Last week, I wrote a blog called “The Indictment of Wayne Pacelle” where I laid out ten examples of how Pacelle, the CEO of the Humane Society of the United States has used his position in the animal protection movement to harm animals:
- In count one, I argued that Wayne Pacelle betrayed the victims of Michael Vick by lobbying to have them killed, even as he embraced their abuser, to the detriment of the animals and our cause.
- In count two, I showed how in 1993, Wayne Pacelle’s group, the Fund For Animals, sought legislation to round up and kill cats in California. Despite only a couple of cat rabies cases per year, and some years none, one of those bills would have empowered animal control officers to kill cats on sight in the field if they didn’t have proof of rabies.
- In count three, I discussed how in 2007, Wayne Pacelle lobbied to have Michael Vick’s victims killed, falsely claiming that “Officials from our organization have examined some of these dogs and, generally speaking, they are some of the most aggressively trained pit bulls in the country.” In fact, following their actual assessment, only one dog was deemed too vicious to save. He thus lied, perjuring himself as an advocate for the mass slaughter of abuse victims. But he almost succeeded in having them killed.
- In count four, I wrote how in April of 2008, the town council of Randolph, Iowa announced a bounty, offering $5 to anyone who brought a cat to the pound. In most cases, those cats would be put to death. While cat lovers cried foul and tried to stop the initiative, Pacelle’s handpicked Vice-President of Companion Animals at HSUS, the man who himself killed animals as the director of a pound in Florida, defended the Randolph effort saying that HSUS doesn’t have a problem with killing stray cats.
- In count five, I demonstrated how in August of 2008, the pound in Tangipahoa Parish, LA ordered the killing of every animal in their facility. The culprit: a mild corona virus that caused diarrhea in just a handful of dogs, which is not contagious to cats, and is self-limiting, meaning it resolves on its own without any medical intervention. More than 170 dogs and cats were killed. HSUS came to the pound’s defense, blaming the killing on pet overpopulation and that people do not care enough about animals, thereby exonerating the pound.
- In count six, I showed how in February of 2009, over 150 Pit Bull-type dogs and puppies were seized from a dog fighter in Wilkes County, North Carolina. Each and every one was systematically put to death over the opposition of rescue groups, dog advocates, and others. Some of the puppies were born after the seizure. And a foster parent was even ordered to return two-week old puppies she had nursed back to health to be killed. As with the Vick case, HSUS staff perjured themselves before the court, testifying that all the dogs, including the two week old bottle feeders, were irremediably vicious and should be put to death. The court sided with Pacelle’s “experts.” 150 victims lay dead, not by a dog fighter, not by an abuser, but because of Wayne Pacelle’s insistence that they should be put to death.
- In count seven, I explained how in March 2009, a San Francisco, CA Commission took up the issue of a No Kill city by considering shelter reform legislation to mandate the types of lifesaving programs the pounds in that community were refusing to implement voluntarily, killing animals for being “too fat,” “too old,” “too playful,” and “too shy.” But the law, and the No Kill reform effort, was be tabled after Pacelle himself wrote a letter insisting on the right of “shelters” to kill animals in the face of readily available lifesaving alternatives they simply refuse to implement, arguing that pet overpopulation prevented more lifesaving, and arguing that “shelters” should not be regulated.
- In count eight, I showed how a 2010 survey of New York State rescue groups found that 71% of them were being turned away by at least one “shelter,” and those “shelters” then turned around and killed the very animals they offered to save. The end result is that tens of thousands of animals are being killed in New York State pounds even though they have an immediate place to go. Legislation to mandate collaboration which would have saved those lives at no cost to taxpayers, was not supported by HSUS. And when animal advocates tried to mandate shelter reform in Texas, including banning the cruel gas chamber, HSUS helped coordinate the opposition, which argued that shelters are the experts and should be left to decide how they operate.
- In count nine, I explained how every year, Wayne Pacelle’s organization calls for a celebration called “National Animal Shelter Appreciation Week,” where we are asked to reward animal shelters and the “dedicated people” who work at them. According to the annual press release, HSUS is “the strongest advocate” for shelters. But at the same time as HSUS proclaims itself the Number 1 cheerleader for killing shelters in the country, there is an ever-increasing amount of nationwide media coverage revealing widespread animal neglect and outright abuse at these very institutions. And when it does come out, HSUS either is silent, looks the other way, or, more egregiously, defends the abusive and/or poorly performing “shelters,” as they did in King County, Washington, Miami-Dade, Florida, Eugene, Oregon, New York City, Rockland County, New York, Paige County, Virginia, and elsewhere.
- In count ten, I demonstrated a deliberate strategy of fraud in HSUS fundraising under Pacelle’s leadership. When Wayne Pacelle misled donors by asking for money for the care of the Michael Vick dogs even though HSUS not only wasn’t caring for the dogs, but was actively seeking to have them put to death, it wasn’t the first time he did so. Misrepresentation is a recurring pattern and deliberate part of Pacelle’s fundraising strategy: Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Gustav, deliberately confusing donors that they are the local humane society, and the “Faye” debacle, are just some of the scandals I discussed.
HSUS responded in part and self-proclaimed “animal rights” defenders of HSUS responded in part, in a combination of “explanatory” e-mails directly from HSUS and on “animal rights” list-serves and discussion groups. Not a single one of them, however, has responded to the allegations. How could they? They offer damning, irrefutable evidence that Pacelle and his acolytes at HSUS have engaged in a consistent pattern to kill animals or cause animals to be killed, to defraud donors, and to thwart reform efforts in local communities across the country designed to improve neglectful and abusive killing pounds. In fact, both HSUS and its supports have essentially conceded them. It is one thing to ignore the “indictment” altogether. It is quite another to issue a response and not mention why they committed fraud in fundraising, why they called for the killing of bottle feeding puppies, why they fight for the right of shelters to kill animals, and why they opposed legislation banning the cruel gas chamber. That is tantamount to an admission on all counts.
Instead, HSUS and its killing apologists argued that:
- Michael Vick deserves a second chance.
- HSUS does so much good.
- I’m anti-animal because in 2007, I answered some questions posed to me in an e-mail from an organization called the Center for Consumer Freedom, which is funded by agribusiness.
‘Michael Vick’s Victims Should be Killed; Their Abuser Deserves To Abuse Even More Dogs’
The argument that Michael Vick deserves a second chance, even as HSUS argued that his victims did not, speaks for itself. To this day, Vick claims that his beating dogs to death, electrocuting them, hanging them, shooting them, drowning them, and burying them alive was his way of expressing “a different kind of love” and Wayne Pacelle has agreed. Tragically, not only would Michael Vick still be doing those things if he could, Pacelle has tried to help him do it by claiming that “Mike,” as he calls the most notorious animal abuser of our generation and the newest spokesman for HSUS, would make a good dog owner and should be allowed to have dogs again. Indeed, by giving Vick his old life back, Pacelle has undone the lesson every kid in American learned: abuse a dog and you’ll lose everything. Instead, with the embrace of Vick, he gave them a very different lesson: if the lives of animals don’t matter much to the Humane Society of the United States, why should they matter to you.
‘HSUS Deserves a Blank Check to Harm Animals’
The argument that we should all ignore the “crimes” Pacelle has committed against animals, because HSUS does so many good things for animals would be ludicrous, if it wasn’t so disturbing. But it is an argument that appears to have resonated with some animal rights activists; arguments also being made both about the ASPCA’s pro-killing policies and PETA’s campaign not only to seek out and exterminate thousands of animals a year, but to give pounds the ability to slaughter even more than they already do. In short, they are saying that, “HSUS does so much good, they should have carte blanche to do terrible, irreversible, life ending things, too.”
Even if it were true that HSUS does “so many good things” for animals (and I am not so sure that they do), it does not entitle them to a blank check to call for the killing of two-week old puppies. It does not entitle them to thwart the efforts of animal lovers trying to end the killing of dogs and cats in their communities. It does not entitle them to perjure themselves in court so that 150 dogs, including bottle-feeding puppies, are put to death. It does not entitle them to defraud donors by misrepresenting the work of rescue groups as their own. Nor does it entitle them to excuse the mass killing of cats in response to diarrhea in a small handful of dogs. Yet that is HSUS’ argument, and that is the argument apologists for HSUS (and ASPCA and PETA) are making on behalf of the organization.
‘We Can’t Attack the Message So We Are Going to Attack the Messenger’
The final argument being made in defense of Wayne Pacelle was first made by a woman who defends pounds that savagely abuse animals, a woman named Pat Dunaway. Dunaway defended a shelter where a puppy was beaten with a baton by an animal control officer because he was too scared to go into a kennel, where the director returned a dog who was lit on fire back to his abuser because he didn’t want to pay for the dog’s medical care as required by state law while the criminal case was pending, a pound that killed animals rescue groups had requested as retribution for exposing inhumane conditions, and a pound that forced animals to remain in filthy conditions, including algae-covered water bowls. This is a woman who also allegedly has a history of neglecting or abusing dogs herself. Nonetheless, her absurd claim that I am a front for the Center for Consumer Freedom has been reiterated by “animal rights activists” who claim to be motivated by a love of animals.
As a fierce critic of the pro-killing policies of HSUS, PETA, and the ASPCA, I have been the target of many untrue allegations and rumors by Pat Dunaway, including that I am in league with puppy mills and that I work with and have accepted money from the Center for Consumer Freedom. In the past, I have written blogs refuting each of these allegations, explaining that I do not breed animals, that I have worked to expose and oppose puppy mills, and that I have hosted anti-puppy mill workshops at each No Kill Conference that my organization, the No Kill Advocacy Center, has sponsored.
While my blogs refuting the puppy mill rumors has quieted those allegations, people continue to spread the rumor that I am a front for the Center for Consumer Freedom, that, in fact, my efforts to publicly expose the actions taken by HSUS and PETA that result in direct harm to animals are motivated not by a desire to stop that harm and reorient those organizations back to life-saving, but by a desire to harm the animal rights movement. Anyone who has read my books on sheltering (Redemption and Irreconcilable Differences) or any of the other extensive writings I have done would know how hollow these assertions are. These writings demonstrate that my goal is to end the unnecessary killing of four million animals in our nation’s pounds every year. They also reveal that the biggest roadblock standing in the way of that success is the animal protection movement itself: primarily the regressive kill-oriented directors of roughly 3,000 “shelters” across the country, and the leadership of the large, national organizations that protect and defend them and their “right to kill,” namely, Wayne Pacelle, Ingrid Newkirk at PETA, and Ed Sayres of the ASPCA, organizations and individuals I have no choice but to fight out of tragic and dire necessity.
The basis of their claim that I am a front for the Center for Consumer Freedom is that in 2007, I received an e-mail from one of their representatives relating to my book Redemption, asking me if I would answer roughly half a dozen questions about it. I agreed to answer their questions in an e-mail back to them on one condition. I told them that if I did answer their questions, they could not edit them for content. And they had to print them verbatim or send them to me for review, where I will exercise veto power over their right to publish them. They agreed. And I answered the questions. I have never met the Center for Consumer Freedom people, do not and have not ever received any money from them, and do not agree with their other views about animals. In fact, All American Vegan, my vegan cookbook coauthored with my wife, promotes a vision for society fundamentally at odds with the Center for Consumer Freedom mandate. They do not support the book and they’ve not promoted it.
Ironically, about the same time, HSUS asked if they could interview me about the No Kill movement, and I agreed with the same caveat, knowing that they have printed outright lies about the No Kill movement in their publications in the past. I told them they had to print my answers verbatim or send them to me for review and I would exercise veto power over their right to publish them. They refused. And I did not do the interview. But had they agreed, had they done so, no one could claim I was in league with HSUS. Such a claim would be absurd, given my vociferous opposition to their policies which favor killing.
And though I do not agree with the Center for Consumer Freedom on their larger platform, on the issue of HSUS and PETA hypocrisy over their embrace of killing, and in the case of PETA their actual killing, they are correct. It is not the Center for Consumer Freedom which is thwarting our effort to achieve a No Kill nation, it is Wayne Pacelle and Ingrid Newkirk. In fact, it is also those individuals who seek to shield HSUS and PETA from public accountability for their actions, or as in the current situation, who imply that those of us who expect that the people who staff those organizations have a duty to authentically represent our cause and not misuse or abuse their power, that are harmful to the animal protection movement.
Every time the Center for Consumer Freedom places an ad in a newspaper that exposes the grisly and deeply disturbing truth about PETA’s killing, or the truth about HSUS’ fraudulent fundraising claims, our anger should be directed at those committing the “crimes” being reported, not those reporting it. Our anger should be against Pacelle and Newkirk not only for harming animals, but for misrepresenting our movement. The longer we seek to shield Newkirk and Pacelle from their “crimes” and from a public accounting for their decisions which harm the well-being of animals, the more emboldened their corruption will become, and, in the case of PETA, the more animals they will continue to seek out to kill.
Were we to simply clean house as a movement, and expel from our ranks those who seek to subvert the very goals we exist to promote, we would eliminate one of the sharpest weapons anti-animal organizations have to fight the cause of animal protection: the hypocrisy of our so-called leaders. That the Center for Consumer Freedom has chosen to fight by working to expose the corruption of the animal rights movement is, in many ways, a Catch-22. Should they prevail in forcing reform of HSUS and PETA—a cause I fully endorse as should every true animal lover—they lose a powerful weapon, and the broader animal protection movement benefits as a result. By defending HSUS and PETA, self-proclaimed “animal rights” activists are also subverting our cause.
We are, and should be, first and foremost a movement of ideals, a belief in the right of animals to be free of suffering and abuse, and, most importantly, to be free to live their lives. These values are the heart of our cause, the reason we exist. Organizations and leaders exist to promote ideals. As I have written so many times before, it is not who is right, but what is right that should dictate our behavior and our allegiance. When individuals and organizations authentically represent the goals of our movement, we should stand by them. When individuals and organizations fail to do so, as HSUS and PETA have done over and over again, not only should we expose them for the frauds that they are, our duty to animals dictates that we do.
I wrote Redemption because my pleas to shelters and my pleas to the large national organizations that the key to ending the killing had been discovered was falling on deaf or defiant ears. The movement chose to ignore that success and continue killing, despite the lifesaving alternative represented by the No Kill philosophy and made a practical reality by the No Kill Equation. So I chose to go over their heads and take my message directly to the people.
To that end, I chose to speak—and will continue to speak—with anyone who wants to listen about how the organizations that are supposed to champion animals in reality cause them great harm. I believe that by talking to anyone and everyone about shelter killing and the hypocrisy of groups like HSUS and PETA, we will eventually reach a critical consensus against killing and in favor of No Kill and fix our nation’s cruel and dysfunctional animal shelter system.
Because if wait for those who claim to be motivated by a love of animals but who blindly follow Pacelle and Newkirk, animals will continue to be neglected, abused, and needlessly killed in perpetuity. We must reach a larger audience because our so-called “friends” refuse to educate themselves and learn the truth about who they’ve given their allegiance to (it is certainly not the animals). They are intellectually lazy and looking for a convenient excuse to ignore the No Kill message in favor of the status quo which is comfortable, familiar, and does not require re-orienting their world view. They’ve found their identity intertwined with their association with HSUS or PETA and the animals can be damned before they’ll give that up.
But I’ve got a message for them, for anyone who would dismiss me because I chose to answer some questions in an e-mail: As an activist, as someone who claims to care about animals, you have a choice as well. You can choose to listen to that message and help us end the unnecessary killing of millions of animals every year, or you can choose to believe untrue rumors and allegations that give you a convenient excuse not to, and become a roadblock to saving four million animals a year, a killing which is being supported by organizations you embrace. The choice is yours.
But if you continue to embrace Wayne Pacelle despite his own embrace of the most notorious animal abuser of our generation, even after he lobbied to have that abuser’s victims killed; If you embrace Wayne Pacelle despite all he has done to harm animals under the theory that his organization is entitled to a blank check because they do other “good things” for animals; If you give your allegiance to an organization because it claims to be for animals welfare or animal rights, even though they actively undermine the rights of animals and, in fact, work to kill them; you do not really care about or value animals. You certainly do not love them, because there is no way to torture the definition of “love” enough to encompass an embrace of someone who promotes killing, is an apologist for killers, an accomplice to killing, a defender of abusive pounds, a thief, a bully, and a liar, with “crimes” against animals going back over 15 years. If you support him despite that, you are a fake. And you know it.