New Jersey residents had more than their Thanksgiving turkey to think about last week, when HumaneWatch.org aired a sixty-second radio ad attacking the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) for deceptive fundraising practices.
The ad accuses the HSUS of donating less than one percent of its vast revenues to animal shelters, “parking” millions of dollars of donated funds in off-shore accounts, funding million-dollar executive pension plans, attacking New Jersey farmers and “preying on good will.”
HumaneWatch.org ran the spot in response to an HSUS campaign urging New Jersey Governor Chris Christie not to veto an animal rights bill passed by the state legislature. The bill prohibited the use of individual maternity pens, sometimes called gestation crates, to house pregnant pigs. Some farmers use the narrow pens to prevent injury to gestating pigs, and to enable close monitoring of each animal’s health, food and water intake.
Defying the HSUS, Christie vetoed the bill on December 1. According to the Des Moines Register, the legislation would have had “little or no impact” on New Jersey, where the pens are seldom used by the roughly 300 pork producers operating there. However, gestation pens are still widely used in Iowa, the nation’s largest pork producing state and the first stop for aspiring candidates in the 2016 presidential campaign.
An online news outlet, NJ.com, is reporting that the bill’s sponsors will attempt to override the Governor’s veto in 2015. A similar effort failed in 2013.
AGC Executive Director Gary Guccione said the HSUS initiative in New Jersey was about politics, not animal welfare. “Why would HSUS target New Jersey–a state that has very few pork producers–instead of Iowa, where there are thousands of pig farmers? Because it’s not really about animal welfare at all. It’s about chalking up an easy win to make your political scorecard look better.”
Guccione said animal rights groups have used the same tactic on greyhound racing. “Most of the states that have ‘banned’ greyhound racing didn’t have active racing in the first place,” he said. “That made them ripe targets for activists looking for an easy victory.”