ERV vs The Humane Society?

Its no secret I hate PETA.

They want to kill my best friend.

So I wasnt surprised that in a recent article highlighting the issue of animal shelter euthanasia, PETA was there to dance on about how they are for shelter euthanasia, but but against using dogs for life saving research, but against the KKK, but for killing dogs based on their breed (Arnie is a Jew dog! Yay!), blah blah whatever. Theyre idiots.

What I was surprised to read was The Humane Society another fringe group like PETA, the ‘Humane Society of the United States’ backing up PETAs idiotic stance:

“No-kill is a noble goal,” says Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States. “But the sheer number of animals make it almost unachievable.”

Well, okay, maybe. But city after city is trying to go ‘no kill’, and local private shelters seem to be doing as best they can on the budgets they have…

Shelters in Virginia, New York and San Francisco report successes similar to Nevada’s, and communities in more than a dozen states have announced no-kill goals and added legislative mandates to their agenda. King County, Wash., passed a law requiring area shelters to achieve an 85 percent save rate by 2009. San Antonio, Texas, is aiming for zero kills by 2012. And Ivan City, Utah, saved 97 percent of its shelter animals beginning in 2006 when the animal control ordinances were rewritten to prohibit the euthanasia of healthy animals.

But Brown and others insist they have achieved no-kill without turning animals away, and on a fraction of PETA’s $30 million budget. “With the resources at their disposal, PETA and the Humane Society of the U.S. could become no-kill in no time,” Winograd says.

Oklahoma City is trying to be ‘no kill’ by 2010 (hopefully they will do so, as a graduation present for me :P). And ‘no kill’ seems like it would improve volunteer numbers and donations– I cant go to the OKC shelter to make donations of towels and rawhides and such. I physically cant. I cant hear those dogs bark… Im tearing up typing this… So I have a campus friends take them in for me.

But man, ‘no kill’ shelters are a happier place! You can volunteer to play with Fido and Dozer without worrying they will be killed, all alone, on your day off. Sure you might get attached and they get adopted on your day off, but YAY!

Luckily, I dont think I officially have to go to war with The Humane Society– according to the article, there are local chapters that are going ‘no kill’ on their own. But it will make me more careful about my donations.

Edited to add–
I got duped. See Wes for more on how to spot a fake humane society.


  1. #1 Laelaps
    April 30, 2008

    PETA’s stance about euthanizing cats & dogs has always baffled me as well, and there is a lot of work being done to get shelters to have a no-kill policy.

    For my own part, I regularly take in cats (usually one at a time) that would normally be euthanized. Just last week a kill shelter in New York put out a list of cats that were going to be killed, and six hours before they would have been euthanized the group I assist (Feline Rescue Mission) was able to find at least temporary homes for several of them. I wound up with three kittens, one of whom was adopted just four days later.

    It has definitely been rewarding, though, and it feels good to know that the cats will probably find a “forever home” sooner or later. The summer kitten rush has already begun, but I would rather take them in for a few weeks until they’re ready for adoption than have them euthanized when someone might have wanted them.

  2. #2 carlsonjok
    April 30, 2008

    I have alot of mixed feelings about this issue. I certainly don’t like the idea that alot of unwanted animals have to be euthanized. All of my dogs and cats, and 2 of my horses, have been rescues. But, all these solutions serve to increase the number of animals in shelters while doing absolutely nothing to increase the demand for said animals. Unless you address both sides of the equation, going to a no-kill policy only serves to create an ever-increasing warehouse for unwanted animals. I don’t see that necessarily as a much better solution.

  3. #3 Mark
    April 30, 2008

    I really have to agree with the Humane Society here. So-called “no-kill” shelters are wonderful where they are financially and logistically possible, but that just plain isn’t always the case.

    I’m absolutely thrilled that my local chapter of the Humane Society (where I got my cat) is “no-kill”. But I also have to understand that this is possible because we are in a huge college town with a large pool of volunteers, with many private shelters to help distribute the load, and which makes fertile grounds for fundraising efforts; and even so, they still have capacity problems.

    The Humane Society obviously does not euthanize animals because it wants to. They are simply being forthright about the fact that given current resources (and a few happy anecdotes aside), it is not possible to expand national capacity enough for all Humane Society shelters to go “no-kill”. They do the best that they can for these animals, and any knee-jerk emoting that this is an issue of them wanting to “kill your best friend” both glosses over the realities that these shelters have to contend with, and does all those hard workers a disservice.

  4. #4 Hales
    April 30, 2008

    You should know the Humane Society of the United States isn’t affiliated with local humane societies–they’re a national org and their headquartered in D.C.

    There was a brilliant and objective documentary on this subject broadcast by HBO a few years back, you should check it out.

    Unfortunately “no-kill” shelters are in reality “turnaway shelters” and/or warehouses where animals are sent to waste away in a tiny cage surrounded by other terrified animals for the rest of their potentially extremely long lives so that people can feel better about themselves. Can you seriously tell me that living in your own crap in a tiny cage listening to the frantic/insane/beaten barks and cries of other animals practically starved so the cages don’t have to be cleaned out as much for years upon years on end is better than being granted a peaceful ticket out of this world? Come on now, if the animal fanatics are against no-kill you know there has to be a reason. I’ve seen it firsthand. And if people even bother to take their unwanted animals to shelters (like those AKC-certified breeder-born inbred puppies they get bored of after Christmas every year) and are then told there’s no room, they will in fact kill them in cruel ways themselves–most commonly dumping them in the wilderness to starve to death. It also just means the shelters that do humanely euthanize are overloaded with overflow that does make it from the other shelters.

    I worked at a shelter and witnessed firsthand the heartbreak encountered at these places day in and day out. It’s actually very selfless for animal lovers to grant a humane and quick eternal sleep to the millions of unwanted animals that will never find homes–you know it is extremely hard on them, but the alternative is so much worse. The real answer to the problem IS breeding bans (and ERV, they don’t just support bans on certain breeds, they support a ban on breeding entirely as well they should) and mandatory spay and neuter legislation. Until then these “no-kill” shelters are just a way to make the general public feel better about the overpopulation problem by hiding the truth of what happens to all the animals they turn away or keep in tiny cages in a warehouse somewhere for 10+ years. It’s a sad reality.

  5. #5 Wesley R. Elsberry
    April 30, 2008

    Humane Societies´┐Ż Telling the Real Ones from the Fakes

    HSUS falls in the latter category. It’s not at all surprising that they mirror PETA on policy.

    This goes way beyond whether no-kill shelters can be a universal strategy or not.

  6. #6 CC
    April 30, 2008

    Come on now, if the animal fanatics are against no-kill you know there has to be a reason.

    For what it’s worth, I know a lot of vegans think PETA are full of BS and misogynistic to boot.

    The abolitionist types are a whole ‘nother kind of animal though. I wouldn’t expect a rational argument from anyone who likes to waffle on about “bee rape” (I’m not making that up!) and “vivisectionists”. The fanatics are more interested in doing away with domestic animals altogether than they are in their welfare.

  7. #7 ERV
    April 30, 2008

    I understand there is such a thing as necessary evil. However, I think/know we can do better. I look to people like the Humane Society and the ASPCA to be the leaders of such movements and ideas, not the naysayers.

    How many high school kids that want to be vets or zoologists would LOVE to volunteer at a no kill shelter vs a traumatizing normal shelter? How about sexying up adoption? I saw an ad this morning with a St. Labrador (half St. Bernard, half lab, 100% adorable). Him as a designer breed: thousands of dollars. Him as a shelter pup: $45. Why pay for Versace prices for a pup when you can get the same one at a shelter, all the same love, for a fraction of the price? Definitely more PR work to do, but Im going to side with the optimists in this discussion.

    Mark– Sorry, Im going to have to keep remembering there are new people who arent used to my rants ­čÖé Arnie is an American Staffordshire terrier… a pit bull. PETA wants to eliminate this breed of dog, and had ‘they’ found starving, frozen Arnie puppy, they would have killed him. But I found him. Hes the best dog ever.

    That is one of the reasons why I dont want people like that determining which dogs are ‘adoptable’ and which dogs ‘should be euthanised.’ First its the pits. Then of course the Rotties, Dobermans, Boxers, and any dog that looks like its a mix of those breeds. Then the German Shepherds, Great Danes, and any large black dog. Those people are not right in the head, and their goals are not that of the average dog lover.

  8. #8 Wesley R. Elsberry
    April 30, 2008

    Abbie, unfortunately one cannot say “the humane society” anymore, just as one cannot make unqualified reference to “academic freedom” or “critical analysis” anymore. People have misappropriated the terminology.

    If you want to say “humane society”, you have to be specific and refer to the American Humane Association, the animal welfare group that has been a champion of animal shelters and has led the fight against animal cruelty for over 130 years.

    Otherwise, you are sending people straight to the animal rights extremists at Humane Society of the United States, who are johnny-come-latelies to the notion of animal shelters and are allied in cause with PETA, aiming at the elimination of domesticated animals entirely.

  9. #9 ERV
    April 30, 2008

    Oh my god, Wes!

    You are right! I always refer to the ‘American Humane Association’ as ‘the Humane Society’!! The crazy group is the one this article references, not the AHA!

    Thank you!!

  10. #10 Steve
    April 30, 2008

    ERV –
    I agree with you, generally, on the no-kill policy. We have a rescue pup and have had quite a few rescue cats die of old age in our care; I think that there are a lot of people that could become interested in volunteering.

    On the Pit/Rott discussion, though; Google dog bite fatality statistics. Pit Bulls and Rottweilers are responsible for a completely disproportionate number of the canine fatalities reported in the US – the two breeds account for 75%, while representing far less than 75% of dogs. It seems that the risk for canine caused human fatality are 1) the dog is a pit bull or rottweiler, 2) the dog is male and unaltered, and 3) the dog is chained outside most of its life. While the owner is clearly responsible, in that dogs are social animals and if you deprive them of a pack, they go a little nuts, there are similar sized, seemingly more aggressive dogs that aren’t responsible for anything like the number of fatalities, even “per capita” (think chows, for instance, with their reputation for gruffness and defensiveness, their strong jaws and necks).

    That said, I would NEVER suggest we euthanize existing Pits or Rotts. I wouldn’t even suggest that we require them all to be neutered. I would, however, side with certain elements of the AKC and other dog enthusiasts that abhor what WE have done to the species. The dog is the most diverse species of mammal on the planet, and our breeding program has introduced quite few genetic flaws into the animals along the way. Several people have suggested that we endeavor to reduce the “breed count” from something approaching 400 to more like 40 – what there was a couple hundred years ago, before breeding dogs into spectacular caricatures of themselves became a social endeavor.

  11. #11 Wesley R. Elsberry
    May 1, 2008

    Have a look here for a long article detailing manipulation of the politics to push through draconian mandatory spay/neuter regulations. The HSUS has been right there to support this radical intrusion into pet ownership.

    Perhaps it is no coincidence that the nation´┐Żs largest animal rights group, The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), appeared frequently in the county during this period, through consulting work at shelters, giving a national leadership award to Santa Barbara state legislator Pedro Nava, praising Shelter Director Jan Glick for her work on issues ranging from wild horse rescue to dog fighting investigations, and working closely with activist and local veterinarian Dr. Ron Faoro on failed statewide mandatory spay/neuter legislation.

    HSUS has nothing to do with local humane societies or helping animals. Instead, it is a national political lobbying group that pushes the animal rights agenda. Its head, Wayne Pacelle, has been quoted repeatedly expressing opposition to animal ownership and breeding in any form.

    This goes way beyond any reasonable construal of animal welfare.

  12. #12 Nomen Nescio
    May 1, 2008

    Steve, one of the questions around dog bite statistics is just how carefully they’re collected. there’s quite a tendency to label any dog that bites a human as the scary breed de jour; as pitbulls, these days, usually. who puts any great effort into recording an aggressive dog’s breed? after all, why should they? call it a pit bull, or a rottweiler; “everybody knows” those breeds bite. ten, fifteen years ago, it was german shepherds in that spot.

    the second and third risk factors you mention are known to drive a dog of any breed aggressive (the third one may be sufficient on its own), and pit bulls / rottweilers / whatever that get raised properly are known to overwhelmingly turn out to be safe dogs.

    and a big me-too on both adopting shelter dogs (have two myself, one a purebreed husky(!), the other a mostly-husky, both of which are amazing dogs) and on the distinction between the HSUS and the name-of-area humane society which runs your local animal shelter. ask the folks who run your nearest animal shelter which organizations they’re affiliated with; to my knowledge, the HSUS neither runs nor helps to run any actual animal shelters anywhere.

  13. #13 Liz
    May 1, 2008

    I may well be preaching to the converted here, but you might want to check out a book called Redemption: The Myth of Pet Overpopulation and the No Kill Revolution in America. (More on the ‘no-kill’ issue here.) I don’t think no kill shelters are in and of themselves impossible or impractical; part of the reason they’re sometimes unsuccessful, though, is because people (including and perhaps especially the people running them) believe they’re impossible or impractical. If you try something expecting it to fail…

    Also, the HSUS and PETA drive me nuts, too.

    Also, Arnie is utterly adorable. ­čÖé

  14. #14 Vegan Atheist
    May 1, 2008

    I’m going to second CC’s comment on vegans and PETA. One of the ladies in the local vegetarian society used to work for PETA, until she found out how they handled animals that were abandoned into their care. PETA lies to the families giving up their pets, prevents adoption by its volunteers, and murders hundreds and thousands of perfectly healthy animals because there’s a chance they might not get adopted.

    Nobody in their right mind supports such a hypocritical organization.

  15. #15 DVMKurmes
    May 1, 2008

    HSUS has joined together with the Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights to start a new national veterinary organization to compete with the AVMA-since the AVMA supports such things as appropriate use of animals in research, and has been slow to respond to things like forced moulting of chickens and force feeding of geese for foie gras, etc. So far there is no rush of veterinarians to join, other than the few who are already animal rights activists. Wayne Pacelle of HSUS seems to be an extremist who is good at passing himself off as a more mainstream animal welfare advocate.

  16. #16 Monado, FCD
    May 1, 2008

    I read a few years ago that in the U.S. one year, the greatest number of fatal dog attacks, 13, was from Golden Retrievers. They just don’t get no respect so people aren’t careful not to provoke them, just as the most dangerous animal in the woods, measured by fatal attacks, is the white-tailed deer with its cute sharp little front hooves.

    There was a big debate in Toronto about pit bull breeds back then. Unfortunately, people who want to look dangerous sometimes adopt dogs as accessories. The local law in Toronto is now that pit bulls or dogs that look like pit bulls must be neutered and must be sterilized. Also, I think you can’t acquire a new one, though you can keep an old one.

    Toronto has a bad habit of jumping on the bandwagon. There’s now a move afoot to ban handgun ownership, even though the existing laws are sufficient to deal with illegal handguns or dangerous carrying. A hobbyist storing a registered gun at a gun club or carrying it properly secured is not a problem. People with smuggled or stolen guns carrying them unsecured are the problem.

    Twenty-five years ago, Toronto declared itself a nuclear-weapons-free zone.

  17. #17 Monado, FCD
    May 1, 2008

    Our Toronto Humane Society was taken over several years ago by animal rights activists. They were linked with renting a van that was used in the vandalizing of butcher shops. They keep animals as long as possible , which results in overcrowding and disease in their shelters. But they will not let you adopt a cat if you admit you’re going to let it go outside. (I wonder if they advocate house arrest for children, too?) I now get my pets from the city-run animal shelters, which are glad to see someone adopt an adult cat.

  18. #18 Monado, FCD
    May 1, 2008

    Sorry, that sentence in #15 should have read “pit bulls or dogs that look like pit bulls must be neutered and must be muzzled in public.”

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