Are You Feeding The Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing

Posted on 04/08/2009


a wolf in sheep’s clothing

“The life of an ant and that of my child should be granted equal consideration.” — Michael Fox, former Humane Society of the United States vice president

I find it hard to believe many of us agree with that kind of extreme thinking, but if you are a donor to the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), you are buying into it. Literally.

Well-intentioned folks who send five or ten bucks to HSUS to protect animals in their local community are being hoodwinked. HSUS acknowledges, albeit quietly, that it is “not affiliated with, nor a parent organization of local humane societies.” So be very clear about this: A donation to HSUS does not support the volunteers and staff who are sheltering and protecting animals in your community. It supports HSUS’ Washington/Hollywood fund-raising machine. HSUS’ 2006 tax return shows annual income of more than $100 million and assets in excess of $225 million. Some of that windfall comes from average citizens who are tricked into giving by images of sad-eyed puppies. Ironically, another way HSUS brings in money is by charging local nonprofit groups for advice on how to run animal shelters.

So if all that cash isn’t being used for local humane efforts, where’s it going? Mr. Fox gives us a pretty clear indication. The HSUS agenda is to convince the world that animals have the same rights as humans. They want no pet ownership, no circus acts, no biomedical research. And no meat, milk or eggs. HSUS Grassroots Coordinator J.P. Goodwin proclaimed, “My goal is the abolition of all animal agriculture.” HSUS President Wayne Pacelle has enforced a “no animal products” policy in the office; he’s hired lawyers and activists from multiple anti-animal agriculture groups including one staffer who said “nothing is more important than promoting veganism.” Mr. Pacelle is certainly ambitious; his stated political goal is to build “a National Rifle Association of the animal rights movement.” Clearly, I couldn’t disagree more with the HSUS agenda. But neither would I argue against their right to believe as they choose. My complaint is with how their beliefs are marketed. Donors are sold a pretty package that says “help animals,” but under that wrapping is a product that few expect, and even fewer would ever buy.

Kathie Gray agrees. As president of the Wayne County Humane Society in northeast Ohio, she said it’s best to look at HSUS and other national organizations with a “skeptical eye.” Said Gray, “If I send $10 to HSUS, it may go into a political arena I don’t agree with.” Conversely, money given locally is “very visible; we have to account to this community.” Gray and the rest of the Wayne County Humane Society are so disenchanted that they have removed links from their Web site to many national groups who have been “infiltrated by HSUS.” Comparing HSUS to her agency, she added, “They send out glossy brochures. We take care of companion animals.” It’s my sense that as pet owners, livestock farmers or zoo visitors, we pretty well agree on our responsibility to provide for an animal’s best welfare. But assigning rights to animals — considering them somehow equal to humans — is a concept few of us accept. Recognize there are enormous differences between animal welfare groups and animal rights activists. Support the welfare work done by your local humane society. And think twice before mailing a check to HSUS.

John C. (Jack) Fisher, Ohio Farm Bureau Federation executive vice president