Earlier this week, a full page ad appeared in the Washington Post picturing several dogs and suggesting that you should be surprised that the Humane Society of the United States (“the HSUS”) is not your local animal shelter and that they “share” less than 1% of money donated to them with “local pet shelters.” The ad appeared to be placed by an organization called “Humanewatch.org.” In reality, it was placed by an organization that calls itself by the misnomer “the Center for Consumer Freedom.”
CCF and its related entities have been on a very well funded and extremely aggressive campaign against both the HSUS and Mothers Against Drunk Driving, among other highly credible non-profits. The organization is funded by large corporate interests in the food and beverage industries who want to halt the legislative efforts of both of those organizations to protect animals from cruelty and people from drunk drivers, respectively. The reason that they wish to halt these efforts is because the efforts threaten their profit-making interests. While my personal views are supportive of both of those organizations and their work, I have no problem with people or organizations who oppose those causes, or any cause for that matter, so long as they do so honestly and without pretense. CCF masquerades as a non-profit concerned with looking out for shelters and for animal welfare when it is anything but. It is an organization that is paid, and paid a great deal, in order to lobby for and promote concepts that are contrary to the best interests of animals and that impede our progress toward relieving the suffering and saving the lives of animals.
The HSUS does not engage in sheltering (although it does operate some sanctuaries) but it provides other programs and other services that are crucial to advancing the well being of animals in this country. Nowhere, that I am aware of, is there a rule that all humane organizations must operate shelters. The HSUS engages in both federal and state legislative campaigns to seek laws that will protect farm animals, companion animals and endangered animals from suffering and death. I was deeply grateful for the resources that the HSUS put into helping us to get the Omnibus Animal Fighting Bill passed in Virginia a couple of years ago. Their help ensured that we got one of the strongest animal fighting bills in the country adopted in Virginia. They also do great work, which we often partner with them in doing, breaking up horrifically abusive puppy mills on the mid-Atlantic in accordance with court orders. They provide massive rescue efforts for animals threatened by natural disasters. They recently stopped at our Robins-Starr Humane Center with their new mobile crime lab for animal cruelty related crimes which they have offered to our and thousands of other communities to assist in the effective prosecution of animal abusers. These are only a few of their valuable programs for animals.
The work of the HSUS and the work of the Richmond SPCA and the work of thousands of other national and local humane organizations all over this country are all essential to achieving success at ending the abuse and needless loss of life of innocent animals. The work of each of these organizations is unique and, together, we all weave a whole coordinated effort to do all we can to protect the animals who need our protection so much. The HSUS has done generous things to support the Richmond SPCA for which I am very grateful but I certainly do not expect the HSUS to regularly “share” its contributed income with us because I understand that their donors have intentionally given the HSUS their money to help to support the programs and services that the HSUS provides. Many of those folks also support us or other humane organizations in their own communities and want us to use that money to continue our own valuable work. Of one thing I am sure, CCF never has and never will do anything to help us.
Robin Robertson Starr is the chief executive officer of the Richmond SPCA. To read her complete biography or that of our other bloggers, please click here.