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November 14, 2007

Spreading the News

Russell Simmons PSA against dogfighting
Watch our new PSA featuring Russell Simmons.

One of the big challenges we face at The Humane Society of the United States is a lack of awareness about what we do. We fight hard to bring awareness to the American public on a whole range of subjects—horse slaughter, pets in disasters, factory farming, animal fighting, puppy mills and pet overpopulation, and so much more—and the exposure we've gained this week on a range of issues provides a case example of how we get the word out.

Yesterday, The HSUS and BeKind, created by stalwart HSUS supporter and HSUS National Council member Frances Hayward, released a television public service announcement against dogfighting featuring hip hop mogul Russell Simmons. I saw Russell this summer at a house party Frances held for The HSUS on Long Island, and the three of us hatched the plan to do the PSA. Russell's been a long-time advocate of animal protection and he did a fabulous job in the spot. Please pitch the spot to your local TV stations—encourage them to air this important message and make sure it is seen by millions. If you find a station that is interested, let us know.

Also this week, I have a column in Newsweek about my own path toward animal protection. The autobiographical piece traces how I gained a major measure of resolve on the issue after witnessing a live pigeon shoot when I was in college. Newsweek wanted a picture with me and an animal for my column, so I asked them to join me at Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary in Maryland, a favorite retreat where farm animals get a second chance at life. Poplar Spring founders Dave Hoerauf and Teri Cummings introduced me to more than a dozen 700-pound rescued pigs, and it was a blast. Dave fed them pumpkins to get them moving around the barn, and watching them munch whole pumpkins brought out-loud laughter from me.

HSUS ad against Wendy's
Click to see a larger version of
our ad against Wendy's.

In Sunday's New York Times, I was pictured with my cat Libby in a story about nonprofit mergers. The story included The HSUS's combinations with The Fund for Animals and the Doris Day Animal League, and how all three groups have synchronized operations and eliminated duplicative operational and support functions. Through these actions, we have saved donors $1.5 million a year and rechanneled that money into programmatic activities, such as an expanded Campaigns section and an Animal Protection Litigation section.

And on Monday of this week, The HSUS placed a full-page ad in USA Today on our campaign to pressure Wendy's to adopt better standards in terms of its egg-buying practices. Wendy's now only buys eggs from hens crammed into battery cages on factory farms. Its competitors, including Burger King, Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr., are now purchasing some cage-free eggs, and that's a trend that Wendy's should no longer resist. We are asking supporters to contact Wendy's and urge the company to make a meaningful pledge to improve animal welfare in its supply chain.

And by the way, The HSUS should have a full-page ad about our work in tomorrow's New York Times, and our puppy mill investigation should be featured tomorrow morning on ABC's "Good Morning America." Watch for them both if you have a chance to pick up the Times and tune into GMA, which airs at 7 a.m.

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