Meet the Stars
The Hidden enemy:
HSUS – The Humane Society of the United States
Reptile breeders should feel pride in the progress they’ve helped achieve over the past several decades. We’ve unraveled many of the mysteries of inducing our animals to reproduce in captivity, and have made ‘Captive-Bred’ ( = 'CB' ) a common adjective in the hobby and industry. CB applied to herps is now understood to reflect ‘quality’ and ‘hardiness’ as pets. The percentage of CB herps available today dwarfs what we had just ten years ago, and is already making up a significant proportion of herps sold in pet shops.
Just as it seems obvious to us close to the herp industry that this natural evolution is proceeding well, new threats to our freedom to keep herps looms in the form of three ‘new’ enemies – the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), The Fund For Animals, and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). The PETA are presently under scrutiny by the F.B.I. as a terrorism network because of their admission of funding extremists who have destroyed several facilities by fire. These closely-aligned organizations have remained largely hidden from our notice until recently. They have now set their sights on the reptile hobby and trade, their ultimate goals being to stop it completely.
The HSUS is a familiar group to most people. Its name seems to imply it all – humane treatment for animals. In the past, the group took in abandoned cats and dogs, prosecuted farms that allowed livestock to starve, and went after people who mistreated animals in some way. It created animal shelters, promoted spay-neuter programs, and developed modern euthanasia protocols. We all applauded the old HSUS efforts and supported it with our donations. We believed in what it stood for and helped make it a huge and powerful organization.
The HSUS was wildly successful in its efforts. The public was educated and abuse cases dwindled. Nowadays, it’s headline news when a rare case of neglect or other atrocity against animals is uncovered and prosecuted. Anyone who may have allowed care of an animal in their custody to become substandard is now frightfully aware of the consequences of such unacceptable behavior.
Why is this seemingly worthy organization a problem now?
Since 1954, the HSUS has grown into a huge bureaucratic organization with 200+ employees and well over $200,000,000 (by 2005) in their bank accounts. Less than one-half of 1% of it is used to help the many ‘Humane Society’ shelters in cities across America. The HSUS long ago separated itself from all the smaller regional societies around the country, sharing no funding at all with them now. You are doing virtually nothing to help your local community animal shelter by donating money to the Humane Society of the United States! Someone who takes the HSUS up on their infomercial request for "just $19 dollars a month" will pay HSUS $228 over the course of a year. Of that, just $1.03 will reach a pet shelter.
The HSUS got fat and prosperous capitalizing on our concern for the plight of homeless animals by bombarding us with tear-jerking fundraising campaigns. Its assets naturally attracted humaniac extremist groups like PETA that wished to tap into the war chest of funds. Radical animal rights proponents thoroughly infiltrated the HSUS and instilled their idealistic views as representing the whole organization’s doctrine. Then a subtle ‘coup’ occurred in 1973, warranted by the changing leadership because “the costs of running a local animal control operation [was] drawing off funds needed elsewhere”. (< That quote is from the HSUS’ own website!) They literally declared that supporting the small Humane Society shelters across the U.S. was 'stealing' the money needed to pursue their own new humaniac agendas.
The HSUS split away completely, dropping financial support of all the smaller state ‘Humane Society’ groups. But they did it quietly to leave everyone with the logical impression they were now just the national headquarters coordinating all ‘their local chapters’. They have purposely done nothing to erase that illusion of ‘umbrella organization’ to insure receiving all the same donation monies you thought were still supporting your home town animal shelters. The HSUS’s coffers swelled because they didn’t have to share the wealth anymore. It was a pretty sneaky and wildly successful move on their part!
The HSUS grew into a rich monster that basked in the glory of its past accomplishments of conquering cruelty to animals. But with that war largely won, the ‘new’ HSUS had a different agenda to set its sights on. Most importantly, it had to continue evoking sympathy donations from the public to keep the money flowing in. Creating a new, visible enemy became a necessity. They chose to refocus on non-traditional pets largely because the ranks of people in the bird, reptile and fish hobbies / industries were less unified, easier targets. This is why reptile-keeping has come under attack. We’re the new excuse – the new bad guys – to keep their paychecks coming in steadily.
In its distorted view (and the published rhetoric it distributes to back it), reptiles are totally unsuitable as pets. The HSUS preaches that nearly all reptiles suffer shortened life spans when kept in cages. It goes so far as to include all captive-bred herps in that appraisal, but not through sheer ignorance.
The HSUS’s clever strategy is to focus the public’s attention on isolated problems it can capture in pictures or on video to invoke sympathy, then imply that those disturbing images represent the norm in the entire industry. Recognizing the huge progress in herpetoculture over the past couple decades would not strengthen the gloomy ecological scenario it wants people to remember when filling out those donation checks. The HSUS purposely ignores captive breeding success and how it is rapidly replacing the need for some wild-caught herps. It's crucial the public stay duped into believing that stopping reptile-keeping is the only way to protect animals in nature. The HSUS needs this manufactured image to focus public condemnation and thus assure continued funding of their efforts.
Another HSUS approach is to scare us into believing that reptile-related Salmonella has reached plague proportions. Its well-paid advertising staff uses the craftiest psychology to twist facts and statistics and to publicize the ‘huge’ health threat herps pose. It knows such tactics weigh heavily on parents’ minds, hoping those frightened parents will prohibit their children from having herps at all.
Just how big a problem is Salmonella anyway? We here at LN's Traveling Reptiles do not know, or even know of, anyone who has ever contracted Salmonella from reptiles in their entire lives. We don’t even personally know of any Salmonella cases, period, and we know and meet lots of herp keepers! We don't doubt that it happens occasionally, but the HSUS is blowing public health fears all out of proportion to achieve their animal rights goals.
Unlike the old HSUS, the new PETAphile leaders have declared total war on all pet keepers, intending to end the practice of owning pets completely. They’ve stated that goal repeatedly, though they try to subtly disguise the true, hidden agenda so not to scare away contributions from cat and dog owners. On their website’s home page (http://www.hsus.org), they state “Promoting the protection of all animals”. What they mean is to protect ALL animals from any use by humans - as pets, as food, as leather, for medical research --- EVERYthing! Don’t let them fool you --- HSUS and PETA are essentially synonymous today.
The HSUS is presently trying to make virtually every act of pet keeping an offense by emphasizing every imperfection in our ability to draft new species into captivity / domestication. They subtly bombard schools with free 'animal information' that carries their propaganda, preaching their private agenda to children so their 'conservation message' is taken to heart early. When indoctrinated while young and impressionable, they hope those children will support the HSUS as future voters / donators. The HSUS is no longer composed of soldiers for a noble cause. They’re more like mercenaries who must create an enemy to assure their continued employment. The modern HSUS is an animal rights organization masquerading as an animal welfare organization. Supporting them is like supplying terrorists with money to hurt us.
For more info on the dark side of the HSUS and PETA, go to HumaneWatch.org or Activitst Cash or animalscam.com . Or read the book The Hijacking of the Humane Movement: Animal Extremism by Patti & Rod Strand.