Home > Animal Welfare, HSUS > My Thoughts On HSUS

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.

  1. February 26, 2010 at 12:23 PM

    Well said.

  2. February 26, 2010 at 6:39 PM

    Very accurate in my opinion also and well said!!!

  3. February 26, 2010 at 6:56 PM


  4. February 26, 2010 at 6:57 PM

    Jeff — I am appreciative of AGvocates like you who make us proud of the civility, persuasiveness and integrity of our young people in agriculture.Joane Pappas WhiteLady J Land & Livestock

  5. February 26, 2010 at 7:02 PM

    well said, and sent on for others to read

  6. February 26, 2010 at 7:03 PM

    Excellent points!!

  7. February 26, 2010 at 7:34 PM

    News flash! Does anyone not see the hsus logo? It includes wolves, dolphins, bears, cows, pigs, cats and dogs… Personally I do not rally under the hsus banner… They are a welfarist organization. I don't believe in bigger cages, but empty ones. Still, I find it repulsive that so called "enlightened people" would deny a creature THEY INTEND TO EAT the ability to lie down, turn around or stretch their limbs. And the idea of breeding yet more "designer" dogs while so many are killed in shelters is simply insane!Greed and speciesism is the motive behind all animal agriculture. These are not "commodities" they are living beings whose lives matter to them EQUALLY as much as our lives matter to us.It might be an entirely different matter if we could not survive (well) without "livestock"… But clearly – We can – And millions of us do – With these numbers increasing daily.The idea of raising animals to eat when we can thrive on a plant based diet is the issue at hand. It is killing for "pleasure", and fortunately becoming less acceptable as we progress.Lastly, regarding Grandin: Nothing "humane" happens in the bowels of a kill floor."Humane" means to be concerned with the alleviation of suffering. These beings are not ill, maimed or otherwise "unhealthy". They are not in an aging pain. They are delivered "fit for living", so there is no "suffering to alleviate". "Humane slaughter" is what you wish to call it so you can maintain your moral dissonance…Want a better world? Eat like you mean it…Go Veganwww.nonviolenceunited.org/veganvideo.htmlwww.earthlings.com/

    • Lynn
      December 22, 2010 at 1:14 PM

      Yes, we see the logo. What it means to those of us who understand the HSUS position, as well as the various other AR organizations which pretend to care about animals is that all those animals on the logo, but most especially the domestic ones, are to be proscribed to us. Wayne Pacesse, CEO of HSUS said this:
      “We have no ethical obligation to preserve the different breeds of livestock produced through selective breeding …One generation and out. We have no problems with the EXTINCTION OF DOMESTIC ANIMALS. They are creations of human selective breeding.”
      — Animal People News, May 1993

      (Emphasis mine)

      HSUS is a vegan animal rights organization, and is not in any way friendly to animals. The vegan goal is to eliminate all animal products and animals from human lives. All … food, clothing, companionship, exhibition, working animals. All.

      And they don’t care how they do it.

    • Regan H
      February 22, 2011 at 4:33 PM

      Well Bea I refuss to live in a world without meat, I eat meat every meal and sometimes for smacks I can’t believe the way you think, it is just wrong.

    • Lynn
      February 22, 2011 at 8:22 PM

      Millions of us ..?

      Well, maybe. But the Vegetarian Journal says that vegans compromise less than 2% of the population.

      Not that I have any problems with even a few million people choosing the vegan path. What I object to is being forced to follow it by devious means.

      HSUS (and the other AR/vegan organizations) focus exclusively on animal abuse, as if it were the norm, not the anomaly. However, if you do a little poking around in the animal abuse statistics, you find that the rate within the US population is about 2% – as tiny as minority as the vegans.

      So there’s a lot of dishonesty going on here. Eat what you like, wear what you like, don’t keep pets or do any of the other things proscribed by the vegan lifestyle. Just don’t pretend there is anything particularly ‘moral’ about it, or that the AR movement is particularly ethical.

  8. February 26, 2010 at 10:14 PM

    Bea,I appreciate your taking the time to share your thoughts. I am extremely grateful to be able to live in a country that allows the freedom of speech. From reading your second paragraph, I can see that you and I will have to agree to disagree. Fundamentally, I respectfully disagree with you that animals and humans are “equal.” I believe that the good Lord gave us dominion over the earth to care for, manage and use for nourishment the plants, birds, fish and beasts, with due diligence and respect.Today’s farmers and ranchers are good stewards of the land and the livestock. Certainly, there are a few who take advantage of the gifts bestowed upon them, and they must called on to answer for their negligence. Once again, thank you for sharing, and have an enjoyable weekend.

  9. February 26, 2010 at 11:20 PM

    Hey Jeff!Interesting read! I myself have no problem separating ranchers who look after their animals. I am concerned what happens to them when they leave the care of a decent rancher. There are huge problems from processing on…and number one being the safety of the people working in the industrial mechnized slaughter factories. Abbatoirs of old were just as or more dangerous.What is the likelihood of getting that system corrected. I don't know.I love animals but I am not a huge fan of their ads which I find terribly manipulative. I am a huge Temple Grandin fan – I assume you got to see her recent TED talk? She's just wonderful.I am curious about those budget numbers though. Where are you getting them? Charity Navigator says:Overall Rating (62.61)Organizational Efficiency Program Expenses 82.7% Administrative Expenses 4.4% Fundraising Expenses 12.7% Fundraising Efficiency $0.13 I have worked in non profits, and find that number pretty impressive. We may agree or disagree with their goals…I am not convinced they want to shut all ranchers down. Though they may argue quit passionately for adoption of a vegetarian diet…Isn't that their right?And ours to disagree if we do…. Take care – and thanks again so much for the #FF love.

  10. February 27, 2010 at 1:01 AM

    Liz,Thank you for your post. It is always a pleasure. I have worked in feedlots in CO, am very familiar with the Harris Ranch operation and have personally seen that quality operations do exist. At the risk of using a cliché, the cowboys I rode with and worked with were more than content to sit on a horse, ride pens and care for cattle. I think it is paramount that owners & managers of any livestock operation hire quality employees that share the same commitment to the health and welfare of the animals that they do. I think you are aware that I am a major proponent of creating a system that allows for more local rendering facilities and packing houses to be built to add value and marketability for locally grown cattle. Until states and the Federal government streamline the permitting process and enact legislation that provides economic and regulatory relief this will be continue an uphill battle.Implementing new strategies in the existing system is ongoing. Outreach and communication is extremely important. Believe it or not, Temple Grandin’s philosophy on handling cattle has been spreading across the country and is now being readily accepted. I think that is a major positive change.As for the numbers I used, they come from the HSUS own reported tax forms. http://www.humanesociety.org/assets/pdfs/financials/form_990_2008.pdfThank you again Liz for commenting. Have a great weekend.

  11. February 28, 2010 at 12:47 AM

    Barb D's post was not removed for innappropriate content. She had information to share with me and did not have my email.

  12. March 1, 2010 at 12:19 PM

    Nicely written!

  13. March 2, 2010 at 3:05 PM

    Thank you, Jeff! Well articulated!

  14. March 3, 2010 at 3:58 PM

    Jeff, I think it is great that you have created a dialogue here between those that are involved in the industry and those wishing to understand agriculture better. I too have many of the same problems with HSUS. I feel that they in no way want farmers to succeed, because in the end they want all animal agriculture to fail. Keep up the great work. http://www.cdycattle.blogspot.com

  15. January 1, 2011 at 5:28 PM

    This misconceptions and outright lies being spread that we all treat livestock under our care in an inhumane way is part of the reason I added a cattle handling section to my website. There are several videos at http://www.2lazy4u.us/herdbehav.html which can be used to effectively combat this problem.

    I have also started a cattle management blog to get people thinking not only about how they are managing, but questioning their reasons for why they do what they do. While my approach may run counter to what is being taught in ag schools,hopefully it will get people to examining their methods and finding more efficient ways of doing things. This blog is at http://cowherdmanagement.blogspot.com/

    • commonsenseagriculture
      January 1, 2011 at 9:04 PM

      Thank you for sharing the links. It’s very important for producers to ask themselves the “why” question often when going about their “day to day” activities. Answering the question “why” has caused many postive changes on our place. Thanks again for the comments. Have a Happy New Year.

  16. Charity Jacobs
    February 22, 2011 at 5:43 PM

    Oh My LORD where were you when I hosted a radio segment on slaughterhouses earlier this month? I am not anti-slaughter, however, I can disagree with the process and still understand the need for such a facility. An anti-slaughter group got ahold of my call in number and bombarded and monopolized what was supposed to be an open discussion. I received hate mail for weeks over it. Being a rancher’s kid myself, my livestock is just that, it’s livestock. Does that mean I would send one of well trained horses to a kill plant? No, it does not. Before that happened, I would do the deed myself, I have enough respect for my livestock to do that for them. On the flip side, if one is faced with feeding their family or turning their livestock out on the highway because they can’t afford feed, I understand the highway option. However, leaving some of these domesticated animals out to fend for themselves is a much crueler fate, I feel, than having them disposed of. As horse trainers, my husband and I are often faced with telling someone that asks if we have any horses to “donate”, not NO, but HELL NO. If said individual can’t afford the purchase price, said individual can’t afford the maintenance and upkeep of the animal. If faced with a situation where I had to choose between my family and my livestock, my family ALWAYS wins and the animals would have to move on down the road one way or another. Depending on the culture, a dog can be a companion, a tool, or even food. Same goes for horses, cattle, and any other livestock. It is just not humanly or financially possible to save all endangered animals at this time. My best advice to folks looking for a horse right now is don’t unless they have the means and the facility to care for it. Love your blog, glad you spoke your mind!

  17. Wallaby
    February 22, 2011 at 7:13 PM


    I am glad to see someone stating for the record the truth about the HSUS. My original problem with them and the reason I will not donate is the amount of funds that actually go to the animals their ads talk about. I feel my money is better off going to my local shelters the same shelters that you are lead to believe will benefit from the HSUS but they never see any money from the HSUS. I was not aware of the agenda against the Ag community and this is just another reason to raise an eyebrow and posture.

    Thank you Bob Kinford, old friend, for making me aware of this blog and thank you Jeff for producing it.

  18. Shari Silk
    February 22, 2011 at 8:47 PM

    I am glad you took note of HSUS effort to turn canines into vegans. I am sure they would happily turn obligate carnivore felines into vegans too. HSUS former VP and currently under fellowship prmotes a homemade cat food recipe that has chick peas as the first ingredient. HSUS would starve all the cats and dogs and snakes and other carnivores to death with their long term agenda

  19. February 23, 2011 at 6:08 PM

    I remember walking into a humane society charity – all banged up from cleaning stalls, teaching a weanling to lead, and having a cold-backed horse try to throw me.

    One of the pamphlets at the charity was about how horses should ‘run fee,’ how shoeing horses was ‘torture,’ and training horses was ‘slavery.’

    I laughed because I’d just spent a fortune on fences, feed, hay and corrective shoeing for my two 16-year-old horses, while being dragged around by the weanling.

    All I could think of was that the horses were MY ‘slaves,’I was THEIR slave. I still feel that way. I’d like to get that silly pamplete writer to take care of my three for a week – to show them reality. lol

  1. February 22, 2011 at 8:21 AM
  2. February 22, 2011 at 10:35 PM
  3. February 23, 2011 at 10:22 AM
  4. February 23, 2011 at 6:39 PM

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