Making progress for animals: a message from HSUS’ acting president and CEO

By on February 9, 2018 with 10 Comments

By Kitty Block

Today, as the Winter Games begin in Pyeongchang, my colleagues in Humane Society International are on the ground in South Korea, extending their important work against the dog meat trade. Three years ago, The HSUS and HSI embarked on an important campaign in that nation, the only one in the world where dogs are raised on commercial farms to be slaughtered for their meat. There are thousands of such farms, with millions of dogs trapped in them. We’ve helped to transition a number of farmers to humane livelihoods, and relocated dogs for adoption. So far, we’ve closed down 10 dog meat farms and rescued more than 1,200 animals. Through this approach, we have sought not simply to stop cruelty on a few farms, but to give the dog farmers and the Korean government a pathway to phase them out altogether.

This holistic approach to effecting change for animals within the context of our global work in diverse nations and cultures has special relevance for me. This week, in an especially trying time, I accepted the challenge of leading The HSUS as its acting president and CEO.

I have worked at The HSUS for the last 26 years in a number of leadership positions, and I am the first woman CEO in the organization’s 60-year history. Although the events of the past two weeks have been deeply trying, they have not prevented us from carrying on our mission of protecting animals. I have promised my colleagues at The HSUS that I will champion high standards of professional conduct, a compassionate work culture, and an atmosphere of trust built on transparency as well as shared values, behaviors, and accountability. As we continue to move ahead, I want to make you a promise, too. We will continue our work with the same dedication and compassion that we have always had toward the animals we love, and also with respect toward our fellow human beings.

This is one of the most hopeful times in the history of animal protection. The progress we’ve made as a movement has been tremendous, and The HSUS and its affiliates have, over six decades, taken on – and won — the toughest battles for all animals around the globe.

But these are also some of the most threatening times for animals. In the past year, we have seen attacks against animals grow, as federal agencies have taken steps to reverse protections for animals we together won after long, difficult fights. Wealthy lobbies for industries that use animals cruelly continue to undermine our efforts to protect them.

That is why I am so grateful for the dedication and determination of my staff colleagues who work hard each day to make sure that the march of progress for animals does not take a moment’s break.

The HSUS employs some of the finest people active in the field of animal protection today. Our Animal Protection Litigation team, a group of skilled attorneys aided by pro bono lawyers around the country, are fighting to keep federal protections for grizzly bears, right whales, and farm animals, and to lift the blackout of information from the U.S Department of Agriculture website relating to puppy mills and horse soring. Our legislative team is working to promote animal protection laws at both the federal and state levels. Our Nine Billion Lives campaign – calling for a set of major improvements in the standards for the care of broiler chickens – has brought on board more than 70 companies, including Burger King, Sonic, Jack in the Box, and Subway, and we’ll continue to build partnerships with many more. We are working on a number of fronts to protect wildlife: ending trophy hunting and trapping of native carnivores like mountain lions, bears, wolves, and bobcats, stopping wildlife killing contests, ending the use of wild animals in circuses and other travelling shows, as well as working within communities across the country to end the use of lethal and inhumane methods to manage wildlife conflicts. We are working to stop cruel practices like horse soring and puppy mill abuse, and to end the slaughter of American equines. And with our affiliates, we are providing more direct care to animals than any other group in our field. In 2017 alone, we helped more than 125,000 animals.

I am counting on you, our supporters, and our allies, to continue with us on this march of progress for animal protection, just as you have for all these years. You can stay updated on our work by following this blog, and by checking in at the HSUS website.


Animal Rescue and Care, Companion Animals, Equine, Humane Society International, Wildlife/Marine Mammals

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  1. Holland VanDieren says:

    Please resume daily comprehensive news on animal issues as Wayne did in this blog. I subscribe and follow a number of sources, but HSUS consistently produced the best commentary and information. We need to be armed with knowledge, and inspired by the challenges and progress reported here. All the best going forward … let’s not lose a step!

  2. Eric Mills says:

    Welcome, Ms. Block! Under the new leadership, here’s hoping that HSUS will now get more active on rodeo issues, as you were back in the 1970’s and 1980’s, what with videos, PSA’s, Joint Rodeo Policy Statement with American Humane, literature and handouts, etc. In recent years: ZIP.

    The timing is right, what with the never-ending stories of sexual harassment in the media. There are connections to be made: Rodeo is a macho exercise in DOMINATION, the cowboys there by choice, the animals not. For most of the animals involved–horses and bulls included– the rodeo arena is merely a detour en route to the slaughterhouse. They (and we) deserve better. And the HSUS should be leading the way.

    All best wishes in your new leadership role.

    Kind regards,
    Eric Mills, coordinator
    Oakland, CA

  3. VA says:

    Best Wishes and Good Luck!

  4. izabela Matej says:

    Please continue the great work. Wayne was great and I hope you will be even better. Keep us the great fight for all animals u cluding predators like wolves, bears…

  5. Brian O'Neill says:

    Wayne Pacelle was my go-to guy for many years re the many issues that HSUS addresses. It was with shock and sadness that I learned of his alleged inappropriate and hurtful behaviour. I can only hope that the new leadership will be as intelligent, focussed and earnest in working for animals as Wayne Pacelle was during his tenure at HSUS. We are counting on you, Kitty Block, to do your best to fill these big shoes.

    • Wendy Black says:

      Wayne’s “shoes” will be impossible for anyone to “fill.” The only hope we have is that the new leadership will build on his achievements. I have done tons of volunteer work for HSUS for years, as well as donating lots of $$ to their projects. I wish the organization well. Wayne had a unique combination of fantastic characteristics that are difficult to find in any profession, especially in our field. Brilliant, dedicated, shrewd, charismatic and the “movie star” looks didn’t hurt. Unfortunately, these type of leaders often have polar opposite characteristics that are equally unpleasant. Anyone who believes otherwise is naïve. Best regards to Kitty, and good luck.

      • Lizz L says:

        Wayne Pacelle could be president of the US. Whatever happened with him and reckless womanizing doesn’t take away from the fact that he is the most brilliant CEO of a nonprofit I have ever encountered at identifying and solving problems.

  6. Sally Palmer says:

    Thank you, Kitty, thank you, thank you, for bringing the blog back so quickly. Wayne and HSUS had become the North Star of the work for animal beings, and the thought that this aerial view might be lost from sight was heartbreaking and cause for despair. But clearly you have the heart and determination and vision to keep the HSUS star brightly shining.

  7. IASawyer says:

    To abolish all animal and human contact is not a track for many to follow. No meat, no lifesaving research and no purebred pets, and only mutt dogs. To put animals above human wellbeing is a movement against humanity in some thought. Animal welfare is different from animal rights. The majority of animal owners are for animal welfare but the move to animal rights, a purely philosophical movement, using ancient philosophy, is not worthy or meaningful in today’s world.
    Many dogs shipped from China have had parasites, now eradicated in the USA, Rabies and Dog Flu that can also be transmitted to humans. Wayne Pacelle created a “raise dogs to sell to HSUS”, creating a new economy for people in S. Korea and in China.
    Also if HSUS would investigate school shooters and mass murderers they would find that alcohol and drug abuse prevalent in spouse abuse, and not the J. M. MacDonald Triad that became popular and was picked up by FBI Forensic as post the introduction to the LINK. Yet when the recent mass murderers and school shooters diagnosed, found autism spectrum in more than one, schizophrenia and other mental illness and not the old MacDonald bedwetting, fire-starting and animal abuse “triad of evil”.
    The socialist Fabians under the leadership of Henry Salt and George Bernard Shaw undertook the fight for animals. Henry Salt was the founder of the Humanitarian League. The animal rights cause was short-lived in its beginnings though they both came to the USA and gave talks.
    During the Holodomor millions of inhabitants of Ukraine, the majority of whom were ethnic Ukrainians, died of starvation in a peacetime catastrophe unprecedented in the history of Ukraine. Taking not only farm animals but all food they could find caused millions of Ukrainians to starve to death and resort to eating shoe leather.
    At the same time1933, Germany develope laws for animal rights, which targeted mostly the Jewish Faith for their way of killing animals to eat, vegetarian eating and nonsmoking during the time of war.
    It was not until the early 1970s that the Oxford Group spurred by Richard Ryder in the UK, and his entry into animal rights movement, Peter Singer, on the fringes of the Oxford Group, and others including Andrew Linzey, and those who later wrote parts in “Animals, Morals and Men” defined how to proceed with the animal rights movement. From this point the animal rights moved to the USA with many from the Oxford Group came to teach in some of the Universities in the USA under the heading of “animal ethics”.
    It was HSUS under the Pacelle leadership, ALDF to found that teaching animal ethics to our law school students was to pave the way for an alliance of attorneys, eventually the FBI, judges, and prosecutors to join with the animal rights movement to set a high precedence for abusers of animals and if anyone is accused of abusing an animal, the general public is also endangered as being afraid of those charged.
    Yet if one reads where these organizations have testified in the government proceeding one can pick out many untruths about farming, the meat industries, biomedical engineering, and anyone who uses an animal for anything, that was shared by particularly Wayne Pacelle in his testimony. It should be relative that Mr. Pacelle did not really understand the handling of large animals, particularly those that can do damage to humans other than from an emotional philosophical standpoint. He made a point to pick at the emotions of those upon who he wanted to have an effect. So what would happen if people did not use any animals and were allowed to run free in the wild? I would venture to say that fooling with mother nature is not conducive to longevity for any animals without protection from those who do care, however, are involved in some use of animals for human good.

  8. Mrs. Rusty Silversher says:

    This is the second e-mail regarding the same subject matter Pfizer and the urine from pregnant mares. I still have not received a reply as to what the HS Int’l is doing to upseat this manufacturer from slaughtering over 900,000 foals due to this process? Pfizer is in Canada and Poland still producing this drug and sending it to the U.S. for sale while these babies are being slaughtered ruthlessly and sent to Europe for consumption. Please share your comments regarding this situation, or, is it impossible to comment because of the lobbyists in the manufacturer’s court. Good luck in securing this information.

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