Our education campaign telling the public that the Humane Society of the United States only gives 1% of its budget to pet shelters is truly a David-and-Goliath affair. HSUS has about 50 times our budget. But despite this, we’ve had success over the last four years in garnering half a million Facebook followers and spreading the word across the country.
But when you’re effective, and your opponent has a lot of money and a cynical attitude—this is a group that raises $100 million a year from donors who are in the dark, after all—the response from HSUS has been to smear us and, frankly, spread false information. This has not only occurred on its CEO’s blog and Facebook page, but there are surrogate groups—who either have a lot of spare time on their hands or are getting paid for their help—that parrot HSUS’s misinformation and takes it to even more libelous extremes.
The biggest problem with discussing animal issues is that it’s almost impossible to have rational debate. Take the issue of pregnant pig housing. Veterinarians endorse the common form of housing called individual maternity pens. HSUS doesn’t like this system because it restricts movement, but it does allow for individual care and feeding, protects the animals, and meets the animals’ needs.
HSUS claims that this is a “cruel” form of housing. Therefore, by taking the pro-veterinarian position that we have, HSUS can say we “defend animal cruelty”—even though that’s far from the truth. If HSUS is the only arbiter of what’s “cruel,” it can say whatever it likes.
See how this smear works? Well, it actually cuts both ways.
By its own logic, HSUS is advocating animal cruelty. You see, when sows are moved into group housing, they fight for dominance and animals can suffer significant injuries. (It’s the “nature of the beast,” so to speak.) If we wanted to borrow HSUS’s level of discourse, we could start running TV ads of lacerated, screaming pigs and say that HSUS supports animal cruelty.
But that’s not all. Along with trying to silence debate with slimy tactics, HSUS and its advocates have resorted to telling lies. Here are some you might come across on the web.
- HSUS CEO Wayne Pacelle says we’re “almost certainly funded by” seal clubbers and puppy millers. No, we can say with certainty we’re not, as we have told him before. Note the word choice “almost certainly.” It’s weasel words. Imagine if we wrote something like “HSUS’s CEO has never denied being an embezzler.” That might be technically true the way it’s parsed, but it’s still defamatory and sleazy—just like his comments about us. And for the record, we’re open about our funding: Foundations, individuals, and food and restaurant companies.
- HSUS surrogates say we “defend” crush videos, which involve killing small animals for sexual gratification. In fact, it’s the opposite. We’ve called people who like crush videos “perverts.” They say we defend killing contests. We never have. Shark finning? Another thing we haven’t defended. They say we defend illegal fur trade and dairy cow abuse. We do not advocate illegal acts or abuse. They say we defend horse soring. Again, we do not defend this or other illegal acts.
It’s preposterous. It’s hard to imagine what defense they would have in a libel lawsuit. Would it be that they live in an alternate universe? It’s even more bizarre considering this group of malcontented HSUS backers has already retracted false and defamatory personal attacks it made against one of our staffers.
Intellectual dishonesty is bad enough. But lying about us is another thing.
Almost no one is for animal cruelty, even if they disagree on policy. The best thing anyone–any rational reader–can do is to take a calm approach to animal issues and look at the arguments on both sides.