Yesterday, I took some supporters on a tour of the remarkable Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch outside of Dallas, and it reminded me that it’s been 10 years since the facility became part of our organizational family because of a corporate combination between The Humane Society of the United States and The Fund for Animals.That union was a milestone in the charitable sector, with two organizations of similar purpose joining together to combine their programs in a meaningful way.
I had long felt that while the proliferation of groups in animal protection brought diversity and some strengths to our cause, it also weakened the movement, by spreading finite resources too thin and divvying up attention and brand recognition. If we were going to confront multi-billion dollar industries causing so much harm to animals, and other vested interests responsible for substantial cruelties, we needed more tools and strength. I felt that two major animal groups combining would strengthen us dramatically and allow us to drive changes in public awareness, public policy, and in the corporate sector.
In looking back on 10 years of our union, I believe that it’s worked more effectively, and with greater impact, than I ever imagined. When we combined management operations, we squeezed out some duplicative programs and fundraising and administrative costs. We poured those savings into a new Campaigns department and an Animal Protection Litigation section, and, later on, a new Equine Protection program. At the time, we also created a separate 501(c)(4) organization, the Humane Society Legislative Fund, that could properly conduct political activities, adding a weapon to our arsenal.
The savings we realized also allowed The Fund for Animals to continue and grow its animal care programs, and today it operates four animal care centers: Duchess Sanctuary in Oregon, The Fund for Animals Wildlife Center in California, Cape Wildlife Center in Massachusetts, and the Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch, which also houses the Doris Day Equine Center. The HSUS also operates the South Florida Wildlife Center, the nation’s largest wildlife rehabilitation center. These centers collectively care for thousands of animals each year, and complement the work we are doing to get to the root causes of cruelty.
Indeed, we now have a litigation unit that has had extraordinary effect throughout the legal system, including the sustained defense and aggressive implementation of animal protection laws. Our campaigns unit has been central to our gains on factory farming, animal fighting, sealing, puppy mills, and so many other core programs. Our equine program is the only national program that fights cruelty to horses across a wide range of issues.
Subsequent to the combination with The Fund for Animals, we also combined operations with the Doris Day Animal League and then the Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights, which was renamed the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association. Those unions further boosted our equine and political operations, and brought a phalanx of veterinarians into the fold.
So there is still an alphabet soup of organizations, but the work of all of the organizations within The HSUS' larger family is coordinated and complementary. It’s one big reason why The HSUS and its family of affiliates have emerged as the most powerful force ever for animal protection, bringing a wide array of tools to the toughest fights for animals.
In particular, I want to thank Mike Markarian and Marian Probst – the leaders of The Fund in 2005 – for their vision in recognizing that the movement needed both more coordination and collaboration, as well as more power. And I thank so many of you who continue to support the organizations as a statement of support for cooperation and movement unity.