What Were They Thinking?

We get occasional questions about our thoughts on other animal groups, but we generally keep things focused on the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). That’s our primary mission. But just as we’ll occasionally write something about PETA, there’s a new development with another group that caught our eye.

Last night we received word that, in a contentious and close vote, the board of directors of the pet industry’s trade group, the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC), voted to hire Ed Sayres. Though Sayres’ name is relatively unknown, his affiliation isn’t: He ran the ASPCA for nearly a decade, stepping down last year.

It’s a particularly strange move given what Sayres has had to say about the pet industry:

  • “Approximately nine months ago, the ASPCA launched our national “No Pet Store Puppies” campaign. Our aim was to raise awareness about puppy mill cruelty and to reduce the demand for puppies that come from puppy mills by asking consumers to pledge not to purchase anything from pet stores or websites that sell puppies. In this relatively short period of time, the results have been amazing.”
  • “[W]hy not exercise your consumer power by only purchasing toys and other supplies at stores that do not support the puppy mill industry? Please also visit NoPetStorePuppies.com and take the ASPCA’s pledge to refuse to shop at pet stores and on websites that sell puppies. That is one easy way that you can make a difference in the fight against puppy mills.”
  • “[A]lmost all puppies sold in pet stores (and over the Internet) come from puppy mills.”

It’s hard to see any difference between what Sayres said and what HSUS CEO Wayne Pacelle says. The ASPCA, like HSUS, uses inflammatory language and misinformation to divide people and marginalize the pet industry. How can Sayres be a good industry leader when he’s spent so much time attacking large segments of PIJAC members with nutty rhetoric?

In a nutshell, the trouble with ASPCA and HSUS is that they admit that pet stores sell from some good breeders, but that we should boycott them anyway (and that’s by their own animal-rights standards—good breeding standards is another issue for another day). It’s a very simplistic proposal for a nuanced issue—one that plays well for raising money and getting press, but that doesn’t accomplish much else for dog welfare. It’s more demagogic than productive.

The ASPCA has appeared to have gotten more radical following Sayres’ departure by launching anti-farmer campaigns, but that doesn’t mean much given his past statements, unless Sayres pitched himself as having a Saul of Tarsus-like conversion. More likely, the fox may soon be in the henhouse.