Last weekend, the Humane Society of the United States biennial conference, Taking Action For Animals (TAFA), took place just outside Washington, DC. Once upon a time, TAFA was one of the more popular conferences in the animal liberation movement. These days, the conference draws only a scant handful of non-Humane Society booths in the exhibit hall and the number of attendees has dwindled.
Given the circumstances behind former HSUS CEO Wayne Pacelle’s resignation in February following sexual-harassment allegations, you can’t blame people for wanting to steer clear.
There were—and this is a generous estimate—approximately 200 attendees at TAFA, with the audience trending more toward the grey-haired crowd. Compare this to the Animal Rights National Conference hosted not even a month before in Los Angeles which attracted 400-500 people, or more than double.
Meanwhile, both of these conferences were dwarfed by Direct Action Everywhere’s conference in May, which attracted 1,200-plus people—many of them young—and culminated in the raiding of a California egg farm.
TAFA was hardly a blip. Not a single session was packed—empty chairs outnumbered people and pets combined.
The Humane Society of the United States filled the exhibit hall with its own booths, split up into single-issue areas, in an attempt to make the exhibit hall appear full. A handful of organizations were somehow convinced to set up their own booths, relegated to their own cramped slice of the room.
We’ve covered the absurd amount of money HSUS spends on advertising (hint: it’s a lot) and this conference was akin to walking through a giant HSUS ad.
As HSUS bleeds devoted followers, it’s time to ask: should we put TAFA on the endangered list?