Posts Tagged ‘The Humane Society of the United States’

Animal politics – Will North Dakota make animal abuse a felony?

November 4, 2012 13 comments

Update: By an overwhelming majority of voters, North Dakotans chose not to make animal cruelty a felony. One can only hope they will not become the only state to think setting a cat on fire is only worth a misdemeanor, but as of right now they remain one of two states who do – the other is South Dakota.

Yes. Election politics is definitely in the air. It’s hard to miss it these days.

I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait until Wednesday when all the political ads will go silent for another two years. (At least I hope they do, otherwise, we will have entered a new level of hell.)

I think I am pretty well-versed on the political issues up for a vote in Minnesota on Tuesday, but recently I started to wonder what political issues might be pending that had to do with animals and animal welfare. Thanks to my friend Paul, I discovered there was one. In North Dakota.

Unlike Minnesota and Montana, neighboring states, North Dakota does not currently make animal abuse a felony. In fact, the most an animal abuser in North Dakota can be charged with is a misdemeanor, even in the most extreme cases.

This year, North Dakotans will have the opportunity to vote on Measure 5, which will make it a felony to maliciously and intentionally harm a dog, cat or horse. The question is, will they?

They currently regard all kinds of animal fighting, not just dog fighting, as a felony. Why not malicious and intentional animal abuse?

The answer may lie with state and national agribusiness groups. They are fighting like mad to make sure it doesn’t pass and it appears they may be succeeding:

About three weeks ago the Valley News Live Mason-Dixon poll found that 66% of people surveyed said yes to Measure 5. Which would make it a class c felony for extreme cases of animal cruelty. The most recent poll found a substantial drop, 44% supported the measure with 49% saying no.

So what are state and national agribusiness groups opposed to? Most likely, the involvement of the Humane Society of the United States. HSUS has poured a good amount of money into this fight, and for many North Dakotans, this rankles their fiercely independent nature.

But is there more to be concerned about?

Opponents of the bill list these two items as problematic:

  • The language doesn’t cover the type of neglect or abuse most commonly seen in North Dakota – everyday abuse, neglect, and abandonment (Although, it appears they are covered by other state laws.)
  • It doesn’t cover all animals, just cats, dogs, and horses (The bill was specifically designed to exclude hunting, trapping, fishing, agriculture, animal research, and protecting personal property or safety – something I would think most North Dakotans would approve.)

I assume that most abused animals are dogs, cats and horses, but maybe the opponents feel other animals should be included? Farm animals? Wild animals? It seems kind of odd that the special interest groups excluded from the measure (hunters, trappers, fishermen and farmers) would argue the bill is too limited and should include other animals, but what do I know? Maybe that really is what they want. Huh. Who’d have thunk it?

One thing I know for certain, there are a great number of strong proponents and opponents on both sides of this issue. The list of those opposed to the measure includes – Ag, Cattle, Deer and Elk Coalitions, farm groups, and veterinarians. The list of those who support Measure 5  includes many animal welfare and rescue groups, veterinarians and law enforcement officials.

So will Measure 5 pass on Tuesday? Will North Dakota voters support making an animal abuse a felony? I don’t know, but we will certainly know by Wednesday, November 7th.


Is the Humane Society of the United States evil? Or, does just want you to think they are? Part Two.

April 18, 2011 35 comments

Yesterday’s post: What is

This post is the second in a two-part series looking at and it’s campaign against the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). Many animal lovers and animal advocates have heard stories about HSUS – where they spend their money, how they misrepresent themselves to the public, how they spend their money, etc. – but not many people know about and it’s campaign to discredit HSUS. This series aims to educate people on this organization and their purpose.

Delving into the animal welfare world has been an education to say the least. Perhaps the most educational for me has been the amount of information and number of opinions one can find on a wide variety of animal-related issues – kill vs. no kill shelters, vegan vs. meat, puppy mills and pet stores, dominance dog training vs. positive reinforcement, and love vs. hate the Humane Society of the United States. But what happens when what you think is true is really a lie? Or, when the information you seek is actually distorted in such a way as to mislead someone or to support a more hidden agenda? As I shared in yesterday’s post is an organization focused on “Keeping an eye” on HSUS. But, who is behind Humane Read on to learn more more.

WHO is behind

For those who already know about, Rick Berman is a familiar name. In some circles, he is known as Dr. Evil, in others, a powerful Washington lawyer and lobbyist (60 Minutes did a great piece on him if you want to learn more).

Mr. Berman is notorious for taking on unpopular causes and attacking them with a vengeance. He creates non-profit organizations with names like: Center for Consumer Freedom, the American Beverage Institute and the Employment Policies Institute which he then uses to pay his own company, Berman and Company, to fund campaigns focused on discrediting and attacking those organizations his clients deem most important to them. Some of the organizations he has gone after in the past are: Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) AND the Humane Society of the United States.

According to an article in USA Today (dated July 31, 2006), Mr Berman is “hired by businesses” to fight such efforts as “further restricting drinking and driving, mandating healthier foods and raising the minimum wage.” And, described Berman’s methods this way, “Berman’s signature method of operation is to discredit the messenger rather than address the message head on.” is sponsored by the first of the Rick Berman non-profit organizations I listed above, the Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF). (You should note that is only one among many websites/organizations sponsored by CCF.) The Center for Consumer Freedom is a non-profit lobbying group dedicated to “protecting consumer choices and promoting common sense.” It’s a pretty generalized mission statement, but it allows them to take on a wide variety of causes (i.e. attack a variety of causes), based what their donors want them to do. Against stricter laws for drinking and driving? Donate to CCF, they hire Berman and Company, and voila! Mother’s Against Drunk Drivers (MADD) is under attack. A pretty ingenious approach don’t you think?

Note: The spokesperson for the Center for Consumer Freedom is David Martosko, who according to SourceWatch is “Frequently cited as a scientific and economic expert,” and with an additional title like Director of Research for CCF you would think he has a lengthy background in these areas, again from SourceWatch – “Mr. Martosko received his graduate degree in opera from the Peabody Conservatory of Music at Johns Hopkins University in 1995.” An expert in scientific and economic matters for sure! You can read more about Mr. Martosko here.

I’ll just include a quote David Martosko taken from an interview with Drovers Cattle Network in February 23, 2010:

Q. Last week, CCF launched which got some positive notice among people in animal agriculture, especially among those involved in social networks like Twitter and Facebook. What was the impetus behind developing the web site? And would you also share the financing behind it?

A. Our faces are already on a lot of dart boards over at PETA. Remember But PETA’s more bizarre tactics make it easy to convince Americans that they’re a fringe group. HSUS is a different story.

Essentially, PETA’s role in the animal world today is to make HSUS look reasonable by comparison. HSUS is smarter, more patient, and better-dressed, except for those vinyl shoes. But their long-term goals are exactly the same as PETA’s. And since they have a much less confrontational and nutty style, proving that they’re closet radicals is a much more daunting task.

So, if the CCF sponsors, who is funding it (via CCF) and why?

According to Wkipedia, “acknowledged corporate donors to the CCF include Coca-Cola, Wendy’s, Tyson Foods, Monsanto, and Pilgrim’s Pride.” But, that’s not all. According to, agribusiness is also a large contributor to CCF and because HSUS “has had an ongoing campaign to achieve better living conditions for livestock, which, if it came to fruition, could cost agribusiness millions.” A pretty powerful motivator for one to want HSUS weakened or removed from the picture completely.

It’s hard to know exactly which food and agribusiness companies support the work of, since a non-profit is not required to disclose its donors, but one can find many companies listed on SourceWatch (under the CCF Contributions Table) that would likely benefit from just such a campaign against HSUS. Among them are: Monsanto, Tyson Foods, Pilgrim’s Pride Corp, Perdue Farms Inc., Standard Meat, National Steak and Poultry and many others. Are these’s donors? Only Rick Berman and his staff knows, but it certainly is possible.

HSUS’s campaign to improve the living conditions of farm animals is pretty well-known. In fact, it’s on their website. In the past, they have exposed farms and slaughter houses who have abused their livestock. Agribusiness definitely has a stake in this game. After all, what HSUS does could, and likely does, impact their profits, not to mention their bottom line. While your average small farmer or rancher understands the value of treating their livestock well, factory farms have to be concerned with the numbers (although I am sure they would say quality is of the utmost importance too).

“Factory farming is a term referring to the process of raising livestock in confinement at high stocking density, where a farm operates as a factory. Confinement at high stocking density is one part of a systematic effort to produce the highest output at the lowest cost by relying on economies of scale, modern machinery, biotechnology, and global trade.” So, if your output or cost (or both) are impacted by what HSUS is doing you just might want Rick Berman, CCF and to take them on.

The truth is that we don’t really know who funds and what they do, but what we can do is look at WHO and CCF is targeting and take a guess at who might be benefitting from their campaign. I’m guessing the majority of the money is not coming from your average small farmer, but someone who has much more to lose.

So, is the Humane Society of the United States evil? Only you can answer that, but in my opinion “evil” is something best left to be defined by the dictionary. What I do know is nothing is ever as it seems. Knowing who is saying what about whom, and who benefits from what is being said, is so much more important. Now more than ever.

Definition of EVIL
a : morally reprehensible : sinful, wicked
b : arising from actual or imputed bad character or conduct
a archaic : inferior
b : causing discomfort or repulsion : offensive
c : disagreeable
a : causing harm : pernicious

Is the Humane Society of the United States evil? Or, does just want you to think they are? Part One.

April 17, 2011 33 comments

This post is the first in a two-part series looking at 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 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 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 Who was this organization? Who was behind it? What was their purpose and why were they targeting HSUS?

The truth about 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 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 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 via the news, the internet and other media outlets.

If there is one thing 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 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 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’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’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 says) really misrepresenting what it does and where its money goes? Or, is 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 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