“Which red-blooded male hasn’t sexually harassed somebody? Women should be able to take care of themselves.”
“We’re not an association that investigates sexual harassment. We raise funds for animals.”
Quotes from Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) Board Member explaining why CEO Wayne Pacelle will not be fired after an investigation confirmed sexual harassment allegations against Pacelle, including telling a female staff member he wanted to masturbate in front of her.
When employees working at the Davidson County, NC, pound put a raccoon in the gas chamber with a mother cat and her kitten in order to sadistically watch them fight before they died, they laughed. “The gas chamber has two windows, one on either side. The raccoon and the adult cat started fighting. Then they turned the gas on. The adult cat got on one corner and the raccoon got on the other, and as soon as they turned on the gas, the kitten started shaking and going into convulsions.” A contractor working at the pound that day said he was sickened by it. The Humane Society of the United States under CEO Wayne Pacelle called the pound “a shelter we love.”
When Michigan tried to pass a law to prevent animal abusers from gaining access to animals from shelters, breeders, and pet stores, Wayne Pacelle fought it, saying it would “shun” and “shame” abusers.
When Michael Vick hanged dogs, nailed them to boards, drowned, and electrocuted them, Pacelle said the survivors should be killed, but Vick forgiven (including getting his old job back and getting other dogs).
When Minnesota introduced legislation to ban the gas chamber, ban heartsticking (plunging a syringe through several layers of muscle into an unanesthetized cat or dog’s heart), and end convenience killing, HSUS under Pacelle lobbied for animals to die and killed the bill because a friend who runs a shelter asked them to.
Throughout it all, the Board of Directors of the HSUS looked the other way.
When Wayne Pacelle engaged in sexually predatory behavior against multiple women, including requests to masturbate in front of them and to perform oral sex on them, the Board of Directors kept right on looking the other way. He also took a female employee “turned her around, pushed her over his desk and rubbed his genitals against her.”
When Paul Shapiro, Pacelle’s Vice-President, sexually harassed both men and women, including sending pornography and telling a female employee to “take one for the team” by having non-consensual sex with a donor, they looked the other way. They looked the other way despite at least four lawsuits against others in their organization for sexual harassment. They looked the other way when funds for protecting wildlife were misused to pay settlements on harassment.
But when funders threatened to pull their money, they launched an investigation. And now that the media has become interested, including coverage in the Washington Post, the New York Daily News, and the Chronicle of Philanthropy, for a small time, it looked like they would finally take it seriously. (It was also covered by Politico, ABC News, and the New York Times.)
But ultimately, they decided to let Pacelle stay, throwing women (and animals) under the bus. “The C.E.O. stays, and rightfully so,” one board member told the New York Times. “We’re not an association that investigates sexual harassment. We raise funds for animals.” In short, they’re not about protecting women. They’re not about protecting men. They’re not even about protecting animals. They’re about fundraising and Pacelle can fundraise.
Worse, “She said Mr. Pacelle had ‘done nothing wrong,’ adding, ‘Which red-blooded male hasn’t sexually harassed somebody? Women should be able to take care of themselves.’
“She added, ‘We’d have no C.E.O.s and no executives of American companies if none of them had affairs. It’s nonsense.’”
Seven Board Members resigned as a result, leaving Pacelle and the rest of the Board in their echo chamber and victims of Pacelle’s misconduct, both two-legged and four-legged, without a voice.
We should not be surprised. Time and again, both the Board and Pacelle have proved by their gross indifference, callous misconduct, and predatory behavior, that they do not care about animals or people. Why should they start now?
Addendum: The Board may not care, but donors do. The press does. The public does. Today, Wayne Pacelle resigned. (As did the Board member who made the above comments.)
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