Essential Reading on a Doggone Attack

There was a time when publicly attacking the The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) would have been like attacking Mother Teresa. How could anybody be against helping animals?

But social movements are like physics. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. You don’t meddle in other people’s business—working to end inhumane slaughter methods, alleviate suffering among laboratory animals and stop the practice of supplying research labs with dogs from animal shelters, as The HSUS accomplished shortly after its founding in 1954—without raising the dander of some powerful interests.

Certainly even in those early years, The HSUS had enemies—research labs, scientists, foundations, agricultural interests. But they weren’t sophisticated communicators, nor particularly well-funded. They didn’t know how to fight back without turning the public against them. After all, it’s not nice to pick on charities just trying to trying to make the world a better place for All God’s Creatures .

But that was then. This is now.

Full story

Thank you, Pollywog Blog, for this fine analysis of the Center for Consumer Freedom’s cynical attack on the Humane Society of the US. PG goes above and beyond the normal blogging of this issue by addressing the HSUS directly and suggesting ways they can mitigate this attack. One of PG’s suggestions is that the HSUS rebrand itself with a new name. However, I’d like to emphasize that it’s not the HSUS’s name that in actuality has CCF’s dander up. The reason CCF is so angry is because they are funded by agribusiness, puppy mill, and similar interests–some of the very industries whose practices the HSUS criticizes. As long as HSUS sticks by its mandate of “Protecting All Animals”–including wildlife and farm animals–corporate mouthpieces like the CCF will be on the attack.

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Devon Thomas Treadwell
    Dec 28, 2011 @ 17:45:57

    Thanks for the kind words about my blog post at the Pollywog blog. As a pet owner, volunteer for a Golden Retriever rescue group and supporter of my local humane society, I have been following this story for several months–there was a lot to talk about.

    Your post reminds me of a point that I didn’t make. While my post was largely about the brand confusion that HW and HSSP are exploiting, HSUS is also negatively affected when local humane societies act in ways that create controversy. In addition to the war waged on animal welfare by corporate front groups, there’s a schism within the animal welfare community pitting shelters on one side and no-kill activists on the other. The no-kill movement knows how to get media attention, and they often do so by creating dust-ups around local shelters. I have seen stories in which reporters and even sources erroneously conflate the local shelter with HSUS, which of course is not involved at all with a shelter’s day-to-day operations. This just exacerbates the confusion issue.

    So, you’re absolutely correct in that changing HSUS’s name would not end the attacks from HW and HSSP. But a differentiated name would blunt their weapon, potentially force a different, less effective strategy and protect HSUS from collateral damage when a local shelter draws a community’s ire.


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