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I have been a regular donor to HSI, believing them to be an organisation that does go in to support animals around the globe.

Today I received an email, titled 'Happy Easter', encouraging supporters to buy gift cards to go towards their Humane Choice program.  They provide a link as below;

http://www.humanechoice.com.au/?utm_source=Email+list&utm_mediu...

Well I have obviously been naive and sent off an email expressing my disappointment and outrage, and discontinuing my donations.

This is something I have often wondered, which organisations can one safely donate to in support of animals knowing that our money won't be contributing towards continuing torture and subjugation of non-human animals?

Who can be trusted to genuinely support animals?

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Thanks Roger.  Yes I have at times wondered why there have to be so many of these organisations, and perhaps i they'd join forces that collectively they'd achieve more than solo.  I think your Federation sounds like a good initiative.  I guess the bottom line is how effective they are.  It isn't so much the operating costs if by reputation, for example ability to get a million signatures on a petition to a Minister, they get something good happening.  But here we have an organisation to save kangaroos, another for koalas, another for dingo's and so on.  Spreads a bit think after a while.  I just wonder if we should not be concentrating on a particular species but target a generic opposition to ill-treatment of animals.  Maybe I'll start supporting Animal Liberation Victoria in the meantime.

Honestly Roger I really don't know.  ALV is at least somewhat local and they do expose cruelty, but I'll really need to do a bit of checking up on what they spend their money on.  They produce for example leaflets, but bearing in mind your conversation on another thread with Tim, I'm beginning to think that the broader community is getting desensitised to animal cruelty.  It is so widespread that it goes along with a feeling of overwhelming hopelessness sometimes. 

I personally feel that the best way to change is to be the exemplar.  I'm transitioning to raw vegan now, and attempting to give up coffee, my vice.  But good health is persuasive.  At my age (about to turn 58) I'm surrounded by people with serious diseases largely related to their dietary choices. 

I have in mind to organise a conference or something here in Melbourne or next year.  Perhaps that's going to be where I ought to be putting my money.  I currently earn a good wage, and I do feel a moral responsibility to use some of it for the benefit of animals.  I do also currently donate to WSPA (and to Amnesty Int'l and Medicines Sans Frontieres), at this stage not having any evidence to the contrary that they deserve help. 

Obviously I really need to do my research on these organisations (-:

I think it is very important to be aware and diligent.  Particularly with regard to being vegan that implies we ought to be the exemplars of what we want to see others doing.  There is a huge amount of confusion about what is or isn't safe to buy or support.  I see for example the RSPCA here in Australia allowing their logo to be used on eggs sold in supermarkets that are from caged hens.  The RSPCA undoubtedly started with every good intention, one of the first to look at the plight of animals, but has now become part of the problem by doing exactly what HSI is now doing.  Putting their stamp of approval on butchery.  I think Roger makes very valid comments here about the duplication of work being done and ultimate ineffectiveness of many of these more mainstream organisations.  I do get frankly fed up with the blatant chase for media attention by some of these over issues that have been going on for a long time.  The bottom line for me is that I want to be sure that I am not inadvertently funding cruelty towards animals.  I don't get how HSI can be advocating butchery when they call themselves 'humane' and this is simply another example, in my view, of misrepresentation.  I would like to see greater efficiencies within the movement in general.

Today I received the following email from HSI.  She says she will put the letter on this site so I will be interested to see what replies ensue.

Dear Kerry

Virginia has passed on your correspondence to me regarding your concerns about our Humane Choice Farming initiative and your wish to cancel your ongoing support of HSI.  I think she has responded directly to you on this.

Firstly I would like to thank you for the support you have given us over many years.  Our regular donors are the backbone of our organisation and you will be interested to know that the monthly donations are put to our overseas projects that seem to align more with your areas of concern.

I do though need to address your accusations that we are funding factory farming and the  messages you have put on the web.

Humane Society International leads the world in fighting factory farming.  We have a long and well documented history in this arena, both nationally and internationally.  Our Humane Choice program tries to improve the lives of the millions of factory farmed animals by putting the spotlight on the inhumane practices that are carried out daily in thousands of sheds across the country.  The Humane Choice standards are the highest certified standards in the world and by showing that you do not have to torture production animals and offers an alternative to both consumers and farmers.

97% of Australians eat meat and we feel it is our responsibility to improve the lives of the millions of factory farmed animals that supply this market so although everything happens under the banner of Humane Choice, most of our work centres on improving legislation and working with Governments to increase the protections currently given to farm animals in Australia.

I will be putting this letter on the Animal Rights Zone as we need to clarify our position in the public arena.

Once again I thank you for your support and I am sorry our efforts for farm animals has upset you.  We have never hidden these programs and have constantly reported them on our site and in our newsletters and are proud of our many achievements in this area.

With thanks and regards

Verna Simpson


Verna Simpson

Director

HUMANE SOCIETY INTERNATIONAL

What on earth does this woman mean to say? This is "doublespeak" if I ever saw it! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doublespeak

First she says:  


Humane Society International leads the world in fighting factory farming.  We have a long and well documented history in this arena, both nationally and internationally.  

Then she says:


97% of Australians eat meat and we feel it is our responsibility to improve the lives of the millions of factory farmed animals that supply this market so although everything happens under the banner of Humane Choice, most of our work centres on improving legislation and working with Governments to increase the protections currently given to farm animals in Australia.


Verna Simpson

Director

HUMANE SOCIETY INTERNATIONAL

So, really, this organisation is promoting factory farming - "happy meat". How disgusting.

Hi Kath.

Yes indeed.  It is curious that a person in her position doesn't see the contradictions in her letter.  If you go to their website and use the search function for terms like 'diet', 'plant based diet' and 'vegan diet', all you come up with is articles on how to mitigate the methane produced in cattle farming etc. Nowhere do they promote a human vegan diet.

I really am more disappointed that I didn't do more research into this organisation before donating.  I guess the buyer beware applies here.

Cheers

Kerry

Hey Roger,

I'm curious about your discomfort and wonder if it's common across the AR/Vegan community. Right now, I work very closely with the low-income communities in which I'm a part. A tremendous barrier to their adopting vegan lifestyles or even changing behaviors that directly or indirectly exploit animals is money. And tied to that not having resources is chronic unemployment, fueled by the way this economy works but also by on-going institutional barriers that have made these southern black communities in a continual state of poor access and poverty.  Giving them opportunity and training to employment that espouses values to promote animals' rights is a way to dissolve this opposition. This is not necessarily related to what you were saying, as you're speaking primarily about animal organizations with large paid staff. But it ties into the very real necessity for most individuals to make a living. After a while, it becomes exhausting for anybody to work two full-time jobs.  In the case of AR and intersectional activists I know who are volunteer staff running their grassroots organizations, they're also working full-time jobs to make a living. It's unsustainable. It risks heavy burn-out for a lot of talented and spirited individuals.

I've been thinking about this for a while, this idea of making a living by selling the value of animal rights.

What do you think?

Anastasia

Roger Yates said:

Hi Kerry,

I tend to trust local and regional grassroots mobilisations and tend to distrust large corporations (like this one) with lots of paid staff.

I'm not great at reading financial statements (Tim Gier is your man!) but it seems that wages paid out could be well over 1 million dollars - http://www.hsi.org.au/editor/assets/Publications/2011%20Financial%2... - they seem to try to rather hide the staff costs in this document by combining it with another item.

IMV, there is a lot of duplication in this "movement" and much of it involves the careerists who make a living out of the donations people send to "help animals." I understand that some form or arrangements of payments need to be in place - but I distrust and always have the people who see a career opportunity out of the suffering of other animals. I'm aware that this can be dressed up in terms of necessity, efficiency, and issues of movement/campaign continuity but personally I have never been comfortable with it. Especially not comfortable when we look and find several sets of staff doing essentially the same thing, providing essentially the same product, in essentially the same sort of organisation.

My rule of thumb - if a group says "help us to help animals" then be extremely wary because they seemingly want your cash and not necessarily your action and full engagement.

I should say - in the spirit of full disclosure perhaps - that in the 1980s in Britain I formed the "Federation of Local Animal Rights Groups" which was set up to take over and close down some large "animal rights" organisations in order to distribute their wealth to the movement's grassroots, where that wealth often came from, at least originally, and where it belongs.

I am still attracted to that idea and presently would start with PeTA. I'm aware that this idea is controversial and not very popular - never has been. Animal advocates have demonstrated a remarkably conservative, orthodox and conventional view of organisational structure, articulated most strongly, of course, by paid staff members.

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