When someone mentions the Humane Society, the image that comes to mind is likely one of a cute puppy, once abandoned and neglected, and then rescued and united with a loving family. This is the image the Humane Society of the United States, HSUS, has worked hard to project of itself. The truth, however, is far different.
In a column a few years ago I lumped HSUS in with other animal rights groups, such as peta, the Animal Liberation Front, Friends of Animals, and others, all of which promote animal rights above human welfare. Several readers questioned the inclusion of HSUS in this listing. Their comments indicated their perception of HSUS was that it was an organization that sought only to aid mistreated and abandoned animals. The general public is almost totally unaware that HSUS, the largest animal rights groups in the world, is working hard to outlaw hunting and trapping, ban animal testing of medical products, and brainwash our children.
During 2006 the HSUS staff of 438 spent $12 million for fundraising, which must have paid off. Revenue for 2007 topped $120 million. A large part of those funds are funneled to other animal rights groups, through the Humane Society Legislative Fund, for use in lobbying congress on federal legislation and ballot issues. With total assets of $250 million, HSUS is an organization that plays hardball.
HSUS was established in 1954, and has absorbed other anti groups through the years to become the powerhouse it is today. The Fund for Animals in 2005 and the Doris Day Animal League in 2006 are the group’s latest acquisitions. But HSUS supports other affiliates and offshoot organizations.
Humane Society International (www.hsihsus.org), established in 1991, is supposedly closely associated with the United Nations, the World Trade Organization, and other treaty and international agreements. Its purpose is to target industries involved with animals worldwide. Humane Society Legislative Fund (www.fund.org), besides providing lobbying funds for other anti groups, backs HSUS supporters for public office. The Doris Day Animal League (www.ddal.org) is the HSUS lobbying branch, which petitions the president and congress.
Fund for Animals (www.fundforanimals.org) is the hatchet squad of the group. Created in 1967, the Fund is seriously concerned with stopping hunting completely, and often supports other like-minded groups, such as Defenders of Wildlife. A similar division is the Wildlife Land Trust (www.wlt.org), which targets private landowners as well as state and federal officials. It offers tax incentives to those who agree to ban hunting, trapping, and fishing on their property.
HSUS even has its own, self-described, ‘training arm,’ called Humane Society University (www.humanesocietyu.org), but perhaps the most frightening arm of HSUS is Humane Society Youth (www.humanesociety.org/youth), which uses children to spread the HSUS agenda, and attempts to brainwash America’s next generation against legitimate outdoor pursuits.
The HSUS website is rife with propaganda attacking politicians and representatives who support hunting, often exaggerating or misrepresenting the situation. For example, an ongoing protracted campaign against hunting claims certain U.S. pols support the hunting of endangered species, and calls for restrictions to ban hunters from importing animals taken in other countries if those species are protected in America. The main goal seems to be obfuscation of the facts.
A good example of this is the HSUS stand against canned hunts. Granted, canned hunts are ugly, and ethical outdoors advocates would never be involved in such activities. But a quick read of some of the propaganda displayed on the HSUS website quickly brings up the fact that the organization’s definition of a canned hunt is far removed from reality.
A canned hunt, by any logical definition, is a hunt in which the animals involved have no chance to escape the shooter. Sometimes this means the animals are tame, sometimes they are confined in a small space with inadequate cover, or there may be other conditions that render fair chase impossible.
The HSUS definition of a canned hunt is one in which the animals are confined inside a fence. The organization makes no distinction as to size of the pasture involved. Without regard to the issue of high fences, the truth is that any wild animal taken in a 1,000 acre pasture, especially one with a modicum of trees, brush, and grass, is taken in fair chase, whether there is a fence around the pasture or not. But according to the HSUS definition, the fence makes this a canned hunt.
The group also makes erroneous claims as to the number of canned hunt ranches there are in the U.S. One statement on the website says that “The Humane Society of the Untied States estimates that there are more than 1,000 canned hunting ranches in at least 28 states. On these operations – which range in size from one acre to more than 10,000 acres – participants shoot confined animals for a fee.” There is no mention of where the figures were obtained, but only the most gullible would swallow such a statement without proof.
Make no mistake, HSUS is out to stop hunting, trapping, and fishing cold. Hidden behind this organization’s warm, fuzzy image is a set of sharp, deadly fangs, dripping with anti-hunting venom.
Kendal Hemphill is an outdoor humor columnist and public speaker who believes Americans have a responsibility to uphold our hunting traditions, and pass them on to our children. Write to him at PO Box 1600, Mason, Tx 76856 or firstname.lastname@example.org