Animal Rights Groups

Are they what you think they are?

There are many well intentioned reptile keepers who are paying members of the HSUS (Humane Society of the United States), and even some who are members of PeTA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). The two groups actually have several ties, which I will detail later.
In essence, these people, while possesing a genuine desire to help animals and wildlife, are sleeping with the enemy. Note two quotes from Ingrid Newkirk, founder and president of PeTA:

For one thing, we would no longer allow breeding… as the surplus of cats and dogs declined, eventually companion animals would be phased out…We would no longer allow…pet shops” (Harper’s Magazine, Aug 1988)

"Pet ownership is an absolutely abysmal situation brought about by human manipulation." (Washingtonian Magazine, Aug. 1986)


PeTA is the foremost group in the animal rights movement. Understand there is a critical difference between animal rights and animal welfare. Animal welfare activists work toward ensuring the humane treatment of animals used by humans for whatever reason. Animal rights activists work toward eliminating all use of animals by people, whether for food, clothing, critical medical research, or the enjoyment of pets, and they often use violence and intimidation to acomplish these goals.

"Arson, property destruction, burglary and theft are 'acceptable crimes' when used for the animal cause."
(Alex Pacheco, chairman of PETA, New York Times interview)

The philosophy of PeTA and other animal rights groups can be summed up in this:
They do not love animals, they hate humans.

More quotes by Ingrid Newkirk:

"Humans have grown like a cancer. We're the biggest blight on the face of the earth." (Readers Digest, June 1990)

"I am not a morose person, but I would rather not be here. I don't have any reverence for life, only for the entities themselves. I would rather see a blank space where I am. This will sound like fruitcake stuff again but at least I wouldn't be harming anything. All I can do-all you can do-while you are alive is try to reduce the amount of damage you do by being alive." (Washington Post, Nov. 13, 1983)

While there are areas of research done on animals that should be condemned, there is also valuable medical research that desperately needs to be done to save human lives. There is current research being made in the treatment of AIDS, cancer, Parkinson's disease, and many other deadly and debilitating plagues of mankind that involve the use of animals. These animals are bred under lab contitions for this purpose. PeTA however would see the end to this as well.

"Even if animal tests produced a cure for AIDS, "We'd be against it." (Vogue, Sept, 1989)

"If my father had a heart attack, it would give me no solace at all to know his treatment was first tried on a dog."
(Washington Post, May 30, 1989)

"Even painless research is fascism, supremacism." (Washington Magazine, Aug. 1986)

PeTA makes three main arguments against medical research involving animals:

  • Animal research has not benefited human health
  • Animal research is painful
  • There are effective alternatives to animal research

The truth is, animal research has been a critical factor in the development of treatments and cures for Alzheimer’s, cancer, cholera, diabetes, leprosy, poliomyelitis, rheumatoid arthritis, smallpox, yellow fever, and many other infectious diseases and chronic conditions. (See Journal of the American Medical Association, June 23-30, 1989, p. 3602; Americans for Medical Progress, 1991 annual report, pp. 4-7; and American Medical Association, “Use of Animals in Biomedical Research: the Challenge and Response,” white paper, 1992, p. 12.)
The most comprehensive study of pain in animal research found that 92% do not experience any pain at all due to the research. - Alternatives to Animal Use in Research, Testing, and Education (Washington, D.C.: Office of Technology Assessment, 1989). And these “alternatives” to animal research, such as cell cultures, chemical tests, and computer simulations, while already widely used, usually can only serve as useful compliments to animal research.


According to the tax forms filed by PeTA with the IRS, in fiscal 1995 they claimed a $12 million budget, 1996 saw a $10.9 million budget. Of this, $3,955 in 1995 and $6,100 in 1996 was spent on shelter programs.
Alternately, PeTA made $1,485,076 in donations. $1.3 million or 90%, of this they donated to themselves by giving it to their satellite offices in Germany, the Netherlands, and England. After their own offices, the largest donation made was $45,200 given to Rodney Coronado, an animal rights terrorist, to help his legal fight to avoid going to prison for the firebombing of medical research facilities.
How much of this money came from well intentioned herpers?

PeTA has filed volumes of complaints with various government agencies reporting alleged abusive situations in all areas of animal use. I have yet to find a single instance that after investigation revealed any substance to the claims.
These situations, along with the very public protests do however accomplish two things. They manage to completely waste the time and tax payer dollars of these agencies, and they also raise revenue for PeTA by putting them in the media spotlight for a while.

PeTA is an extremely dangerous menace to society. Their extrmemist tactics, and abolitionist views, if realized, stand to affect all mankind from their health and food, to the enjoyment of keeping pets in their home. They condone extreme acts of violence by groups such as the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) and Earth Liberation Front (ELF), and often provide funds donated by their supporters to these terrorist groups to further their agenda.


"Human care (of animals) is simply sentimental, sympathetic patronage."
(Dr. Michael W. Fox, HSUS, in 1988 Newsweek interview)

The Humane Society of the United States is a much more subtle but equally as dangerous animal rights group. I once saw a very fitting analogy, the difference between PeTA and the HSUS is like the difference between a mugger and a con man - they both steal your money but they have different tactics, and a different timetable. PeTA is a mugger that tries to force its agenda quickly through propoganda and violence, while the HSUS is a con man who is slowly infiltrating government and society looking for a long term realization of the same goals.

The HSUS has been very effective in deceiving the population at large, and most think they are a humane society and the direct opposite of groups like PeTA. The truth is the HSUS is a big part of the same animal rights movement as PeTA, and holds the same ideals, only the tactics differ.
The HSUS was officially converted from an animal welfare to an animal rights advocate by a membership vote at their 1980 annual meeting.

It is interesting to note that the HSUS makes every attempt to distance itself from groups like PeTA with whom they share philosophy. They deliberatly avoid use of the term "animal rights" and instead call themselves "animal protectionists".

In 1984, John McArdle,previous HSUS vice president for lab animals, instructed the group to "avoid the words 'animal rights' and 'antivivisection.' They are too strange for the public. Never appear to be opposed to animal research. Claim that your only concern is the source of the animals."

One thing I do want to make very clear first, in virtually all of the informational pamphlets from the HSUS you will see statistics and numbers which will horrify you as to the scope of the problem. Please DO NOT be deceived by this tactic. The HSUS rarely if ever sites a direct reference to support their numbers, and have their own method of using them which results in a grossly inflated picture of the statistics they are using. For instance, in a pamphlet called “Pet Overpopulation Fact Sheet,” they list the number of dogs and cats euthanized each year as 7.5 million.

"With claims that “70,000 puppies and kittens are born each day because of the uncontrolled breeding of pets” and even more that are born to stray and abandoned animals, HSUS says that it is impossible to find enough pet homes when only 10,000 humans are born in a day. The result is an estimated 7.5 million dogs and cats euthanized each year."

This is an excellent example. The 7.5 million number is accurate, but they are using the number to suggest this is how many are euthanized due to unwanted litters. The fact is this number includes all deaths in shelters, those who are old, injured, agressive, or owner requested, as well as those animals which are adoptable. They also fail to note that the numbers of cats far exceed dogs, and are added to by cats who are fed but unowned "neighborhood cats", as well as feral cat colonies. Just one example of how they take a bit of truth and word it in such a way it severly distorts the facts.
Most recently they are claiming 93,000 people contract salmonella from reptiles annually, but again offer no source for this information. I have heard medical professionals refer to certain strains of salmonella as being a "reptile strain", meaning that it is common in herps. In rural areas these strains are often seen in people who have no physical contact with reptiles. It is normally attributed to their home water source, which is natural rather than municipal. Snakes, salamanders, etc, frequenting the stream or resevoir where they get their water.
How many of any figure, including the HSUS' 93,000 are the result of these situations?
Another note on the salmonella figures, they never cite the numbers of cases of salmonella traced to meat and poultry, which are astronomically higher than pet reptile infections.

I am straying from the topic here, so I'll come back a bit. Let's look at the financial situation of the HSUS, which some of you may have helped support.

According to the 1995 tax forms filed with the IRS, the HSUS claimed a budget of $38,102,167. The numbers are higher today, I have recently heard the HSUS budget has grown to $50 million, but I have no acceptable proof at this time to support that.
Wow, $38 million! Thats enough to bankroll a major humane shelter in every state, and fund massive spay/neuter programs nationwide. So how many animal shelters benefit from this huge sum? NONE Not even one. The HSUS operates no humane shelters at all. All this work is done by local organizations which have no affiliation with the HSUS. The HSUS does however very effectively use the plight of animals and people's concern for them as a fund raising tool. The vast majority of people who contribute to the HSUS truly believe this is what the money is for. After all, look at all the sad faces on the puppies and kittens we see in the flyers we find in our mailboxes. This practice can be accurately described as fraud, possibly not legally, but at least morally. They are misleading the public by giving them the impression that their money is going for something it is not.
The HSUS answer to the problem of unwanted animals is not to save them and find good homes for them, but instead to outlaw the breeding of them to begin with. Then eliminate the keeping of them as well.

So what does the HSUS do with that $38 million, besides print pamphlets and lobby congress to eliminate our pets? For one thing they pay very well. The HSUS Chief Executive Officer John A. Hoyt receives a salary of $237,871. In 1986 the HSUS bought a home in Germantown Maryland for Hoyt for the sum of $310,000. Hoyt lived there until 1992 when he purchased a home in Virginia.
The HSUS president Paul G. Irwin, received a salary of $209,051. He was also paid $85,000 for renovations ot a cabin he held in trust for the HSUS in Maine. Legal documents showed that Irwin collected $15,000 in executor's fees from the estate of an HSUS board member, without notifying the board of directors in advance, as mandated by the HSUS code of ethics.
Irwin owns five houses, including a $786,500 residence in Darnestown, Maryland as well as a Mercedes, Lincoln Town Car and a Corvette. Not too bad for the president of a non-profit organization.

HSUS ties with PeTA

The HSUS employs several former PeTA employees, and Ingrid Newkirk, president and founder of PeTA has allies within the HSUS directors. One of Newkirk's allies would be Wayne Pacelle, vice president for media and government affairs. Pacelle was hired by the HSUS directly from Cleveland Amory's Fund for Animals. Amory is also interestingly the mentor of PeTA co-founder Alex Pacheco.
Newkirk used the help of Amory in 1987 when she seized corporate and financial control of the anti-research New England Anti-Vivisection Society and its multi-million dollar bank account, the first of her moves to consolidate the animal movement under her influence.

Other former PeTA employees and associates who are now employed at HSUS include the chief computer programmer, the head of its national and international investigations who by the way, also oversees its lucrative Wildlife Lands Trust, two key HSUS investigators and many other people throughout the HSUS corporate structure, including its lab animal section, which handles the medical research issue.

A Little Advice

Before you decide to write that check to send some of your hard earned cash to support the worthy cause of protecting animals, take a good look at who you are supporting.
Just as you wouldn't thoughtlessly offer money to a local church without knowing their doctrine, or contribute to a campaign fund without knowing the candidate's political position on issues that you consider important, you should not just hand money to any group claiming to represent the interests of our pets and wildlife. I would advise you to be suspicious of any fundraising letters that make sensational claims of animal abuse. A claimed, or even proven, case of animal abuse does not mean that it is a common problem.
Your money would most likely be best put to use at a local animal shelter. These places are almost always in desperate need of food, housing, and medical supplies. The fact that the HSUS does not support these shelters at all from their massive funding, contributes to the problem.
Time may be just as valuable as money to these local shelters. Volunteer a couple of days a month to help feed and clean after the animals. You'll be doing a service to the animals as well as have the opportunity to better investigate the shelter itself and its intent.
I say this because there do exist some animal shelters that have been infiltrated by the animal rights movement. Question the shelter employees, ask their position on pets, particularly exotics. Make sure you are not inadvertantly supporting those who are opposed to the hobby you love.
The groups like PeTA and the HSUS are entirely dependant on contributions of people like us. If we choose instead to support local organizations who truly have the interests of the individual animals at heart, we will cut the throat of these groups and they will fall apart from lack of funds. At the same time the animals would be much better served as well.

Related Links

What Animal Rights Activists Believe

The Illogic of Animal Rights - An excellent paper describing the faults with the philosophy of "Animal Rights"

Without Animal Research - Just a few of the major advances that are the direct result of medical research involving animals.

Activist Facts - PeTA Activist Facts - HSUS

Just a final note from me. I fully expect to get mail concerning the topics covered on this page. I am usually not inclined to debate the subjects discussed with those who are supporters of the radical neo animal rights movement. They are fundamentally opposed to what I do, and debate results in nothing. I also tire of the inability of the vast majority of these people to offer anything more than anecdotal examples and repeats of published propoganda. They are merely sheep led by the groups they support and are basically incapable if independant thought or logical reasoning.
This page is merely an information source for those who share my enjoyment and respect of nature and alert them toward the radical philosophy of the organizations asking for their support.
I reserve the right to create an additional page for the publication of any and all hate mail derived from this page, so that the true intellectual level of these people can be displayed.
So if you are a radical outspoken proponet of animal rights, feel free to send in your thoughts on the subject, or the thoughts given you by PeTA at least, it should be good for a humorous addition to the page. If I'm bored I may even respond, I have been known for the ability to weave a scathing rebuttal myself.