The Governor and the HSUS

By Brian Bresnahan
Published: Wednesday, March 9, 2011 1:09 AM CST

Last December Governor Heineman called out the HSUS.

In December he stated, "The Humane Society of the United States is anti-agriculture and they’re out to destroy animal agriculture—and if they want to come to Nebraska, we’re going to fight them and we’re going to beat them."  Last week the fight reemerged after HSUS released a push poll.

And many people went, "huh?"  "What's the Governor's beef with the animal shelter?"

Most people don't realize that the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is not your local animal shelter nor does it care much for the compassionate work we all know our local humane society's and shelters to be doing.  HSUS isn't caring for local animals, rescuing lost pets and reuniting them with loving families, or operating spay and neuter clinics to keep animal populations under control.  In fact, of its nearly $150 million budget, less than 1/2 of 1% goes to animal care and rescue.

So, if HSUS isn't in the humane society business we're all familiar with, what do they do?  Who are they?

HSUS is an animal rights group which believes animals should have the same rights as people (erasing the line between people, pets, and livestock and between animal welfare and animal rights), promoting vegetarian/veganism, stopping animal agriculture, and banning animals like cats and dogs from being owned as pets.

Illustrative of the group itself, their website site is filled with pictures of sad looking animals, an on-line front for a huge fund-raising, activist, and lobbying organization.

According to the non-profit Center for Consumer Freedom, in 2008 HSUS donated less than one half of one percent ($450,000) of its budget toward hands on animal care.  That same year it gave $2.25 million to advancing the anti-meat, anti-agriculture ballot initiative in California then put $2.5 million into its executives pension plans.

They are consistently given low marks by charity watchdog organizations.  In December, HumaneWatch.org published Charity Navigator's rating for HSUS, only 1 out of 4 stars, with their comments that as much as 49% of its donations may be used for additional fund raising.  The American Institute of Philanthropy gives HSUS a grade of "D" and Animal People News notes that "half of HSUS's budget is spent on overhead costs instead of programs."

So, why does this matter to Nebraskans and why did the Governor draw a line in the sand?

Because huge sums of HSUS cash are used to lobby for and advertise for advancement of legislation that is damaging to pet owners and animal agriculture.  They use their money to tug at the heart strings of well meaning, but misinformed people, and have been successful in states where pet owners and livestock producers acted too little or too late to stop the implementation of harmful legislation.

With 1 of every 3 jobs in Nebraska related to agriculture, it's necessary to protect the industry that's vital to our state.  With so many pet owners, it's important that we give people the choice to own and care for their pets.  In many states HSUS has specifically targeted both in order to advance its animal rights and vegan agendas.

Our farmers and ranchers care for and treat their animals incredibly well.  Where our food comes from, how it's produced, and how hard folks work to supply us with safe food matters.  Companion animals are important to rural and urban Nebraskans alike.

The Governor has issued the challenge to HSUS.  We should rise to the occasion with him.  Whether we're raising grass fed beef or organic beef; are a traditional rancher, feedlot operator, raising hogs in confinement or free range chickens; are a fan of equine sports; or simply love your cat, dog, or horse, we must all prepare to rally together.  HSUS intends to "change" things in Nebraska.  So get educated and get ready to stand together with the Governor in this fight.