‘Tis the Season for Collaboration, Not Combat

Our Winter Open House on December 4

It’s happened again. And just a little more than a few weeks before Christmas. A new non-profit organization called the Humane Society for Shelter Pets (HSSP) was formed by  the Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF). The latter is run by Rick Berman, who has battled such “tyrannical” organizations as Mothers Against Drunk Driving, and who seems to have a personal vendetta against the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). This may be based on the fact that the CCF gets significant funding from meat producers and processors. He is using HSSP to create a veritable public coliseum over his claim that HSUS does not support shelters or shelter animals. 

Nothing could be further from the truth.  

No legitimate movement can afford to discourage “discourse.” That’s how causes thrive, educate and grow. For the past few years, though, the animal welfare profession has suffered from some of the most hostile attacks I’ve ever seen. All in the name of saving animals. Something we all want to do. So whether it’s from the “no kill movement,” or puppy mill business interests, or egg manufactures, we’ve been hurt badly by the “dis-cohesiveness” of our support base. What CCF and the new Humane Society for Shelter Pets are doing now is just the latest toxic attack in this game of thrones. 

They claim that HSUS is misleading the public about where their funds go. Nonsense. Anyone at any time can pull up the HSUS’s IRS Form 990 and see that millions of dollars go to helping local shelters each year. And millions more go to the fantastic education programs such as the National Animal Care Expo that we all benefit from. Many more millions go to shutting down puppy mills, saving animals from hoarders, and rescuing wildlife. The simple truth is that HSUS supports shelters and companion animals.  Period. They are not—and they never say are—the single umbrella entity under which we all work. What they are is the largest and most effective voice for animals and against suffering in a world with far too much of it. 

Thanks to HSUS, there is cohesion in our struggle to protect animals and move the nation forward on humane issues: shutting down puppy mills, promoting spay/neuter, encouraging shelter pet adoption, and other issues that are crucial to our joint success. And they are always ready to mobilize their rescue teams to work with local shelters responding to natural disasters, hoarding cases, dog fighting rings, puppy mill raids, and other large-scale, often overwhelming, problems. 

There is just too much work to do; we can’t be successful if we’re divided.  Let’s drop the factional language that separates us. We need to increase cohesion between animal groups who share the honor and the grave responsibility to care for the most helpless among us. Using strategies to harm good organizations like HSUS hurts the cause for all involved.  My shelter, The Washington Animal Rescue League, is proud to partner with HSUS. For all they do for animals and all they contribute to shelters across the country, they deserve the undivided support of everyone in the animal welfare field and, indeed, the public as a whole.

Fact is, we’re all trying to take care of animals, and we need to do this job together. Creating organizations such as this new shelter pets group that uses hate and vitriol to manipulate the public harms the backbone of our movement and, worse yet, pits all of us against each other. We could move closer to our common goal of helping more animals by working together, collaborating to conquer the immense problem of animal homelessness. Groups such as the CCF and HSSP hurt not only us, but the animals we are all trying to help.

I’m all for accountability.  But let’s not make up facts to serve our own self-aggrandizing goals. We should all be doing everything we can to ensure that homeless animals get into the homes they need and deserve. But we will be much more effective in pursuit of that goal if we work together and stop creating divisions. 

We can help animals, and each other, best by working together. Not by being divided and conquering each other to further  self-interested agendas. In this season of peace and joy, let’s not hurt animals more by dividing those  dedicated to saving them. CCF and its new group HSSP, may, in fact, have done the best thing in the world for animals by shedding light on the animosity that got animals into their homeless predicament in the first place:  self-interest, dishonesty, and ignorance. So let’s drop the factional language which separates us.  Let’s celebrate collaboration—not combat— in this season of giving and work together to save those who need us the most. I, for one, am thankful to have the support of the Humane Society of the United States whenever we need it. And I personally know a few thousand animals who are home for the holidays today precisely because of that support.

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7 Responses

  1. Dianne says:

    Good piece. Berman gets funding from Big Agri so he is upset with the success the HSUS has had in passing laws for more humane handling of livestock including chickens. He was upset about the HSUS puppy mill voter initiative in Missouri because he doesn’t want the voters to be able to make laws that are contrary to the interests of his bloc — farmers who run puppy mills.

  2. Angel says:

    I’m so thankful for the HSUS, which rescued my pup in North Carolina before she eventually found her way to DC and WARL. I’m so thankful the care and attention they gave her before she made her way into my home.

  3. Richard Berman has been at war with HSUS for a long time. First he published an article in the Center for Consumer Freedom’s blog called “7 Things You Didn’t Know about HSUS,” filled with distortions and facts that were provably false.

    Then he started Humane Watch, an anti-HSUS blog, which used to be run by one his puppets, David Martosko. After someone anonymously published Martosko’s criminal record, which included drunk driving and public intoxication, Berman fired Martosko (now he edits The Daily Caller). Humane Watch didn’t enjoy the greatest reputation, considering Martosko thought he could get away with falsely impersonating veterinarians in public forums and stalking activists on Facebook. So Berman decides to create a new anti-HSUS front group with a much more cuddly name – the “Humane Society for Shelter Pets.” A more accurate name would be “Pet Industry Lobbyists Against HSUS.” You’d think Berman’s game would get old by now.

    If anyone is ever confused by Berman’s misinformation campaigns, you can always direct them to “Humane Watch Info,” a grassroots blog formed by animal advocates to expose Berman’s tactics and debunk the lies he propagates:

    PS – I’m not actively involved in the blog. Just an avid supporter who cares about animals.

  4. CharlyDog says:

    I don’t get it. You are asking for this: “I’m all for accountability. But let’s not make up facts to serve our own self-aggrandizing goals.”, yet this blog is exactly what you say you deplore. I can’t find anything but value and benefit for animals through this new group, HSSP. I also can’t find any links to any other group – only their founders, and no one named Berman is there. There is no donation request, only a place to nominate my local shelters to receive local dollars. That’s great! I understand that HSUS would be worried that this group would cut into their donations, but it is not appropriate for a giant national animal charity to waste time and donated money to slam another legitimate animal charity, especially one that doesn’t even ask for a penny in donations for itself.

    HSUS has itself stated they ‘never said they fund animal shelters”, a hundred different ways, many of their ads have that disclaimer, and reading their tax returns will show you the same. So you, as an animal shelter group, want to put a stop to another group that could actually benefit YOUR shelter, as well as shelters around the country?

    What is going on here? A misunderstanding? I hope that’s all it is.

  5. Karla Brewster says:

    I guess my biggest thought is this: When you go to the website, there is nothing asking that funds be donated to them, only to nominate your local shelter to receive monies….There is no one named Berman on that site either?
    SO…..Personally, I think that everyone is better off donating to their local shelter, rather than the HSUS who expressly states that they do NOT FUND SHELTERS.
    To DIANNE: Can you PROVE BEYOND A SHADOW OF A DOUBT That Berman is “funded by Big Agri”? And, please , define “Big Agri”? Does this “organization” have a website? An LLC? Corp? Etc?
    As to ANGEL: I can bet you any amount of money, other than stealing the dog that you now have, HSUS did nothing to care for it. It was put into the hands of a local rescue/shelter, who cared for it, and then you got it. And, that local shelter likely didn’t get any $$$$ from HSUS>
    Here is some of what irks me about HSUS:
    1) Not all breeders are evil. Period.
    2) They lie about statistics.
    3) Their director doesn’t even like animals.
    4) Animals don’t have “rights”. Until they can go to school, speak english, get a job and earn money, they don’t have any rights. They can’t vote, etc….They are “animals”, which, btw, is why I like them.
    This is just a few things that I don’t like about animals….
    Now, since I have a litter of puppies on the ground, I need to go…so I can abuse them by playing with them, cleaning their kennel, feeding them, and loving them.

  6. Karla Brewster says:

    Oh, yeah, another reason I don’t like them: Micheal Vick. They paid that scum bag to represent them. What a joke. And, you support these idiots? Common, yet, you say you love animals? Please.

  7. CharlyDog says:

    Your shelter is listed on the HSSP web site. My business partner’s sister lives right in your neighborhood. Took me about 30 seconds to find you there. How bad can this new group HSSP possibly be? Because they fill in the holes left by HSUS, the holes they say they never intend to fill anyway? That doesn’t seem anything at all like “self-aggrandizing” behavior, but quite magnanimous, actually, considering how hateful your words here.

    I see that my previous post is still “awaiting moderation” after 2 1/2 days or so. If you are too busy to moderate your own blog, maybe someone will find your shelter on the HSSP web site and send you a donation, or better yet, a volunteer to keep up with this page.

    Or, will my comments just disappear?

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