“I don’t have a hands-on fondness for animals.”

Over the years, we've heard many people—including dog breeders, ranchers, dairymen, and the occasional veterinarian—claim that HSUS top dog Wayne Pacelle once denied he had any sort of "hands-on" fondness for animals. We've always filed this under the "rumor" category because we couldn't substantiate a quotation from Pacelle that came anywhere near that.

Until now.

For research geeks like us, the Amazon.com "Search Inside" feature is nothing short of a miracle. With just a few carefully chosen search terms, the elusive quote popped right out.

It turns out that in 1992, Pacelle spent some time hanging out with Ted Kerasote, a nature writer who made his name penning articles for Audubon, Outside, and Sports Afield magazines. Their discussions became a short episode in Kerasote's book Bloodties: Nature, Culture, and the Hunt.

Kerasote writes that the then-26-year-old Pacelle told him: "I don't have a hands-on fondness for animals. I did not grow up bonded to any particular nonhuman animal. I like them and I pet them and I'm kind to them, but there's no special bond between me and other animals."

We're reproducing a handful of pages from this book so you can see the quotations in their proper context. (Quotations? Plural? Yes. There's more.)

In what we imagine must have been an unusually candid, comfortable conversation for Pacelle, Kerasote asks him if his opposition to hunting is flexible enough to "let people hunt for food if they did it respectfully."

Pacelle replies, after thinking, "I think that I would campaign against it. Yes, I think that I would." He sums up his plan to target the institution of hunting like this: "We're out to minimize suffering wherever it can be done … abusive forms of hunting for now, all hunting eventually."

And what about pets? Kerasote presses Pacelle, asking if he would "envision a future with no pets in the world."

"I wouldn't say that I envision that, no," Pacelle offers. "If I had my personal view perhaps that might take hold. In fact, I don't want to see another cat or dog born. It's not something I strive for, though."

In Kerasote's brief encounters, he also draws out Wayne Pacelle, and then his colleague Heidi Prescott, as "zero population growth" believers where humans are concerned.

Pacelle admits: "I don't believe in the green revolution as a means of feeding the world, and I certainly don't plan to have children. I take it as a very serious personal responsibility not to put another consumer on this planet." Prescott confirms that she had her tubes tied at age 25.

We should say in closing that to our knowledge, no one has asked Wayne Pacelle in recent years if he still agrees with these statements. Perhaps someone should.