The Humane Society of the United States—not affiliated with the many local humane societies and pet shelters that do good work finding homes for pets—is a fundraising machine. According to the American Institute of Philanthropy, HSUS spends up to 42 cents of every dollar it raises on fundraising. So HSUS churns out one direct mail solicitation after another, factory-fundraising style. The solicitations usually feature sad-looking cats and dogs—even though only 1 percent of the money HSUS raises is given to pet shelters.
The latest HSUS fundraising shtick isn’t—for once—dogs and cats. But it could be just as cynical.
HSUS is raising money off of an undercover investigation it did over a year ago at a pig farm in Wyoming. The core of the video is an HSUS investigator tending to an injured pig. But strangely, it’s an injury situation that could be on the rise—thanks to HSUS.
Most pork farmers who have pregnant pigs house them in individual maternity pens, a method approved of by swine veterinarians. But HSUS (which is not a veterinary group) disagrees, and is campaigning to ban maternity pens and move farmers to group housing.
The problem is that group housing can lead to sows bullying and fighting with each other for food or dominance. And that could be exactly what happened to the injured sow in the HSUS fundraising video.
As you can see from the screenshots, the sow is in a group pen and HSUS describes injuries to the sow’s feet, but does not say how the animal was hurt. We asked a swine expert for his take, and he says the injuries are consistent with abuse from pen-mates. (If you want to see HSUS’s heavily edited and manipulated video, click here.) Further, if the animal was malnourished, basic husbandry indicates that the sow should have been separated from the other animals in the pen and given food. Did the HSUS investigator tell her managers to do this? We don’t know.
So in short, we have HSUS begging for dollars because of a problem that will almost surely increase due to HSUS’s campaign. And then HSUS can simply raise more money on this problem, even if it’s a problem of HSUS’s own proliferation. Is it fair to call this animal exploitation?
One last thing is worth noting before HSUS’s spinmeisters say something about our position that isn’t true. Some of the workers at this farm were criminally charged with animal abuse for other acts, such as kicking and beating pigs.
But housing sows is different. Despite HSUS lumping it in under the “inhumane” banner, both the American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Association of Swine Veterinarians have found that individual maternity pens provide for animal welfare.
But again, HSUS is not a veterinary group. It’s a vegan activist group that has a goal of animal rights/“liberation”—which is different from animal welfare. HSUS specializes in propaganda and manipulation in order to raise money. And with its latest fundraising push, its cynicism in chasing money seems to have reached a new low.