Beware wolves in puppy clothing

HSUS is not the benevolent entity the media would have you believe.

I hope this viewpoint is irrelevant as of May 2. That’s the deadline for the Humane Society of the United States to collect enough signatures of Missouri voters in order to place a ballot initiative on the November ballot.

Don’t confuse HSUS with your local humane society. They have nothing in common. HSUS is a national factory-fundraising, nonprofit organization preying on the public’s attachment to pets.

This initiative is supposed to be all about regulating dog kennels in the state and driving out unscrupulous breeders. It’s not. Don’t let the “objective” media convince you otherwise. Unlike rural newspapers and radio stations, the urban media outlets are perfect conduits for HSUS and its assault on common sense and traditional agriculture.

At the outset of this argument, let me make something perfectly clear before the HSUS fundraisers distort MFA’s opposition to HSUS efforts. No one at MFA has tolerance for animal abuse. Good farmers and ranchers are moral stewards who treat animals in ways scientifically proven to enhance growth and well-being. Abused animals do not gain efficiently, are not healthy and do not sell.

I’d be very happy if HSUS wasn’t able to trick more than 100,000 voters. I’d also be stunned. After all, who wouldn’t want to help the obviously abused animals that tug on heartstrings in the HSUS commercials? Pets are almost universally loved, and with good reason. So why would I dare be against helping pets? The short answer is, I’m not.

Let me challenge you to investigate HSUS further. The organization depicted in the television ads is not a benevolent group. If you’ll look closer and explore HSUS’s downplayed but significant animal-rights agenda, you’ll understand why this is one issue that unifies all of agriculture. Today, the group is focusing on dogs. Tomorrow, it will be livestock.

Years ago MFA decided to stay out of the political process. At MFA, we focus on the business of agriculture, first and foremost. But we do inform our member/owners on issues that stand to significantly affect agriculture. This one does.

HSUS isn’t interested in the state’s dog kennels. If the organization really had the best interests of animals at heart, it would simply donate its members’ money (no strings attached) to better fund Operation Bark Alert. Operation Bark Alert is the program operated by the Department of Agriculture that cracks down on unlicensed kennels and animal abuse. HSUS’s initiative does absolutely nothing to increase state resources to go after unlawful dog kennels.

HSUS wants to eliminate dog breeders and purebreds in favor of forcing people to get pets from local humane societies that, ironically, HSUS almost completely refuses to fund. Animal activists crashed the televised Westminster dog show earlier this year and staged a demonstration. From HSUS’s perspective, raising purebred animals is a morally repugnant act.

HSUS makes money by introducing legislation on animal issues. The Missouri ballot initiative will be profitable for HSUS. As Farm Bureau pointed out so well, HSUS collected more than $86 million in contributions in 2008 and in that same year spent $24 million on fundraising. About $31 million of the contributions goes to salaries, and more than $20 million is spent on litigation, lobbying, campaigns and legislation.

Again, as Farm Bureau shows, just $450,000 nationally was sent to shelters providing hands-on care to dogs and cats—just one half of one percent of its total budget.

HSUS’s philosophy ought to show truly objective people the group’s real agenda on livestock as well. Consider the remarks of HSUS’s president: “We have no ethical obligation to preserve the different breeds of livestock produced through selective breeding... One generation and out. We have no problems with the extinction of domestic animals. They are creations of human selective breeding.”

Consider that same individual’s remarks on hunting: “If we could shut down all sport hunting in a moment, we would.”

It is frustrating that HSUS manages to keep its controversial statements and actions out of the public eye with help from a compliant media that largely identifies with the group’s agenda. Why otherwise would HSUS be given no serious scrutiny while agriculture’s motives are harshly covered?

MFA Incorporated proudly belongs to Missourians for Animal Care, a coalition formed to promote and protect Missouri’s vibrant and diverse agriculture, which includes livestock and domesticated animals.

Bill Streeter is president and CEO of MFA Incorporated

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