Defending the Freedom to Own Pets

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The Future of Dogs in an Animal Rights America

by Walt Hutchens

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Introducing HSUS

HSUS is the 'Humane Society of the United States.' It is supported mainly by small donations from millions of Americans because it has been almost 100% successful at selling itself as 'for the animals.'

However, it's more accurately thought of as a business that provides the animal rights movement with the service of squeezing rights to use animals, than as an organization that helps animals.

HSUS is not connected with any animal shelters or direct animal welfare activities. Of top 12 HSUS Animal Stories of 2005 (grey wolves, abused tigers, pet cloning, Internet hunting, dove hunts, animal fighting, seal hunts, laying hens, trophy hunting, the HSUS-Fund For Animals merger, Katrina relief and horse slaughter), only hurricane relief had to do with helping Fido or Fluffy as promoted in their materials.

HSUS is devoted to making animal use (including pet ownership) steadily more difficult and expensive. Its main actions divide into: (a) Promoting laws to restrict use/ownership, (b) propaganda in support of such laws, and (c) fundraising/self-promotional actions. You will look in vain for an HSUS action that makes animal use or pet ownership easier, more common, more fun, or more successful.

You will look in vain for an HSUS action that makes animal use or pet ownership easier, more common, more fun, or more successful.


Specific campaigns include anti-hunting, anti-meat farming and meat eating (the organization's headquarters forbids animal products), anti-pet breeding (it was the chief promoter of the so-called 'Pet Animal Welfare Statute' or PAWS), anti-circus/rodeo, and anti-animal use medical and other research.

HSUS has a net worth of over $200 million and (since the recent mergers with the Fund For Animals and the Doris Day Animal League) an annual budget approaching $80 million. Its money goes to fund many sorts of anti-animal use campaigns, to excellent executive salaries, and to very high (~53% of gross) fundraising expenses.

HSUS is in the process of expanding its litigation capabilities. In 2005 it announced a new "Animal Protection Litigation Section," dedicated to "the process of researching, preparing, and prosecuting animal protection lawsuits in state and federal court." During 2006, there has been a steady replacement of ‘helping animals' statements on the web sites and in publications with ‘protecting animals,' as the organization continues to shift toward passing and enforcing laws.

HSUS has legal control over dozens of other corporations. It has effective control over state level affiliates in about half the states which it uses to carry out no-fingerprints lobbying on state measures: aside from PAWS these state groups are the main route for anti-breeding laws. It has affiliates of one sort or another in many foreign countries. A few quotes:

When he became president of HSUS (2004) Wayne Pacelle described some of his goals for The Washington Post: "We will see the end of wild animals in circus acts … [and we're] phasing out animals used in research. Hunting? I think you will see a steady decline in numbers."

"We are going to use the ballot box and the democratic process to stop all hunting in the United States ... We will take it species by species until all hunting is stopped in California. Then we will take it state by state." Wayne Pacelle, October 1, 1990.

Shortly after Pacelle joined HSUS in 1994, he told Animal People (an inside-the-movement watchdog newspaper) that his goal was to build "a National Rifle Association of the animal rights movement."

"My goal is the abolition of all animal agriculture." J.P. Goodwin, recently director of Grassroots Outreach with HSUS.

"My goal is the abolition of all animal agriculture." J.P. Goodwin, recently Director of Grassroots Outreach with HSUS. Formerly with the Animal Liberation Front, Mr Goodwin has a lengthy arrest record and a history of promoting arson to accomplish animal liberation. This quote appeared on AR-Views, an animal rights Internet discussion group in 1996.

"The entire animal rights movement in the United States [views the act of the British parliament banning hunting with dogs] as one of the most important actions in the history of the animal rights movement. This will energize our efforts to stop hunting with hounds." Wayne Pacelle, now CEO, HSUS, London Times, December 26, 2004

HSUS actions

undertaken mostly with money sent in "to help abandoned pets" and "stop cruelty"

Passed an amendment to the Florida constitution banning (on grounds of cruelty) the use of farrowing pens which prevent the sow from rolling on and crushing piglets. They paid expenses for out-of-state volunteers to collect the necessary signatures to put the measure on the ballot and spent heavily on supporting media. There were at the time only two hog farms in the state, so there were very few people to fight back. While HSUS crows about their success against a "cruel practice," how many piglets will die when their mothers lie down on them?

When the money from people who believe their $25 checks actually help animals dries up, it is over. Until then we will continue to lose the war for our rights and our animals.

Passed a similar measure (November, 2006 elections) in Arizona, together with expensive restrictions on raising veal, both little practiced in the state. Attacking accepted animal practices in places where they're almost unknown establishes precedents that will be used to support attacks in other places.

Passed a ban on production of fois gras in California which had one farm. The same has since been attempted in Hawaii, Oregon, and Washington state but failed in all three. Based on other such campaigns, those bills will be back every year or two until they pass.

Currently suing Ringling Bros. circus alleging cruelty to elephants, a violation of the Endangered Species Act.

Suing New Jersey Department of Agriculture to overturn regulations defining common intensive farming practices as "humane." Stopped (with a lawsuit) the state's planned 2006 bear hunting season, needed to control numbers.

Attempted to ban hunting of bears with bait and with the use of dogs in Maine. The referendum effort failed by a narrow margin.

HSUS was the chief force behind PAWS. Its state level 'no fingerprints' affiliates are pushing comprehensive breeder licensing bills in several states each year.

In most of these actions and dozens of others each year, HSUS attacks as 'cruelty' accepted practices which are unfamiliar to most people, in places where they're least familiar and/or of little importance.

Another common approach is the one used for PAWS: use of rare horrible examples to suggest the existence of a widespread problem requiring restrictive legislation.

The animal rights effort to end animal use in our country including the breeding and ownership of pets will not be contained unless we:

Unite to oppose nearly all HSUS actions.

Expose HSUS for the fraud that it is.

When the money from people who believe their $25 checks actually help animals dries up, it is over. Until then we will continue to lose the war for our rights and our animals.

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