Sunday, February 15, 2009

Taboo II

Photo of Colorado Sand Wash Herd Management Area round up October 2008.
Used with permission. Courtesy of Carol Walker – Living Images.

Founded in 1954, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has grown to be the largest, richest and most powerful animal rights organization in the world.

In 1970, HSUS had 30,000 members and an annual budget of about $500,000.(1) Today, they exemplify a true multinational corporate conglomerate, boasting 11 million members and act as an umbrella for a huge network of organizations, affiliates and subsidiaries with at least 64 known legal corporations under their control, some being non-profit tax exempt charities requiring public financial disclosures and some being for-profit organizations that do not. (2)

In 2007, HSUS reported over $200 million in assets and their annual budget had grown to $120 million dollars. Some expenses for 2007 included over $27 million spent on Campaigns, Litigation and Investigations, $13.2 million for Strategic Communications, $12.8 million for Fund Raising, and $4.8 million for Management and General Expenses. (3)

Looking into HSUS’s track record, it turns out there are three main bones of contention repeatedly fired at them over the years, the first being a subtle change in their mission statements in 1980 from an animal welfare organization to an animal rights organization.

The second bone is accusations of misleading the public through deceptive advertising and fundraising ploys. Despite photos of adorable or tragic animals splashing the pages of their “Donate Now” campaigns, some point out their website has a buried disclaimer affirming it is a completely independent organization not affiliated in any manner with local animal shelters, humane societies or organizations.

While millions poor into HSUS’s coffers based on the premise that donations are somehow contributing to real life animal welfare, on-the-ground shelters struggle to get by on shoestring budgets. According to one source, “HSUS raises enough money to finance animal shelters in every single state, with money to spare, yet it doesn’t operate a single one anywhere.(4)

The third bone of contention and perhaps the biggest, is the manner in which they juggle their mega-monetary funding. One of the big concerns is, no single board provides consolidated oversight of the “Humane Nation” empire, thus potentially allowing the networks under their control to hide and misrepresent where and how funds are distributed.

In an incident involving a court case where a Canadian organization transferred over $1 million dollars to HSUS, claiming it was for fundraising expenses, HSUS was unable to provide the required documentation to prove it. In 1997, a Canadian judge ordered HSUS to give the money back and blasted them by stating, “I cannot imagine a more glaring conflict of interest or a more egregious breach of fiduciary duty. It demonstrates an overwhelming arrogance of a type seldom seen.” (5)

In August 2007, the Center of Consumer Freedom claimed they had been contacted by the FBI regarding an investigation into possibly fraudulent fundraising practices by HSUS over the explosive Michael Vick dog fighting travesty(6) and in March 2006, Louisiana Attorney General Charles Foti Jr. launched an investigation into whether the $34 million dollars HSUS raised under the premise of helping Hurricane Katrina victims had been appropriately disbursed. (7)

However, after launching the investigation, accusations have followed that HSUS consolidated and merged with many local organizations to stifle protests and made large contributions to the Attorney General’s campaign funds (8), who coincidentally scuttled the 18 month investigation after an October 2007 announcement that HSUS would provide a $600k grant to a local Louisiana prison for a new shelter using inmates as the work force (9). Another accusation includes public disclosures of HSUS’s financial records finding less than $7 million went towards what they solicited funds for regarding Katrina with the whereabouts of at least $27 million remaining a mystery.(10) (Note: I could find little official records to support many of these allegations….)

By the way, if those Katrina accusations are true, this wouldn’t be the first time HSUS has employed the strategy of absorbing those who either criticize or compete with them.

In 2005, they swallowed up the Fund for Animals(11), one of the most historically active organizations involved in the protection of wild horses and burros and in 2006, the Doris Day Animal League joined HSUS’s ranks, another staunch activist for wild horse and burro preservation - as well as being one of their most vocal critics. (12)

Since these mergers, active participation and legal challenges regarding management and treatment of wild horses and burros or their habitat loss have all but disappeared - despite HSUS’s formation of a new Animal Protection Litigation Section in 2005. Instead, the sole focus has become promoting fertility control via PZP, which HSUS holds the exclusive patent too and has spent decades investing in.

While declines in wild horse and burro populations or habitat loss seem of little concern to HSUS these days, the concern for other species and their habitat loss is definitely becoming a main priority in the HSUS network.

One of HSUS’s affiliate organizations established in 1993, the Wildlife Land Trust, touts their involvement in the protection and enhancement of more than 1.8 million acres of wildlife habitat in 37 states and seven foreign countries since its inception. (13) However, it too has come under fire.

Between 1998 and 2003, the Wildlife Land Trust collected $21.1 million dollars. During this same period, they spent $15.7 million on fundraising expenses, most of which allegedly directly benefited HSUS, and the organization has been accused of using this arrangement to “bury millions in fundraising costs while giving the public and charity watch dog groups the false impression its own fundraising costs were relatively low”. (14)

As for charity watchdog groups, according to one source, HSUS and its affiliates have received embarrassingly low scores, which included a score of zero for the Wildlife Land Trust itself.

It’s interesting to note that recently, the Wildlife Land Trust has just entered into a new collaborative effort called Wildlife Land Trust Australia in order to protect the unique species of the Australian ecosystems. Coincidentally, Australia is also home to the largest “feral” herds of horses and donkeys in the world.

In 2007, HSUS spent over $11.8 million dollars on Wildlife Programs alone. Perhaps this would explain their conflicting embraces of Ted Williams and other anti-horse and burro supporters as was evidenced in “Wayne’s Blog” on May 30, 2007.

Click Here to read how President Wayne Pacell addresses wild horse activists Julianne French’s protests of HSUS’s support of Mr. William’s because of such statements as calling those who support wild horses and burros the “wild horse mafia”. However, if you chose to point out the flaws in Mr. Pacells arguments, don’t hold your breath waiting for your comments to be published as HSUS is very clear they only publish a “sampling” of opinions - despite Wayne’s arguments on how it’s good to “embrace diversity”.

This would also explain why HSUS works side by side with organizations like the Sierra Club, such as in the recent lawsuit challenging the Bush administrations new rules that gut public disclosure and rolls back threatened and endangered species protections.(15) For those of you unfamiliar with the Sierra Club’s three decade “direct reduction policy”, they actively support killing via firearms if no other “humane outlet” can be found to dispose of them. Click Here to view.

Since HSUS has developed a long history of potential conflicts of interest, it would also explain why in June 2007, when Sheldon-Hart Wildlife Refuge managers were publishing their final environmental assessment to reduce the Sheldon wild horses from 1,500 to merely 75-125 despite glaring legal violations, it wasn’t HSUS threatening litigation but In Defense of Animals successfully stepping up to the plate instead. (16)

At that time, HSUS had just received a grant worth over $1.7 million dollars from the Annenberg Foundation to implement “Assateague of the West: Protecting Wild Horses Through Immunocontraception”.(17) Common sense suggests challenging the Sheldon proposal would have been counterproductive to government partnership programs needed to continue entrenching PZP in future wild horse and burro management.

Perhaps this would also explain why HSUS never responded to a letter asking for them to address questions about the inhumane treatment of BLM driving wild horses by helicopter in the Nevada Wild Horse Range the weekend of July 6-8, 2007, during a time when temperatures were tying Nevada state records for the all time hottest temperatures ever recorded. (18)

Coincidentally, the letter also requested HSUS provide follow up on the results of fertility control experiments conducted on the herds since at least 1996 as BLM stated there were high incidences of club-foot in this restricted military area with no historical records citing this as a problem before. Apparently, the new funding didn’t cover checking back on HSUS’s “old” experiments….

It may also explain why, in September 2007, when 185 wild horses were dying at BLM’s Palomino Valley Wild Horse and Burro Holding Center due to one of the worst cases of mismanagement ever recorded, HSUS didn’t bother protesting, challenging or asking BLM for accountability because they were busy negotiating with BLM for places and herds to conduct their new experiments on.

In fact, HSUS had so little concern for what happened to the Jackson Mountain wild horses, they brought the BLM WH&B Specialist in charge of the fiasco, Heidi Hopkins, under their wing right after the round up to become the project lead on their “Assateague of the West” program. (19)

Heidi now works side by side with BLM personnel as a “humane representative” for HSUS and is responsible for monitoring the Sand Wash and Cedar Mountain wild horses herds HSUS gave the thumbs up for BLM to round up this past fall - despite knowing the captured “excess” wild horses are now at serious risk of facing slaughter or execution. To learn more about the Jackson Mountains story and Heidi’s extensive involvement in it, Click Here.

Maybe being a former BLM employee explains why Heidi or HSUS expressed no concerns about how the contractors at the Sand Wash round up funneled way too many wild horses much too fast down the chutes, causing them to dogpile over each other as shown above leading to the trampling of a mare that professional wildlife photographer Carol Walker caught on film. To view extensive photos of the Sand Wash round up and what happened, Click Here.

Perhaps this also explains why, though Heidi was directly at the capture site, she didn’t see a need to protest or stop the round up as the contractor drove them straight into trailers and instead, counseled Ms. Walker about how advocates must be “pragmatic” regarding BLM’s management of wild horses and how only PZP will save them. To learn more about the Sand Wash round up, see American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign’s “Colorado 2008 – Government Contractor Exposed – Part 2" by Clicking Here.

It’s also interesting to note that besides Heidi Hopkins, the Jackson Mountains, Sand Wash and Cedar Mountains herds had something else in common; all three of them were found to have inflated populations between BLMs FY07 and FY08 reported herd populations. (20)

In fact, 7 out of the 16 wild horse HMA’s BLM told HSUS fit their study criteria were found to have highly inflated populations. The Fifteenmile HMA in Wyoming went from 115 to 240, Nevada’s Bald Mountain went from 338 to 519, Desoyta HMA jumped from 159 to 280, Wassuk nearly doubled from 81 to 150 and of course both those HMAs eventually chosen for HSUS’s fertility control studies are included too; Utah’s Cedar Mountains HMA went from 355 to 531 and as already discussed in the last post, Colorado’s Sand Wash HMA climbed from 202 to 392. Just another coincidence? (21)

And learning all this has also caused me to wonder….

How could HSUS get grant money and continue to promote their exclusive patent on PZP if, after BLMs relentless round ups over the last eight years, the wild populations still remaining on the range are really much lower than BLM keeps telling everyone they are? It would kind of take the wind out of the $1.7 million dollars sails, future grant monies or lifetime contracts for PZP use, both here and in Australia, wouldn’t it?

And maybe, that’s why Allen Rutberg and everyone else at HSUS doesn’t want to do follow up in the Nevada Wild Horse Range or look at Ginger Kathrens complaints and the proof she says she has about what has been occurring in the Pryor Mountains wild horse herds.

Or maybe, as someone recently suggested, the truth of the matter is, PZP really does work but only if it’s given at the right time. Except BLM and HSUS know they can’t always administer it on every herd at the “perfect time” due to BLMs vigorous year-long round up schedules, so losing a few foals in the winter is better than losing them all to slaughter houses, right?

Since HSUS won’t give the time of day to what Ginger Kathren’s says she’s found out about PZP, I will ~ See below.

By the way, she isn’t the only one saying this as - surprise, surprise, of all people - BLM’s long-time gather contractor Dave Cattoor has also publicly posted on his website that he has noted some of these same effects - for whatever that’s worth....

Here’s an excerpt from Dave’s observations-
“But the worst thing we see is that sterilization screws up the mares natural cycles and they have foals all year round. We have seen this in herds we gather after the mares have been sterilized, plus we are seeing colts born much later in the spring.” Dave also claims BLM has been working on “sterilization” since 1986 and according to him, “follow up results by the universities were haphazard at best.” (22)

So why is it HSUS seems disinterested and/or is not legally challenging BLMs “other” management of our wild horse and burro herds or last summers announcement of considering execution or slaughter for all those now on death row as a result of this “other management”?

Let me go back and read this all again….

Ginger Kathrens, Volunteer Executive Director
Click Here for comments on PZP and Pryor Mountain herds.
Click Here for BLM’s Report on PZP results.

(1) Humane Society of the United States, Activist Cash
(2) Humane Society of the United States, Activist Cash
(3) HSUS’s Financial Disclosures 2007 – Part 2
(4) Free Republic
(5) Humane Society of the United States, Activist Cash
(6) Center for Consumer Freedom
(7) Louisiana Attorney General Investigates Red Cross, Fox News, Sunday March 26, 2006,2933,189126,00.html
(8) Katrina debacle: HSUS then does what? Pet Defense
(9) $600k pledged for Louisiana pet shelter, USA Today, 10/09/07
(10) Consumer Freedom
(11) Fund for Animals
(12)Doris Day Animal League
(13) Wildlife Land Trust
(14) Free Republic
(15) Groups fight to save ESA, 12/17/08
(16) IDA Sheldon Press Release
(17) Annenberg Grant
(18) Letter to HSUS re: Nevada Wild Horse Range
(19) Quarter Horse News article
(20) BLM FY Herd Statistics
(21) BLM wild horse Herd Management Areas submitted to HSUS for consideration of fertility control experiments provided courtesy of Dean Bolstad, BLM National Program Office, Wild Horse and Burro Lead, Personal Communication 11/20/08.
(22) Cattoor Livestock Inc.


Garibaldi said...

These sources about The HSUS come from a disreputable group, the Center for Consumer Freedom, which has never helped horses or any other animals. You should get your facts from a reliable source, and not just cut and paste a few financials you've never examined yourself. The HSUS's positions are not a secret; they are on the organization's website, including their policy statements. The wild horse issue is a challenging one for many reasons, but to attack The HSUS which has done a lot of good to help wild horses in forty years is not just divisive and unfair, it's something to be embarassed about. It reads like an ad hominem attack on one person rather than a reasonable line of argument. Apparently, a cowboy you talked to knows more about this issue than the many scientists who are doing so much to usher in an era when we can manage animal populations for survival in all kinds of situations. Come on.

sm4wh said...

I have to agree with Garibaldi. I have been reviewing your posts, and they are all so negative -- bashing everyone. This is not a simple issue, but a very complex one that goes back 30 years.

All of the negative bashing and conspiracy theory rhetoric is not going to help the situation any. What are you doing to help the situation? What are others doing to help the situation, and come up with solutions? Who is out there doing great things to help the wild horse and burro program? This is the type of reporting I would be interested in.

To be honest, you have way too much time on your hands, and need to be a little more constructive on this issue. Times are tough for horses and wild horses across the country right now.

Anonymous said...

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Sildenafil Citrate said...

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