Is the Humane Society of the United States evil? Or, does HumaneWatch.org just want you to think they are? Part One.
This post is the first in a two-part series looking at HumaneWatch.org and it’s campaign against the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). Many animal lovers and animal advocates have heard stories about HSUS – how they spend their money, how they misrepresent themselves to the public, where the money they raise goes, etc. – but not many people know about HumaneWatch.org and it’s campaign to discredit HSUS. This series aims to educate people on this organization and their purpose.
A couple of years ago, I came across a friend’s Facebook post showing that they had “Liked” a group called HumaneWatch.org. I briefly checked out their Facebook page and discovered that they were a non-profit group dedicated to “Keeping a watchful eye on the Humane Society of the United States” (HSUS). At the time, I had been hearing a lot of negative things about HSUS – they had deceived people into thinking their money was going to shelters when it was actually going back to HSUS, they spent a majority of their money promoting themselves and raising more money for their PR campaign, etc. – so I decided to “Like” Humane Watch too. After all, they were focused on exposing HSUS and their lies, how bad could they be? This group obviously cared about animals right? Heck, they had animals in their logo.
It was only later, after I began to hear little news stories here and there, that I became concerned about HumaneWatch.org. Who was this organization? Who was behind it? What was their purpose and why were they targeting HSUS?
The truth about HumaneWatch.org is much more insidious and political than you could imagine. It takes a little explaining, but I believe that my animal-loving friends would want to know more about this group, their TRUE agenda and why knowing WHO you support is so important these days. More than ever before.
WHAT is HumaneWatch.org?
HumaneWatch.org is a non-profit group solely focused on discrediting (and likely destroying) the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). They attack HSUS using HSUS’s own data, but the way they use it is selective – designed to to distort, obfuscate and confuse people, in hopes of reducing HSUS’ power in animal welfare circles and destroy its base of supporters. Don’t get me wrong, there are many things about HSUS that I don’t like (don’t get me started on their support of Michael Vick), but learning about HumaneWatch.org has led me to believe that perhaps most of what I knew about HSUS was not based on true facts, but on the obfuscation facts provided by HumaneWatch.org via the news, the internet and other media outlets.
If there is one thing HumaneWatch.org has done extremely well it is in taking one piece of data and promoting it over and over again in order to distort what HSUS really does. For example, one of the leading statements promoted by HumaneWatch.org is this: “HSUS devoted less than one-half of one percent of its budget to directly funding hands-on pet shelters.”. True. HSUS doesn’t spend a whole heck of a lot on “hands-on” pet shelters, however they do spend money on five animal care centers they run in Texas, Florida, California, Oregon and Massachusetts. Humane Watch shares this information, but look where they put it (in bold): “So only four-fifths of one percent (0.80%) of the money HSUS collected in 2009—much of it in response to TV ads that begged for money to “save” dogs and cats—actually went to the community-based organizations doing that work. (HSUS runs a handful of “animal care centers,” but no dog or cat shelters and no pet adoption programs.)”
And let’s take a look at those TV ads that HumaneWatch.org says “begged for money to ‘save’ dogs and cats.” Here’s one from one year ago. Or this one from two years ago. Yup. They do talk about saving dogs and cats, but is HumaneWatch.org’s definition of saving dogs and cats the same as how HSUS defines it in their commercials? Or, is it possible that they are purposely confusing people so they think that HSUS’s ads are the same ones put put by the ASPCA and the SPSCA. If so, it would make sense for us to be outraged wouldn’t it?
Another one of HumaneWatch.org’s purported HSUS goals is to make everyone become a vegan. Really? In an interview with Drovers Cattle Network, Wayne Pacelle said “It is my core belief that Americans are going to continue to eat meat, milk and egg products. That is the way it is. These are long-standing cultural practices.” and “Our board of directors is a national volunteer board of directors. Very few of them are vegetarian. I have been since I’ve been a teenager. Whatever I do in my personal life does not necessarily reflect the policies of HSUS and we support certified humane programs, we support other farmers, we work with farmers, we think farming is a noble profession.” Does HSUS support a vegan lifestyle? My guess is they would say yes to that, but it doesn’t appear they have an agenda to make everyone a vegan.
So if HSUS does not support local animal shelters and they don’t have an agenda to make everyone become a vegan, what is their true purpose?
According to Wayne Pacelle, HSUS was “…founded in 1954 specifically to tackle the national problems facing animals, such as puppy mills, inhumane slaughter, animal fighting, and animal trafficking, through education, public policy, investigation, and other conventional means suited to a civil society. Local animal shelters are consumed with the responsibilities of animal care and control in their communities, and they don’t have the reach or the resources to tackle a national dogfighting ring or pet theft ring or examine the practices at research labs or slaughter plants, so that has been the purpose of HSUS for more than 50 years.” (Drover’s Cattle Network, March 5, 2010)
I don’t see “supporting local animal shelters by giving them grants or direct funding” in there do you? Is that something they should be doing? Probably. But is HSUS (as HumaneWatch.org says) really misrepresenting what it does and where its money goes? Or, is HumaneWatch.org deliberately distorting what HSUS does (based on their charter) with what they want you to believe they should be doing? I leave that for you to decide, but it certainly is worthy of exploring.
I’m not here to defend HSUS, but when one looks at the distorted facts so prevalently promoted by HumaneWatch.org on their website (and the many others they have created), one has to wonder… What is the truth?
On Tuesday, we’ll explore: Who is behind HumaneWatch.org.