A newly-formed think tank has released what Yahoo! calls an “explosive new report” about one of the country’s most prominent animal welfare groups, the ASPCA. The CEW report has used emotionally charged language that accuses the charity of hoarding money “while shelter pets die.”
The report from the Center for the Environment and Welfare (CEW) alleges that the ASPCA has only given 2% of its budget to pet shelters. The report cites the ASPCA’s recent tax filings as the source of the numbers. Much criticism is also lodged at the ASPCA’s lobbying efforts concerning the 2023 Farm Bill, claiming the group “has increasingly become a radical animal liberation organization.”
CEW reports the ASPCA had over $300 million in investments in 2021, with $11 million in offshore accounts in the Caribbean. Meanwhile, CEO Matt Berkshadker made almost $1 million a year while 259 of his employees made six figures.
Similarly, a 2021 CBS News Investigation found that only 7% of the ASPCA’s total money raised went to grants for local animal welfare groups. That number was still a considerable amount at $146 million, but they spent almost three times that on fundraising efforts.
According to the CBS report (below), for every dollar someone donated, about 40% went to animal services like veterinary care, grants, or shelter services. However, the ASPCA claimed as much as 77¢ went to supporting the charity’s mission.
Video about the ASPCA investigation by CBS Evening News:
The ASPCA Is NOT an Umbrella for Local SPCAs
First, we want to point out something that even many in the rescue community may not be aware of. The ASPCA is not an umbrella organization for local SPCAs.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) is understandably often confused with the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA). However, the report notes that the national ASPCA only runs one adoption center based in New York City, while independent SPCA locations operate locally across the country. Critics have accused the ASPCA of “fundraising at the expense of local animal welfare organizations,” which they have denied.
Importantly, local SPCA organizations aren’t affiliated with the national ASCPA.
Jo Sullivan, a former executive vice president for the ASPCA who helped create the Sarah McLachlan commercials, left and began work at the Houston SPCA. She explained her deep frustration explaining that money doesn’t trickle down to the local level.
“As an animal lover, you have to make sure and ask yourself, do the animals in my community get my donor dollars or my volunteer time?” Sullivan said. “Is it going to change] what I want it to change in my community?”
Another report from CBS News about the ASPCA in 2022:
Sarah McLachlan’s Emotional ASPCA Commercials
In 2019, the ASPCA took in nearly 280 million dollars, in part with ads featuring tearjerking scenes and emotional music by Sarah McLachlan. The commercials were spoofed, and the singer said she “can’t even watch” the commercial herself.
“I change the channel. I can’t take it,” McLachlan said, saying the commercials were “so depressing.”
Nevertheless, the commercials worked, drawing in millions from good-hearted people who gave hard-earned money. More recently, McLachlan spoofed herself in a beer commercial for the Super Bowl with a wolf. Ironically, it seems to have unintended symbolism, exposing the wolf behind the curtain in the “wrong shelter” as the “Angel” ballad plays. The Grammy winner says the appearance was an opportunity to “take piss out of the ASPCA commercial.”
Video by E! News about McLachlan’s spoof:
Farm Animals and the ASPCA
As noted, much of the criticism from CEW, which formed in 2023, is centered around the 2023 Farm Bill. The group plans a million-dollar media campaign highlighting the ASPCA’s 2% budget to community pet shelters.
The ASPCA has criticized inhumane factory farming methods for many years, “calling for increased transparency in animal agriculture, an end to the cruelest factory farming practices.” If you care to learn more, you can watch their videos on the sensitive subject. Of course, nobody wants animals to be in unsanitary, inhumane conditions, be it a pet or any other animal. We don’t either and yes, this should definitely change. We can do better for all animals.
Vide by the ASPCA about factory farming:
Who is CEW?
CEW’s executive director is Jack Hubbard, who has argued that eating meat is not bad for the environment.
The group’s website notes that Hubbard is a “leader in the animal welfare and agriculture space, with over 15 years of experience providing advice and counsel to CEOs and senior executives on key industry issues.” He was previously “chief marketing officer and later chief operating officer at the country’s first national humane organization.” That’s American Humane, based in Washington, D.C. and founded in 1877.
On the American Humane website, they discuss their “certified producers” who follow American Humane Certified™ animal welfare standards. Labels from their certified facilities are applied to products in grocery stores.
Conservative news outlets such as Fox and the Washington Examiner have reported on CEW report, which they say pushes an “anti-farm” or “anti-meat agenda.”
So you see, there seems to be a lot of politics along with these reports. However, what we care about is getting help for millions of desperate animals and the rescuers who are doing all they can to save them. Are they worth more than 2% of the budget of millions? Yes, they sure are. That said, there are so many worthy local rescues to consider if you want to help, donate, volunteer, and adopt.
So, purrlease choose wisely and help animals in your local communities. And, hey, while we’re at it, why not support your small local farmers too?
Feature images via Pixabay and screenshot via YouTube