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August 03, 2007

Dogfighting a Constant Battle for The HSUS

The contract shillers at the Center for Consumer Freedom are about the most shameless people I've ever come across. They put out a statement yesterday attempting to make a scandal of The HSUS raising funds to combat dogfighting as the spotlight has shined brightly on this issue during the last two weeks.

Let me be clear. Every dollar we raise online, on the phones or in the mail on this topic will be devoted to ending the scourge of staged animal fights. If we raise $100,000 or $1 million, that will be that much more money put into the fight to stamp out this vicious cruelty. The more money the public provides, the more reason that dogfighters and their ilk have to fear us.

HSUS staff person with fighting pit bull dog at Ohio bust
© The HSUS
An HSUS investigator with a pit bull seized
from a major dogfighting bust in Ohio.

An additional point: Before dogfighting hit the airwaves with such force, The HSUS has been in the weeds on this issue, like no other group in the nation. We have been the driving force in changing state and federal dogfighting laws—we shepherded to passage the federal law that Michael Vick has been charged with violating, and we worked to strengthen almost every state anti-dogfighting statute in the nation. Earlier this year, we successfully pressed for passage of an upgrade in the federal law to make animal fighting a felony.

Our investigators risk their lives by going undercover at dogfights. Our staff trains thousands of law enforcement officials every year on the basics of the illegal animal fighting industry. We work with law enforcement in investigating and building cases. We publish manuals and the key resources on the subject. And we produce videos, public service announcements, in-depth stories and other quality materials to educate the public and law enforcement authorities about this despicable underworld. There's usually no glory or limelight in the daily grind, just the satisfaction of knowing that we are helping to bring participants in this cruelty to justice. The emotional cost for our staff who work daily on these issues is incalculable.

Long before CCF materialized from a slough of funds provided by tobacco companies and the restaurant industry, The HSUS has been working on eradicating the loathsome practice of dogfighting. Shall we stop working on it now that the nation's attention is focused on the issue? Should we not attempt to shine a spotlight on the issue or press for more aggressive prosecution of illegal animal fighters? Should we not expand our base of public support to press the fight harder than ever before?

Mind you, the self-serving operatives at CCF spend their days railing against public health groups that warn pregnant women of the hazards of eating fish with high mercury count or enlighten people about the dangers of eating trans-fats. The CCF people even deny that there is an obesity epidemic in the nation. This is the group that has in the past had to retract its false and defamatory claims about The HSUS. We've seen them defend the worst factory farming abuses, and even the clubbing of Canada's baby seals, but it was a shock—even to us—to see them step into the fray on dogfighting. These people have never seen a reform worth supporting and never have been a force for the good.

The HSUS pushes real laws at the state and federal level that affect the lives of countless millions of animals. We maintain an in-house legal staff that works to enforce laws in the courts when individuals, corporations and governments abrogate them. We treat and spay or neuter tens of thousands of animals. We shelter and care for thousands more at our sanctuaries and wildlife care centers. We protect thousands of acres of wildlife habitat through our Wildlife Land Trust. We educate kids about kindness and citizenship in our work in the schools.

The HSUS exists to advance a mighty idea: that good people should stand against the misuse of human power over animals. Millions of Americans support our work because they share a vision for a more compassionate and merciful society. A handful of corporations fund the hateful rhetoric that flows from the offices of CCF. Whom do you trust and whom do you believe?

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