- - Monday, July 1, 2019

Merriam Webster defines the word humane as “marked by compassion, sympathy, or consideration for humans or animals.” Yet a number of America’s far-left animal activists can’t seem to live up to their own billing.

Let’s start with their agendas. A new and growing group based out of Berkeley, California has taken confrontational politics to a new level. Called Direct Action Everywhere, this organization will go into restaurants and supermarkets and harangue customers who simply want to enjoy a chicken burrito or buy ground beef. (“It’s not food, it’s violence,” these vegan drones chant.)

They’ll also break into farms and steal livestock. Several hundred activists showed up to protest a California duck farm a month ago, resulting in mass arrests. One egg farmer, the victim of an action last year, told VICE News he felt terrorized.



The kicker? This network is funded by a tax-exempt charity.

Other animals groups may not be as hardball, but their animal liberation agendas would do huge damage to the human economy. Broadly, animal liberation activists want to end all uses of animals by people, whether on farms, in medical research, or even as pets. And they’ve had some political success in places like California, where they have passed restrictions on common farm products and are presently advancing a bill to ban the sale of fur coats. (Wool and leather are announced as the next agenda.)

Ironically, the activists don’t have a good track record within their own groups.

A recent study in Social Movement Studies finds racism and sexism are problems in the animal activist movement. The authors interviewed activists, finding women described their experiences in being part of a “bro culture” and “boy’s club.” Minority activists described “‘generally a pretty white movement, especially in terms of who gets visibility’” and complained this implicit bias contributed to burnout.

Sexism has also been on display. Major animal liberation groups have been hit by the #MeToo movement. The most infamous case was the resignation last year of Humane Society of the United States CEO Wayne Pacelle. There, the group’s board of directors closed an investigation into allegations of misconduct by Mr. Pacelle before giving him a vote of confidence. Donor pressure forced him to resign. Reportedly, he still got a big severance payout for quitting. (Mr. Pacelle is now with a federal lobbying group called Animal Wellness Action. Congressional interns, beware.)

In another case, Mercy for Animals executive Nick Cooney was accused of abusive behavior by two coworkers, one of whom accused him of “gender-based bullying on a near-daily basis.” Both said they reported him to management, but said he left the organization only after donors complained. One MFA vice president admitted, “there are many other women who have similar experiences with Nick.” And what about the animals? The activists don’t have a good track record here, either.

The infamous People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) runs a veritable slaughterhouse out of its headquarters in Norfolk, Virginia. According to official government records, PETA has killed about 40,000 animals since 1998. Last year, PETA killed 50 times more dogs and cats than it adopted out. If that’s not bad enough, PETA advocates for the mass killing of feral cats. People joke that PETA should stand for People Eating Tasty Animals. Perhaps it should be People Euthanizing Thousands of Animals.

Meanwhile, tax records reveal animal activists often spend far more on themselves than on caring for animals. According to the CharityWatch rating guide, the Humane Society of the United States spends half of their donations to bring in more, earning HSUS a “D” grade from the evaluator.

And it’s not just a factory fundraising mill. Its tax return reveals HSUS has stuffed about $50 million offshore in the Caymans and other areas. The APSCA, meanwhile, has over $20 million offshore and in 2017 its CEO earned $850,000.

Spending on executive salaries, huge pension plans, and outrageous fundraising overhead all takes away from the advertised cause that generates donor compassion. And animal activists raise tens of millions by pulling on those unsuspecting donor heartstrings. Before you give, do your research and find a group that lives up to humane values. Or just give locally. Those groups aren’t as slick at raising money. But that’s a good thing.

• Richard Berman is the president of Berman and Co., a public relations firm in Washington, D.C.

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