Tuesday, April 21, 2009
In Defense of the HSUS
I am familiar with the saying that if you really want to know the nature of a man, take a look at his enemies.
In the case of Wayne Pacelle and the Humane Society of the United States, the more I see of their enemies - the more respect I have for the HSUS.
Opponents complain that the HSUS has an "animal liberation" agenda and wants to eliminate pet ownership altogether; that they use too much money for marketing and don't give any money to shelters; that they hired a felon.
Is that the worst they could come up with?
First of all the Humane Society is completely upfront about not running any shelters or prioritizing funding the shelters. Each humane shelter in the United States is independently run and does not have official ties to the HSUS. Although the HSUS will help out on occasion, their primary mission is to put the shelters out of business. That's right - any good shelter will tell you that their goal in life is to put themselves out of business by eliminating animal homelessness in their regions.
I've stated before, shelters serve a need and we should fully support the work they do. However they are simply addressing symptoms, not the cause. Marketing campaigns by the HSUS and PETA are a large part of the reason mainline America is even aware that brutal animal abuse is occurring. Although I disagree with PETA's stance on fight-bust dogs (just kill them without assessment), I will give them props for widely publicizing (often at risk of their own safety), so many horrible things people do to animals.
Worldwide, the pet population has always far exceeded the number of guardians willing and able to care for them. Today, as people increasingly lose their jobs and homes, they are releasing their lifelong companion dogs and cats into the wild to fend for themselves, or handing them over to crowded shelters where they will be euthanized (in some states, by the dozen in gas chambers - an excruciating death). If you ask me, it's better for an animal not to have been born than to have lived a life on the streets in misery, or had a nice home and then in its vulnerable senior years, be shoved into a cage and left to die alone.
We have such terrible overpopulation because people stubbornly continue to overbreed, sell and buy animals. If we made it illegal to profit from the sale of animals, I think we would save millions of tax dollars and, in the long run, have a controlled population over which we can exercise proper stewardship. I do disagree with classifying animals as property, as if they were a dining room table or coffepot. Anyone who has looked into the eyes of another living creature knows that there is a sentient connection between human beings and animals. We cannot in good conscience treat them as inanimate objects.
Opponents also complain that Wayne Pacelle is against animal testing. From what I've seen, the HSUS is calling for investigation into the ridiculously cruel and tortuous conditions of animals in test labs - and for a stronger incentive to explore technologies that do not require harming living creatures. Research has shown and I think common sense would also dictate that animals cultivated in laboratories outside of their natural environment, suffering from chronic pain, terror, despair and elevated adrenaline/hormone levels, would not give us an accurate scientific reading for the drugs the pharmaceutical companies want to shove down our throats, anyway.
As for this "felon" JP Goodwin, he is so called for his former involvement in ALF. The Animal Liberation Front is a fringe animal rights group accused of using terrorist tactics. I don't agree with any action that would put human beings in harm's way. I do have to point out, though, that the animal sentience ALF activists have been yowling about for decades is being proven more and more by science as we increase our knowledge (and open our eyes). I'd rather support this type of "convicted felon" than someone who thinks dogfighting is a noble sport...
which brings me to the final nail on the coffin of HSUS detractors: The detractors themselves! I have run into some seriously vehement enemies of the HSUS, who actually made me fear for my own safety. (Rather ironic for people screaming against violence, I think.) Among them are people who support "real" dogfighting, nazis/Hitler, and eugenics. They were incapable of responding to probing questions in a reasonable manner, citing instead "facts" gleaned from a variety of sources which, when researched, turn out to be organizations with interests in Big Cattle, or a Poultry Board. I noticed that they will claim an FBI investigation or NYT article but fail to produce the actual evidence. They are opponents of legislation that would improve safety and health conditions; in short, driven by their profit interest. These people don't care about the consumers who might get sick or die from their practices. When the HSUS or PETA work to expose them, of course they will come out in full force with their billions of lobbying dollars, attempting to discredit everything the humane organizations do.
You would think that with all those billions of dollars and Washington cronies, Wayne Pacelle's enemies could do a little better than some misty accusations of animal liberation and "using too much money for marketing." Big Cattle can keep its inbred, racist tale-telling money-hungry bloodlusting constituents. Until they can come up with some real reasons to tear down an organization that has done so much for compassion and mercy, I'll be supporting the HSUS.