I really enjoy reader feedback. Whether you are commenting on topics I’ve covered on the blog, or on current events in the animal protection movement, your thoughts are welcome here.
A number of you have also written to ask for more information about The HSUS and our programs and campaigns. It’s a massive and complex organization, and it’s a challenge for even our staff to keep up with the pace of activity. I’d like to take the opportunity to answer your questions from time to time and to sharpen knowledge about the activities of the organization.
If you have a burning question about The HSUS or the issues facing animals today, share your query in an email. I may post it in a future blog. Today, I will begin by responding to inquiries from Lindsay and Beth, respectively.
Q. As a supporter of The HSUS I have always wondered where does all the money go? And what I mean by that is what about all the donors who give just $15 or $20. Does it really make a difference or do you count mostly on the big donations? Thanks!
A. The HSUS operates principally thanks to the generosity of our members—we are powered by millions of individual people, and receive hardly any funds from government and support from a small number of private foundations that focus on animal protection. The bulk of our support comes in contribution increments of less than $50—that’s the support that drives the programs of the organization. When hundreds of thousands, indeed millions of people, pool their resources and commit to supporting the organization, The HSUS is able to do remarkable things. Having a membership of 10 million strong—one in every 30 Americans—makes The HSUS a powerful force for animals. As I mentioned in previous blogs, we have helped to pass 78 new laws in the states this year, including laws to ban cockfighting in New Mexico and Louisiana and a ban on horse slaughter in Illinois. I’d recommend you drill down into humanesociety.org to get a feel for the breadth and depth of our programs. Read our 2006 annual report for some examples of how your donations have an impact for animals. The point is, your support makes a tremendous difference.
Q.I have just read on an unrelated web forum some, albeit unsubstantiated, allegations that The HSUS provides local TV with footage of dog fights to substantiate the "viciousness" of certain breeds. The allegation further charges that The HSUS advocates breed-specific legislation to ban certain breeds from communities.
As this practice of equating the breed of dog with dogfighting is completely inconsistent with the mission of The HSUS, I am skeptical. However, as a member of the Partner’s Circle, I would very much like these allegations refuted. I do not want to support an organization that would blame the animals for their ruined behavior more than the people who ruin them.
Dogfighting and legislating the ban of certain breeds just because they have traditionally been associated and used in dogfighting are two separate issues. I support a ban on all dogfighting and prosecution of all people who engage in the practice. I do not support taking responsible people’s pets from them just because the breed has been abused by humans in the past.
A.The HSUS regularly provides footage of dogfighting to television stations. We do not know how various programs will use our footage, or in what context. In our experience, the footage is used principally to shed light on the dark world of organized animal fighting, and the broadcast of this footage helps us build support for strong laws, robust enforcement and public awareness of this crime.
The HSUS has a long history of opposing breed bans. Such legislation is ineffective, expensive and ignores the irresponsible ownership practices that create dangerous dogs. While certain breeds may have behavioral inclinations, we believe that environment and training play an enormous role in the behavioral development of dogs. To that end, we celebrate responsible care and training, and strongly condemn people who turn animals into weapons or fighting animals.