Donors to animal rights organizations like the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) need to think hard about how their charitable dollars can best be spent to improve the welfare of animals. Recent events suggest that local animal welfare shelters might put those dollars to better use for animals than does the HSUS and their cohorts. Driven by the fanatical certainty of their ideology, HSUS and others risked ethical misconduct and wound up losing millions of dollars in a frivolous and groundless lawsuit.
HSUS vs. Circus
A lawsuit brought in 2000 by HSUS and other animal rights organizations against Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus turned out to be so tainted that twenty-five million dollars have been paid by the plaintiffs to the circus owners in settlements. In 2012 the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) paid $9.3 million in a settlement for its part in the false claims made. As the lawsuit fell apart, other animal rights groups abandoned the action.
In May of this year, HSUS and others paid another $15.7 million in settlement fees as part of the same failed lawsuit, bluntly described by Judge Emmet G. Sullivan of the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia as “groundless and unreasonable from its inception.”