Yesterday, we saw something that doesn’t happen very often. It’s more than HSUS CEO Wayne Pacelle just telling reporters that he thinks Vick “would do a good job as a pet owner.” Pacelle, who tries so desperately (and often successfully) to hide the fact that his moral compass is far outside the mainstream, slipped up and told the truth. And Americans—including countless animal lovers who are accustomed to siding with HSUS—reacted with visceral anger and disgust.
It took Pacelle less than 18 hours to begin backtracking. (Donors are upset, after all.) On his blog this morning, he (or his ghost-writer) attempted to perform major damage-control. Wayne now says “it could be a good thing for Michael Vick’s family to have a pet.”
But that’s not what he said yesterday. Wayne told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that Vick (not Vick’s family) “would do a good job as a pet owner.” He wasn’t misquoted. He is, however, trying to diminish the significance of his gaffe by claiming the newspaper asked him a “simple ‘yes-no’ question.” (There’s nothing unusual, of course, about reporters asking simple yes-no questions. What’s unusual is that Pacelle answered one.)
Will Wayne’s blog be enough to quell the firestorm? Time will tell. But it yesterday’s reactions on Facebook (HSUS’s Facebook page, not ours) are any indication, HSUS members will be barking mad at Pacelle for a long, long time.
These are actual quotes from HSUS’s Facebook wall. We’ve removed last names out of respect for the commenters’ privacy:
- Michelle: “Wow, you have definitely lost a supporter in myself and every other dog lover by supporting Michael Vick getting a dog. It’s amazing what money can make people do.”
- Heather: “WHY DO YOU THINK MICHAEL VICK SHOULD GET A DOG?! ARE YOU CRAZY?!?! And PLEASE stop sending me address labels. I am done supporting you.”
- Kathy: “What is the matter with you?? Would you place a child with a pedophile?? I won't be sending another dime to HSUS until Pacelle is given the boot from this organization!”
- Jessica: “Can someone please explain to me why the President of the HSUS would ever back Michael Vick? He is quoting saying mike Vick would make a good dog owner. I guess everyone has their price!”
- Tina: “Wayne Pacelle supports Michael Vick owning a dog?? I wonder if he eats Smithfield ham.”
- Rodella: “You have lost my support as well.”
- Elizabeth: “You have lost a supporter in me Wayne Pacelle.”
- Amber: “Wow, I have never been so disturbingly sick to my stomach and outraged at the HSUS!!!! Do you realize what you just did?”
- Kelly Smith Johnson: “Money truly does talk and it's speaking loud and clear to the HSUS. Appalling.”
- Jane: “Shame on Pacelle for supporting Michael Vick! Anyone who encourages or enables Vick to get a pet should be jailed for ‘aiding & abetting a known criminal’.”
- Elizabeth: “Please tell Wayne Pacelle to stop defending Vick, It's making me sick.”
- Tammy: ”OMG the president of the Humane Society thinks Vick would be a good dog owner!!!!! What a joke!!!!!!!!!!!”
- Danielle: “If your organization is wondering why it will no longer receive any donations from me or my family, you can attribute it to this offense quote from Wayne Pacelle.”
- Meredith: “Vick does not have to right to use a dog to help him rehabilitate. Vick does not have to right to use any dog ever again for his own personal gain. Wayne's position on this matter cuts like a knife and is a huge betrayal to those of us that have tirelessly stood behind him and defended him … It was a very hard pill to swallow when HSUS initially hooked up with Vick, but this is a deal breaker.”
- Lori: “Mr. Pacelle are you crazy? Have you even read The Lost Dogs?! This man is evil … I can not believe this statement came from a man who is the president of the Humane Society.”
- Crystal: “I have loved you most of my life but I feel you are loving $$ & Michael Vick more than me. I have always supported you & defended you. Please stop e-mailing me for $$. It is time to break up.”
- Tara: “I thought you supported the rights of animals and not dog murdering psychopaths! I guess money really does talk Wayne's language.”
Karen: Give Vick a dog? This group stinks!