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September 13, 2011

A World of Change for the Better for Animals

Truly, there is no animal welfare group in the world like The Humane Society of the United States. We have more experts, covering more terrain in the field of animal welfare, than any organization in contemporary times. Most importantly, we deliver results every day, saving lives, spreading awareness, and changing for the better the ways in which animals are treated at home and abroad.

Not only does The HSUS provide more direct care to more animals than any animal protection organization in the United States, but we also do more to prevent cruelty than any organization. From our origins in 1954 to our work today, we’ve always been about protecting all animals–not just dogs, cats, and horses, but all animals who are victims of human greed or cruelty.

HSUS rescue from a dogfighting operation in North Carolina
Michelle Riley/The HSUS
Our Animal Rescue Team saves thousands of animals.

During my tenure as CEO, as well as in my prior service to The HSUS as its chief public policy and communications staffer, we’ve confronted so many varieties of abuse, and with great effect. We’ve outlawed cockfighting in all the states where it was legal; we’ve upgraded state and federal laws related to animal fighting; we’ve banned the use of cruel traps in a half dozen states and canned hunts in even more; we’ve cracked down on disgusting puppy mills and people who starve animals or hoard them in enormous numbers; we've rescued tens of thousands of pets and other animals from devastating cruelty; and we’ve banned various forms of extreme confinement of farm animals in a number of states and secured agreements to make major changes in several sectors of animal agriculture. We’ve helped to reduce the killing of harp and hooded seals in Canada by 85 percent. We’ve succeeded in effecting countless other reforms, and we’re carrying out our work with more strategic focus than at any prior time.

A lot of the individuals and industries we’ve tangled with don’t like the presence of a powerful organization that blends professionalism with determination. We’re a threat to the status quo, their cruelty, and their bottom line. That’s why some of them have thrown millions of dollars at a public relations scammer named Rick Berman to wage a brand attack campaign against The HSUS. 

Through the years, after first getting money from the tobacco lobby to go after anti-smoking advocates, Berman has created a raft of phony non-profit organizations to attack groups and agencies such as the Center for Science in the Public Interest, the Centers for Disease Control and prevention, and even Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). In fact, one of Berman’s previous top lieutenants had a history of drunk driving and public intoxication, with a long rap sheet to prove it, but that conflict never slowed Berman and his attacks against MADD. 

In an Orwellian claim, it’s Berman who charges that his targets are scamming the public–that groups like MADD and The HSUS are not spending their money properly. That’s the equivalent of tobacco companies saying that they are the healthy lung people, or the cockfighters claiming they’re just a bunch of chicken lovers. It is the worst kind of doublespeak, and Berman is its very incarnation.

Spotted pig
The HSUS
We advocate for humane treatment of farm animals.

Berman’s disparagement of The HSUS willfully disregards our founding mission and long history, in its complaint that the organization does not in fact run the nation’s dog and cat shelters (as if he gives one whit about the plight of any animal). This has never been our purpose and never been our claim. Our founders instead sought to attack all kinds of cruelty at its roots, wherever it was occurring.

In our magazines, on our web sites, in our press releases, and through all of our other communications tools and platforms, we shout from the mountain tops every day about who we are. We are the nation’s leading advocate for animal shelters and we are pushing for an end to euthanasia of healthy and adoptable pets. But we are also the group that challenges large-scale institutional cruelty, whether in the realms of agribusiness, animal testing, wildlife management, the pet trade, or elsewhere. And we’re good at it, by every measure, including the assessments of the nation’s top charity evaluators. When it comes to results, accountability, transparency, and good governance, we receive high ratings from the best and most prominent watchdog groups in the sector, including  Philanthropedia, the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance, Great Nonprofits, and Charity Navigator. Berman’s groups aren’t rated at all, the surest sign that he is playing a con game with his crop of phony charities. 

We’re not afraid to call cruelty by its name. Nor are we afraid to call out scammers like Rick Berman, who makes a mint by masquerading as something he’s not while attacking so many pillars of American philanthropy and civil society. His front groups have no charitable purpose and his shadowy funders haven't slowed us down–but they have helped to line Berman's own pockets and pay for his million-dollar mansion with a Bentley in the garage. Berman’s operation of a serial charity scam hardly qualifies him to accuse others of doing so, let alone to put himself forward as an evaluator of charities. His scorn for The HSUS is the greatest affirmation that we are spending your dollars well and taking the fight to animal abusers everywhere. His campaigns energize us, and cause us to step up the fight every day.

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