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Animals : Animal Rights, Welfare, and Services

The Humane Society of the United States

Fight for all animals

two stars


1255 23rd Street, NW, Suite 450 Washington, DC 20037
tel: (202) 452-1100   Web Site
EIN: 53-0225390

Board Leadership
Susan Atherton & Thomas Sabatino, Jr.
Chair of the Board

Kitty Block
President & CEO

Ratings History

Form 990 FYE Date Published Overall Score Overall Rating
CN 2.1
2018-12 02/01/2020 74.99 two stars
2017-12 12/01/2018 75.49 two stars
2016-12 02/01/2018 78.18 two stars
2015-12 02/01/2017 85.40 three stars
2014-12 06/01/2016 85.09 three stars
CN 2.0
2014-12 12/22/2015 87.00 three stars
2013-12 07/01/2015 86.43 three stars
2012-12 06/10/2014 --Donor Advisory

Prior to 9/1/2016, Charity Navigator issued Advisories under the name CN Watchlist and Donor Advisory. For more information on the CN Advisory system click here. This charity was issued a DA.

This donor advisory was published on Tuesday, June 10, 2014

In accordance with our policy for removing Donor Advisories, Charity Navigator removed the Donor Advisory for HSUS on July 1, 2015 because the Donor Advisory had been in place for more than a year and because the issues that prompted the Donor Advisory have been resolved. Specifically, the charity provided confirmation of the settlement between it and Feld Entertainment, Inc. For further information, please see the supplemental materials below:

Charity Navigator had published a Donor Advisory on HSUS because we became aware of the following information in connection with this charity:

  • On May 15, 2014, Feld Entertainment ended its long running legal dispute with the Humane Society of the United States, the Animal Welfare Institute, the Fund for Animals and other non-profit animal rights groups who had accused the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus of abusing its world famous elephants, in violation of the Endangered Species Act ("ESA"). 
  • The Fund for Animals and the Humane Society the United States, which merged in 2005 but operate separately, issued this statement in which they said: "Although The HSUS was never a plaintiff in the case against Ringling, we believe it was prudent for the parties to settle, because this court would never address the core claims of elephant abuse, and there would be significant cost to continuing to litigate.  We expect that a substantial portion, if not all, of the settlement costs to The HSUS and The Fund for Animals will be covered by insurance, and in the end, that no donor dollars from The HSUS will go to Feld."
  • As described in this February 20, 2014 decision: "The plaintiffs in the ESA action premised their case on the testimony of the late Tom Rider, who testified that he observed the mistreatment of the elephants when he worked for the circus.  [The judge], however found that Rider was not credible and that he was essentially a paid plaintiff witness whose sole source of income throughout the litigation was provided by the animal advocacy organizations, which were his co-plaintiffs in the ESA action. [The judge] therefore concluded that Rider lacked standing and entered judgment for Feld, the defendant."  Feld then sued the plaintiffs in the ESA case as well as their attorneys, arguing that the ESA plaintiffs' payments to Rider during the litigation violated the RICO Act.  After Feld's RICO case survived a motion to dismiss, and the animal rights groups were ordered to disclose the names of certain donors in discovery, the defendants agreed to pay Feld $15.75 million to settle Feld's claim for attorneys fees in the ESA case and the pending claims in the RICO action.  Media coverage of the $15.75 million settlement, in which none of the parties admitted liability, can be found here, here and here and Feld's statement on the settlement is available here.
  • On July 7, 2014, the Washington Examiner reported that on May 15, 2014 "when the [voluntary] settlement…' between Feld Entertainment and several non-profit animal rights groups "…was announced, officials at the Humane Society of the U.S. and the Fund for Animals, which were responsible for paying the $15.7 million, defiantly claimed their insurance companies, not their donors, would pay the money to Feld." The article goes on to note that "what the animal rights groups failed to disclose to the public was that they'd been told four years before that their insurance companies would not provide coverage." The article also states that "today, the groups are suing their insurers." In response, " Wayne Pacelle, the Humane Society's president and CEO, shrugged off the insurance companies' refusal to cover the settlement, saying in an interview, 'denial of coverage is a standard posture within the industry.' Pacelle… said they have a 'commitment' from one carrier 'to cover the bulk of what our responsibility is.' He said he hopes there can be settlements with the other two insurance carriers." For more information, please see The Washington Examiner article.
  • On March 5, 2015, NPR reported that "the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus will begin phasing out one of its most enduring acts. By 2018, elephants will no longer perform under its big tents. The announcement today stunned animal welfare groups, which, for years, fought legal battles over the circus's treatment of animals." For more information, please see NPR's coverage of the story.  
2012-12 05/01/2014 81.72 three stars
2011-12 03/01/2014 84.76 three stars
2011-12 07/01/2013 92.86 four stars
2010-12 02/01/2012 90.73 four stars
2009-12 09/20/2011 86.70 three stars
CN 1.0
2009-12 04/01/2011 83.28 three stars
2008-12 04/01/2010 81.57 three stars
2007-12 06/01/2009 92.61 four stars
2006-12 07/01/2008 93.07 four stars
2005-12 02/01/2007 92.90 four stars
2004-12 01/01/2006 92.61 four stars
2003-12 01/05/2005 82.24 three stars

Charity Contact Info

The Humane Society of the United States
1255 23rd Street, NW, Suite 450
Washington, DC 20037
tel: (202) 452-1100
fax: (301) 548-7700
EIN: 53-0225390

Visit Web Site

Board Leadership

Susan Atherton & Thomas Sabatino, Jr.
Chair of the Board


Kitty Block
President & CEO

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