During the past several years social media has exploded. It is almost as rare these days to meet someone who has no Facebook page as it is to meet someone who doesn’t own a cell phone. We sometimes interact more with others through social media than we do face to face. Some of us have traded our real lives for artificial ones in the form of news feeds.
Some good, however, has come from this electronic interconnecting of our existence. Granted, many use Facebook as a political platform, or simply another means of spreading inane jokes. And there will always be those who post little besides pictures of whatever they happen to be eating at the moment, as if no one else consumes food, making meals newsworthy. But some have harnessed the power of social media to actually do some good.
My friend, Karen Lutto, is one of those. Karen posts family photos and such, but mostly she uses Facebook as an advertisement service to find homes for rescue dogs. Karen is a no-nonsense marketer and is president of Hunter Outdoor Communications, an outdoors public relations firm based in Boerne, Texas. She’s a respected professional in the outdoor media community. And she has a soft spot for dogs.
Karen posts pictures of dogs she happens to be fostering, and relates their stories, hoping to find permanent homes for them. She has a high success rate, possibly due to her persistence and inability to take no for an answer. Karen saves the lives of these dogs, which is far more than I can say for peta or the Humane Society of the United States.
Observant reader Jess Irwin recently alerted me to a notice on the American Kennel Club website. The AKC, in conjunction with the Virginia Veterinary Medical Association, recently expressed their disapproval of peta’s habit of euthanizing animals at its Norfolk, Virginia shelter, instead of working to find homes for them.
While most animal shelters shoot for a 90% adoption rate, peta administrators seem proud of their solution to pet overpopulation – death. The peta folks euthanize 99% of the animals under their care. Their rationale is that these animals are ‘better off dead.’
Granted, some pets are not adoptable. Physical and psychological problems sometimes stand in the way of finding decent homes for certain rescued dogs and cats. Re-homing is difficult, even for pets without such hurdles to overcome. It takes effort and dedication, attributes that seem out of reach for peta.
For an organization that claims to love animals, and spends millions of donated dollars every year to advertise its supposed devotion to them, the peta philosophy of euthanasia before adoption seems heartless and cruel, not to mention hypocritical. The group decries hunting and pet ownership, and bases its fundraising campaigns on sympathy for creatures, yet chooses to kill those in its care rather than go to the trouble to find homes for them.
But then, peta, like HSUS, really only wants your money. They don’t care a whit about animals. Wayne Pacelle, CEO of HSUS, has actually admitted as much. Pacelle was once quoted in the Yale Daily News as saying, “I don’t love animals or think they are cute.”
This is not so surprising, considering that HSUS spends less than half of one percent of its operating budget actually helping animals, based on figures reported by Humane Watch. The rest goes for overhead, salaries for Pacelle and other top HSUS executives (Pacelle’s 2010 base salary was over $269,000), and propaganda. With a budget of about $100 million per year, the group could help a lot of dogs and cats find homes, if it wanted to. It doesn’t want to.
By contrast, hunters, who are portrayed as evil animal haters by peta and HSUS, are not just beneficial, but essential, to the health and welfare of of game animals. Without hunting, and the revenue generated through hunting, many thriving specie would by now be endangered, or even extinct. Hunters, the very people vilified by groups that claim devotion to animals, are all that stands between life and death for many creatures.
HSUS and peta grind their collective teeth at this truth, but that fact is that without hunting, animals are doomed. Sportsmen’s license revenues make up more than half of all funding for state natural resource agencies, since hunters spend more than $746 million each year on licenses and public land access fees alone. Another $300 million is donated for wildlife conservation annually by groups such as the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Ducks Unlimited, and the National Wild Turkey Federation. Not to mention that the Pittman-Robertson Act has raised well over $4 billion for public land use through federal excise taxes on firearms, ammunition, and other equipment since its inception in 1937.
Hunters, without question, do far more for animals than all the so-called animal rights groups combined. Unlike peta’s euthanized pets, game animals harvested by hunters have a fair chance to escape. Unlike HSUS funds, a large percentage of the revenue generated by hunters goes directly to helping animals.
And unlike Wayne Pacelle, most hunters do love animals, and think they’re cute.
Kendal Hemphill is an outdoor humor columnist and public speaker who would like to thank Karen Lutto and Mike Nischalke for all their help with outdoor gear and information over the years. Write to him (Kendal) at PO Box 1600, Mason, Tx 76856 or firstname.lastname@example.org