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Humane Society on its Battle With Center for Consumer Freedom

By Wayne Pacelle

I’ve written before about the phony Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF).

In its early years, CCF made money as a front group for Big Tobacco, the alcohol industry, and other corporations working against public health. In recent years, CCF has expanded its business model to represent factory farmers, seal clubbers, cockfighters, and puppy millers.

The Humane Society of the United States is now CCF’s number one target. A couple weeks ago, CCF assailed our humanitarian relief mission in Haiti, despite the remarkable work of our people on the ground. Now, these animal cruelty apologists say they will step up their attacks on us this week.

Will you make a special gift today and show CCF that those who care about animals won’t back down?

The shills at CCF have one thing right: The HSUS is indeed the largest, toughest, and most effective animal protection organization, and we have the power, like no other group does, to effect major changes for animals. Just listen to how our opponents talk about us:

“HSUS is clearly the nine-million-pound gorilla. They are powerful, sophisticated and rich and they are good at what they do. They are good at building the agenda, good at framing issues, they know how to talk about issues, which is why they are effective.” —Wes Jamison,

“Fifteen years ago we were confronted by about 150 animal rights organizations, subject to infighting and competition. Today, the movement is defined by the Humane Society of the U.S.” —Steve Kopperud, Cattle Network

“With the passage of California’s Proposition 2, more people have come to realize the evolving threat of the power, influence, and growing wealth of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). Ballot initiatives and legislation similar to Prop. 2 will soon be introduced in more states. HSUS’s massive budget, unwarranted positive public reputation, and deep-pocketed Hollywood friends will only become a greater threat to industry in a post-Proposition 2 business environment. It is crucial that a key broad cross-section of agriculture leaders start managing this nationwide threat now, before it is too late or too expensive to match HSUS dollar for dollar.” —Rick Berman, CCF

If you don’t recognize the name of Rick Berman, let me provide a proper introduction. He’s the type of individual—I know you’ve heard of them before—who will literally do anything for money. Back in the days when the tobacco lobby was still denying that smoking caused lung cancer, men like Rick Berman attacked doctors and other anti-smoking advocates who had the courage to speak the truth. For his ultimately unsuccessful efforts, Rick Berman grabbed a first fistful of cash (about $600,000 for starting the precursor to CCF), and learned he could build a business by attacking “do-gooders” and acting as hit man.

Right now, Berman is making the circuit of businesses and organizations that profit from the status quo in the treatment of animals, promising them they can dry up public support for our work and pledging to step up assaults against The HSUS beginning this week.

He will not slow us down. But here is something he will do. Beginning now and for the first time in his public life, Rick Berman is going to start helping animals. We’re going to see to it—you and I. 

In response to CCF’s new mudslinging campaign, I’m asking you to join with me, in raising $200,000—$100,000 to help feed and care for animals at the network of five animal care centers The HSUS owns and operates and $100,000 to add to our campaign to take on factory farming. Please make a special gift today to support our animal care work and our campaigns against factory farms.

Here’s why I’ve chosen these two programs. We provide permanent homes to 1,572 animals and treat another 14,000-plus injured animals each year—the largest such sanctuary system in the United States (and that’s just one small part of our direct-care portfolio). Yet, Berman and company say we don’t do enough hands-on care, and I want to underscore how painfully wrong he is by allowing him to help us pay for the feeding and vet care of these creatures for just a few days.

And second, we want to raise additional funds to fight factory farming because it’s that type of work (whether passing California’s successful Proposition 2 or shutting down slaughterhouses violating the law with our undercover investigations) that CCF and its corporate backers really want us to stop. They’d love it if we spent all of our money on direct animal care, and never addressed the causes of large-scale, institutionalized cruelty and how animals get into a crisis situation to begin with.

As a reminder, we’ve employed this “counterpunch” strategy once before. When the extremist U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance (USSA) worked to nix a $5,000 corporate gift to The HSUS for our emergency grants to help pets affected by the foreclosure crisis, we asked you to show the USSA that its activism against The HSUS would backfire. We tried to raise more than USSA’s campaign cost us—and we’d apply half of the money for our pet foreclosure fund and our other efforts to protect pets, and the other half for the programs that drive the USSA crazy, such as our anti-bear baiting or anti-canned or captive hunts campaigns. It worked. We raised $170,000, and sent the group a message that whenever they attack, we’ll engage in a form of political jujitsu and flip the fundraising equation on them.

Today, in our new counterpunch campaign, I’ll start with a personal donation of $1,000. I hope you’ll make a contribution today and show Rick Berman and the shadowy corporate interests that line his pockets that any time they attack The HSUS, our supporters will rise to the occasion to make sure our critical work to protect animals not only continues, but is enhanced.

When we hit our goal, I’ll notify you and explain how we’ll spend the money. Also, as we allow from time to time, the donor who raises the most in this campaign gets naming rights to one of our animals at the Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch. The winner can pick, of course. But it’s my fond hope to be greeted by a wild ass (actually, a donkey, but allow me this embellishment this time) named “Rick Berman” next time I visit the ranch. It will be a reminder in the winter of 2010 of the good he finally did for someone other than himself.


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