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« Every pet has a personality and a story | Main | Tragedy, speculation, the hysteria of the moment, and a ridiculous laws that don't solve problems »

June 23, 2010



This is a great post on multiple levels, and it touches upon many things I have stumbled upon and have been pondering in my intent to learn more about the various arms of the animal welfare movement.

I have particularly been struggling with the HSUS vs Humanewatch story for the exact reasons you detail; while I will eternally remain skeptical of anything Berman-funded, as you point out, their main beefs--so far--with HSUS all seem to be well-founded. And the HSUS has done nothing yet that I can observe to properly combat or even explain those hits from HW. HSUS seems to take ample opportunities to send out their social media posse to comment negatively about CCF/HW, but no one seems to be distributing any worthwhile talking points that they could be using to make HSUS look like it is anything besides an ignorant and wealthy lobbying group in its own right... Anyone with a background in PR or at least a pocket full of cash to hire a PR firm (which the HSUS appears to have) should know that retaliation instead of explanations just lowers you to the level of your attackers.

At the risk of getting flamed, I really, really, -want- the HSUS to win this fight... but they are failing miserably and it is embarrassing to watch. Maybe make that past tense of "want". I am thoroughly disillusioned...


Brent...another excellent post!!

I am constantly amazed at the sheer vehemence of people when many of these topics are discussed. I understand passion, but for many folks, some topics bring out the worst in them. Maybe the anonymity of the Internet makes it easy to be more hateful, but it shouldn't be that way.

Beyond the topics you mentioned above, you can see extremely passionate arguments about raw food diets, declawing cats, de-vocalization of dogs and many other controversies. I personally have been attacked simply for reminding people that raw diets can (and often do) carry Salmonella.

Liz...I think I understand your last paragraph, but I would state it differently. I really want the ORIGINAL INTENT of HSUS to win...I want animals to be cared for properly and appropriately and with compassion.


PetDocs - The other topics you mentioned are good examples. Interestingly, the post that I've written that has probably garnered the most heated negative response was the one in which I noted that laws that outlawed declawing may make for fewer homes for cats and that it would be a strain on No Kill. Man I had some people lash out at me.

Meanwhile, I like your "original intent" disclaimer....I'm with you on that one.


Brilliant way of looking at it. If I'm reading you correctly, the most sensible, intelligent (read: rational) approach would be to discard as much of your "confirmation bias" as you humanly can. If that's the goal, then (I hate to say it) HumaneWatch wins in a rout.



First off, I think it's wise to not just dimiss information from a source just because you don't like the source (or, the information is contrary to your current thinking). Don't just take it at face value (because most of these sources on both sides do have an agenda), but you do need to look at the info and see what the data really says.

Being aware of your confirmation bias does help to set some of it aside (we'll never get rid of all of it) and allow a more rational approach. Regardless of what you think of them as a group, the folks behind Humanewatch have uncovered a lot of very real data that I think if looked at objectively paints a very different picture of HSUS than what HSUS wants people to see. And more information beats less information every time in my book.


Excellent post. I've said the same thing myself re: HSUS vs. HumaneWatch. A fact does not become a lie because you don't like the source. I've known the truth about HSUS long before I ever heard of HW, Rick B. or CCF. Sadly the original intent of HSUS has all but disappeared. I feel unless there is a major overhaul & replacement of most of the HSUS players, starting at the top, the downhill slide will continue.

H Houlahan

While it's bad policy to dismiss information from a detested source, it can be even more pernicious to trust the veracity of "information" just because it's from a trusted source.

Which I suppose is the whole point of your post, but the emphasis seemed to be going the other way.

I think more people get into trouble with the latter. It's an easy trap.


H -- that is a great point and while probably implied in my post, not as well said as in your comment.


Great post, Brent. As PetDocs has already pointed out, the intensity of the passion that explodes from people surrounding this battle is simply stunning to me. I used to be a supporter of the "old" HSUS, as well as a volunteer and contributor to my local humane societies, but about 10-15 years ago I started to smell a dead fish, and following up with HSUS did not get rid of the smell. I pried myself away from them and finally succeeded in stopping the begging letters and "freebies" like umbrellas and such. Whenever I tried to share my concerns with other dog lovers and trainers about the corrupted goals of HSUS, I was met with shocked comments that hinted that I was "against the 'Humane Society' in the collective, and how can I possibly sleep at night?! I felt like a voice in the wilderness. I have since become politically active in my state because the legislative "runaway train" that is the current HSUS is seriously threatening my rights to own, show and participate in hunt tests, sports competitions with pure-bred dogs. I was even more dismayed at the hidden agenda that I was discovering, the Vegan philosophy masquerading as animal Welfare, fighting - supposedly - puppy mills, dog fighting, and so forth. And those fund-raising fiascos, the lies and misleading images tugging at our heart strings - ugh! What I was seeing in my state legislature was a slick, manipulative and self-serving political machine with actual animal welfare no longer a concern. HSUS has lost it's way.

Enter, and I feel vindicated. No matter where the financial support comes from to get this information out to the public, the facts are irrefutable. Finally our wee small voices are being heard, and if it took a group like CCF to get the word out, so be it. Ironically, HW has become a more effective de facto "humane society" than HSUS ever was - with more than 90,000 fans on Facebook after only 3 months in existence, the tide is turning and more donations are bound to be reaching the cash-strapped shelters and rescues than are getting to HSUS's enormous bank accounts.

Thank you for the explanation of "confirmation bias" - it makes it easier to shake off the verbal attacks repeatedly flung at me when I share my concerns over what HSUS has become of late - it seems I am in pretty good company with other "puppy millers", "animal abusers", "animal haters", "factory farmers" et al. The panicky hate-speech is pretty shrill, particularly from Wayne Pacelle himself. He has clearly painted himself into a corner, and his true character is showing. Not good.

Larkin Vonalt

CCF also deserves a tremendous amount of credit for getting the truth out about PeTA via their website

As a dyed-in-the-wool lefty though, I cry foul on your notion that HumaneWatch is a partisan group. There are plenty of us damned liberals among those 90,000 fans. Believing that good stewardship is the right and responsibility of the pet owner, farmer, rancher, ringmaster, horseman etc. is not the sole purview of the conservative.

P.S. You have a typo ("debeate") in a key paragraph of this piece. You might want to fix that.


Larkin - -when I use the word "partisan" I referring to it in the more general use of the word of having two separate factions that have (often blind) allegiance to their side - similar to how it is with current political structure, but with the lines drawn in separate ways.

Larkin Vonalt

Dear Brent
The general use of "partisan" is now so strongly connected with political leanings, that I'd argue it's impossible to extricate one from the other.

Indeed, it's not unusual to see a first-time Humane Watch poster come in slinging all sorts of right-wing rhetoric.

My point to you was simply to underscore that people of all stripes are united to make HSUS honest, even if they are kicking and screaming while we do so.

Kind regards,


Thank you Brent, great content. Coming from Greyhound adoption (notice that I did NOT use the word rescue) we know all too well about confirmation bias. We too have an internal struggle similar to that of the HSUS vs Humanewatch situation where Grey2K sits in its ivory tower spewing its rhetoric while they collect dollar after dollar in the name of saving the Greyhounds and yet not a penny of that money is spent to help the dogs that are displaced when a track shuts down.


I don't know much about the issues you brought up but I did notice one amusing and ironic thing about your post.

You seem to be "overconfident about your belief" in "confirmation bias" and you are very critical of people who you label as "polarized", because they do not share your beliefs about the evils of polarization. Viewing your statements as an outsider you are indeed very polarized in your beliefs. And the more you claim to be unbiased the more polarized you become. Very common among the "unbiased" crowd. Makes me laugh. You are in fact probably so biased that you don't even understand what I'm saying.


Of course I have my biases. We all do.

But I do think it is important to recognize that you have them and at least be open to facts presented by others...and I think I at least try to do a solid job of that...vs just dismissing the facts because I don't like the source and rely on personal insults to try to discredit the source...which is what it appears you are trying to do.


Don't feed the trolls...


Brent, thank you for addressing this issue. I have leanings both ways and feel conflicted about what the "truth" is in this matter. One point that I would like to make is the fact that even though HSUS isn't directly involved in hands on animal care it still seems that lobbying for animal protection is a different but also important function that our underfunded agencies involved with direct care could never do. Taking on the interests of animals against whatever big business arena you name (beef, poultry, whatever) takes big money and a big political machine. I found this article interesting:

Thanks for a great blog,



I don't disagree that legislation is an important element to bettering things for animals. There is little doubt in my mind that we could be much closer to being a no kill nation right now if much of the legislation that were currently in place across the country was gotten rid of (pet limits, breed bans, mandatory spay/neuter laws, laws prohibiting TNR). Heck, my own organization is a lobbying organization (but on a local basis, where I feel like the laws are having a greater negative impact on animals).

I think the problem with HSUS comes down to this (at least for me):

1) If they are primarily a lobbying organization, they should not receive the same tax-exempt status of other 501c3 organizations. They should at least have to form a separate c4 organization that raises money for lobbying -- similar to how the Sierra Club is set up.

2) If they aren't directly caring for animals, they need to quit sending out donation requests "for the care of" animals they are not taking care of (or worse, actively trying to kill).

3) And this is more of an opinion point from me, but I find HSUS's choice of policies to push to be ill-conceived to the point where I think they're stated goal, and real goal, are actually very different.

alice in LALA land

The CCF does not promote cruelty to animals.. and I just love it when the HSUS trolls come on with the "backed by food industry and the restaurant groups and gasp.. ALCOHOL.." as if the CCF is pouring rotgut down the throats of every American.. and stuffing them full of greasy fries.. I have always seen CCF as a balance to the vegan crazies.. and the "Physicians For Responsible Medicine" groups that fill the public's head with nonsense.. I see CCF as saying.. Hey not everything is bad for you all of the time.. there is a place of "junk food" ( Dog knows I have depended upon it late at night while on the road to a show) I enjoy a drink or a nice glass of wine.. I don't see all alcohol as the 'devils drink" neither does CCF as far as I can tell..The restaurant industry is important to many people in this country. CCF blows PETA out of the water.. and exposes them for the killers that they are.. and as far as the HSUS.. I knew about them long ago.. but many of my friends didn't.. thanks to CCF they do now...if you cannot shoot the message.. well you know the rest..
Nice blog


H$U$ does have a c4. Its the only way I see them getting away with what they do...but when they raise money they say "give us money to help animals" implying that its ACTUALLY to help ANIMALS directly. They do NOT say "give us money to lobby/create laws/bye stock to help animals". Nor do they say "give us money to pass laws that will actually lead to more killing". So they imply you're donating to the c3 but I bet a lot of money is getting funneled into the c4. How they HELL do they get away with buying stock with c3 donations!?!?

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