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The Truth about the Center for Consumer Freedom

The Truth about the Center for Consumer Freedom

The Truth about the Center for Consumer Freedom

For the past year, the so-called Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF) has been waging a brand-attack campaign against The HSUS. As a result of the success of HSUS farm animal, puppy mill and other industry reform efforts, we've received opposition from the groups who represent those industries. Some sheltering organizations have received inquiries from donors, reporters, and others who wrongly assume our organizations are one and the same. Some of these calls are orchestrated by the hired guns at CCF and their allies—often representatives of industries that profit from animal suffering—while others come from well-meaning donors and supporters who have heard these misleading claims and want clarification.

  Learn about the Center for Consumer Freedom.
  Testimonials from Friends in the Field—Read about how The HSUS works with local shelters and communities to help animals.
  Learn more about the organizations that campaign against The HSUS's mission to end cruelty to animals.
  Read more about the work of HSUS in our 2009 Annual Report.

We focus the vast majority of our time and resources on advancing our programs to help animals, but from time to time we also must respond to attacks from those who seek to harm animal welfare, and we must set the record straight.

What is The Center for Consumer Freedom?

Founded by multimillionaire Washington lobbyist Richard Berman and his firm Berman & Co., The Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF) is an industry front for tobacco, alcohol, and agribusiness interests. CCF is not a consumer protection organization, but just the opposite. CCF was started with a grant from tobacco companies to attack anti-smoking organizations. With support from the restaurant and alcohol industry, it has attacked common-sense social policies offered by Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Other targets of the group have been the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, and now, The HSUS. CCF has been exposed and condemned by numerous objective sources; CBS News, MSNBC, USA Today, The Washington Post, Harper's Magazine, The New York Times, and The Chronicle of Philanthropy are among those who have exposed this front group.

Groups like CCF represent industries such as factory farming, Canada's seal hunt, cockfighting, trophy hunting, puppy mills and others that want to pursue profit without the spotlight that The HSUS shines on their cruel conduct. CCF and Humanewatch are two of the 30 or so shadowy non-profit organizations or web-based campaigns founded by or associated with multimillionaire Richard Berman.

Why They Attack The HSUS

The CCF attacks HSUS because we are the most effective national animal protection organization and we're making change for animals on a large scale in industries that have until very recently been able to treat animals as poorly as they wish without fear of ever being held accountable.

The people who founded The HSUS in 1954—most of them associated with local animal protection groups—did so because they recognized the urgent need for an organization to focus on large-scale national cruelties. Since that founding, we have been clear about our mission: tackling the abuses and issues that are beyond the reach of local humane societies. We have been faithful to that mission ever since. That's why we have major campaigns to combat animal cruelty, organized animal fighting networks, Canada's killing of baby seals, inhumane factory farming practices, the trade in wildlife, and large-scale puppy mills.

Our Commitment to Shelters and Rescues

The HSUS celebrates the life-saving work of local animal shelters and rescues and works hard every day to provide resources and information to help you in their work to save pets. We encourage our constituents to also support their local animal shelters, and recent surveys of our members show that they give to an average of 12 charities per year, about 5 of which are animal-related charities. In other words, they are supporting both national and local efforts that work on all fronts to combat animal cruelty and abuse.

The HSUS runs a number of campaigns aimed at preventing animals from ending up in shelters to begin with, focusing our resources on getting at the source of the problem while shelters and rescues are doing the important work of caring for the victims and finding them new homes. With some groups working on the source, and other groups caring for current victims, we will all see an end to the problem of pet overpopulation in the U.S., and we will succeed because we worked together.

We hope that as shelter directors, rescuers, volunteers, humane officers, and other life-saving animal advocates, you already take advantage of our many programs and services. For those less familiar with those, here are some of the wide variety of programs and services The HSUS runs to assist you in your work:

  • Animal Sheltering magazine and are devoted exclusively to the news and issues that matter most to you, your staff, and volunteers. Our magazine gathers expertise and advice from shelter leaders around the country—and around the world. Its companion website,, provides an extensive resource library, including back issues of the magazine.
  • Spay/neuter research and education campaigns to proactively address overpopulation and increase spay/neuter rates among pet owners. Our advertising materials, developed from in-depth research with owners of unaltered pets, are available to you at no cost.
  • Shelter Services program, which provides affordable, in-depth shelter evaluations. We also offer general guidelines and recommendations on shelter standards, operations, and animal care.
  • Humane Society University offers a wealth of educational opportunities online and in the classroom.
  • Publications on a variety of topics ranging from coalition building, fundraising, volunteer management, animal behavior issues, and more. You will find books, brochures, fliers, and multimedia tools to help you improve your work for animals in the shelter and in your community.
  • Shelter Partners is a cooperative buying service to provide your shelter discounts on a variety of products and services.
  • Spay Day, our worldwide campaign to increase awareness about spay/neuter, raises hundreds of thousands of dollars for local spay/neuter programs.
  • The Shelter Pet Project, launched by The HSUS, Maddie's Fund, and the Ad Council, in partnership with animal shelters and rescues across the country is a nationwide public service advertising campaign to boost pet adoption and save millions of lives.

From its earliest days, The HSUS has attacked the root causes and problems, not just the symptoms. While vital to our mission, rescuing individual animals is not enough. Our most important goal is to prevent cruelty to animals and to stop animals from getting into a situation of distress in the first place. Sometimes that requires lobbying, and we do that work with great efficiency, as do many charities. Our lobbying expenditures amount to less than five percent of total annual expenditures.

Ending pet homelessness and animal cruelty takes a multi-prong approach and The HSUS will be there every step of the way—as we have been for more than 50 years—to work hand-in-hand with our colleagues in shelters and rescues across the country.


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