Topic: Fur & Fashion

  • The Bottom Line: HSUS = PETA

    While this isn’t a website about PETA (if you want one, try this), it’s helpful to remember the bigger picture. HSUS is not about animal welfare, it’s about animal rights.

    Your local humane society is about animal welfare—ensuring animals are treated well. The Humane Society of the United States is different than (and unaffiliated with) local humane societies. It’s about ending most uses of animals under the premise that use equals abuse. Given that the vast majority of Americans eat meat, for example, HSUS isn’t going to win influence by claiming, as PETA does, that giving a kid a hamburger is child abuse. HSUS is smart enough to know this.

    Writing in The New Yorker a few years back, Michael Specter put it well:

    It has been argued many times that in any social movement there has to be somebody radical enough to alienate the mainstream–and to permit more moderate influences to prevail. For every Malcolm X there is a Martin Luther King, Jr., and for every Andrea Dworkin there is a Gloria Steinem. Newkirk and PETA provide a similar dynamic for groups like the Humane Society of the United States…

    When you do a little digging, you discover that PETA’s practically a revolving door for HSUS employees, a radical training ground before these activists don a more respectable brand (to say nothing of clothing…). Here’s a list of just some of the links we’ve dug up:

    • Matt Prescott, HSUS food policy director—former corporate campaigner with PETA
    • Ann Chynoweth, senior director of the End Animal Fighting and Cruelty Campaign at HSUS—former researcher and the director of grassroots campaigns at PETA
    • Mary Beth Sweetland, HSUS director of investigation—former director of research and rescue at PETA
    • Paul Shapiro, “factory farm” campaign director—former PETA volunteer
    • Alexis Fox, Mass. state director—former legal fellow at The PETA Foundation (aka Foundation to Support Animal Protection)
    • Jill Fritz, HSUS Mich. Director— former PETA student coordinator
    • Peter Petersan, Deputy Director of Animal Protection Litigation—former PETA activist
    • Leana Stormont, HSUS attorney—former PETA counsel
    • Miyun Park, former HSUS VP—former PETA employee
    • Patrick Kwan, New York state director—former media assistant for PETA-linked Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine

    Keep in mind that this is just PETA and its quasi-medical front group the “Physicians Committee” for “Responsible Medicine.” (Click the link to see why the scare quotes are appropriate.) There’s a whole web of animal rights groups with essentially the same agenda: to eliminate the use of animals for food, research, clothing, and entertainment. Many HSUS leaders come from these groups—PETA-esque in worldview, but without the same budget or notoriety as PETA. Wayne Pacelle, Michael Markarian, and several HSUS board members hail from the Fund for Animals, an anti-hunting group, for one example.

    Here’s HSUS and PETA in their own words. On the major goals, we can’t see any difference:

    PETA Says…                                                       

    "Animals Are Not Ours to Eat"

    "Animals Are Not Ours to Wear"

    "Animals Are Not Ours to Experiment On"

    "Animals Are Not Ours to Use for Entertainment"

    HSUS Says…

    “We don't want any of these animals to be raised and killed.”

    “HSUS is committed to ending…killing for fur.”

    “HSUS advocates an end to the use of animals in research…”

    HSUS “opposes the use of wild animals in circuses”

    Posted on 05/01/2012 at 1:16 am by The Team.

    Topics: Animal AgricultureCircusesFur & FashionMedical Research


  • What's a Raccoon Dog, Anyway?

    Animal rights activists, including those at the Humane Society of the United States, have never had a soft spot in their hearts for fur. HSUS, PETA, and other groups have stirred endless controversy over whether it’s acceptable to wear animal skins.

    HSUS has agitated for truthful fur-garment labeling, which makes perfect sense. It has also called for the end of “killing for fur”—which, if we were talking about leather instead of fur, would sound like PETA-style crazy talk.

    Truth be told, we’re confident HSUS would like to see leather go away too. But the animal rights movement has always seen fur as a sort of low-hanging fruit. HSUS has been going after it for decades. Its leaders would also like to see the end of meat-eating, but we haven’t seen them suggest that hot wings and steaks should be forbidden by law. (Not yet, anyway.) 

    HSUS’s leaders have distinguished themselves from PETA’s in the fur-debating world by generally not going out on a limb to press for total abolition—unless they’re jumping on someone else’s bandwagon. (Example: the whole fur-labeling issue.) One HSUS senior manager cut his animal-rights teeth as the teenage founder of the Coalition to Abolish the Fur Trade, but that was long ago.

    Instead of directly targeting the fur industry, HSUS tends to fight little skirmishes around the margins. And it doesn’t always shoot straight. Consider the odd case of the “raccoon dog.”

    In the spring of 2008, HSUS put out a press release claiming that the “raccoon dog” was “the most misrepresented fur in America.” HSUS’s basic argument was that its staff were able to find “dozens” of mislabeled garments, some made from what it called “raccoon dog, an Asian canine species.”

    The headlines were predictable. Dozens of reporters emphasized the “dog” part of the name, and left “raccoon” by the wayside. (One NBC story was titled “Fido in Your Faux Fur Coat?”)

    HSUS’s leaders have long been in favor of rights for animals. So for them, whether this animal is a raccoon or a dog is a moot question since neither one should be worn to the theatre.

    But there’s actually a law covering these things, called the Fur Products Labeling Act (FPLA). And its enabling regulations include a “Fur products name guide.” (Who knew?)

    The species name Nyctereutes procyonoidos comes up under “Raccoon, Asiatic.”

    If this “Asiatic Raccoon” sounds more like a raccoon than a dog, that’s because it is. 

    We got hold of a July 2008 letter to a Texas Congressman, written by a scientist who is now Director of the National Museum of Natural History (which is part of the Smithsonian Institution). Director Cristián Samper wrote (emphasis added):

    A recent study using modern molecular analytical methods explored the question of the relationships among dog-like carnivores (Barbelden et al. 2005, Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution). That analysis found that the domestic dog, Canis familiaris, and Raccoon dog, Nyctereutes procyonoides, are both members of the Canidae; however, they are not closely related and definitely are not the same genus or species.

    Also, wildlife biologist Robert Byrne wrote a detailed fact-sheet about the Asiatic Raccoon in May 2008. (We’re reproducing this report with the permission of the copyright holder.) It says, in part:

    The Asiatic Raccoon has been purposely mis-identified by some groups as the same species as the domestic dog (Canis lupus familiaris) in order to eliminate its use in the international and domestic fur trade through restrictive legislation or regulation.  However, there is no confusion within the scientific community; the Asiatic Raccoon and domestic dog are two distinct species.  (emphasis in the original)

    The U.S. government’s categorical “Integrated Taxonomic Information System” separates the Canidae family of animals (including “coyotes, dogs, foxes, jackals, [and] wolves”) into 13 separate “genus” classifications. And canis (“dogs, foxes, jackals”) is a completely different genus from nyctereutes—of which there’s exactly one species, the Asiatic Raccoon.

    Again, this distinction will make no difference to animal rights activists. But the “raccoon dog” name is more convenient to HSUS, so the group has parlayed the confusion into plenty of outrage.

    Think about it: What could destroy the demand for fur more than the thought that Benji or Lassie was being made into a jacket?

    And another thinker: If HSUS had put out a breathless press release complaining that department stores were mislabeling “Asiatic raccoon fur” as faux, would “Inside Edition” have cared?

    For the record, we’re not trying to persuade anyone that fur is fashion-forward, or eco-friendly, or virtuous. That’s a personal decision. But the linguistic propaganda in stories like this is fascinating. And when it comes to propaganda, the Humane Society of the United States (despite its own charter’s prohibitions on engaging in propaganda) takes a back seat to no one.

    Update: We've received a few questions about whether Robert Byrne, the author quoted above, is in fact a wildlife biologist. The following is from the "about the author" blurb at the end of his report:


    Robert Byrne is a wildlife biologist with more than 30 years experience working in the field of wildlife conservation. During this time he has worked for state wildlife agencies, and domestic and international non-government conservation organizations. His duties have included wildlife research, law enforcement, program development, wildlife education, media relations, and policy development …

    Posted on 03/01/2011 at 1:45 am by The Team.

    Topics: Fur & FashionPetsWildlife


  • Dharma Passes the Hat

    On December 7 of last year, “Dharma and Greg” co-star Jenna Elfman “tweeted” a photo taken after she taped a new "give $19 a month" TV ad for the Humane Society of the United States. Elfman made a radio PSA for HSUS in 2001 and lent an image of her lips to an HSUS-branded postage stamp in 2008, but this was her first on-camera work for the animal rights organization. It reportedly began airing late last week.

    Last night the video production company that shot this fundraising ad posted a press release about it, but the release was removed early this morning. (Here’s Google’s cache, and our screen-grab for posterity.) In addition to the Jenna Elfman ad, the release also linked to videos of two more spots that may or may not be running nationally: one narrated by Wayne Pacelle, and another showcasing three children. (Note: We can’t control how long these movie files will be available for viewing.)

    The Jenna Elfman fundraising ad is the most interesting of three to us. Not because it’s fronted by an actress, but because we counted 44 live animals in this ad, and all but two are dogs and cats:

    More after the jump.

    We’ve written before about how HSUS seems to go out of its way to promote the idea that it’s primarily a dog-and-cat-shelter organization, even though it doesn’t run a pet shelter anywhere (and is stingy with its shelter giving).

    To be fair, Elfman’s voice-over claims HSUS “helps all animal wherever they’re in need.” But the only non-canines-and-felines we see are a horse and a white baby seal. The ad narrated by Pacelle has 29 animals, all dogs and cats except for the same seal and horse. The “kids” ad shows 55 dogs and cats, one seal, and 5 horses.

    The pictures communicate what the words won’t.

    That seal, by the way, is a young pup known as a “whitecoat.” It has been illegal to hunt or kill whitecoat seals throughout North America since 1987. So it’s hard to imagine a donation to HSUS can help these marine mammals any further.

    And the horses? Just two months ago, HSUS continued using a horse named “Second Chance” in its December 2010 “Animal Survivors” fundraising campaign after the animal had already died. This doesn’t inspire confidence.

    Have you noticed that we haven’t mentioned cows, pigs, or chickens yet? That’s because there aren’t any in these commercials. Not a single one. Yet an astonishing amount of HSUS’s money—your money, if you donate—actually goes to campaigns targeting farmers who raise animals for food.

    We told you this week about the $1.6 million HSUS poured into Ohio last year to fight egg farmers. And that was just to get a ballot initiative through the signature-gathering stage. Plus HSUS spent $4.12 million on its 2008 California “Prop 2” farm battle.

    Is HSUS purposely hiding the ball and diverting millions to a purpose that its ads don’t address? The case is getting stronger by the month. If HSUS intends to keep funding seven-figure attacks on farmers in order to drive up the cost of non-vegan foods, it should just come out and say so.

    Here's a transcript of the Jenna Elfman ad:

    JENNA ELFMAN: Hi, I'm Jenna Elfman and this is Daisy. We all know there's no better feeling than being loved. But not everyone is lucky enough to be loved.

    The fact is, each year, over 3 million innocent animals, like Daisy, are destroyed in shelters across America because they cannot find a loving home to adopt them. That's over 8 thousand animals lost every day—350 lives every hour.

    But it's not just shelter dogs and cats who need your help. The Humane Society of the United States helps all animals wherever they're in need. That's why I'm asking you to become a monthly supporting member of the Humane Society of the United States.

    Join the Humane Society for just $19 a month and help end animal suffering and safe lives. For almost 60 years the Humane Society of the United States has been investigating cruelty, campaigning for stronger laws and promoting adoption and better treatment of animals everywhere.

    As an active member of the Humane Society, you'll be part of the nation's largest and most effective animal protection organization. But your membership is critical because many more animals urgently need help. You can help save an animal's life.

    Call and join the Humane Society today.

    ANNOUNCER: Join now. As a monthly member with your first $19 monthly payment, you'll get your membership ID, this official Humane Society fleece members jacket, and this eco-friendly tote bag, plus a free subscription to All Animals magazine.

    JENNA ELFMAN: Most of all, your membership dues will be working throughout the year to give animals chance at a better life.

    ANNOUNCER: Join the Humane Society of the United States now. As a monthly member with your first $19 payment you'll get your membership ID, official fleece members jacket, this eco-friendly tote bag, plus a free subscription to All Animals magazine.

    Image: licensed under Creative Commons (Wikipedia)

    Posted on 02/19/2011 at 2:14 am by The Team.

    Topics: Animal AgricultureAudio & VideoCelebritiesFundraising & MoneyFur & FashionHorsesHunting & FishingPetsWildlife


  • “Change Agenda” Report Card: HSUS's Ambitions Flounder

    Our national mood was quite different after the 2008 elections—different enough, in fact, that HSUS confidently issued a 100-point “Change Agenda for Animals” to challenge the incoming White House and Congress to do its bidding.

    One year later, HSUS issued the Obama Administration a "B-minus" grade; (which is far better than the "D" grade HSUS itself was recently awarded by a respected charity watchdog). The B-minus was widely seen as a practical nod to the difficulties of getting anything approved by the proverbial sausage factory (sorry, Wayne) that is the U.S. Congress. 

    Two years in, the sun is setting on the 111th Congress, and on the first half of President Obama's first term. HSUS has spent millions of dollars lobbying for its agenda. How did it do?

    We went through HSUS’s 100 lobbying priorities, awarding 1 point for each HSUS success, 1/2-point for partial credit, and 0 points for failure.

    Total score? Six and one-half. Out of a hundred. (No wonder HSUS hasn't issued itself a scorecard.) 

    Here’s a sampling of the "change" that  HSUS's brought about:

    • The Truth in Fur Labeling Act (#56) requires that all fur garments (even lower-priced items with a little bit of fur trim) have labels indicating if real fur was used. It's hard to see how this would be controversial.
    • A re-worked federal law has once again banned animal "crush" videos (#46), twisted pornography in which animals are killed for the sexual gratification of the viewer. Yes, such things exist. The U.S. Supreme Court struck down HSUS's original law on free speech grounds. Assuming this new law passes constitutional muster, it's just as much a no-brainer as the flawed law it replaced.
    • There are new efforts to enforce a ban (#99) on using the U.S. Postal Service to distribute publications about dog fighting and cockfighting. Was anyone (other than HSUS front-man Michael Vick) really against this?

    If there's a pattern here, it's one of HSUS settling for low-hanging fruit. With a friendly Congress and White House, you'd think the richest animal rights group in history could get more done. Not that we're complaining, mind you. Some of HSUS's "Change Agenda" was pretty loony:

    • Do we really need the U.S. Census Bureau (#54) and the CDC (#86) to count everyone's pets?
    • Does the White House really need a permanent "Animal Liaison" (HSUS's top agenda item), a job for which Wayne Pacelle reportedly nominated himself?
    • If a disabled person finds a trained monkey makes a better service animal than a dog, who are we to say he or she can't have one (#48)?
    • What the heck is so awful about "swim with the dolphins" programs that requires "new regulations" (#13)?
    • And don't get us started about the idiotic proposed ban on "nontherapeutic" antibiotics for farm animals (#78). If HSUS wants to leave cows, pigs, and chickens far more vulnerable to disease, it should stop calling itself a "humane society."

    HSUS, obviously, has much grander ambitions than just taking on animal fighting, which is a good use of resources(when it's not busy coddling the offenders). The group wants to change federal policies to attack livestock farms, gradually take lab rats out of cancer research centers, and tighten restrictions on zoos and circuses until they are all forced to do without, well … animals. And HSUS has hoped for at least 30 years to win animals their legal "rights," an endgame which (practically speaking) includes giving animals the right to sue people. One of HSUS's 30+ in-house lawyers, of course, will "speak for the voiceless" in court.

    Much of HSUS's long-term vision is explicitly left out of its 100-point wish list. There has to be a reason for HSUS (or any pushy lobby group) to keep raising money, even if all its wishes were magically granted.

    At its current success rate, HSUS will need another 14 years or so to get its 100-point agenda passed. But that assumes, of course, that both the legislative and executive branches of the federal government remain as animal-rights-friendly as they have been in the past two years. We think Wayne Pacelle and Michael Markarian are pacing themselves, like any good politician would.

    If you deliver on all your promises, after all, what's left to fundraise on? 

    Posted on 12/31/2010 at 12:07 am by The Team.

    Topics: Animal AgricultureAnimal FightingCircusesFundraising & MoneyFur & FashionGov't, Lobbying, PoliticsWildlifeZoos & Aquariums


  • The Most Meaningless Scorecard of the Year

    This week the Humane Society of the United States issued its 2010 “Humane State Ranking” report. This is an update of HSUS’s first such report (its 2009 rankings), released in February of this year. California came out on top. But don't get cocky, you west-coasters. This whole HSUS ranking system smells like last week's tofu.

    When HSUS's first report came out, HumaneWatch was still 10 days away from launching, so we didn't address it. And besides, HSUS’s arbitrary 65-point ranking system seemed, well … arbitrary.  It read more like an HSUS lobbyist’s wish-list than an animal protection index, since it didn’t take into account laws that HSUS found inconvenient to its command-and-control mission.

    Now that a second set of rankings is out, it appears even more foolish to allow this animal rights group to determine which states are (and are not) serious about animal welfare. It’s especially instructive to look at what happened in the intervening months with an eye toward how the rankings have—or haven't—changed.

    Let’s take a look.

    How arbitrary are HSUS’s standards? You can see all 65 benchmarks in either half of the two-part state-by-state list HSUS published yesterday. (See here or here.)

    Reading through the list, you’ll learn that while “egregious” acts of animal cruelty can be prosecuted as a felony in Nevada, that state doesn’t have a felony “first offense” penalty. Tsk, tsk. Points off for that horrible, horrible lapse.

    Similarly, any state that permits bear hunting—even New Jersey, where bears regularly threaten the lives of people—loses a point. The same goes for any state that doesn’t prohibit hunting on Sundays. (We’re scratching our heads over that one.)

    HSUS deducts points from states that allow pet shelters to euthanize animals in gas chambers. But that didn’t stop HSUS from sending animals to one such gas-chamber-equipped shelter just this month. HSUS also downgrades states that don’t require inspections of dog breeders—even though that’s the province of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

    HSUS penalizes states that don’t prohibit fur farmers from using certain rather gruesome (and outdated) methods of slaughter. Even if your state doesn’t have any fur farms, and therefore doesn’t need such a law, it still loses a point.

    You won’t, however, find any points awarded for animal-protection laws that HSUS doesn’t like. For instance, approximately 10 states have followed Ohio’s lead in creating statewide boards to ensure the humane treatment of livestock animals. That doesn’t appear anywhere in HSUS’s report—probably because icky “farmers” have a greater say in the outcome than (presumably morally superior) animal rights activists.

    The most interesting thing about these ratings is how they’ve shifted over ten months. In short, they’ve hardly budged. Missourians may be surprised to learn that despite all of HSUS’s focus on “Proposition 2”—and despite its narrow passage—Missouri actually dropped one place in the national rankings since February (from #43 to #44).

    More to the point, just ten weeks ago Wayne Pacelle was telling Missourians that HSUS was only interested in targeting “puppy mills.” Yep—Even though “Prop B” redefined a “pet” as “any domesticated animal normally maintained in or near the household of the owner thereof” (a definition wide enough to include cows, pigs, and chickens), we were all being paranoid:

    Pacelle also addressed the concerns of the Missouri Farm Bureau that his organization will use Prop B to go after all animal agriculture.

    “It is just a fear-based argument,” Pacelle countered. “And people should read the measure, read Prop B. The only animal mentioned in prop B is a dog.”

    Paranoid? Today HSUS is complaining that Missouri “has no protections for animals in factory farms.” (“Factory farm” is HSUS’s preferred epithet for agriculture involving more animals than people.) 

    And if Missouri livestock really have “no protections,” someone must have repealed this Missouri law, and this one (and, yes, this one too) while we weren’t looking.

    So let’s sum it up: HSUS narrowly sold Missourians on a pet law, insisted it had no designs on livestock laws, and then demoted the state in its rankings—justifying the demotion with a complaint that Missouri farm animals had no legal protections. Which itself is a load of manure.

    Such glaring inconsistencies are standard stuff for HSUS and Wayne Pacelle, it turns out. Two weeks ago, Pacelle crowed about his ten favorite state-level “victories” from this year. They included nine laws passed in eight states. Two of those states (#1 California and #35 Alaska) saw their HSUS ranking remain unchanged after these "victories." Another three were actually downgraded, including #44 Missouri and #45 Hawaii (previously tied for #43), and #16 Florida (previously #14).

    Florida was home to two of Pacelle’s top ten, yet it won no new points and dropped in HSUS's rankings. This has to make any reasonable observer conclude that this whole exercise is arbitrary (there’s that word again) and essentially meaningless.

    Just like most of HSUS’s public-relations stunts.

    Is anyone surprised?

    Posted on 12/29/2010 at 6:50 pm by The Team.

    Topics: Animal AgricultureAnimal FightingDairyFur & FashionGov't, Lobbying, PoliticsHunting & FishingPets


  • Meet Mark Glover, the Brit Behind Humane Society International

    London’s Independent newspaper has described him as a man “with nothing to lose,” whose goal “is nothing less than an end to all meat-eating.” He also says that it’s “fundamentally wrong and immoral to abuse and eat animals.”

    Who is he? Some PETA activist with a grudge against cheeseburgers?

    No. He’s Mark Glover, the director of Humane Society International in the United Kingdom. And with that vision for the future, it’s no surprise that he’s a respected leader in the HSUS world.

    But outside of Great Britain, nobody seems to know who Glover is. Considering that he's spending about 640,000 Euros every year out of the money HSUS collects from the public (that's about $886,000), we should know more. Much more.

    Before he was put in charge of the HSI London office, Glover worked for Greenpeace in the UK as its Wildlife Campaigner. (He also sat on its Board of Directors.) Glover left Greenpeace in 1985, according to University of Leicester Professor Robert Garner, because it wasn’t radical enough. Garner writes in the 1999 book Thinking Through the Environment: A Reader:

    Greenpeace decided in the 1980s to drop their campaign against the fur trade when it came to their attention that fur provided a crucial source of income for some Canadian and American peoples. This decision so annoyed some Greenpeace activists that, under the leadership of Mark Glover, they split away in 1985 to form the anti-fur group Lynx, which holds an uncompromising anti-fur position.

    The issue of whether the global fur trade should exist has consumed Glover for three decades. He ran Lynx for seven years, eventually writing the Lynx Animal Rights Handbook. In October 1986 the group led an anti-fur demonstration in London’s Trafalgar Square just hours after a bomb was discovered at a fur store in Leeds. Glover denied having anything to do with the bombing attempt, but The Toronto Star wrote that “Many of the protesters cheered the news of the bomb.”

    Over the years, Glover’s positions on fur have become more and more uncompromising. He’s broken with the rest of the animal rights movement by even condemning faux (fake) fur made from plastic. In 1987 he told England’s Guardian newspaper: “We definitely disapprove. If something is disgusting and immoral, why try to imitate it?”

    And he has opposed subsistence hunters from Canada’s First Nations who make fur garments. “[O]ne-tenth of one per cent of fur coming onto the international market comes from these northern communities,” Glover told Canada’s Globe and Mail newspaper in 1990. “For me that's not a good enough reason for us to stop the campaign.”

    In the 1990s a fur farmer sued Lynx for libel after Glover and an associate secretly visited a mink farm under false pretenses and wrote that it was a “hell-hole” in a 1989 report. (A local inspector with the RSPCA disagreed, giving the farm a clean bill of health.) After Lynx lost the libel case in 1992, the group was ordered to liquidate its assets. Glover himself and a colleague declared bankruptcy. Lynx was ultimately saddled with debts that some observers put as high as £400,000, and a judge froze its bank account. (The late Linda McCartney, herself an animal rights activist of note, tried to raise £500,000 to rescue Lynx, but she was only able to collect £10,000.)

    By the very next month, however, Glover had co-founded a new group called Respect for Animals (RFA) to take Lynx’s place.

    HSUS’s official bio of Glover claims that Lynx simply “changed its name.” If that’s true, it’s worth asking whether RFA has ever made good on Lynx’s debts.

    At RFA, Glover first served as a consultant before becoming director in 2002, a position he still held in 2008 (long after HSI had hired him). During his early years with RFA, Glover brought a “private prosecution” lawsuit against a fur farmer. In 2000 a British judge threw the case out, ruling that Glover’s video was selectively edited and questioning the credibility of those who produced it.

    While HSUS writes that his main job is to focus on fur issues (Glover also runs the “Fur Free Alliance”), he appears to have a much broader animal rights game plan. In January 2010 Glover penned an essay calling on future UK Labour governments to “bring in a strategy to reduce meat consumption” and “bring in a ban on wild animals in circuses.”

    And so it appears Glover—and his backers at HSUS and HSI—are preparing for a much wider assault in the UK (and in Brussels, where the EU is headquartered). “If one is serious about saving animals, then the meat industry is the one to go for,” Glover foreshadowed in 1995. “Quite simply, the most basic animal right of all is not to end up on the end of someone's fork.”

    It’s hard to read and digest all of this without asking a few questions.

    Did Wayne Pacelle know Mark Glover was a zealous anti-meat fanatic when he hired him in 2006? Was HSUS’s Board consulted about the legal liability of giving serious authority to someone who had been convicted of libel once already? Have HSUS and HSI paid part of Glover’s salary to satisfy his debts from the libel judgment? (Or is Glover continuing to hide behind bankruptcy proceedings?)

    But perhaps most interesting: As HSUS continues to try to paint itself as a middle-of-the-road animal welfare group, how will its donors (Americans in particular) react to the news that its top British employee wants every circus, every fashion show, and every dinner plate to be animal-free?

    Posted on 10/27/2010 at 4:28 pm by The Team.

    Topics: Fur & FashionMeat


  • Paul Shapiro: The Basement Tapes

    A handful of HSUS senior staffers, past and present, have roots in the radical fringes of the animal rights movement. Six years before becoming CEO, HSUS's Wayne Pacelle hired former Animal Liberation Front spokesperson John "J.P." Goodwin. Pacelle himself came from the anti-hunting Fund for Animals, and cut his activist teeth sabotaging deer hunts. Matthew Prescott, who runs HSUS’s shareholder-activism campaign, came directly from the über-crazy People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). And HSUS recruited the leadership contingent of the Washington, DC-based group Compassion Over Killing (COK)—essentially an even more rag-tag version of PETA.

    HSUS senior campaign manager Paul Shapiro founded COK in the mid-1990s when he was a prep-school student. Miyun Park, who teaches at Humane Society University and was a vice-president at HSUS until last year, also helped run COK, as did HSUS staffer Josh Balk and HSUS lawyer Carter Dillard.

    COK, like PETA, has always been a vegan advocacy organization—and unabashedly so. (At least it’s open about it, unlike HSUS.) And perhaps unsurprisingly, the group openly supported violent criminals under Shapiro’s leadership.

    In the mid-1990s, COK targeted a DC furrier called Miller’s Furs. (Back then, COK mainly protested fur sellers and circuses.) At one point, the group published Miller’s home address as a tool for angry activists targeting him and his family.

    By early 1997, COK was actively recruiting members for a new cell of the terrorist Animal Liberation Front, just to pressure this one fur retailer.  The Winter ’97 issue of The Abolitionist, COK’s official magazine, featured an article announcing that “members [are] needed” for the “MF-ALF” (which stood for “Miller’s Furs–Animal Liberation Front”). The article included suggestions to “smash a window… throw a paint bomb… burn Miller’s Furs down.” Some of the listed “benefits” of joining included the “nervous breakdown” of the fur salon’s owner.

    Yikes. Judging from the records archived by the Internet Wayback Machine, COK later scrubbed this article from the Internet. (Clicking here, you can still read the rest of the issue, but not the ALF recruiting ad.)

    For background, the Animal Liberation Front and its green twin, the Earth Liberation Front, are both FBI-designated terrorist organizations. An FBI section chief testified in 2002 that the Bureau “estimates that the ALF/ELF [had] committed more than 600 criminal acts in the United States since 1996, resulting in damages in excess of 43 million dollars.” That would seem to include crimes against Miller’s Furs in Washington. (More on that below.)

    In the interest of full disclosure, COK ran a (rather noncommittal) disclaimer at the end of the recruitment article stating:

    This article is for entertainment purposes only. COK does not endorse (nor condemn) any illegal acts.

    (Paul Shapiro comprised one-quarter of The Abolitionist’s editorial board, and his father is an attorney. So the cover-your-you-know-what strategy isn’t surprising.)

    The spring/summer 1997 edition of The Abolitionist again promoted ALF vandalism, this time with a two-page photo spread glorifying criminal “direct action” against animal-rights targets. And again COK seems to have erased the Animal Liberation Front material at some later date.

    Here’s the official “masthead” from that issue:

    UPDATE: In a huge oversight, we forgot to note that Peter Petersan (named above) is also now an HSUS employee. He is the organization's Deputy Director of Animal Protection Litigation. Franklin Wade now helps to run a chickens-rights group called United Poultry Concerns.

    COK also sold a video produced by the ALF through an ad in The Abolitionist. (See page 14.) Anyone who mailed a blank videotape and $5 would receive (from COK) a copy of “Animal Liberation: The Movie,” made by the ALF, and a film about the ALF called “Angels of Mercy?” (Today’s would-be arsonists can watch the ALF propaganda movie on YouTube for free.)

    We’re sure that Paul Shapiro and Miyun Park—whatever their roles were in glorifying violent criminals—are completely different people now. Just like John “J.P.” Goodwin, the former ALF spokesman whom Wayne Pacelle recruited into HSUS that same year—1997.

    And besides, Shapiro is now firmly ensconced in the HSUS universe, where the mere mention of the Animal Liberation Front could blow a hole in HSUS’s self-described intolerance for violence.

    By 2003, The Washington Post was already noting that COK’s tactical toolbox had become more smooth-edged:

    It's not a message of compromise. It's something perhaps more shrewd: a message of welcome to flesh-eaters, on the theory that this will more effectively bring about the meat-free millennium. They're like missionaries for a vegan God who is not angry. She'll forgive you for sinning with that Egg McMuffin, so long as you are sincerely working toward a better breakfast.

    It’s not that Shapiro doesn’t still believe "The Meat Industry Equals Systematic Murder” (a sign he once carried). And he’s clearly still pursuing the total “liberation” of animals, albeit in a more incremental fashion. His more grown-up menu of campaign tools fits the image of that $100-million-a-year group that pays his salary.

    But the next time Paul Shapiro strolls into a corporate boardroom with “cage-free” or “cruelty-free” demands, it may be helpful for his audience to remember exactly who it is they’re talking to.

    You can take the activist out of the militant movement, but maybe you can’t take the militant movement out of the activist.

    Posted on 08/10/2010 at 10:24 pm by The Team.

    Topics: Animal AgricultureFur & FashionHistoryMeat


  • Guest Column: Tagging Along on an HSUS ‘Lobby Day’

    Dannielle Romeo is a professional dog handler and trainer, a regular HumaneWatch reader, and a real-live activist for animals—and we mean that in a good way. She breeds a line of Akitas (under the kennel name Black Knight) for conformation, companionship and working service dogs. That's her at right, along with "Koli."

    She is is a columnist for several pet publications, and advocates for the rights of pet owners. She lives in Sacramento, California.

    We asked Dannielle to describe her recent experience attending a Humane Society of the United States “lobby day” at the California State Capitol. This is what she wrote:

    California Schemin': My Day With HSUS

    I recently received an invitation to meet with Jennifer Fearing, the Humane Society of the Unites States’ head-honcho in California. She was diplomatic, but direct. Fearing expressed some interest in hearing what I had to say about conscientious breeding practices, and how to repair what she called a "disconnect" between HSUS and people like myself. But mostly, she didn’t appreciate my open criticism of HSUS and its programs, goals, and operations.

    Fearing said she was genuinely interested in building an open dialogue, so I took her at her word.

    I traveled to the state capitol on April 8 to see HSUS’s public education programs up close. HSUS had advertised a public “Lobby Day” and even promoted it with a press release, so I thought I’d show up. Considering how cordial Fearing had been just days before, I wasn’t expecting the gauntlet of not-so-welcoming HSUS event leaders that faced me when I arrived. Fearing herself had told me, "Don't believe everything you read on the internet." My only expectation was to learn if perhaps I have been too judgmental of this group and their programs. But there I was, looking up at the whole event staff, literally blocking the door.

    First off, I never intended to join HSUS’s lobbying efforts. I figured I’d stay away from the afternoon rally outdoors. And I didn’t expect anyone to invite me to join in the vegetarian lunch. But was it so unreasonable to be a fly on the wall? Fearing had insisted in our meeting that HSUS’s messages and agenda are perfectly clear and in no way deceptive, deceitful, or misleading. I disagreed, but hey—how was I supposed to find out if I couldn’t see and hear for myself?

    I did get in. Eventually. But only after declaring loudly that Jennifer Fearing herself had told me she wanted an open dialogue. I suppose her underlings would rather bite their tongues than make the boss look like a hypocrite.

    HSUS Knows What It’s Doing

    There are definitely things we can learn from HSUS. This organization knows how to leverage its human resources. I have never seen a more effectively run educational seminar. Activists learned how to seek out their representatives, speak with them, and be heard. A process that seems out of reach for mere mortals was coached in a very down to earth manner, using simple language. And HSUS had a host of prepared materials.

    These people have large-group lobbying down to a science. The staff had already broken down appointments and drop-in opportunities by legislative districts, based on the zip codes people provided with their pre-registration. Literature packets included a “cheat sheet” on each attendee’s elected representative. I didn't receive one of these packets, of course, but it was explained during the program that they included party affiliation, a “score” the Member had been assigned on “humane” legislative issues, and how many HSUS members were supposedly in each one’s district. There were talking points on each of the four targeted issues.

    (HSUS clearly has intelligent staffers, and they’re well-organized. Which is why the end result of all this effort is so disappointing and disturbing. Just because there are a few issues we can all agree on doesn’t mean we should all work together, or that HSUS should appoint itself the spokesgroup for average pet owners.)

    Lobbying 101

    The “lobbying techniques” portion of the day was a panel led by Jennifer Fearing, Nancy Perry (HSUS Government Relations VP) and Jill Buckley (Legislative Liaison, ASPCA). They identified four major items of interest:

    1. SJR22, a Ban on the Export of Horses for Slaughter (human consumption);
    2. AB1656, Truth in Fur Labeling;
    3. AB2012 Stopping Animal Neglect/Increasing Criminal Penalties; and
    4. a proposed plan by the California Department of Fish and Game to expand Black Bear hunting.

    There was a ton of information that the crowd never saw. No one discussed whether or not there were already laws on the books to address these things. No one from HSUS or the ASPCA talked about how expensive it might be to comply with the new laws. And nobody tried to articulate—much less defeat—any arguments from the other side of these debates. You get the picture.

    I’ve come to believe that HSUS's primary goal is to end animal agriculture—incrementally—through legislative processes, and by manipulating public opinion. I saw and heard nothing on April 8 that would make me change my mind. In fact, I came away more convinced of that than ever.

    The Issues

    SJR22 is actually a resolution aimed at a current item in Congress. Nancy Perry spoke at length about the need for support, claiming that there was "no causal effect" between the banning of horse slaughter and the increase in cases of abandoned and neglected animals. (No one on the panel was about to admit the awful unintended consequences of banning domestic horse slaughter in the first place.)

    Perry’s stemwinder put heavy stress on her claim that SJR22 would stop horses from being sold at auction for slaughter, and would prevent long, stressful journeys across the country's borders to processing facilities whose standards we cannot control. But during a brief question and answer session, she conceded that the measure in no way stops any horses from being exported from the United States. A seller would only need to check off a box on a form at the border, saying that the animal was not headed for slaughter. (Who’s going to investigate whether anyone is lying?) People could also truthfully state that they’re transporting the horses for resale. It’s the buyer who will send the horses for slaughter, of course.

    Once it became clear that the proposed law offers no guarantees, Nancy Perry re-directed the conversation. No one from HSUS or ASPCA offered the promise of any support services for horse owners or ranchers, to help them find new homes for their unwanted livestock. No one offered a way to provide these animals appropriate care until the end of their natural lives. An ineffective legislative roadblock, without a single visible detour.

    The Truth In Fur Labeling Bill discussion was a little bit odd. HSUS is clearly only concerned about making sure every piece of fur trim on the planet is labeled so they can organize people not to buy them. This is a group that has been historically opposed to all fur in fashion. HSUS even has a program to donate old fur garments to wildlife programs—for animal use. (True to form, they don’t offer the coats to people, even in the dead of one of the worst winters in history.)

    Organizers put five coats on display that they said were purchased during the last six months in local stores, all supposedly lacking an accurate label description of their fur content. Sales tags were left attached, which gave store names but not locations. Of the five coats, one was clearly created from leather, so the addition of a "genuine fur trim" label isn’t going to be the reason a vegan says “no sale.” Three others contained small bits of fur embellishment. I would think the marketers of these pieces would want you to know you’re getting real fur instead of a knock-off.

    The fifth coat's tag (the one attached near the waistline) actually identified the trim as “raccoon fur” (in two languages!), but someone had used a black magic marker to cover up the writing on the tag (click to enlarge). 

    Let me get this straight: This is the horrible injustice that HSUS needs a state law to fix? We'd be better off just banning black Sharpies in department stores (and HSUS offices).

    Next up was a measure to increase criminal penalties for animal neglect. I think the “neglect” angle is often overlooked when animal services and law enforcement respond to single acts of cruelty. But this bill doesn’t define what would constitute neglect. Jill Buckley used words like "starved, "chained outside" and "hoarding cases." But it seems to me that neglect is in the eye of the interpreter. Could someone who has two animals more than a local ordinance allows be branded a “hoarder”? It already happens. Would that person wind up in the dragnet of increased criminal penalties? Who knows? Buckley claimed the bill would increase fines and jail time to the level of "similar crimes," and the other panelists agreed that it was "not too drastic." Oh, goodie.

    Da’ Bears

    The final issue was a state Department of Fish and Game proposal to increase the number of black bear hunting permits, increase the “take” numbers, and expand the list of allowable hunting methods. HSUS also held an outdoor rally about this issue.

    Perry and Fearing presented materials stating that 1,700 bears are hunted annually in California, and that the new plan would allow “unlimited” permits and “unlimited” take numbers. They actually claimed the new rules would result in black bears going extinct.

    Fearing claimed the Department's rationale was the "alleged overpopulation" of bears and that "we think they've failed to demonstrate compelling need, or that this decision would not negatively impact the species."  She didn’t have any documentation to support this claim. Answering one question from the crowd, Fearing claimed that black bears have never been endangered in California, but that she wasn’t familiar with the actual population counts.

    HSUS seems unusually interested in the use of "expanded technology," including GPS locators for hunting dogs and "tip switches" (devices that send signals when a hunting dog has treed an animal). And I heard over and over that quotas for bears would be eliminated, and that packs of dogs would be released without supervision. Perry was quite vocal, shouting "50 percent more dead bears!" over and over. But she had no answer for a question about how many bears were actually killed in California in recent years.

    Speaking from the rally podium, Fearing said that "high tech hunters can use global positioning collars and tip switches to hound bears to death … trophy hunters can climb back into their heated trucks [and] when bears are treed they can bring their rifles." I saw a group of children on the capitol lawn, obviously shaken by the shouts that black bears would be immediately "hounded to extinction.”

    If HSUS actually wants some facts to bolster its bluster, here they are. (This information took me just a few minutes to find and confirm independently.)

    In 2009, the "take" report number set by the Fish and Game Commission was 1,700 Black Bears. That number was reached on Dec 16, 2009, an event which immediately ended the season. The total take ended up being 1,900 bears, since it took time to relay the closure of the season to hunters in the field.

    The total number of bear tags for 2009 was 24,724. (In 2008, 25,381 tags were issued.) There is no reason to believe that strict “take” limits won’t continue to be enforced. And it should be clear that only a tiny fraction of permit holders actually hunted a bear successfully.

    A representative from Fish and Game has also confirmed that hunters cannot simply release hunting hounds without general supervision; they must also be responsible for them at all times. HSUS paints a made-up image of permit holders idly hanging out at their local Starbucks until a pager tells them to come shoot an animal. It's not just a misunderstanding. It's a work of fiction.


    Boxed lunches, vegetarian meals pre-ordered by those who registered, came from Panera Bread. I actually wrote to Jennifer Fearing prior to the event about the vegetarian-only offerings. Here is her reply:

    We are under no obligation and have never offered any sort of lunch option at previous Lobby Days. However, we wanted to make something available this year if it was helpful to people participating.  It’s a huge event and the only way I could provide this option was to provide ONE lunch option with no substitutions and no changes. Since a number of people participating definitely are vegan, it made the most sense to offer that option since everyone can obviously eat a vegan lunch and vegans cannot eat a non-vegan lunch. Further, there is nothing obligating anyone to buy this lunch… and in fact, most people have opted to get their own lunch or bring one.

    Let me get this straight: Everyone had personalized name tags, individually made to include specific senate and assembly districts. HSUS showed incredible attention to detail, preparing each individual legislative packet with personalized information. But providing a check box for more than one type of sandwich was too daunting a task.

    I spoke with Panera's catering people, and they informed me that groups of any size could order any item from their sandwich and salads menu for delivery to any location across the city. All they would have needed was a few hours’ notice for up to fifty people and 24 hours’ notice for larger events. And they tell me that HSUS isn’t anti-meat? Hmmph.

    Canvas bags handed to each participant included copies of All Animals magazine (produced by HSUS). The articles are heavily infused with a vegetarian influence, praising people who have eliminated meat from their diets, and showcasing only recipes that contained no animal agriculture products. The "less meat is better" message is, on closer inspection, actually a purely vegan directive. Including for your pets. HSUS is now marketing its own brand of "premium” dog food—a completely vegan kibble that isn't even produced in the Unites States. It's imported from Uruguay.

    A feature story promoting the new dog food states that “dogs in the wild don't limit themselves to animal protein.” Again, what HSUS leaves out tells the whole story: Dogs in the wild don't limit themselves to food sources derived entirely from plants either, which is what this new product forces them to do. “Don't believe everything you read on the internet,” Jennifer Fearing had told me. Including what shows up on the HSUS website. HSUS is clearly promoting an all-vegan world.

    And the Sun Set on Sacramento

    After spending an entire day observing HSUS’s tactics in action, I've come to the conclusion that HSUS’s leaders are the masters of contradicting what they say with what they do. HSUS representatives have graduated (with honors) from the smoke-and-mirrors school of public speaking. Their standard m.o. is to leave as much unsaid as possible, leaving themselves an exit strategy to in case someone actually “plays the tape forward” and figures out where they’re headed.

    And why not? So far, it's been working for them. Now that the public is beginning to understand it, though, maybe that can change.

    Posted on 04/19/2010 at 4:57 pm by The Team.

    Topics: Fur & FashionGov't, Lobbying, PoliticsHorsesHunting & FishingPets


  • Chicken Fight!

    Kids know that a "chicken fight" involves getting on someone's shoulders while he stood in a swimming pool, then wrestling with someone else who is similarly "up high" until one of you fell in the water. (Peter from "Family Guy" has different ideas.)

    Apparently there are some people who actually arrange fights between chickens. We don't understand it. We don't condone it. Ick.

    HSUS hates these fights so much that its experts rushed to judgment a bit yesterday in Kentucky.

    In a news release that went national, HSUS Animal Fighting Issues Manager John "J.P." Goodwin condemned a police officer whom HSUS hidden cameras spotted attending a Kentucky cockfight:

    Kentucky police officers should not treat this criminal activity with a wink and a nod, and it's another sign that state lawmakers must act to strengthen the penalties for cockfighting.

    Only it turns out the officer was there as part of his job. Here's WAVE-TV3 in Louisville (emphasis added):

    An eastern Kentucky sheriff says a deputy shown in a video standing by at a cockfight was there in search of a fugitive.

    Clay County Sheriff Kevin Johnson identified the officer as volunteer deputy Dwayne Hess.

    Johnson told The Times Tribune of Corbin on Wednesday that he had seen the video, which was released Tuesday by the Humane Society of the United States. In the video, a uniformed, unidentified Kentucky State Police trooper and other law enforcement are shown apparently watching the cockfight at an arena in Clay County without intervening.

    Memo to J.P. Goodwin:

    Cops? Those uniformed people with badges and guns? They're the good guys. You've met enough of them to know that by now.

    Image: Webshots

    Posted on 02/26/2010 at 11:02 pm by The Team.

    Topics: Animal AgricultureAnimal FightingFur & Fashion