Monday, October 25, 2010

The Litmus Test

My husband is perhaps the most objective person I know. The great thing about this is that I can run all sorts of ideas and thoughts by him and he tells me HONESTLY what he thinks. He doesn't just take my side because I'm his wife. He has a very clear way of thinking, plus a way of sorting through the fluff and getting to the heart of the issue.  I have learned a lot from him (please don't tell him I said that).

He does not have a background in animal welfare. So a couple of years ago - he was quite enamored with the Starfish story when he first heard it and if you're not familiar with it - here's a link to a blog and the original story that I did on it several months ago.

So, he constantly refers to cats, dogs or other companion animals as starfish.  When I'm asking his opinion on an issue -  he says "Well, at the end of the day did you make things better for that starfish or those starfish?"  Even if it is only a temporary fix - he says "Did you get that starfish back into the water for a little while - until you can come up with another solution?"

Some of these issues can be incredibly complicated. They are political, fuzzy and grey.  His starfish analogy has now become my litmus test.

So it makes me more than a little angry when I see organizations who have lost sight of the real reason we all do this. I definitely believe in sticking your neck out and calling a spade a spade when it is deserved.  But on the same note, when credit is due - put aside differences and give credit.  No one will ever be perfectly aligned with another's viewpoints. Our opposition one day will be our friend the next and vice versa.  I love this from the 10 Golden Rules of Lobbying:  #6 There Are No Permanent Friends and No Permanent Enemies.

Recently, the HSUS stepped up to the plate and assisted with the seizure and rescue of 200 pit bulls from an alleged cruelty case in Ohio.  This was a huge change in policy for them - isn't this what we wanted?  Yet, there has been still very little acknowledgement of their help. At the end of the day were those starfish better off because of HSUS assistance? Darn right.

It passed my litmus test. Thank you - Humane Society of the United States.

It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.  ~Harry S. Truman


  1. Well spoken, Kathy!

    The Truman quote is an incredibly powerful mantra that we would do well to keep on our centerline so we will achieve a No Kill Nation!

    I can't help but think of the 4 million dogs and cats annually who don't make it out of the *shelters/facilities*. We owe it to these starfish to move forward together!

  2. HSUs has a policy to put down pit bull dogs, they wont find them a home. Check out the "No kill Movement" they arent killing dogs. HSUS claims that 10 million dogs and cats were put down last year. Accoring to a pree journalist the numbers were less than 3 million and seventy five percent of them were feral cats. The only thing the HSUS does is lie to collect money. Check out

  3. Dear Anonymous,
    First of all - I would appreciate if you would post your name. I don't usually respond to anonymous comments. I don't think you took the time to click through to the links on my blog that showed that the HSUS has changed it's policy towards pit bulls. They are the two links in the last paragraph. Perhaps you could read those first and then we could continue this discussion.

  4. Old bias is tough to release and as my old violin teacher used to say, "you did it right, but it might have been a mistake. Let's try it again". One event does not constitute a trend, but at the end of the day, there sere several starfish whose lives were different. So we thank them for doing what they advertise and watch.

  5. It appears I have also learned from your husband now. Thanks for the perspective & the reminder of how important it is for us to work together for the animals as working against each other costs lives.

  6. Dear Wendy, and anonymous, It sounds as if you two support Humane watch. I hope not as you have no idea who is behind the name as they all wish to remain anonymous. Why do you think that is?? If you can provide some concreate evidence you may have me intrested. I have been unable to get even one name, but i have found out many that supoport Humanewatch are organiations that profit from animal suffering such as KFC,Armour, Outback Steak house, just to name a few!
    Deb P from Wisconsin & proud to say!

  7. Thank you for this post. People tend to fall into two camps with regard to organizations, especially organizations that have at some point not behaved in a stellar manner. There are those who relentlessly villify, and those who rabidly defend. Nothing an organization does right can sway the former, and nothing an organization does wrong can sway the latter. Most animal welfare organizations are neither godlike or evil, and it would be great if people could be more objective, criticize where it is warranted, but also give credit where it is due. I am definitely not a fan of HSUS, but their actions in this case show they can evolve, and should be applauded.

  8. Kathy, thank you for an intelligent and fair-minded article.

    To condemn an organization's good works on the basis of a grudge or to score political points does nothing to help animals. If more people were capable of this kind of objectivity, we would all get a lot more accomplished!

  9. The HSUS policy changed years ago, almost immediately after the Vick case. Until then, it hadn't really been proven that pit bulls taken directly from a fighting operation could be rehabilitated. Obviously, they are more than rehabilitated - they are superstars.

    I agree with Deb P - those statements are from the Humanewatch playbook. Congratulations on aligning yourself with an organization that fights against animal welfare and human safety because Big Ag and Restaurant corporations pay them to.

    And you got the double-whammy: NKN, aka Nathan Winograd, is basically partners with them, caring more for his own notoriety than the welfare of animals. His M.O. is, "If I can't have 11 million supporters, at least I can piss off 11 million people. That's the same as being popular, right?"

    Thank you for this article, Kathy.


    1. HSUS not only lobbied for the killing of Michael Vick's dogs, they sent out a fundraising e mail to over a million people, seeking "desperately needed funds" to "help care for them." Millions poured in, and only after the fraud was publically exposed and a government investigation was a real possibility did they send over "several thousand dollars" to the shelters that were actually caring for them. Your claim that HSUS changed its policy "years ago" - after the Vick case - is an easily debunked LIE. In February, 2009 HSUS lobbied for the killing of 157 dogs and puppies "rescued" from Wilkes County dog breeder Ed Faron. Only after details about that "Wilkes County massacre" threatened their public image and fundraising stream did they change their policy. Of course it is a positive step that HSUS didn't lobby for the deaths of the Ohio dogs. Of course both Wayne Pacelle and J.P. Goodwin realized that another dog-killing scandal would destroy any shred of credibility they still had with the legitimate animal rescue community (especially after the November 2009 Fay/Faye farce.) The Ohio dogs can thank Nathan Winograd and Humane Watch for keeping the spotlight and pressure on HSUS by exposing the hypocricy of Wayne and his cronies.

    2. HSUS DOES NOT HAVE ELEVEN MILLION MEMBERS, supporters, backers, or constitutents. The number of active donors is approximately one million; less than half donate $25 or more. The print run of their member magazine is 450,000. Check their IRS 990s, available online, for accurate membership statistics.
    Lying about the size of an organization in press releases, the annual report (not a legal document) and media interviews would be illegal in the private sector. So would many aspects of HSUS' accounting, advertising, marketing and financial practices.

    If apologists like Elaine and John Doppler Schiff want to defend the HSUS, they will have to do better than using easily debunked claims, PR drivel, phony statistics and slander of critics. It just makes HSUS look sleazy and guilty.