The animal rights movement isn’t having a good year, mainly because the 800-lb. gorillas of the movement aren’t having a good year. Despite lots of noise and heavy spending, there have been no congressional or state victories of any note, and generally speaking, very little media attention.
A glance at the HSUS website shows press statements boasting cat and horse rescues and urging the residents of Hawaii, as two hurricanes bore down on the islands, “to prepare.” New Jersey banneds ivory and rhino horn, federally illegal for decades, and HSUS portrays the move as monumental. PETA continues the tired old “girl-in-a-lettuce-leaf-bikini” publicity stunts, trumpeting endorsements by minor Hollywood types, but to the public and the media, such stunts are becoming so much white noise.
In March, Oklahoma attorney general Scott Pruitt opened an investigation into HSUS fundraising in the state connected to the Moore, Oklahoma, tornado relief effort last year and issued a “consumer alert” relative to national animal charities. Pruitt is talking to other states about conducting similar investigations, according to humanewatch.org. Oklahoma is one of several states suing California over its egg production law – heavily supported by HSUS – and the state House approved a “right-to-farm” constitutional amendment.
May was a real bugger for HSUS, when it and an army of B List animal rights groups were whacked with a nearly $16-million court judgment won by Feld Entertainment, owner of Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus. HSUS, et al, sued Feld for abusing its elephants and lost for a whole lot of kind of skeezy reasons; Feld countersued and won. This comes on the heels of an earlier multimillion judgment in the same case against the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).
For his part, HSUS’s Wayne Pacelle said no donor dollars will go to Feld, as insurance will cover “a substantial portion, if not all” of the settlement. The truth of that statement is again in the hands of courts as HSUS sues various insurance companies for refusing to cover the judgment. Pacelle confirmed the legal actions in an interview with the Washington Examiner, published July 7, which said: “Wayne Pacelle, the Humane Society’s president and CEO, shrugged off the insurance companies’ refusal to cover the settlement, saying in an interview, ‘denial of coverage is a standard posture within the industry.’ Pacelle, who was previously the organization’s chief lobbyist and spokesman, said they have a ‘commitment’ from one carrier ‘to cover the bulk of what our responsibility is.’”
The original Feld judgment led to even greater public image and perhaps pocketbook injury as Charity Navigator (charitynavigator.org), a well-respected national non-profit charity rating group, nixed HSUS’s rating and issued a “donor advisory.” Charity Navigator explains the advisory: “Charities can receive a Donor Advisory for a variety of reasons such an investigation by the Attorney General, a lawsuit against the charity and an atypical item…reported on the Form 990. Donor Advisories replace a charity’s rating and typically remain in place for a minimum of a year. In order for a charity’s rating to be restored, it must provide public domain documentation or similarly reliable and accessible information that demonstrates that the issues identified in the Donor Advisory have been resolved.” We’ll see.
PETA this week had one of its “undercover” videos blown out of the water, but nonetheless was able to vilify the dairy industry through accusation rather than fact. The radical animal rights group claimed it had video of a small 30-cow North Carolina dairy showing “emaciated and lame cows trudging through a pool of their own liquefied manure…with excess waste so high that the cows must wade through it up to their knees.”
The state Department of Agriculture rightly conducted an inspection, and short of loose ceiling tiles and some rust in the milking parlor, found no public health hazards and no milk storage problems. “That area was not similar to what was depicted in some parts of the video,” a department official said. This was followed by an investigation by county animal control officials who told the Charlotte Observer the PETA complaints of cruelty are unfounded. Harris Teeter grocery stores, now owned by Kroger, was alleged by PETA to have received milk from the farm. It got all flustered and issued all kinds of denials before the state officials’ investigations were completed.
Perhaps we’re witnessing classic cases of what goes around comes around, or a manifestation of the old biblical admonition that “pride goeth before a fall.” PETA doesn’t care – it’s certainly proved that enough times – but in the case of HSUS, it’s clearly a case of the emperor has no clothes, and more people are beginning to notice.