Wayne Pacelle is CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, a group that deceptively raises money from animal lovers with images of cats and dogs while sending only 1 percent of the money to pet shelters. HSUS doesn’t run a single pet shelter of its own. Much of the money is plowed into overhead costs, and what is put to work pushes an animal liberation agenda—far different from the animal welfare advocate Pacelle portrays himself as.
We’ve written before about how Pacelle, not long before he joined HSUS, said “I don’t want to see another dog or cat born” and “I don’t have a have a hands-on fondness for animals…there’s no special bond between me and other animals.” Pacelle also wrote that eating meat is “speciesist,” which is to say you’re discriminating against chickens by eating them. Or something. (Yeah, it’s weird to us, too.)
It turns out Pacelle elaborated a bit on his philosophy. Browsing the archives of the Yale Daily News—he was openly a zealot while in college—we discovered Pacelle making the following statements:
- “I don’t love animals or think they are cute.”
- “We equate speciesism—the belief that one’s species is superior to all others—with racism and sexism.”
- “Animals have their own rights. We’re animals too.”
- “Animals are no one’s property, and they have the right not be ‘taken,’ ‘harvested,’ or ‘culled’ or any other euphemism for murder that wildlife managers use. They are no one’s property, just as you and I are no one’s property other than our own.”
This is radical stuff—no animals as property means no pet ownership—but actually fairly standard for the animal liberation movement. Animal liberation activists don’t want animals used for food, used for potentially life-saving medical research, used for clothing, etc. They think animals are modern-day slaves and think of their human owners as oppressors (or Nazis).
Now, to be fair, plenty of us said or did things in college that we may look back upon and wish we hadn’t. So does grown-up Wayne still hold these kooky beliefs today?
Speaking to the Los Angeles Times in 2008, Pacelle stated his belief that “Animals for the most part just need to be left alone” and that “The whole ‘rights’ thing is fraught with so much. I’m not sure I believe in any natural right.” The Times notes that Pacelle “never refers to himself as an animal rights activist, always an animal protection ‘advocate.’”
This is an interesting distinction in words. Pacelle knows how to play PR games, and “animal protection advocate” definitely has a better ring with the public than “animal rights activist,” which might conjure up images of some half-naked PETA activist handing out tofu dogs. Similarly, if he started ranting today about how animals shouldn’t be property, it wouldn’t be good for his fundraising and would tear down the façade he’s built for himself. Pacelle’s incentive to appear moderate seems to involve a little historical revisionism, too. The Times notes, “Pacelle said he has always loved animals.” Clearly that’s not the case, since Pacelle himself wrote “I don’t love animals or find them cute” in the Yale Daily News.
Pacelle’s statement that animals need to be “left alone” is something that his younger self espoused as well in arguing that animals have “rights.” In the same essay Pacelle admitted that he didn’t love animals, he wrote, “To leave [animals] alone and to allow animals to live their own lives in their appropriate environments…is to recognize their rights.” Logically applied, this means that we shouldn’t be using animals on farms or hunting them.
It seems “moderate Wayne” and “radical Wayne” have a significant amount in common. Certainly, Pacelle’s goals appear the same, whatever the exact philosophy behind them is. Pacelle doesn’t believe in using animals for food and wants to end animal agriculture. He wants to end hunting. He wants a “humane economy” that doesn’t involve eggs, hot dogs, cheeseburger, leather shoes, and silk shirts.
He should be honest about that to the public, instead of misleading people as to what they’re funding by giving money to HSUS. And while he’s at it, perhaps he’ll be kind enough to let us know whether he still doesn’t love animals or find them cute.