My Thoughts On HSUS
As a participant in SM, specifically with Twitter & Facebook, I am encountering more questions from folks asking “Why is the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) so bad?” and “What do you have against HSUS?”
This has especially come to the forefront following the successful grassroots effort that resulted in Yellow Tail Wines withdrawing their support of HSUS, re-evaluating their donation policy and the current effort directed towards Pilot Travel Centers and their corporate sponsorship of HSUS. It is my opinion that many of these companies and the public have been mislead by the HSUS and do not fully understand the intent and motivation of this organization.
I fully support companies supporting animal shelters, we all know they are in need of financial assistance, but let’s make sure those dollars are really going to help animals and not working against caring, hard working farmers and ranchers.
In an attempt to make clear my concerns, I have put together a few key issues that I have with HSUS.
1. HSUS considers livestock to be companion animals & often places animals as equals to humans.
The vast majority of farmers and ranchers take extremely good care of their livestock. Note, I said livestock, not companion animal or human equivalent, which is how they are viewed by HSUS & other animal rights groups. Farmers and ranchers understand the important relationship between stress & health and strive to keep their livestock under low stress & healthy. It is this attention to making sure livestock are happy & healthy that leads to feelings from spouses, at times, that the critters are getting more attention than they are. I care deeply for all of the livestock our family raises. My dog is definitely a dependable (most of the time) helper on the ranch. However, if my son were in danger at the same time as my dog and a calf, my son gets my attention first and foremost EVERY time. There is NO hesitation!
2. HSUS strategy is to implement laws and regulations that incrementally work towards the abolishment of animal agriculture and promote a vegan lifestyle for both humans & canines.
Farmers and ranchers live and breathe animal care, day in and day out. They have learned best management practices, and are constantly adapting those practices through firsthand experience and new scientifically supported methods so that livestock are handled in as stress free an environment as possible. On the other hand, the HSUS is constantly trying to implement laws and regulations on farms and ranches that are not based on science or practical experience, serving only to hinder the efforts of caring farmers and ranchers and place the producer and animal in jeopardy, both in terms of safety and health. It is and has been the HSUS practice to “dictate” management practices on animal agriculture without basis, instead of trying to understand current practices and working with industry to make improvements where necessary. The bottom line, from personal observation and experience, is that the HSUS wants to regulate farms & ranches out of business.
3. HSUS goes undercover to expose bad apples.
For the record, I do not have a problem with “bad apples” being exposed and held accountable for their actions. Anyone who intentionally abuses animals should not be allowed to own animals. It is wrong. Having said that, here are the issues I have with HSUS tactics. First, undercover reporting for political gain, in my opinion, is deceptive and wrong on several levels. HSUS’s practice is to record violations & then hold the video for opportune periods of time in which to air the videos so that they can gain financially & politically. If someone is undercover, and they truly care about welfare of the animals, they should address questionable actions immediately, not wait a month or several months to “reveal” the practices at a politically advantageous moment. As a rancher, when I see someone mistreating an animal I don’t wait; I address the issue at the time it happens so it doesn’t continue. Why? Simple, I truly care about the welfare of animals, want to help teach and share better methods with fellow livestock producers and don’t have an agenda to make money, gain political points or get prime time exposure.
4. HSUS advertisements are misleading.
We have all seen the commercials that play on people’s emotions, requesting money to help these “poor animals.” In fact, based upon the HSUS’s own tax returns, they spend less than 1% of their annual budget of over $100 million on direct ground level animal care and assistance. The remaining 99.5% of their budget is spent on lobbying, implementing ballot initiatives, publicity campaigns and lining the pockets of HSUS employees. Unfortunately, by association of name similarity, many people believe that the HSUS is related to the hard working, underfunded local Humane Societies and animal shelters, which is NOT the case. If you want to see your money go directly to helping care for pets that have been abandoned, mis-treated or need medical attention, and not into someone’s pocket, keep your donation local.
In conclusion, I applaud folks like Temple Grandin, who see opportunities to improve management practices and work with industry to make positive changes. I am grateful to the university system which is constantly testing and evaluating industry practices and equipment, looking for new and better ways to raise livestock in safer, healthier and less stressful ways and then sharing that information with students & industry through outreach. I appreciate the underfunded local humane societies and animal shelters and promote their efforts in order to bring them more financial support. And, I encourage fellow farmers and ranchers to evaluate each other’s practices and call into question those that are not appropriate, so that changes can be made for the benefit of the animals.