Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? Who will guard the guards themselves? It was interesting to note a recent website launch designed to keep watch on the Humane Society of the United States, a group whose stated purpose is to “seek a humane and sustainable world for all animals.” Its Canadian affiliate is Humane Society International.
What could be wrong with that, and why does HSUS need watching? You might well be inclined to wonder.
The Centre for Consumer Freedom in the United States said it’s because HSUS is on par with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals in its approach to food animal production.
Accordingly, it launched HumaneWatch.org, a self-described “watchdog project” to monitor the HSUS. See it for yourself by clicking here.
Complaints from agriculture groups about HSUS activities have become more numerous among the organizations that I monitor. I happened to be in the United States during this year’s super bowl, (though not in Miami) so I watched the game and the accompanying ads on American television.
In at least one of the coveted and expensive super bowl advertising slots was a lengthy commercial from HSUS. It featured the expected content about injured and unwanted dogs and cats, but also unexpected clips of dairy cows and, if memory serves, pigs and chickens in barn environments. It was an evocative ad, one that could easily encourage donations to the HSUS.
However, the CCF group says the HSUS “neither operates nor is legally affiliated with any pet shelters anywhere,” and is using donations for other purposes that benefactors might not fully understand.
The HSUS website encourages an end to “factory farming.” And it has recently criticized some American farm groups for their advocacy work in support of food animal production. It says farm group efforts to forge relationships with SPCAs and similar groups are not a good thing.
How’s that again?
Said HSUS president Wayne Pacelle, in a newsletter: “We urge you not to be deceived by this newly hatched effort by the Farm Bureau to enlist you in opposing legitimate and mainstream animal welfare reforms for animals used in agribusiness.”
Seems odd to me that HSUS doesn’t support agricultural industry efforts to improve conditions for food animals, but that seems to be the case.
It appears the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association has been watching developments, because earlier this week it issued a statement related to donations for animal causes.
“Those interested in animal rights more than animal care often have a stated goal of ending animal agriculture,” said the CCA, adding that it encourages people to understand the nature of groups to which they donate.
The cattlemen’s group suggests that those interested in animal health and care consider the various animal care councils operating in Canada, as well as local shelters and branches of the SPCA.
There is no doubt that farmers and ranchers are interested in animal health and might be interested in donating to animal care causes. But the CCA advice is good: know the specifics of groups you choose to support.