HSUS: Animal-Welfare Fool’s Gold

It’s a new week, and the uproar over a new corporate “partner” of the deceptive Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) still hasn’t cooled off. If you missed the scandal last week, the company that produces Yellow Tail brand wines announced that it pledged $100,000 to HSUS. Big mistake.
The tumult over this news quickly turned into a social media firestorm. Twitter messages were coming in at lightning speed. Yellow Tail’s Facebook wall received thousands of complaints from farmers, hunters, and other consumers whose ways of life are threatened by HSUS’s animal rights activism—not to mention all the wine that was poured down the drain or on the ground.
The Facebook group “Yellow Fail” has quickly gathered more than 1,300 fans. (That’s roughly the same number of fans that one “official” Yellow Tail wine group had before the chardonnay hit the fan.) Here are some samples of what people are posting on Yellow Tail’s Facebook wall:

“I think the best course of action for all of us may be to contact your local grocery store and inform them of your decision to stop purchasing Yellow Tail wines.”
“My fiancé and I (both veterinarians) will no longer buy Yellow Tail due to your affiliation with HSUS. There are multiple organizations–especially local shelters–that use their money much more wisely and with much less greed and political agenda.”
“Add another lost customer to your list. My wife loves your wine but will never buy another bottle as long as you support HSUS.”

There are too many like this for us to list.
In the middle of this mini-revolt, the company wrote in a statement (see the “News” section), “we feel that The Humane Society of the U.S.’s initiative to help animals in danger through their noble Animal Rescue Team is an ideal mission to support.”
But it’s hard to see that there’s any guarantee that Yellow Tail’s $100,000 will actually be spent by HSUS on its Animal Rescue Team. It could easily go to bankroll the next lawsuit or ad campaign against honest Americans. Once the six-figure grant leaves Yellow Tail’s bank account, the vintner’s good intentions can’t control where the money goes. Consider that only half of one percent of HSUS’s 2008 budget consisted of grants to hands-on pet shelters. And HSUS’s international relief efforts are already tainted by scandal. (See also this Atlanta WSB-TV exposé for more details about where HSUS money goes.)
We certainly couldn’t fault Yellow Tail’s executives if they, like many other Americans, were fooled by HSUS’s deceptive marketing. But now that the facts are clear, we hope they will reconsider their association with HSUS and send the money to a real animal welfare group. Apparently, wine drinkers are not a subtle bunch. And they’re tired of being corked around.
This may be a tipping point; every other potential or current corporate sponsor of HSUS (and the group’ celebrity endorsers) should take note. There’s a large-scale “public education” campaign about HSUS forming.  And we’re adding to the mix with our launch this week of the new HumaneWatch project, which will grow into a robust central hub of information about HSUS. Hopefully the next “Yellow Fail” can be averted before it even happens. As for current mistakes, it’s never too late to make amends.