Saturday, February 20, 2010

When Direct Mail Is a Threat to Dogs

In the last week we have seen PeTA and the Humane Society of the U.S. inject themselves into the arena of pedigree dog health.

Wayne Pacelle wrote a piece over on his blog, trying to inject himself into the debate, while PeTA crashed center ring at the Westminster dog show with two activists holding placards that were laughably off-message.

My position is pretty simple: direct mail professionals and vegan clowns will not improve the debate on the health and future of pedigree dogs.

Here's a thought: The men and women who actually care about dogs have brought this debate up to to this point, and they continue to move things along quite smartly.

Maybe they don't need any "help" from people whose primary interest in dogs is direct mail fundraising?

Of course, I am not the first to say it.

Jemima Harrison, the producer of BBC's Pedigree Dogs Exposed, has already blasted PeTA for its stunt theatrics, noting that the world hardly needs a lesson in dog health from a group that kills 97% of the dogs brought to its shelter.

So why are PeTA and HSUS suddenly so interested in dog health?

It is not because these are new issues!

In fact, this debate is as old as the Humane Society and far older than PeTA. But for more than 100 years, the "humane" movement has said nothing. Problem? What problem?

In fact, as I have noted in the past, this silence was not entirely accidental. The animal rights movement and the parade of mutants we see in the Kennel Club show ring today are different roses that have sprouted from the same root. And that root has nothing to do with dogs.

"Pedigree people have pedigree dogs" sniff the over-weight matrons of the Kennel Club who seek to associate their common lives with aristocrats or historical figures who once owned "their" breed.

"And pedigree people do not abuse animals by hunting them, or eating them" sniff the under-weight vegans of PeTA who are trying to find a "cause" that will elevate their lives over the humdrum.

For both sides, the only "work" required of a dog is for it sit on a couch.

And that's why both sides are so dangerous to dogs.

You see, most dog types and breeds were created for something: improved function.

Herding dogs were created to herd.

Livestock guarding dogs were created to guard.

Terriers and dachshunds were created to go down tight holes to bolt or battle a fox or badger.

Pointers and setters were created to hold steady over birds -- first for nets, and later for firearms.

Retrievers were designed to retrieve shot birds, tossed boat lines, and pretty much anything else a human might suggest.

But of course the folks at PeTA and HSUS do not buy the premise.

These organizations are actually opposed to hunting and herding.

Have a husky pull a sled? That's cruel!

Have a greyhound catch a rabbit on the fly? That's cruel!

Have a collie herd sheep? Thats cruel!

PeTA and HSUS deny the functional reason hunting, herding, and pulling dogs exist.

For PeTA and HSUS the only purpose of a dog is to be a pet.

And since a pet has no real function other than not to bite the hand that feeds it, there is no need for dog breeds at all.

Knowing this, why would anyone ever listen to HSUS or PeTA when it comes to breed health?

A concern about breed health assumes you actually care about the breed.

But, of course, that is a bit hard when you have open contempt for the work that breed was created to do!

Which is not to say that the AKC and the Kennel Club are not thrilled to see PeTA and the HSUS start talking about canine health.


Now the kennel clubs can try to frame the "debate" as being about "animal right lunatics" who are in opposition to all canine work and breed purposes, versus kennel club "dog experts".

And never mind that the Kennel Club's dog "experts" have never dug a terrier, shot a bird, hitched a sled, or coursed a rabbit.

And never mind that this debate was created and is being pursued by those who have put "Dogs First" rather than direct mail economics.

Neither side cares about that now.

For PeTA and HSUS this looks like a new topic with which to fill their direct mail coffers.

For the kennel clubs, this looks like a new development which can be used to deflect serious charges about pedigree dog health and welfare.

Each will try to use the other to carry on with their "business as usual."

And if that happens, the dogs are sure to suffer.


FL said...

I hate to tell you this, but as much as you disagree with HSUS about various issues, they have a lot more clout than the tiny minority of dog enthusiasts that will actually speak up on these issues. It would be nice if a million people like you would get active on the kennel club mutation dog issue, but it aint happenin'. HSUS can mobilize millions, quickly, though. And they are effective. No matter what you think of them, they win and they win big. PETA is a joke, but HSUS can get things done and that's why so many factory farmers and puppy millers see them as a threat.

PBurns said...

Mobilize millions?

OK, I'll bite.

Name once where they have actually done that.

Did the Humane Society of the U.S. lead a "Million Man March on Washington" that I missed?

In fact, the HSUS is big, but it not very powerful.

Look at their campaigns and see if they have actually changed very much of substance.

Here's a hint: they haven't.

Puppy mills are still going full-throttle and so are factory farms.

Ringling Brothers and other circuses still have animal acts, and canned hunts are still with us.

What HSUS has mostly done in recent years is vacilate, generally changing their position AFTER the rest of the world has rejected their "leadership".

Look at feral cats. They used to call trap-neuter-and-release programs "subsidized abandonement," but when those programs gathered steam (and money), they changed tactics, embraced TNR, and claimed they are the reason it is popular!

Look at shelter euthanasias. For 50 years, HSUS has been a cheerleader for death chambers, using the cudgle of canine deaths as the reason to back mandatory spay-netuer progams. HSUS was OPPPOSED to No Kill shelters and worked to sabotage that movement which they saw as a threat to their own direct mail campaigns.

When that movement gained speed (and money), however, HSUS changed its position, claiming it is now a "leader" in the movement.


PBurns said...

Why is HSUS not very powerful or effective despite its size?

One issue is how they spend (and raise) money. About 90 percent of the money they raise goes to fund more fundrasing.

That means that out of their $90 million a year budget, more than $80 million goes to junk mail and junk telephone calls.

For more information on this, see >>,0,5949050.htmlstory?name=Humane+Society

and also >>

What does HSUS do with their remaining money?

Some good, without a doubt, but mostly it is on the margins, as they cannot seem to move anything that weighs very much. Though I would agree that they are more substantive than PeTA, that is a pretty low bar.

HSUS's membership is weak because by and large people do not vote on animal welfare issues.

And politicians know this.

In fact I think it is safe to say that the ONLY group that votes on animal welfare issues is farmers, and they are not voting HSUS's way most of the time.

A core problem at HSUS is that at the top they do not seem to really care about animals. For them, HSUS is simply a direct mail business. Humane Society head Wayne Pacelle has said, "I don’t have a hands-on fondness for animals . . . . To this day I don’t feel bonded to any non-human animal. I like them and I pet them and I’m kind to them, but there’s no special bond between me and other animals."

What Pacelle is really saying here is that he looks at dog, cat and farm issues with the same reptile-brain dispassion that a snake might look at a mouse. His only question when evaluating an issue is: will it make money for the Humane Society?

As Sam Rayburn once note, it takes a carpenter to build a barn door, even if any old jackass can kick one down.

The same applies to dogs.

The Humane Society is in the jackass position because all the AKC has to do is point out that Wayne Pacelle not only does not care about dogs (see his own words, above), but that he and his organization -- which opposes all hunting and herding -- are trying to determine how hunting and herding breeds are bred.

You want to know the power of hunters and herders in this country? Simple enough: the Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus is the largest on Capitol Hill.
Go to their web site here >> and look at the banner at the top of the page. Who is sitting in the chair? A Labrador Retriever -- a hunting dog breed!

Case made.


Gina said...

HSUS's membership is weak because by and large people do not vote on animal welfare issues.

And politicians know this.


I think more specifically what the politicians know is that they will not get money for their campaigns from animal-lovers. People DO vote animal issues when they're presented as a stand-slone, as been shown in referenda on single questions, up or down votes. They don't, however, seem to vote for Congresswoman X or State Senator Y based on animal issues at a higher priority than the economy, jobs, taxes, hot button social issues, etc.

But politicians know that large industry and individual contributions in favor of the industrial ag are indeed forthcoming -- or not -- based on how they vote. For these contributors, "animal issues" are not an interest, but rather an income.

Writing from the second-largest and most important capital in the country (Sacramento) ... with many years of observation.

PBurns said...


Exactly right.

Or as one politician said about one group I know:

"Fuck 'em. Their own members don't vote on this stuff, and they don't donate at all. So why should I even take a meeting?"

At least he was straight about it. I can always work with a politician like that!

California is the only state in the Union that runs almost everything on referenda.

But even here, don't kid yourself: you need a LOT of signatures to get a referendum on the ballot, and the way those signatures are collected is by PAYING PEOPLE to go door to door. The result: a hate-filled church in another state got an anti-gay marriage amendment on the ballot.

So we get back to it: Do you want people deciding these things who do not even buy the premise?

Should rules governing gay marrriage be set by those who think gay people should be shot, jailed and ostracized?

Should the Muslim world (which has a heck of a lot of members) decide the fate of Judaism because they can "mobilize more millions"?

Should the meat-eating majority ban vegetarianism and veganism?

And should people who think there is no place in the world for hunting, herding and sled dogs, be deciding the fate of those breeds?


pucksfurcoat said...

Hi TM,
HOpe I have put this question in an appriate spot. Need your help. I am sure you have heard of the new USPS campaign to give a Million meals to shelter dogs. Sponsored by Halo, Purely for Pets, co-owned by Ellen. Halo shows on their website that they support HSUS. NOw I have tried phoning, emailing, posting on their blog, looking on their FB Site, etc to find out exactly what shelters will get the million meals, how they will be provided, etc. I cannot get anywhere, they seem to be one hell of a marketing machine and are not forthcoming with any facts. Any ideas? My terrier smells a rat..........