HSUS–Humane Society of the United States–is an interesting organization, what I call a “stealth” animal rights group. Unlike PETA, it doesn’t pitch the animal rights dogma of human/animal moral equality, nor does it explicitly call for an end to all animal domestication. Its leaders talk instead about animal “protection,” not animal “rights.”
Nonetheless, it is an animal rights group–as distinct from animal welfare, which accepts the humane use of animals by people. Here is how I put it in A Rat is a Pig is a Dog is a Boy (citations omitted):
Still, there is abundant cause to believe that, as least in the hearts of its leaders, animal rights rather than protection or welfare, is the real name of the game. HSUS president, the always professional Wayne Pacelle, has stated—quite aptly—that HSUS is “the NRA [National Rifle Association] of the animal rights movement,” meaning that its public advocacy on behalf of animals is on a par with the NRA’s support of gun rights. Sounding very much like the abolitionist Gary Francione, Pacelle, who like Francione is a vegan, once told a publication called Animal People, “We have no ethical obligation to preserve different breeds of livestock produced through selective breeding…One generation and out. We have no problem with the extinction of domestic animals. They are creations of human selective breeding.” J.P. Goodwin, once the executive director of the Coalition to Abolish the Fur Trade and a self-described (as reported by the Dallas Morning News) former member of the terrorist Animal Liberation Front (ALF), is now HSUS’s grass roots coordinator. He has stated, “My goal is to abolish all animal agriculture.”Adding fire to this plume of smoke, in the published proceeds of a 1980 conference in which HSUS apparently determined to pursue a more radical course than theretofore, HSUS stated, “There is no rational basis for maintaining the moral distinction between the treatment of humans and other animals.”
In other words, HSUS is not to be confused with local humane societies or SPCAs, that generally follow animal welfare models.
So far, HSUS has had a pretty free ride. But now, Humane Watch has launched, aimed at reporting about the activities of HSUS, from a pro animal industry perspective. If you are interested in a take on this powerful organization from the critical side, check it out.