Just as the Humane Society of the United States cloaks itself with cats and dogs in fundraising material—even though only 1% of HSUS’s money goes to pet shelters—we’ve seen the animal liberation group use veterinarians as cover for its radical agenda. With that in mind, last weekend we attended the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) convention in Denver. We’re glad to say that many vets are already in the know.
The response from veterinarians to our booth was generally very positive. Vets whose work involves laboratory animals have long been targeted by animal-rights radicals, so they didn’t need an introduction to HSUS. Same with livestock vets. But many vets are younger, from urban or suburban areas, and want to have a small-animal practice. They are prime pickings for misinformation from HSUS.
And that’s exactly what HSUS had in mind. HSUS’s veterinary arm, the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association, had a booth to try to recruit veterinary professional members. HSVMA is simply the new face of an organization called Association of Veterinarians for Animals Rights (AVAR), which merged with HSUS in 2008 to create HSVMA.
AVAR burned bridges in the veterinary community. The group teamed up with PETA for a full-page ad in 2004 claiming that AVMA, an organization representing thousands of veterinarians, had “betrayed” animals. A member of HSVMA’s Leadership Council has reportedly compared slaughterhouses to Nazi concentration camps at a recent animal rights conference and has written that “Laboratory destruction and vandalism…is not terrorism.”
HSUS didn’t help itself with the veterinary community by pushing—and then dropping—a planned ballot initiative in Colorado this year that would have allowed individuals to bring legal action against veterinarians. The idea, apparently, was to target livestock veterinarians who use standard practices that HSUS doesn’t like. The initiative may make a return in 2016 and would certainly be an extreme weapon for HSUS to use in its broader war against agriculture (keep in mind that HSUS is against all animal agriculture).
An important distinction for veterinarians to understand is that HSUS/HSVMA is about animal rights and not animal welfare. Animal welfare is science-based and involves treating animals humanely. Animal rights is about stopping the human use of most animals—which, ironically, would reduce the need for veterinarians and put many out of business.
HSUS was more cordial this year—in 2012, HSUS tried and failed to get us thrown out of the convention. But HSUS surely didn’t like the fact that our booth was right near theirs, something many attendees found amusing. Maybe next year we’ll be neighbors.