Tuesday started like any other day for me. I poured my first cup of coffee and sat down to read what Google Reader had dumped in my inbox overnight. I read Bert Troughton's ASPCAPro blog that was along the lines of "can't we all get along blah blah stuff" that she has addressed before. But I was in a hurry and I didn't click through to the links at the end of the blog.
It wasn't until a couple of hours later that Ryan Clinton's post about the ASPCA's documents attached to those links rolled through my ticker feed on Facebook. Ryan Clinton doesn't post anything insignificant so I thought "Whoa, I'd better go back and read that again." Ryan's organization in the city of Austin is one of those that are specifically mentioned in the document "The Tactics of the Extremist Agenda".
If you haven't had a chance to read the two documents please take the time to do so and think about the full implication of the words. They are here and here. Later that afternoon the same blog and links were sent out in an email blast from the ASPCA. And the subject line of the email ironically was "Can't We All Just Get Along?"
By early evening the links had been removed due to the uproar, but luckily John Sibley, a fellow animal welfare advocate in New York had captured and reposted them.
I normally have a really long fuse. Too long, most people would say. Not much gets under my skin. But I found this whole situation both funny and infuriating at the same time. Extremists? People that are willing to speak out about the plight of homeless animals in their communities are extremists? On what planet?
I could have let this roll off my back. But I can't. I spend a large part of my time convincing people to get politically active and exercise their democratic right to demand that their taxpayer dollars be spent to save animals lives, not destroy them.
I encourage people to call their legislators, make wise voting choices and get involved in the issues. Many people are reluctant to speak out. Heck, some of them, I can hardly get to email their legislator; let alone attend a public meeting. Many people don't like to challenge the status quo. But along with our great team at Wisconsin Voters for Companion Animals we've been making progress. And just when we think we're making headway - WHAM - the ASPCA labels us as Extremists; something that most Midwestern folk don't want to be called.
So, as the extremists of the nation wait for an explanation and an apology from the ASPCA,we'll just keep on keeping on, doing what we do best: advocating for homeless animals that are being senselessly killed in our nation's shelters.
I imagine that the top brass at the ASPCA are huddling and reading two of the other documents linked to the blog "5 Steps to Crisis Management" and "Crisis Management - Before, During and After it Hits the Fan".
By the way, I really doubt it was a "mistake" on the ASPCA's part. Here is the last line of Bert Troughton's blog post:
"P.S. If you're going to be at the SAWA conference next week, any one of us from ASPCA, HSUS, the National Federation or SAWA would love to chat with you further on this topic. Look us up!"
So, when you hear Sarah McLachlan sing that sad, sad song in the ASPCA's television commercial (the one that is supposed to make you run for your checkbook); remember where your donations are going. To produce and distribute documents designed to undermine your democratic right to speak out for the animals you love.
More excellent blog posts on the subject:
Francis Battista, co-founder of Best Friends Animal Society "The Paranoiacs Handbook"
Michael Mountain, co-founder of Best Friends Animal Society ""When a Humane Organization Sounds Like a Tin Pot Dictator
Shirley Thistlewaite, Yesbiscuit blog "Best Friends Calls Out ASPCA" and "I Want My Puppet Regime!" and "ASPCA Got 99 Problems but a "Glitch" ain't one"
Valerie Hayes, No Kill Advocate, Georgia "The ASPCA and the case of the extremely elusive documents" and "The ASPCA: Too big to care"
Nathan Winograd, No Kill Advocacy Center "The ASPCA's War on Animal Lovers"
Cindi Ashbeck, No Kill Advocate, Wisconsin "ASPCA Blunder"
John Sibley, No Kill Advocate, New York, author of "In Dog We Trust" blog - ASPCA "Saves" Dogs by Transporting Them To Kill Shelters
No-Kill Tallahassee, Florida "Another ASPCA Scandal"