The ASPCA should be ashamed of themselves when it comes to the welfare of animals. Although some of their programs do good in the community, these are usually efforts taken on by their local brances, not the main corporate ASPCA. When you donate to the ASPCA from the “hot line” number on their commercials featuring Sarah McLaughlin that show pitiful cases of animal abuse and neglect sure to jerk many tears from your eyes, this money is spent primarily on their corporate offices and very little is seen by ASPCA local branches. All local branches must do their own fundraising for the lions share of their operating budget. Yet, corporate ASPCA pledged a whopping $5.2 million to open NEW spay/neuter clinics across the country, instead of supporting those already under the ASPCA.

Yeah, we fell for the sad commercial too. Now we are diverting the monthly “membership” from the ASPCA to MEOW CAT RESCUE, an organization in Washington State that helps cats (and dogs through their dog division) find homes. They often take on animals who have extra issues like FeLV, amputations or CH. They are solely funded by donations and receive no grant money.

Here are some disturbing facts about the ASPCA Pet Poison Control Center and their Professional Services department, particularly to their conflict of interest with reporting correctly to the EPA the cases of pet poisoning and adverse reactions to flea and tick products.

  1. The ASPCA Toxicology Pet Poison Control Center is one of the largest in the nation. They charge a hefty $65 for their services. Despite other similar agencies, like the Humane Society, stating that over-the-counter flea & tick products are harmful, the ASPCA maintains that although their call volume has increased tremendously, their reports of adverse incidences have not increased. The ASPCA official blame goes, again, to pet owners for misusing the products such as titrating doses from large animals to smaller ones or applying dog products to cats. Manufacturers (known as stakeholders or registrants in EPA lingo) and the PPCC also seem to feel the majority of pet owners cannot follow label directions. According the EPA’s recent findings, “user error” accounts only for 12% of incidences of adverse reactions based on 2008 figures. However, the ASPCA’s last Press Release on this subject from March 2010 shows support for the mitigation plan of spot-on products designed by the EPA with manufacturers. The plan focuses on re-labeling efforts, again because they hold that owners have mis-applied the product, though the numbers don’t add up to the empirical data of the study. Re-labeling efforts have not worked in the past and don’t make the product any safer. As a side note, manufacturers sigh a huge sigh of relief. They want the EPA to chase tail for years on re-labeling efforts instead of pulling or restricting the use of these products on market.
  2. Dr. Steven Hansen, who was the VP of the ASPCA’s Poison Control Center, and promoted to Senior Vice President of Animal Health Services, a division “dedicated to providing pet health and wellness information to pet owners”, came to the ASPCA from Wellmark. Wellmark owns many companies that make over-the-counter flea & tick products that have a high incidence of adverse reactions, such as the brand Zodiac. He was was the Director of Veterinary Research and Support for Bensenville, IL-based Wellmark International (Sandoz Agro Animal Health Division). – That should be interpreted as instrumental in getting and keeping bad flea & tick products into the open market.
  3. Dr. Steve Hansen also received the Vet of the Year award twice, lastly in 2007, sponsored by none other than Hartz.
  4. And why shouldn’t Dr. Steve Hansen receive an award sponsored by Hartz when he worked a sweetheart deal with the company. All calls that come into the PPCC regarding Hartz products go directly to Hartz and the $65 dollar fee is waived. Hartz, in return, gets to skew it’s reporting information by filtering all complaints first. No other company had such a deal with the ASPCA PPCC at the time.
  5. Dr. Steven Hansen was promoted to ASPCA’s COO on July 21, 2010. I see many more dubious brokered deals in their future.
  6. Dr. Steven Hansen brokered a sponsorship deal with IAMS for the ASPCA. In return, he “reviewed” the care of the animals in one facility in the face of an outcry of foul and inhumane treatment of test animals. IAMS is well known for it’s horrific experimentation practices, despite there being other models available to gather information. One example is an experiment to see how much sawdust an animal could take in before dying. You make PET FOOD.
  7. He is not the only conflict of interest story at the ASPCA. Dr. Jill A. Richardson also worked for the ASPCA PPCC while working for Hartz Mountain Corporation. Dr. Jill Richardson was the Associate Director, Consumer Relations & Technical Services of Hartz while apparently also working for the Pet Poison Control Center. As such, when a consumer complained about a Hartz product, it was part of her job to sent them a very standard letter letting them know that a Hartz product, for a variety of reasons she could insert into the empty space, could not have been responsible for the adverse reaction.
  8. In addition, to make sure Hartz had the monopoly on special treatment from the PPCC, they gave an incentive to NOT include other flea & tick manufacturers in their sweetheart deal. The ASPCA accepted a large volume of in-kind donations and corporate sponsorship from Hartz Mountain. Yet the ASPCA fails to disclose all their corporate sponsors on their website as most charitable organization of any size do. They also fail to disclose that their major food sponsor is IAMS.
  9. The ASPCA recently started a new partnership with WalMart to sell ASPCA licensed carriers and pet products in their stores. WalMart is a major player in selling and promoting flea & tick products with the highest incidences of adverse reactions. The flea spray that caused Timmy’s neurological harm was “only $2 at WalMart”. The flea powder that kill Oliver was also purchased at WalMart. WalMart also sells “packages” for a bulk price of flea & tick products to promote over use of these harmful chemicals. These packages may contain a collar, spray, fogger and lawn treatments all for one price. One of the largest arguments a manufacturer makes is that if other treatments are used, it could be a contributing factor to adverse reactions due what is known as Body of Burden – or the amount of toxins built up in the body from all sources. Many of these products state clearly NOT to use them in conjunction with other treatments. All the “bulk packaged” products are made and marketed by Hartz.
  10. According the ASPCA financial statement for 2008 their mission statement is “to provide effective means for the prevention of cruelty to animals throughout the United States.” They spent over $74 million on their different programs, including the largest amount to communications of $23.1 million. Anti-cruelty programs came in second to last of spending at $8 million. Apparently they launched 5,227 animal cruelty investigations and only made 78 arrests relating to animal cruelty. Meanwhile, in 2007, Edwin J. Sayres, the President of the ASPCA earned $490,315. If you only take the excess of his salary over $400,000 and applied it to spay/neuter programs and rescues at $50 allocated for spay/neuter and vaccines, that would help 1,806 animals. The ASPCA brought in a totalĀ  of $105.2 million in income. I am curious as to where the other $31.1 million went to? They claim 2% or $1.7 million goes to administrative expenses and that they had 525 paid employees. Apparently in 2008, they also state they “joint costs” for fundraising of $28 million, with only $25,706 going to administrative costs and they received nearly $1.8 million in in-kind donations, including media resources and another $25,000 in pet food (There’s IAMs again!).

Do not be fooled. If you think your donation to the corporate ASPCA seen on TV and in print ads is going to help stop animal cruelty, you are wrong. Only a small portion does. If you think you are helping your local ASPCA with your donation to the larger ASPCA, only a tiny portion goes to help them. Never think that a non-profit status means NO PROFIT. Your donation would be better served with a small local rescue who depend on donations for operating costs, or your local branch of the Humane Society.

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