The Humane Society of the United States, which is not related to local humane societies and only gives 1% of the money it raises to pet shelters, has a problem with working with law enforcement authorities to stop animal cruelty. Or so it seems based on HSUS’s strident opposition to laws this year that would help stop animal cruelty.
These bills would require people who record animal cruelty on a farm to report it to law enforcement authorities within 48 hours. These proposals have come up because HSUS and other animal rights activists have gone undercover to film at farms and yet, in some cases, held on to footage of farm-animal cruelty for weeks or months while preparing media campaigns.
You would think that, as a self-billed “animal protection” group, HSUS would be more than happy to give its footage to authorities who can stop abuse. Yet HSUS dubbed these bills “ag gag”—even though there was nothing stopping HSUS from speaking to the media. The proposed laws simply would have gotten law enforcement involved and probably stopped incidences of animal cruelty faster. (And this is hardly a novel concept—a “duty to report” is already in place for other crimes in some jurisdictions.)
HSUS argued that its investigations would be hampered by having a duty to get law enforcement involved. Yet, at the same time, HSUS brags about its work with law enforcement in other investigations.
Last month, HSUS—along with 15 other animal groups, we might add—helped out in a bust of an alleged interstate dogfighting ring. According to HSUS, the investigation took three years, and HSUS was participating in the case “every step of the way.”
That’s probably a bit of puffery and self-aggrandizement, but it raises the question: If HSUS can work with law enforcement on animal fighting investigations, why can’t it also do so in the instances of rogue farm employees committing animal abuse?
Here’s why: Dogfighting is dogfighting. There’s no “humane” dogfighting. But most farming that goes on is humane—by mainstream veterinary standards. However, HSUS thinks all farming that uses animals is inhumane. And HSUS knows that most Americans are not farmers and are unfamiliar with most livestock practices. So HSUS and other tofu warriors can use the rare instance of farm-animal mistreatment as a media opportunity to tar livestock farming generally—especially if they twist reality, or splice footage in a misleading way.
Unfortunately, those priorities are “bass ackwards.” Imagine if a private citizen didn’t report a serial killer because he wanted to “continue an investigation.” It would be totally irresponsible, as is HSUS’s position here.
HSUS’s claim that a duty to report livestock cruelty would hamper investigations is bogus, as evidenced by its ability to work with law enforcement on other investigations. If you want to stop animal abuse faster, you should get law enforcement involved faster. It’s clear to us that HSUS is putting media and propaganda opportunities ahead of animal welfare. And in doing so, it loses moral authority.