Last week, I got all kinds of lovely correspondence: holiday cards from friends, invitations to a couple of parties, messages from adopters with cute pictures of their adopted pets in holiday regalia and then there was what could only be described as a lump of coal. And, then this week, I got another one. Rick Berman of Berman and Company sent me not one but two letters expressing unhappiness with what I wrote in my blog post last week about Humane Society for Shelter Pets (HSSP). Mr. Berman threatened to sue us if we did not remove this offending post.
So, I removed that post as he requested (well, his actual word was “demand”) and am replacing it with this one.
I have no desire or intention to say anything that is not true but I will not be intimidated from speaking truthfully about something that I find deeply disturbing in its disingenuousness and in the threat it poses to the future well-being of animals. The Humane Society for Shelter Pets is attempting to drive a wedge between organizations that are dedicated to protecting animals by attacking the Humane Society of the United States on grounds that are without basis. Berman acknowledges that a “managed non-profit” of his own firm protects agribusiness corporations (which he calls “farmers” as if they are Mr. Green Jeans). The HSUS is very effective in its work to protect farm animals and to pressure these corporations to agree to progressive changes.
The main focus of HSSP seems to be making the claim that the public is being misled into believing that local humane organizations are all under the umbrella of the HSUS and so the HSUS is getting contributions from this supposedly hoodwinked public that it should be turning over to local humane groups. Never mind that the HSUS has never once claimed to be a parent organization for local humane groups. Never mind that the donors, to whom I give credit for some intelligence, gave their own money quite intentionally to the HSUS. Never mind that the HSUS provides crucially important services that local organizations for the most part do not and cannot provide. The HSSP website does a lot of talking about how many people with local humane groups believe that the public mistakenly thinks that the HSUS is a parent organization. But there is not one shred of empirical data provided on the HSSP site indicating that donors to the HSUS are actually confused in their giving intentions. It is unlikely that they are.
Local humane organizations like ours do wonderful and essential work for animals and I know that HSUS understands and appreciates that. The HSUS gives substantial help and support to local organizations and does great things for companion animals through programs such as the effort to stop puppy mills. But, the HSUS also does vitally important work for other categories of animals that are generally not the focus of the work of local humane organizations. I care deeply for all animals and I believe they suffer great deprivations at the hands of large corporations and human abusers. I want to see farm animals and exotic animals protected but I recognize that what any of us in local humane organizations can do for these animals is pretty limited.
This new entity HSSP is supposed to be an organization intended to look out for the interests of local humane organizations such as ours. I find it telling, but not surprising, that instead of being helped or supported, we are being threatened with a law suit. I have never had the HSUS do that to me.
Robin Robertson Starr is the chief executive officer of the Richmond SPCA. To read her biography or that of our other bloggers, please click here. Before posting a comment, please review our comment guidelines. Please note that our comment policy requires a first and last name to be used as your screen name.