Humane Society Organizations
An important fact for readers of DogsBite.org is that there is no connection between local humane societies and the national organization, The Humane Society of the United States. The HSUS is the largest animal advocacy organization in the United States and was founded in 1954. The organization also works with the Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearm section of the Department of Justice to find and arrest dogfighters.
There is no national organization formally setting policy for local humane societies. There are over one thousand local humane societies all of which are separately incorporated with their own boards, policies, programs, and funding sources.
Because there is no national oversight of humane groups, the ethics and accountability to the public rely on the press or other news sources. Victims of dangerous dogs are now demanding that local humane organizations private or taxpayer funded be honest with the type of breed responsible for a mauling or death. This accountability to the public precedes any protection for a breed. Public safety also demands the right to know the true breed mix in pet adoption along with the genetic traits for which that dog was created.
"SPCA" is a generic term applied to any organization incorporated as a Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. An SPCA is technically not the same as a humane society, although in practice they closely overlap. To contrast the two types of agencies, an SPCA was originally an organization specifically formed to obtain constabulary law enforcement authority, and there was only one SPCA allowed per jurisdiction. The size of the eligible jurisdiction varied by state.
The American SPCA is an individual organization (ASPCA) and the oldest animal advocacy group in the United States. It has constabulary authority to enforce cruelty laws within New York state, has the primary responsibility for enforcing cruelty laws in New York City, operates a shelter and adoption program in NYC, and has branch offices in other parts of the U.S. that work on issues including state legislation and disaster relief.
The ASPCA opposes all forms for breed-specific law; they support "rehabilitating" dogs seized from fighting operations; they heavily promote pit bull adoption and they fail to tell the public the truth about the genetic traits of the pit bull breed.
There are approximately 1,023 humane societies and 641 SPCAs in the United States, all of which are separately incorporated, with their own boards, policies, programs, and funding sources. Once again, there is NO national organization formally representing or setting policy for either humane societies or SPCAs. Before you make a donation to your "local" humane or SPCA group, we recommend that you ask about their stance on breed-specific laws. Some groups do support pit bull regulations, most, however, do not, even though pit bulls injure and kill many pets.
07/21/08: ASPCA Perpetuates Myth that Pit Bulls Were Once a Popular Family Dog
06/02/08: ASPCA Pushing Pit Bull Adoption: Adopt-A-Bull Contest