Yesterday, I posted an article in response to the false claim by Best Friends and Brandywine Valley SPCA that Delaware is the nation’s first No Kill state. Although killing is down over 90% from its high water mark, Best Friends and Brandywine Valley SPCA had nothing to do with it. In addition, animals are still being killed who can and should be saved; some of them historically killed “off book.” As such, it is not yet No Kill.

I called Best Friends out for taking credit for the success of others, for ignoring why Delaware has been successful (and fighting the effort in other states), for rendering those animals still dying invisible, and by declaring victory before victory has been achieved, for potentially delaying needed reform to save them.

One of the comments I received was from someone who was upset with me for doing so. The commenter said a “great org” like Best Friends should not be criticized because they do so much “good.” He lamented what he saw as infighting in the movement and said such infighting “hurts me to no end.”

I am not insensitive to his concern, naive though I think it is, and I realize the divided nature of the animal protection movement can be frustrating. But here’s why I think his distress is misplaced.

As I said, in Delaware, Best Friends ignores why the state has been very successful (and fights those efforts in other states, thus allowing killing to continue), takes credit for the success of others (impacting their ability to save more lives), claims victory before victory is achieved (thus undermining efforts to save more lives), and sweeps under the rug the killing still occurring (rendering that killing invisible and delaying needed reform to save those lives). And Delaware isn’t an aberration.

Misrepresenting the success of others as their own, misrepresenting the causes of success, declaring premature victories, are all standard operating procedure for Best Friends and explains in part why they are so tremendously wealthy. They have done the same to other groups and in other cities, but few challenge them for fear of backlash from supporters who lionize them but have no understanding what is really going on behind the curtain of the animal protection movement. And Best Friends is not an aberration.

They are only one of the “corporate animal welfare” groups that not only dissipate the success this movement can have when they squander the largesse given to them, but actively stand in the way of progress, such as when Best Friends, the ASPCA, and HSUS worked to kill legislation in New York State that had the potential to save at least 25,000 animals a year (the same legislation that is responsible for the success in Delaware Best Friends now falsely takes credit for).

And yet, whenever I expose the many ways in which Best Friends, HSUS, the ASPCA, or PETA undermine efforts to save lives, betray the mission they ostensibly exist to promote, kill or cause animals to be killed, there are invariably those who come to their defense by stating that these organizations should not be criticized because they “do so much good for animals.” It is a tragically commonplace argument, but no less indefensible because of it. In effect, they are arguing that because some of the money donated to these organizations may actually be used for its intended purpose, that they have earned the right to cause harm to other animals themselves — in some cases, terrible, irreversible, life-ending harm.

And not only does this argument capriciously surrender the welfare of animals and the principles which should guide all advocacy on their behalf, but it also hinders the cause by setting the bar for these organizations at a dismally low — in fact, counterproductive — level. We do not need to accept nor tolerate some harm of animals in one sphere in order to promote their well-being in another. The corruption at these organizations is neither inherent, nor inevitable. Some animal suffering and some animal killing are not and never have been the price we must pay to end other animal suffering and killing. In fact, as the faulty logic of that statement clearly demonstrates, to believe so is to surrender to self-defeat. When animal lovers stop making excuses for the betrayals and funding those betrayals with their donations, the leadership of these organizations would be forced to reform.

So rather than get upset at those actually responsible for the decline in killing, those who call them out for taking credit for the success of other, or those who do not want healthy and treatable animals to continue dying because Best Friends is falsely claiming they are suffering so they could raise even more money to buy more private planes, and “for profit” businesses, and put even more money in the pockets of the founders, people should be upset at Best Friends for their inauthenticity, their duplicity, and their hampering of progress.

Which compels me to ask: At what point did the need for heroes become more important than the cause — indeed more important than the animals themselves?

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