British tabloids call him the 'Fat Cat.' The Humane Society just hired him to be the new boss

The Humane Society for Tacoma and Pierce County announced Wednesday it had hired Stuart Earley, who once led the Scottish Society for the Protection of Animals.
The Humane Society for Tacoma and Pierce County announced Wednesday it had hired Stuart Earley, who once led the Scottish Society for the Protection of Animals. Courtesy

A Scottish animal welfare leader will take the helm of the Humane Society for Tacoma and Pierce County on Monday.

A Humane Society email announcing the hire called Stuart Earley “an exceptionally talented and renowned animal welfare leader.”

The British tabloids have called him a "Fat Cat" who was at the center of a scandal over his six-figure salary and 88-acre estate.

The Humane Society did not respond to a request for comment on the hire. Its announcement cited Earley's experience in raising money for Scotland’s largest animal welfare charity, the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, where he led 360 staff members and oversaw 14 shelters, with a fleet of more than 140 animal ambulances.

He also once led what is now known as the Zoological Society of London’s Whipsnade Zoo and led it out of a 25-year history of financial loss, according to the Humane Society email.

“He has a shining record of advancing animal welfare, which has been documented by major international and established trade media such as BBC News, The Herald, The Independent and more,” the Humane Society's email stated.

According to multiple reports in the British press, Earley resigned from the Scottish SPCA amid the scandal over his high compensation package. He was paid, in today’s U.S. dollars, about $289,000 — more than British Prime Minister Theresa May, who earns the equivalent of more than $200,000 American dollars.

The British Broadcasting Corporation said Earley was thought to be the highest-paid charity leader in Scotland.

Last year, he sold his seven-bedroom home on 88 acres with stables for up to 17 horses in Clackmannanshire, a county in the Central Lowlands of Scotland, according to the Scottish Sun.

In 2015, Earley charged the Scottish SPCA more than $16,000 to care for seven neglected horses brought to his private stables. The Herald of Scotland reported he said the cost included a 44 percent discount from what he normally charges for animals’ care at his ranch.

The Daily Record reported some horses otherwise would have been euthanized.

The nonprofit's board was aware of the deal, which cost $16 per day per horse.

After his resignation from the Scottish SPCA, Earley sued for discrimination and unfair dismissal. According to The Herald, the suit was dropped in 2017 before it went before a tribunal, the equivalent of an American court. The report says the Scottish SPCA did not pay a settlement.

In 2004, Earley resigned his position of managing director at Scotland’s national aquarium, called Deep Sea World. The Scotsman reported he had been in the job for two years and did not cite a reason for his departure.

A news release sent late Wednesday said Earley will earn $175,000 per year, plus benefits.

Its former director, Kathleen Olson, earned $134,827 in wages and other compensation, according to the organization's tax filings. The contract for K.C. Gauldine, the society's interim director for the last year, is $176,800.

Of Earley's hiring, the Humane Society said, “this moment of opportunity in The Humane Society’s history requires an inspirational leader with an exceptional combination of qualities.”

“We are determined to become a national leader in the Animal Welfare movement serving as a catalyst for leadership and innovation. Great Britain is a leader in the field of animal shelters, and we want to take advantage of these standards of practice to build a world class organization.”

Kate Martin: kmartin@thenewstribune.com, @KateReports 253-597-8542