Tag Archives: trap neuter re-abandon

Animal Rights vs. Animal Welfare [TNR = Trap, Neuter, Re-Abandon]

11 Aug

Last time, we talked about semantics.  The Humane Society (HSUS), is not associated with your local shelter, and a very small amount of their money is granted to any shelter.  The vast majority of HSUS funds are kept for its own agenda (27).  I told you we would discuss what the primary agenda of HSUS is if it’s not the rescue of dogs and cats. 

Before we get into that, lets review animal rights vs. animal welfare, because the difference will become pertinent to this discussion, and the following posts as well.  Important note:  These terms are politically and emotionally charged so I tried to get (extra!)-valid sources, and I also tried to find a source aligned with each respective side for their own definition.  Because both sides of the ethical divide believe their philosophy is the most sensical and humane, there was a decided slant when they defined the opposing view.  I also tried to do very minimal editing, just changing slight things so the sentences flow, but never the meaning.

An animal is in a good state of welfare if (as indicated by scientific evidence) it is healthy, comfortable, well-nourished, safe, able to express innate behavior, and if it is not suffering from unpleasant states such as pain, fear, and distress. Good animal welfare requires disease prevention and veterinary treatment, appropriate shelter, management, nutrition, humane handling, and humane slaughter. Animal welfare refers to the state of the animal; the treatment that an animal receives is covered by other terms such as animal care, animal husbandry, and humane treatment.1 Protecting an animal’s welfare means providing for its physical and mental needs.

  1. https://www.avma.org/resources/animal-health-welfare/animal-welfare-what-it

I think it’s fair to say that many people believe that animal welfare and animal rights are one and the same. And while there is definitely some overlap, from a technical perspective, as I alluded to above, they are actually opposing viewpoints.

Believe it or not, the definition of animal rights is actually very difficult to nail down, depending on if you ask a lawyer, an animal rights advocate, or a philosopher.

But we can stick to defining it at one core principle any person would agree with- animal rights concerns itself, in large part, with the notion of the legal entitlements of [non-human] animals that pertain to giving that animal:

  • An independent life and thus the freedom to pursue its activities as it chooses to do so within a set legal framework.
  • At the very least, basic considerations and rights (on par with similar human ones) that would allow them to avoid needless suffering.

Affording rights to animals is not about letting them do whatever they want or allowing them every single right a person has, but it is about allowing them to have the possession of their own life and the avoidance of suffering that may be imposed upon them by humans.

With respect to this and current law, an animal is not a legal person. Your dog is technically a piece of property and not its own legal entity, as a human would be. In other words, your pet dog is closer to having the legal status of the chair you sit on than it does a person.  [Animal rights activists] are for the right of an animal to choose its own destiny much like a person can. Animal rights is about ensuring humans cannot use animals in many of the same ways they once did (and still do) use slaves. It’s about giving animals the right to their own destiny, a destiny that’s not chosen, by and large, by someone or something else.

                       28). https://study.com/academy/lesson/animal-rights-ethics-arguments.html

My takeaway points:

Animal welfare is observable, measurable, and evidence-based.  It is (supposed to be) practiced by all entities that work with animals in any capacity.

Animal rights is a philosophy, and it is difficult to implement or measure because historically that is not how our system has been built.  Animal rights is more of an ideal and future goal.

In my opinion, the largest difference between animal welfare and rights is the use of animals.  The animal rights side does not believe humans should be engaging with animals for research, work, entertainment, food–nothing. Animal welfare proponents acknowledges that society already uses animals for a multitude of things.

It’s a judgement call where you stand, and your decision has implications for the rest of our discussion.  So next time (promise!) we will talk about what HSUS wants to accomplish as an organization.

Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) & Shelter [TNR = Trap, Neuter, Re-Abandon]

10 Aug

How much does the HSUS contribute to your local animal shelter?  

Before that question can be answered, we need to define what the HSUS is, what its goals are, and how much money HSUS has.  On the HSUS website, they give the following mission statement:

The mission of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is to create a humane and sustainable world for all animals—a world that will also benefit people. We seek to forge a lasting and comprehensive change in human consciousness of and behavior toward all animals in order to prevent animal cruelty, exploitation and neglect and to protect wild habitats and the entire community of life.

The HSUS seeks to achieve our goals through education, advocacy, public policy reform and the empowerment of our supporters and partners. We do not engage in or support actions that are illegal or violent or that run counter to the basic principles of compassion and respect for others.

The HSUS strives for integrity, fairness and professionalism in pursuit of our mission. We will seek to be inclusive and to develop partnerships with a broad array of society’s institutions to further our goals.

                  26). https://www.humanesociety.org/our-policies

So what exactly does that mean?  Who is the HSUS and what are they trying to do?

There is a misconception of who The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is and what their function is nationally.  According to a national poll conducted by Opinion Research Corporation (CNN’s pollster) on November 23rd to the 25th, 2011, 71 percent of Americans think the Humane Society of the United States is a pet shelter “umbrella group” (27) that filters its donations to state branches, helping support local animal shelters (24).  

Despite the words “humane society” in its name, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is not formally affiliated with any humane societies that operate at a city, county or regional level. HSUS does not run a single pet shelter (27).  The words “humane society” may appear on its letterhead and omnipresent dogs and cats are in its fundraising materials and television commercials, but the HSUS is not an organization that runs spay/neuter programs or takes in stray, neglected, and abused pets (25).  According to HumaneWatch.org, “HSUS doesn’t run a single pet shelter, nor does it serve as a national headquarters for humane societies that serve cities, towns, counties or states” (24).

A Feb. 2010 poll by Opinion Research Corporation determined that 63 percent of Americans believe their local humane society is affiliated with HSUS and 48 percent believe their local shelter receives financial support from HSUS (27). Furthermore, according to that November 2011 national poll conducted by Opinion Research Corporation, 68 percent [of Americans] believe HSUS contributes most of its money to local hands-on pet-shelter groups (27). Probably due to the commercials that show sad dogs and cats and strongly imply that giving $19 per month will alleviate their suffering (24).  

All of these statements are false (27).

Very little money given to HSUS will ever reach a pet shelter (24).  And quite unlike the common image of animal protection agencies as cash-strapped organizations dedicated to animal welfare, HSUS has become the wealthiest animal rights organization on earth (25).  HSUS has an annual budget of more than $100 million, and its affiliated groups have more than $191 million in assets, $160 million of which HSUS itself holds 24).

The HSUS disseminates merely one percent of its budget to pet shelters in the form of grants (27). More specifically, according to HSUS’s 2008 tax return, less than half of one percent (0.5%) of HSUS budget consisted of grants to hands-on pet shelters. And in 2009, again according to HSUS’s tax returns, less than one percent of HSUS’s budget (0.8%, to be exact) consisted of grants to shelters (24).

Most Americans aren’t aware of these facts, because the organization perpetuates the misconception the HSUS is directly affiliated with your local animal shelter, and the donations sent to HSUS will help shelter animals.

Even animal shelters believe that HSUS has helped perpetuate Americans’ misperception of what they do. In fact, 71 percent of animal shelters think HSUS “misleads people into thinking it is associated with local animal shelters.” The animals featured in HSUS’s TV ads are almost always cats and dogs. Additionally, their fundraising letters often give the misleading impression about what HSUS does.

One recent letter claimed that “the only way we can make these critical life-saving programs work and help save the lives of puppies and kittens in peril is with the continued support of our very best members such as you.” Another letter asked, “How can we save these innocent puppies and kittens and find them good, loving homes?”

The most likely explanation for this is that donors respond with open checkbooks to dogs and cats more than, say, pigs and chickens. But while HSUS’s advertising plays on people’s love for pets, it uses much of the money in completely different ways.

               27). https://humaneforpets.com/the-problem/

The vast majority of HSUS funds are kept for its own agenda, and next time we’ll discuss what that agenda entails.

Sources:

24). https://humanewatch.org/the_humane_society_of_the_united_states

_and_pet_shelter_giving/

25). https://www.activistfacts.com/organizations/hsus

-humane-society-of-the-united-states/ 

26). https://www.humanesociety.org/our-policies

27). https://humaneforpets.com/the-problem/

Funding Sources of Animal Shelters [TNR = Trap, Neuter, Re-Abandon]

9 Aug

In the last few posts we talked about how TNR is not all it’s cracked up to be, there are many downsides.  We went into how TNR started in the United States, and how Alley Cat Allies (ACA), which was integral to that process, seems biased, and according to employee reviews, is sketchy.  Last time we went over some horrible statistics about the number of animals that are abandoned and require shelter services, and the astronomical costs associated with running a shelter.  It’s not a pretty picture, and it’s not a simple problem to resolve. This time I’m going to share how animal shelters get the money to operate.

In trying to convey how animal shelters are funded, I found that two words are apt:  Inconsistent and incompletely.  Before I try to explain how animal shelters are funded, we have to look at semantics.  The term “animal shelter” is a generic term usually used to refer to an animal rescue organization that has a physical facility where you can go and adopt an animal.  To confused things further, some organizations even use the moniker “animal shelter” in their title.  Referring to an organization as an “animal shelter” or “animal rescue” has become common in the industry as a simple way to understand whether the organization has a physical facility where they house the animals.  So they’re catch-all terms, and may or may not be accurate to that particular animal shelter’s business model.

 

Despite the similar names, there are different types of animal shelters, and those classifications can help us decipher funding source–not always.  The majority of animal shelters are operated as rescues. They’re classified as charities and have 501c3 (non-profit) status.  Most animal rescue organizations are foster based and rely on volunteers to take care of the animals in their homes since they cannot afford a building, staff and all of the costs associated with running it.  

 

The second classification is animal shelter organization.  Neither animal rescue organizations or animal shelter organizations are funded by the federal government directly.  Though in some larger municipalities, local government does often provide funding to provide a public service of animal control.  Some cities even have organizations that are designated as animal control like in Milwaukee where MADACC (Milwaukee Area Domestic Animal Care and Control) receives public funding for their operations.  

 

The third type are animal control organizationsWhile there are variations and exceptions, generally when you see the term “animal control,” the organization is funded by the local government to provide animal control services.  What this generally means is that the animal control organization is therefore required to take in strays or owner surrenders and they often have a “dog catcher” that is dispatched for animal complaints. Though the USDA does play a part in enforcing animal welfare laws, congress is not pouring money directly into your local shelter (though the USDA does offer some grants to shelters).  The shelters that do get some tax money, do not get nearly enough to sustain operations.

                  23). https://www.animalrescueprofessionals.org/myth-vs-fact

                   /animal-shelters-funded-by-the-government/

 

As you can see the funding is different depending on type of shelter, but also depends on the state, county, city, municipality, etc… There is not a consistent standard I can tell you about.  Everyone would have to look into their specific area to know the answer to that.  And the only way to truly understand the funding model of an organization is to dig a little deeper into their 990 form (if they are an IRS public charity) or hunt around on the internet to find more local or state information if they are not.

 

Bottom line:   

Recognize that your local animal rescue and animal shelter does not receive a big, fat check every month from the government to run their operations.  Most shelters get most of their funding from any grants (they can qualify for), fundraisers and events, and primarily:  Donations.  The vast majority of them rely on your donations and volunteerism to support their great work.

                 23). https://www.animalrescueprofessionals.org/myth-vs-fact

                 /animal-shelters-funded-by-the-government/

 

 This brings me to the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS).  Next time I will share my research on the mission of the HSUS, and how it helps your local animal shelter.