to S/N. when you look at it that way, the cost of a shelter animal is great.

    true–sometimes you get lucky and all the animal needs is a rabies shot–but this is not the norm, in my experience of working in the animal health field for almost 20 years.

  10. Jennifer Kirschenman on December 2, 2011 at 12:27 pm

    We had a cat spayed, and one neutred, and it cost us over 75 dollars for the neutering, and over 85 for the Spaying, and that was a few years ago, Here in SD, As for the horses, I agree, about Gelding a horse before you give it away, We were offered a free pony for our son, But the Guy did not have him gelded, and it would cost us almost $100 dollars by the time it was done. We thus ended up deciding on not taking him, He would have been nice, But would have cost us more in the long run. Since he was not broke yet either, Breaking him I could do, But I don’t think I wanted a stud pony for my son, even though we don’t have any mares around our place, I still feel it is better to have a gelding.

    • adrain on December 3, 2011 at 1:36 pm

      I donated my prized blue healer to a man that need a herding dog for his sheep..My beloved healer was part of our family, however there was a better home for her. Not only had she been spayed, we donated all of her crate and toys, including food bowel to help transition her to her new home. She was not unwanted by any means, we just felt the heart tug that she had an opportunity to do what she was bred to do.
      I do feel the adoption fees are excessive, as I can spay and get shots for less than the adoption fees and have done so. I rescue unwanted animals, pay the fees for vet bills and do not charge the adoptee family, as I feel that is money best spent on maintaining good feeding habits. I am not funded and do this because it is the right thing to do.

      If you can not afford the vet bills, including gelding, spaying or neutering….then wait until you make that animal a greater priority. I adopted an unwanted horse and the first place we went was to A&M for gelding. Best $80 bucks I ever spent and he is still one of my best therapy animals.

  11. Karla ll on December 2, 2011 at 9:45 am

    Here are my two comments here. First where we live there are no low cost spay/ neuter facilities to spay or neuter is very expensive ranging $250 – $350. In this down economy most people I know has to choose food, electricity, many times meds already and to add spay and neuter on that. I’ve also heard comments that if the prices were low cost they could afford it. My theory is that since there was very little over population here until vets raised prices so high then vets have contributed to this. The discounts in our area is free xrays during surgery.

    With that said my views of local humane societies are not good due in the part of our local facility. They have a $1.8 million a year budget yet they have been in trouble with Osha for lack of safe practices, they do not spay / neuter, they do not treat animals in anyway many they adopt out are sick and have to be put down after they pay the fees for adoption and do not get that money back, one person has been charged with illegal euthanizing animals (80,000 counts of doing heart stick with no sedation), one more person has addmitted doin the same without a license she has not been charged. There are video counts to back up all alligations and they are still in business. It gets far worse than my claims. I’m sure there are shelters out there that are much better, but a free dog or cat in this case would be much better than paying $100 for a sick pet that you will end up paying possibly $1000 in vet bills for or having to have it put down because it is to sick. That again is our area.

  12. Sarah on December 2, 2011 at 7:47 am

    Excellent points, Stacy. I know the Humane Society is there mostly for lobbying, but I think we have enough laws. And horse slaughter, well, it’s a necessary evil (until the government gets us free & universal healthcare for elderly horses…ha…spare us from the day). Anyway, yes, I wish the adopted animals could be free. At the same time, keeping animals fed and cared for gets expensive quickly, so maybe it’s good to have a small financial requirement to remind folks that it’s more than just a cute, furry face that they’re adopting – there’s real responsibility involved. I payed an adoption fee for one of my horses, and I look forward to paying one for a new dog soon. If you can’t pay the fee, maybe you don’t need a pet anyway. The “black market” will always be there for the free, un-fixed ones from your neighbors.

  13. Jo-Claire Corcoran on December 2, 2011 at 7:38 am

    Also Stacey, since the local humane societies are self supporting, the adoption fee serves two purposes, one it pays for the spay and neutering and vaccinations. Now if you were to take one of those free kittens or puppies, you would be paying out more than that for the spay and neutering and vaccinations. That is also one way of insuring that the unwanted pet population is controlled. Since some people refuse to spay and neuter their pets. One of the things that has been proven time and again, when someone makes a financial committment to something, they are more likely to take better care of it. Free, means disposable to some people.

  14. Jo-Claire Corcoran on December 2, 2011 at 7:34 am

    First let’s clarify, local humanse societies are not part of the HSUS. Secondly the mission of the HSUS is not to provide shelter for animals on a daily basis, but to help write and get passed, legislation which protect animals. They have a representative in every state, who works with the state legislators as well as on local issues. I am in weekly contact with the local HSUS rep and she has been extremely helpful in getting action from local authorities on cases etc.

    the other mission of HSUS is to provide emergency disaster services for animals, that can be national disasters as well as when a large seizure occurs. They are best equipped to handle situations of that magnitude especially when a local ACO has a situation which involves many many animals at one time. HSUS does have a couple of large animals shelters and they do provide grants to local shelters.

    Humanewatch, is an organization run by Rick Berman, a wealthy lobbyist, who’s sole purpose is to shut down HSUS. He is pro-horse slaughter, could care less about animals.Do not believe everything Humanewatch tells you, because they are the perpetuator of many many lies.

    • Didi Culp on December 3, 2011 at 12:27 pm

      So you support HSUS but not Rick Berman. Ok. But you’ve made some false statements about Mr. Berman and the company HumaneWatch. I don’t believe Mr. Berman has a personal position on horse slaughter. Perhaps he just told you.

      One of his firm’s clients, HumaneWatch is not aiming to shut down HSUS, either. HumaneWatch publishes facts that HSUS does not want published. Those facts allow everyone to decide for him or her self.

      I am former Director of Education for HSUS.

      • CanAmFam on December 6, 2012 at 12:26 pm

        And Didi, you should ALSO add that you are now an employee of Rick Berman’s, the man behind HumaneWatch.

      • Didi on December 7, 2012 at 7:15 pm

        Can am Fam does not allow replies but what she says about where I work is not true. HSUS was informed they have to stop making false claims about my employment record and they have. But they can still get uninformed people to do it for them. Sorry Stacy. No disrespect intended.

    • Jessica on December 12, 2011 at 6:45 pm

      How dare you greedy people! The HSUS hasn’t done ANYTHING that they’ve claimed to do in the past! They’re just trying to be another PETA and that’s not going to happen. All they want to do is turn everyone into a vegan! They should donate thousands more to animal shelters’, but THEY DO NOT! I should know since I’ve only been working with one since 2006. They’ve gave NOTHING!
      That is why it is expensive for anyone to adopt a pet and trust me,they NEED it! Why do you people think it costs fifty for a puppy and forty for a kitten and vise versa! KNOW THE TRUE FACTS before you make an assumption that you THINK you know, but really DO NOT! I’ve watched animals be put to sleep everyday because of your (so called) trusting Wayne Parcelle! He doesn’t care about animals in the shelters, he cares about HIMSELF and MONEY. WAKE UP! You are paying for his vegan food, money in HIS pocket, HIS home. EVERYONE OF YOU WHO DONATE! That’s where your money is going. Please don’t be fooled to anyone new. Only ONE, only 1% goes to our shelters while he gets a free ride in life! I don’t think so. He’s going to have to answer to God anyway one day. One million dollars was wasted and only eight hundred to only two thousand went to a couple of animal shelters. Unless you work at a shelter, you can worship him all you want too, but get your facts straight is what I’m implying here. Your money is going to help him live! It’s that simple. If you want to help, please donate to your own local humane society. I promise this. A little help goes a long way. Not every animal gets a home, but it is better to try than turn a blind eye. Thank you to those who understand these facts by the way. We are just trying to help those of you who do donate. IT SHOULD GO TO HELPING ANIMALS IN SHELTERS’ JUST AS WELL! Hence their name. Humane Society? Do you who donate understand this?

      • Jessica on December 12, 2011 at 6:59 pm

        No offense to anyone on here by the way. I just wanted to make that clear. I’m implying that those who work for and mostly support them don’t know and I do apologize for calling them “greedy.” I should have chosen a better more suitable word, so please forgive me as this is a very sensitive subject for myself. I work at lake city humane society in Florida and we really try to give them good homes, but that doesn’t always happen. People and other private or third parties will donate when they can and I am thankful to all of them. I’m sorry to Didi for putting my COMMENT in her reply box also. Please forgive me. I got in quite a hurry before posting, so I mean absolutely no offense. I just seen somewhere I could and posted, even though it’s not meant towards her by any means. She understands. Sorry Didi. I really am. Please disregard it 🙂

      • Didi on December 14, 2011 at 10:54 pm

        No worries, Jessica. I do, totally understand.

    • the YOU show a/k/a superbooks7 on January 1, 2012 at 9:59 am

      We have a wonderful place here in our large city, and it is called the North Shore Animal League. I have visited there personally and have seen that the money goes to keeping the place very clean, almost spotless. They treat the animals really good. (They even have “babysitters” that stand by –volunteers–to keep the big dogs company). They just seem to really care for the animals and they are not overcrowded. And this is the key, the moment that a shelter gets overcrowded, the people get overworked and then the animals get less care. North Shore has a special “Seniors for seniors” program where anyone over the age of 60 can adopt without paying a huge fee. And all the animals are spayed or neutered before they are adopted out. This is where the money goes. They have great vets on hand and each and every animal gets personal care. They constantly rescue does from puppy mills-out of state and they clean them up , vet them up and then adopt them out to reputable owners. I think when talking about these topics, it is too easy to lump all humane societies together in one bundle and that does a dis-service to those truly loving and caring places that give second and third chances to the animals that were abandoned and abused. North Shore is excellent. (LOL, this is not a commercial; I’m not affiliated to North Shore).

    • CanAmFam on December 6, 2012 at 12:25 pm

      Thanks Jo-Claire for your excellent clarification.

      I must say I’m surprised that Stacy would be promoting HumaneWatch, which is a nefarious front group for industries that exploit animals. A little research into what HumaneWatch is really about would be of value Ms. Westfall:

  15. William Mesmer (@MasterMesmer) on December 2, 2011 at 6:50 am

    Not to mention: Have you seen the terribly damaged goods that the HS tries to pawn off on the public? Look, I am as humane as the next and probably more so, but some of those animals need to be put down [end of story]… You make an excellent point here.

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