New Jersey-based animal rights activist Stuart Chaifetz distributed an e-mail in October decrying talks of a merger between the Fund for Animals and the Humane Society of the United States. Chaifetz’s argument boils down to the fact that he doesn’t consider the HSUS to be a true animal rights group.
According to Chaifetz,
The clear and overwhelming facts are that HSUS’s views on hunting are in opposition to those of the Fund for Animals. This is no ambiguous issue; I’ve dealt with both the Fund and HSUS for more than a decade, and my love for the former is equal of my disdain for the latter. Therefore, to have either the Fund dissolved directly into the HSUS, or to have the Fund become some appendage or affiliate, creates a serious conflict based on both philosophy and action.
Chaifetz goes on to cite a specific example — HSUS’ role, or lack thereof, in New Jersey’s black bear hunt,
New Jersey Governor James McGreevey defended his decision to hold last years black bear hunt by saying that he was working with HSUS on a birth control plan; obviously he was using HSUS and the “humane” card for political cover. I reached out to Wayne Pacelle, who now leads HSUS, and implored him to join with us (we had our own sterilization plan) and state that if the Governor held the hunt we would not work with him on reproductive control. The point, which I explained to Wayne, was that by removing McGreevey’s political cover, we undercut his strength and deliver a blow that could shake him and may, with all other efforts, force an end to the hunt.
The response I got back was “we do not want to burn any bridges.” HSUS did not change their position, and neither did McGreevey. Carnage followed. I do not know that if HSUS had done what we asked, it would have changed anything, and therefore I do not cast blame for the hunt upon them. What I do know, and what everyone who care as about wild animals must know, is that HSUS acted not on behalf of the bears, but of their own political benefit; they would not risk offending the Governor. To not risk offending is to capitulate before the battle has even begun. To not risk is to condemn wild animals with no hope of appeal. HSUS will never risk. The Fund has and would, but soon the Fund, as it is now, may be no more.
Stuart’s got a point there. I’m sure that if Pacelle had went to McGreevey with an ultimatum — stop the hunt or we won’t work with you on the birth control plan — McGreevey would have waited all of 30 seconds before laughing in his face. Too bad Pacelle didn’t take Chaifetz’s advice.
I haven’t been following this apparent merger talk, but I do have a suggestion for HSUS. Since a combined HSUS/Fund organization will be a major undertaking, why not try a blast from the past and bring back David Wills to help run it. After all, if a whale can survive long after its circulatory system has failed, why can’t Wills make a return from the dead as well?
In Defense of the Fund for Animals — and Against the Merger with HSUS. Stuart Chaifetz, October 2004.
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