I've been debating most of the day about writing this. I've been trying, for the most part, to have my blog posts be more positive. Call it a New Year's Resolution. But this, this is really bugging me today.
Last night, during the Academy Awards, the Center for Consumer Freedom, and the group they support, Humanewatch.org, ran a tv spot doing what they do best; criticizing the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS).
The spot really targets one piece of information: that according to their research, 71% of Americans believe that HSUS is a national orgnaization that gives money to local Humane Societies. But they don't. The ad closes with the line "If you want to help pet shelters, make sure you give to your local animal shelter." You can watch the ad in its entirety here.
Now, let me first note, that I know, and understand who the CCF is. I know they're funded by large corporations essentially to lobby against changes that hurt their business. I know that they're not promoting local shelters because they love animals.
That said, their message is accurate, and does promote a worthy cause. HSUS is primarly a large lobbying and fundraising organization -- pushing for a variety of laws on the state and federal level. They don't give much to local animal shelters. And while I don't know if their 71% of people believe they fund local animal shelters is technically accurate, it does mirror my experience -- that most people who are not directly involved in animal welfare think this. And that if people want money to go to help animals in local animal shelters, then it is imperative that they give to local shelters (most of whom badly need the money).
So while I wouldn't necessarily call myself a CCF supporter, their message is not wrong and actually promotes a worthy cause.
So, my problem today, came in reading both the blog and email from HSUS responding to last night's advertisement.
First off, last night's ad, at least based on info on Humane Watch's facebook page, ran only in the Washington DC area. However, HSUS's response ran nationally. This seems odd to actually promote the ad to a larger network of people who never would have had a chance to see it. But even that isn't the problem for me.
The problem, is that the response is entirely designed to shoot the messenger, the CCF. HSUS, again, uses their blog post to lay out their stance against the CCF, and Humane Watch, and their chief lobbyist Rick Berman (who HSUS refers to throughout the post as "Dr. Evil"). The post goes on to promote a new fund, the HSUS Fund to Stop Rick Berman's Campaign for Cruelty -- that people can donate to show that HSUS is stronger than the CCF. The money will go toward lobbying for laws for 'puppy mills' or 'factory farming.'
Now, I'm not going to comment on their uses of the money. I'm certainly in favor of better care for animals, whether the animals are in commercial breeding operations or on corporate farms. I don't always agree with HSUS's specific tactics on these -- but without seeing what they're promoting this go around, it's hard to say for sure.
But what bugs me is that no where in the 12 paragraph blog post, or 9 paragraph email, does HSUS acknowledge local shelters, and how they could use donations too. That these organizations, most of whom are very cash strapped, often lose money to the fundraising efforts of national organizations, but do great work in helping save the lives of dogs and cats in their own communities. It would have been really easy for HSUS to at least acknowledge, at some point, that the "takeaway" from the CCF's commercial, give to your local shelters, is actually a noble donation -- and one, in theory, that HSUS supports. I know I regularly support fundraisers of other organizations outside of my own that support a similar mission -- helping animals.
So, it seems more than a little odd to me, that in this scenario, "Dr. Evil" is promoting giving to local, needy animal shelters. And the supposed "good guy' here, the "Humane" organization, is promoting giving money to themselves. Ouch.
So HSUS, please quit making your response to shoot the messenger. If you are ashamed by their message that you don't help fund local animal shelters, change some of your policies and give generously from your rich bank accounts to help these local groups. If you don't mind people knowing that you don't give your money to local shelters and that you're lobbying for better laws, then by all means, own up to it. Lobbying for better laws can be a very noble goal and very impactful on its own merits.
And just one more thing, would it hurt to thorw the little guys a bone once in awhile? Many of the people who work in these shelters every day are among your biggest supporters -- and when 'Dr. Evil" is pushing for people to give them money and support, and you're not, it sure makes it hard to remember who the "good guys" are supposed to be.