In CounterPunch: A Word on #TimesUp at the Humane Society

The HSUS’s #MeToo problem should come as no shock. This mega-charity has a history of manipulating the very beings it’s trusted to protect.

Full article published in the 7 Feb. 2018 issue of CounterPunch.

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Animal Liberation Follies

Professional advocacy now congratulates itself for its hands-on manipulation of animal fertility. It’s a false anti-cruelty position that strives to replace guns, arrows and traps with high-tech animal removal. What gives anyone the right to impose birth control on untamed animals? What gives career advocates that right?

Read more at Dissident Voice  today.

Animals 24-7: Humane Society CEO Woos Anti-Gay Evangelist

Wayne Pacelle, CEO of The Humane Society of the United States, explained: “It’s part of my commitment, and that of The HSUS, to integrate – or to reintegrate – other voices and perspectives within the humane movement.”

Barrett Duke

Barrett Duke

Humane movement?

This is the same Barrett Duke who warned Baptist Press readers:

“If the radical homosexual agenda is codified into law our own government will be arrayed against us and our struggle to protect our religious freedom. We can fight this battle now or we can fight it later, but we are going to fight this battle.”

The full article, including historical commentary by editor Merritt Clifton on notable animal-protection proponents whose social lives would not win Duke’s approval, appears here.


Banner image: detail from photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

Spying on Slaughter

Here’s a recent article headlined “Slaughterhouse Says Changes Made” by the Asbury Park Press, based in New Jersey, where the president of Catelli Brothers took “swift action” after an undercover video showed abuse of Holstein veal calves. Anthony Catelli is also quoted reassuring the public that the plant, in operation for 19 years so far, was designed to follow the humane slaughter methods developed by Professor Temple Grandin.
Asbury Park Press 1

Three workers were fired, and eleven new cameras will watch the rest of them. Essentially, all that has changed is who monitors the employees.

“Ag-gag” bills—laws forbidding outsiders from recording workers in animal agribusiness—are receiving some attention because of their serious civil-rights implications. (Harold Brown and I will speak about such bills with criminal justice students at an open event in West Chester, Pennsylvania next week.) Far less noted is how undercover investigations become exposés of grotesque scenes that are, at best, met with a tidying-up of the system at a particular business. That hardly challenges an industry. Deliberate nastiness on the part of employees, after all, does nothing to preserve or augment the owners’ profits.

Moreover, undercover actions to expose abuses in a slaughter plant send the message that there’s nothing inherently abusive in killing. If the law is followed, there’s nothing for activists to find.

Asbury Park Press 2

Another disturbing element involves the process by which the undercover videographer got this imagery. According to this story, the person filming on behalf of the Humane Society of the United States was more than a passive witness to the harrowing scenes recorded. HSUS spokesperson Mary Beth Sweetland says “our investigators do not participate in ill treatment of animals” and that the company, by stating otherwise, is throwing up smokescreens. In either case, HSUS sent an employee into a job at this animal processing plant to obtain images. Direct involvement in the handling and killing of animals can go on for weeks in some undercover projects.

Asbury Park Press 3

What about the people who gathered in a public demonstration outside the slaughter plant? As the photo shows, they’re with a group named NJ Farm Animals Safe.  At least one has a vegan placard. Good. A vegan shift is the only thing that’ll stop the production of Holstein veal calves. Of course, the protesters could be standing in front of countless places like this; a bust doesn’t need to happen for vegan outreach to be done. In any case, thanks to them for displaying the vegan message.

Last winter, the U.S. Department of Agriculture suspended operations at Catelli Brothers for five days after the Humane Society of the United States submitted evidence of violations of the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act of 1978, which, originally passed in 1958, was enacted to prevent needless suffering.

Even if it could be enforced throughout the country, the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act would have limited scope. The U.S. government and many States regulate the transport and slaughter of mammals in agribusiness, but few if any jurisdictions address breeding and husbandry in all other phases of the animals’ lives.

If, and only if, we stop buying dairy milk and cheese, the suffering stops. Nowadays I can point to vegan cheeses offering any taste or texture people might want, but let’s grow up. Good vegan cheese is a bonus for us. Not a need. And we needn’t be a society of bullies. The death of newborn animals so their parents can keep lactating to fill our breakfast bowAsbury Park Press 4ls is needless suffering.

How does this story conclude? Catelli Brothers was back in business within the week; the USDA closed the file; and since then, Anthony Catelli said, “there have been no issues whatsoever.”

 


Available: An online copy of the newspaper article.

Control

Most vegans are aware of the Humane Myth dynamic: Disturbing examples of industrial animal handling are exposed. For example, pigs are forced into narrow crates to efficiently produce more pigs for the business. A segment of the market appears, distinguishing itself as conscientious and humane, although its goal is the same: to turn pigs into bacon and make money. For in truth it’s all exploitation, from the first day the family farmers learn to use their insemination rods to the day they send their animals to the same old killing floor as the rest. And the “free-range” farms banish the truly free-living animals. The guards of the henhouse have scant tolerance for foxes.

Now, on to a different humane myth. One that developed outside of agribusiness, in the woods, savannas, gardens and skiesplaces where, we hope and expect, animals live free. It’s the myth that populations of such animals can be pared by ourselveshumanely.

Why do we say there “too many” of the other animals? They all seem to balance themselves perfectly well until we intrude. Which we do, everywhere. Our population is seven billion and rising. As we spread ourselves out, we devise the cultural carrying capacity ideaintroduced by the ecologist Garrett Hardin to mean the limit we declare on any animal community perceived as being in our way.

TIME cover (9 Dec. 2013) labels deer "America's Pest Problem"

TIME cover (9 Dec. 2013) labels deer “America’s Pest Problem”

In North America, after we killed most of the wolves because ranchers and hunters didn’t want the predators around, deer achieved a notable ability to thrive in our midst; yet they are pressed by our incessant construction and road-building into ever smaller and fragmented green places; and so they are described, in many areas, as having a high population density. Government officials, goaded by media representations that alarm the public, advance the conception of deer as a problem requiring a solution.

So officials make plans and draw up budgets, and people are hired to shoot deer on public lands and around cities by the hundreds or thousands.

Animal advocates are calling the pending plan to wipe out thousands of deer on Long Island “primitive and ethically indefensible.” Their petition invokes “the overwhelming evidence that immunocontraception is effective, humane, less expensive and sustainable over the long term.”

Thus, advocates have decided to

  • Buy the myth that deer or other free-roaming animals constitute a problem; and
  • Regard a more sophisticated form of eliminating deer as sustainable and ethically defensible.

Let’s examine this closely, because much is at stake. Do we really want patented, government-approved pharmaceuticals to ensure that other animals are controlled the way humans want them to be controlled? So that we achieve an officially prescribed “density” of the animals in question for any given expanse of space? Is the bio-community that surrounds us something to refashion through some macabre, Disneyesque design?

Claude Monet pigeons Ruling the roosts 

Birds are also frequently named as nuisances. For pigeons, a much-vaunted contraceptive is OvoControl P. Its distributor’s website declares:

The Humane Society of the United States (“HSUS”), People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (“PETA”), American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (“ASPCA”) as well as other animal welfare groups support the use of non-lethal technology to moderate the populations of pigeons. Left unchecked, pigeon numbers in a local flock can grow very rapidly.

The company, Innolytics, calls the active chemical in OvoControl P “practically non-toxic” and elaborates:

Traditional reproductive studies in rodents show very limited effects.  Experiments to evaluate possible effects on sperm receptor formation in mammals are presently underway at Innolytics.

A letter to the Montana Standard by Jay Kirkpatrick, who holds a Ph.D. in reproductive physiology from the College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, promoted the pigeon contraceptives:

…Trying to find relief through the removal of any “problem” animal simply exacerbates the problem. Unless you literally exterminate every pigeon in Butte, the residual population will simply keep filling the roosts and leaving behind reminders.

Reproduction, folks. That’s the key to managing populations. And there is an excellent proven commercial solution for the problem of pigeon reproduction in the form of an Environmental Protection Agency-approved avian contraceptive.

Not content to stop with the pigeons of Butte, Dr. Kirkpatrick continued:

This approach has worked extremely well for pigeons in other cities and the broad approach of fertility control has worked well for wild horses, urban deer, bison, and even African elephants.

Why it is so hard, for people to understand that reproduction is the problem?”

Pigeons, free-roaming horses, deer, bison, African elephants…oh, my.

Humane Society International, the international arm of the Humane Society of the United States, has been experimenting with contraceptive substances on elephants in Africa for more than a decade; they herald these intrusions as “a new paradigm for elephant management” and garner financial support from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

But Africa’s elephant population has dropped to less than half a million, compared with five million elephants 65 years ago. So why do the Humane Society and U.S. government keep preventing elephants from naturally reproducing in Africa?

Elephants: AFP photoThe Humane Society points to a lack of “new reserves established that can actually accommodate elephant.” (The singular form, elephant, is used in the original.) Highly vulnerable populations of long-tusked elephants, such as a genetically unique community of only 230 at KwaZulu-Natal’s Tembe Elephant Park, are being reduced through contraceptive testingperhaps, warns Pretoria wildlife veterinarian Johan Marais, to fade into oblivion.

Dr. Jay Kirkpatrick, who penned the pigeon contraception letter in Montana, is credited as one of the two compilers of the Humane Society’s elephant contraception report. The report mentions ultrasound exams and helicopter chases, with flights close enough to shoot elephants with darting rifles; so clearly the control is intense. But the report states: “Not only has immunocontraception proven to be the least invasive and most humane population control mechanism available to us, it proved to very effective in curbing population growth.”

This activity does not replace population reduction by lethal means. Instead of opposing the killing of elephants, the Humane Society’s report maintains that “relocation and/or culling of elephants in confined reserves may continue to be necessary, but contraception will enable management to better control the frequency and extent of such interventions.”

The Humane Society’s position is, evidently:

  • Free-living animals cannot live free from killing or intrusive social control; and
  • The Humane Society possesses the knowledge and authority to decide and direct the means of control.

But if elephant habitat is shrinking, isn’t that the real issue to address? Wouldn’t the best advocacy defend animals in their autonomous state rather than forcibly prevent their existence?

A non-lethal alternative?

Not only does contraception erase animals by preventing their offspring from existing; the science itself kills. In one series of experiments run by researchers at Cornell University and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 21 white-tailed deer were captured, ear-tagged and collared, kept in a fenced area at an army depot, with some subjected to multiple contraceptive vaccines, and all killed, as stated in the report:

In October 2000, within permit authority from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC), deer were humanely killed by a shot to the head or neck from a high-powered rifle fired from a blind or a vehicle.

The bodies were dissected to find any damage or disease resulting from the vaccine known as porcine zona pellucida (PZP), which hijacks the deer’s immune system so it attacks naturally occurring reproductive proteins. The most commonly used immunocontraceptive for controlling the reproductive systems of female mammals, PZP is “harvested from porcine ova”—taken from the bodies of pigs.

For the three years before they were killed, the deer were always within the reach of the university researchers and their students. Their dissected bodies told the tale: most of the vaccinated group had severe pelvic inflammatory disease, and abscesses the researchers called “remarkable”—severe enough to be called tubercular in appearance even two years after the injections. The body of Deer Number 188 showed bone marrow fat depletion with “classic signs of malnutrition normally seen in deer struggling through an extremely harsh winter.” Earlier studies indicating this same condition are cited in the study; the researchers declare that “[a]dditional investigation of the frequency and possible causes for marrow fat depletion should be conducted…”

Gary J. Killian and Lowell A. Miller had, just a few years earlier, published the results of six years of experiments at the Deer Research Center of the Pennsylvania State University. Deer subjected to PZP had fewer offspring (though “fawning” is mentioned in the study results, there is no commentary about the lives of these youngsters born under laboratory control) and the adults’ bodies changed so much that “the average breeding days each year for the control group was 45, whereas in some years some PZP treated does were breeding more than 150 days” of the year. Thus are the social lives of deer—the schedules of their lives—commandeered by the chemical.

The researchers also tried a hormone-based substance. It stopped antler growth on male deer—whose testicles, and sex lives, also failed to develop. The female deer subjected to the hormone also failed to develop sexually.

Noting “many earlier studies” dating back to 1973, Killian and Miller nevertheless claimed that the physical and social effects require more testing. Cited studies included “[e]fficient immunocastration of male piglets” and “gonadal atrophy in rabbits” as well as “applications of contraceptives in white-tailed deer, feral horses and mountain goats.”

Let Life HappenThe broader view

Meanwhile, everywhere humans impose our own brand of control on deer, the animal groups that naturally curb the deer population are treated as though their roles in nature don’t count. Wolves, bobcats and coyotes are persecuted continually—by traps, poisons, hunting and even killing contests.

Insofar as the so-called non-lethal forms of animal control put coyotes and other omnivore or carnivore animals out of a job, they can help to perpetuate the deaths of those animals.

So this is the other humane myth. Many an animal-rights activist has gone along with the idea of a contraceptive alternative—even offered to fund it or insist that local officials adopt it—because of the myth that it helps animals whereas killing harms them. But can the use of contraception on deer, elephants, and other free-living animals fairly be called humane?

And in the broader view, shouldn’t we resist the erasure of animals who don’t amuse or enrich us, or perfectly fit their allocated spaces, as our own numbers relentlessly rise?

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Featured photo by Jeff Houdret: Three young deer crossing a meadow at Valley Forge National Historical Park in winter. Elephants: AFP.

Online Pet Sales, Facilitated by the Humane Society of the United States

Welcome to Vegan Place. You’re reading the best entry ever posted here.

Mind you, I wanted Vegan Place’s opening entry to be uplifting, encouraging, and beautiful. But it is not. Because this morning, the CEO of the Humane Society of the United States dropped a heap of disgraceful words about the group’s latest “victory” into my in-box. Well, something needs to be said about that. As in: If this is a humane “victory” what do the defeats look like?

Here’s the e-mail. The bold highlighting is there in the original. And here’s my bold highlighting: This is the codification of online mass pet retailing. 

September 10, 2013

Dear Friend,

I have a huge victory to share with you! After years of pressure from The HSUS, and hundreds of thousands of emails and support from advocates like you, online puppy mills will finally be subject to federal inspections and oversight. The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced plans today to ensure that large-scale breeding facilities that sell puppies over the Internet, by phone, or by mail are licensed and inspected regularly for basic humane care standards. This rule will also apply to large commercial breeders of other warm-blooded pets, such as kittens and small mammals.

We are so grateful for the actions of our advocates. When we stand together, we can make a tremendous difference for animals on a national level.

Thank you for all you do for animals,

Wayne Pacelle, President & CEO
The Humane Society of the United States

I went to Wayne Pacelle’s blog, which posted the announcement today. Pacelle explains that the new administrative rule is “a long-held aspiration for The HSUS, the Humane Society Legislative Fund, and the Doris Day Animal League”–groups that have got the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s inspector general to review enforcement of the rules governing dog breeding, and that found “this glaring gap in the law that allowed Internet sellers to evade any federal oversight whatever.”

Pacelle goes on to thank the Obama administration, the “strong bipartisan support in Congress for closing the `Internet loophole` in the Animal Welfare Act regulations”, and the USDA, which will assign people to license (yes) and inspect the animal vendors.

The very same USDA, as Dissident Voice founder Sunil Sharma observes, “whose `inspectors` regularly visit factory farms and report nothing wrong.”

Pacelle justifies this codification project with one of the most tired old chants: “Puppy mills aren’t going away overnight…”

Of course not, if the world’s most influential humane-treatment group makes a campaign out of codifying them. The HSUS hereby marks its role as the federal regulatory regime for online retail animal sales is rolled out, and declares its key position in deciding who in the industry is not carrying out the sales according to that regulatory regime.

The establishment of the industry-regulating role will be followed by the correlative industry-policing role. Thus, administrative regimes are created with the help of the humane-treatment sector and they beget more jobs in the humane-standards field–an industry upon an industry. University classes are now being created and offered to prepare students for roles in refining animal breeding, use and handling. To say their aspirations to a humane, sustainable ideal amount to a lot of fairy dust would be to understate the actual harms done when the exploitation of animal life is continually hardened into the system of administrative law and custom.

It’s a gorgeous day, the moon has already risen, and I need a run. Thank you for reading. In later posts I’ll try, in the famous words of Harold Chasen’s mother, to be a little more vivacious.

Harold, please

image source