It looks like Iowa Congressman Steve King’s press release condemning National 4-H for inviting HSUS to speak to 4-H members has stirred up a bit of a hornet’s nest. First HSUS fired back, playing loose with the facts:
“Representative Steve King isn’t one to talk about animal welfare, since he has one of the most appalling records on animal protection in Congress. He has opposed disaster planning for pets, strong penalties for dogfighters and cockfighters and other common-sense policies. The Humane Society of the United States provides direct care to more animals than any other animal welfare group in the nation, spending more than $20 million annually supporting local animal shelters and running our own hands-on animal care programs and providing other direct-care services. In addition, we combat large-scale cruelties such as puppy mills, animal fighting, factory farming and horse slaughter — all of the things that Rep. King is so fond of.”
Never mind that HSUS own records from 2008 show only $450,000 went to pet shelters, out of a $99,664,400 budget. In that same year, HSUS awarded $2,532,167 to their own staff pensions. And only $7 million of the $34 million they collected for displaced Hurricane Katrina pets can be publicly accounted for.
Then on Hardball with Chris Matthews, Mr. Matthews displayed an obvious lack of knowledge (and research) when he spent 30 seconds condemning Congressman King for opposing HSUS – a group Matthews says is “best known for rescuing animals and placing them in shelters.”
Matthews went on to say, “The agenda of the humane society, as everyone knows, is to make sure that people aren’t cruel to animals. Is congressman King on the other side of that debate? I didn’t know anyone was.”
Whoa. I’m not sure who “everyone” is, but it certainly doesn’t include those of us in agriculture who’ve seen the wolf beneath sheep’s clothing. The watchdog group HumaneWatch.org invited people to share their thoughts with Hardball, so I put on my farmwife cap and did so. Here’s a look at what I wrote; please take a moment to share your own thoughts and tell your story to Hardball as well.
Dear Mr. Matthews-
I’m writing to take issue with your comments regarding Congressman King and the Humane Society of the United States. I feel that you may have been mislead by HSUS and what they stand for – which is exactly what HSUS hopes for. They speak of saving puppies and kittens and stopping puppy mills and rake in millions of dollars, then use less than 1% of their annual budget in direct care of animals in pet shelters. They have no affiliation whatsoever with local Humane Societies, which do exceptional work in communities across the country. HSUS is a political organization, whose primary budget concerns are staff and lobbying. Their CEO Wayne Pacelle and many of his staff are on record as wanting to end all animal agriculture in the United States. Their goal is a vegetarian country, though I’m unclear as to where they think all these animals will go. They say they are for humane treatment of animals, yet they don’t seem to have a good grasp as to what that is. Following Hurricane Katrina, they raised $34 million to reportedly rescue animals affected by the hurricane; only $7 million can actually be publically accounted for as having gone to help those animals.
All across this country, farmers and ranchers work hard raising the meat animal protein that sustains the diets of the vast majority of Americans. They produce enough food to feed 154 people every year, and they are the first link in a food chain that is the most abundant, most healthy and most regulated in the world. Don’t be mistaken: HSUS’s ultimate goal is to put livestock producers out of business. These are good, hard-working people who value the animals on their farms, who are grateful for those animals’ lives, and who do their best to make their life and death a comfortable and meaningful one. HSUS is wrong. Congressman King was right. The National 4-H office should never have given an organization like HSUS a platform in front of some of the best and brightest young people in rural America – an organization that’s trying to put their parents out of business.
I hope that you will research HSUS further, reconsider your position and with any luck at all, give it equal airtime.