This bewildering competition, HSUS vs. HumaneWatch and the common love interest, animal lovers, has me totally flabergasted. Of course there are more players, including the agriculture people, the PETA people, the hobby breeder people and I'm sure the list goes on and on. Here is my understanding.
You have the HSUS. A LARGE national animal advocacy group (companion and wild). They make a LOT of money in donations each year, hundreds of millions. Some of that money (NOT MUCH) is contributed DIRECTLY to shelter animals in need (maybe 1%). A larger (but still NOT MUCH) percentage (maybe 2%) is spent on employee salaries. The rest of the money appears to go INDIRECTLY to the animals through campaigns, advertising, litigation, legislation, lobbys, etc... To me this is the most beneficial use for the money, because I think it is better to fix the problem then to continue to save the animals that result from the problem. However, the HSUS may not be completely straight forward in fund raising efforts that the money is not going DIRECTLY to that particular otter shown in the video clip. An even larger problems is that there are MANY who suspect (I still haven't discovered the source for this suspicion, adds to the flabergastedness) that HSUS is just another PETA... an animals RIGHTS organization rather than an animal WELFARE organization, with the ultimate goal for humans to lose all rights to animals (no more pets, no more meat, etc...). As I mentioned, I just haven't seen any proof of this myself as ALL of the efforts I've seen from the HSUS appear to be in WELFARE.
Next up you have HumaneWatch, an organization of what I can only assume to be the agriculture lobby (but also somewhat deceitful in that they don't come out and say that), that is WATCHING the HSUS with a critical eye and promoting the idea that the HSUS is an animal RIGHTS organization. Today to support that argument, they cited articles on topics such as Ohio legislation which requires NEW farms to provide space for livestock to TURN AROUND (HSUS was involved in the creation of the legislation). That doesn't sound like the end of meat as a food group, but rather a SMALL implementation of BASIC animal welfare. They cited an article in which a judge (at the HSUS's urging) denied hunters the right to hunt a particular kind of wolf in a few states...a wolf that just a few short years ago was endangered and specifically populated for regrowth of the species. Again, it sounds reasonable to postpone hunting for a few years so that when hunting does start up again, there are still sufficient numbers of wolves to keep the species from going extinct. THis group does point out the FLAWS of the HSUS on occasion as well... pointing at complicated number figures that the reader can't understand but the HumaneWatch guarentees to be "unethical", pointing out the difference between the HSUS and local humane society's and blaming the HSUS for any confusion between the two, condemning their use of funds for lobbying efforts rather than individual animal care, etc...
Obviously you can tell what side I'm on. I haven't seen any proof that the HSUS is an evil organization that wants to take away my rights to own dogs. All I have ever seen the HSUS do is promote cases and legislation that are focused on animal welfare, not animal rights. Is it possible they have a secret motivation for animal rights? Absolutely it is possible, but in the mean time they are staying focused and raising societal awareness on issues of animal welfare. For that mean time, I'm totally on board (and they have a LONG way to go before we will lose our rights to own dogs). So it sounds like I am pretty straight on my opinion, right? But, this is where we get into the third part of our triangle... the animal lover.
I know many people from our dog show world who I respect a GREAT deal who are on the HumaneWatch bandwagon. I think they are pretty smart people and I know they love their animals. So what gives, where is the discrepency? What do they see that I don't? The answer is that I don't know and it is somewhat of a taboo subject...money, politics, religion and the HSUS... so I am not likely to find out anytime soon.
Many of them are reputable breeders (not puppy millers), and often the HSUS promotes legislation with puppy mill focus that could end up effecting hobby breeders (although usually hobby breeders are so small compared to puppy mills the legislation overlooks them, so I think it is a fear of the regulation concept). Yet, these are people who are very anti-puppy mill. So what are our good, ethical breeders willing to give up to put a stop to puppy mills? That is a different topic for a different day, but I know they are willing to make some sacrifices. Anyways, I would still love to relaly understand what draws these people to HumaneWatch, and when I find out, I will blog it.
But it still begs the question... why do some animal lovers choose HumaneWatch and some choose HSUS? Are people being scared into assumptions promoted by ag lobbiests and HumaneWatch? Afraid of losing their right to own a pet? Afraid of losing the right to eat meat? Afraid of losing the right to breed? On the other side, are they being conned into donating by the HSUS in a belief that the HSUS represents something it really does not?
And I think the problem ultimately arises when you have two extreme groups. You have the HSUS which promotes welfare (I'm going to say welfare because I haven't seen evidence otherwise) at the cost of American's rights to make decisions about their own property (legally animals in America are property), at the cost of increased prices and economic effects. You have the HumaneWatch (lovingly referred to as the ag lobby) who don't want their property rights taken away for any reasons, particularly the reason of animal welfare (or perhaps animal rights disguised as animal welfare).
I'm starting to discover a life lesson perhaps: extremes are never good. Should animal's welfare suffer at times to promote a better economy and American health? It breaks my heart to say so, but perhaps it should. There is ALWAYS a bigger picture to consider. Most likely if the American economy and health is in a better state, American's animals will be as well. Things tend to work that way. Should American farmers operate under a basic legislated standard of care so that animals are guarenteed minimum welfare goals? Probably, being able to stand up and turn around doesn't seem like much to ask for. I think it is often the goals of extreme organizations to lead their followers into believing that there is no middle ground. But there is always middle ground, room for compromise, room for give and take.
So that is the rant of the day. I really need a job!