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April 15, 2009

Reaching Across the Aisle for Animals

Yesterday, we at The HSUS were pleased and extremely grateful to receive a full-throated expression of support for our work in fighting cruelty from Rush Limbaugh, America’s top radio talk show host. Rush adores his cat Punkin, whom he calls Punky. He has also done some serious thinking on our moral obligations to animals, he rejects the excuse-making of those who defend cruelty, and he affirms compassion for animals as a unifying American value. These public service announcements are a powerful and welcome contribution to animal protection work.

Rush Limbaugh's cat Punkin
© Shiny Shots
Rush Limbaugh's cat Punkin.

The animal protection movement should never confine itself to the Left or the Right in American politics. Opposition to cruelty and the embrace of the human-animal bond are universal values, and people of every background and point of view should find common purpose with the work and programs of The Humane Society of the United States and its affiliates. The animals need skilled advocates, and the cause deserves the widest audience. There are no political litmus tests when you sign up with us to help advance the cause.

That’s why in Congress, our allies span the spectrum—from Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) to Rep. John Campbell (R-Calif.) in the House, from Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) to Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) in the Senate.

In the past, our cause has received praise from conservative pundits like Fred Barnes and George Will, writing about the work of Republican speechwriter Matthew Scully and his remarkable book "Dominion." And it was a sad moment in our work when radio broadcaster and conservative Paul Harvey passed away last month. During his decades on radio, Paul Harvey devoted countless testimonials to the work of The HSUS and animal protection issues.

Support for our work is also evident on the liberal end of the political continuum. Just last week, New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, one of the most influential writers on human rights issues around the world, wrote about animal protection as a mainstream sensibility.

And it’s not just in politics that one sees the diversity of support for our work. Country music star Carrie Underwood recently announced she would be making a donation to The HSUS from one or her songs. And just yesterday, we again witnessed how the cause of animal protection and the work of The HSUS appeal to a wide range of actors on the American stage. Television personality Ellen DeGeneres, who with Portia di Rossi was honored for her animal advocacy at the Genesis Awards, placed 75 clothing items on eBay for auction, with all the proceeds to go to The HSUS.

For some of our supporters, no doubt, it was a thunderclap to learn that Rush, the iconic conservative talk show host with the massive audience, lauded our work in two recorded commentaries, placed on our home page yesterday.

The first Limbaugh spot concerns our partnerships with law enforcement agencies across the country to crack down on organized dogfighting and other animal cruelty crimes. The second addresses our outreach to communities of faith, and the moral obligation that we have to be good stewards of all of God's creatures. (And despite what some bloggers say, these spots, which had been in the works for weeks, had no relation to the current controversy over the Obamas' selection of a dog from a breeder rather than a shelter.)

Let there be no doubt that Americans care deeply about animals. The HSUS’s values and sensibilities are in step with those of all good people, and those who would cause animals harm and distress are outside the bounds of mainstream thought. If you care about animals, no matter your political ideology, we invite you to join us and spread the mission and work of doing right by the helpless among us.

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