HSUS UNDER ATTACK FOR FINANCIAL MISMANAGEMENT

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is under attack–again–by Humanewatch.org for spending over half its annual budget on fundraising materials, including “mass-produced trinkets from China…which will supposedly bring in more money from naive and gullible donors.”

A July 16 Humanewatch blog called attention to recent HSUS fundraising mailings that contained cheap plastic calculators, notepads and pens, and tote bags. Humanewatch.org is a consumer advocacy website that monitors HSUS activities and reports on the organization’s finances and programs.

More significantly, the blog noted that the “cheap and gaudy knicknacks” aren’t the only examples of HSUS financial mismanagement. According to the column, “HSUS has over $50 million stowed away in offshore Caribbean accounts, and pays annual salaries in excess of $100,000 to around 50 staff members. Only 1 percent of the HSUS budget is given to pet shelters.” The HSUS budget was $132 million in 2016.

The July 16 blog built on a December 17 post in which Humanewatch analyzed HSUS’ 2016 tax returns to determine where the organization is spending its millions. The returns showed that HSUS spent $69 million–more than half of its budget–on fundraising, $4.25 million on lobbying, and $2.9 million in compensation for 13 executives.

“You’d think HSUS could find better uses for the thousands of dollars it wastes on cheap fundraising give-aways,” said AGC Communications Coordinator Jim Gartland. “Most of us can get by without a one-buck plastic calculator or tote bag. I’m sure a lot of pet shelters and greyhound adoption groups could put those dollars to much more productive use to benefit the animals HSUS claims to care about.”

AGC ANNOUNCES CHANGES TO ADOPTION GRANT PROGRAM

In response to the loss of one of its major funding sources, the American Greyhound Council (AGC) has made several changes to its long-standing adoption grant program in order to stretch limited resources to benefit more groups.

Previously, all grants were for a standard amount ($1,250). Under the new program, grant amounts will vary depending on the organization’s needs, the number of greyhounds served and other factors.

In addition, prize funds previously allocated to the discontinued GAPY Award program have been transferred to the adoption grant budget to increase the total amount of funds available to other organizations.

NGA ADOPTS TOUGH POLICY ON INTERNATIONAL GREYHOUND EXPORTS

The Board of Directors of the National Greyhound Association (NGA) has adopted a policy defining as “unacceptable” the export of greyhounds to jurisdictions where animal welfare standards cannot be verified, and authorizing enforcement of the full range of NGA sanctions against individuals who violate the policy. The full text of the policy, which was adopted at the NGA Spring Meet last week, is as follows:

Policy Regarding International Sales or Export of Greyhounds from North America

The NGA is aware that certain jurisdictions in the world are finding it increasingly difficult to obtain greyhounds for racing or breeding purposes. Some of these jurisdictions have animal welfare standards which are unverified. Unconfirmed reports suggest that greyhounds exported to these countries are denied basic welfare rights. While the NGA recognizes that it is not illegal to export greyhounds to such locations it strongly recommends that exports are only made to countries with recognized welfare standards, structured around strong legislation.

The care and well being of greyhounds is at the core of NGA’s conviction to provide robust regulation for licensed greyhound racing and ensuring the highest standards of care for all greyhounds that fall within its responsibility. Involvement in the export of greyhounds to jurisdictions where welfare standards cannot be verified is not acceptable and the NGA will employ the full powers available to it to prohibit individuals from deliberately undermining the good reputation of licensed greyhound racing in the North America.

Information relating to the sale, advertisement, or social media requests offering to purchase or acquire greyhounds in unusual circumstances should be passed on to the NGA.

HSUS LOSES CHARITY STATUS WITH MAJOR WATCHDOG GROUPS

In the wake of a sexual harassment scandal that drove CEO Wayne Pacelle out of the top job at Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), the group has now lost its accreditation as a charity from several of the nation’s leading charity rating groups, including the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and Charity Navigator.

Humanewatch.org is reporting that the BBB’s charity oversight arm, the Wise Giving Alliance (WGA), has revoked HSUS’ charity status, and Charity Navigator has downgraded its rating to 2 out of 4 stars, with a 1 for poor financial management at the animal rights organization. The news was also reported by several agriculture groups, including Michigan Farm News, Drovers Online, Dairy Herd Management, and Protect the Harvest.

Another oversight group, Animal Charity Evaluators, rescinded its recommendation of HSUS, saying that “ethical leadership and a healthy work environment are critical components of an effective charity.”

Since news of the sexual harassment scandal broke in January, HSUS has struggled to regain its footing. A March 23 story in the Washington Post reported that sexual harassment allegations are not new to HSUS. The woman who succeeded Pacelle as CEO, Kitty Block, was a young lawyer at HSUS twenty-three years ago, when she and a colleague sued her boss, David Wills, then the organization’s Vice President for Investigations, for sexual harassment. Wills was fired as a result of the complaints.

The Post story also reported that some of HSUS’ six-figure donors are outraged that HSUS funds have been used to pay legal settlements related to sexual harassment claims.   At least one of those donors, according to the report, is encouraging others to withhold financial support “until a full internal investigation has been completed and all current board members resign except those who voted to remove Pacelle.”

 

 

NGA TO ADDRESS INTERNATIONAL GREYHOUND SALES

The National Greyhound Association (NGA) and the American Greyhound Council (AGC) today issued a brief statement regarding the matter of international greyhound sales. The text of the statement follows:

Concerned members of the greyhound racing community have notified the National Greyhound Association (NGA) that several racing greyhounds from the United States have been sold to Chinese interests for breeding purposes. While this activity is not illegal and there are no current restrictions against the practice, we are in the process of gathering more information about these transactions.

Later this month, the Board of the NGA will be reviewing its policies with regard to international sales and breeding of registered U.S. greyhounds at its semi-annual board meeting. The board will explore various policy options for addressing the matter, and discuss possible changes or additions to NGA by-laws at that time.

 

 

PACELLE RESIGNS AMID SEXUAL MISCONDUCT ALLEGATIONS

The fallout continues in the wake of HSUS CEO Wayne Pacelle’s February 2 resignation amid allegations that he engaged in sexual misconduct with at least three former employees, and had allegedly failed to take action against other senior HSUS staff accused of similar inappropriate behavior.

The Washington Post reported that HSUS had hired a law firm to conduct an independent investigation of the charges. The inquiry revealed that the nonprofit “offered settlements to three former employees who said they were dismissed or demoted after telling their co-workers about Pacelle’s alleged misconduct.”The investigation also found that Pacelle had been warned about his conduct by senior women within the organizatin.

According to media reports, Pacelle’s resignation came the day after the HSUS Board voted to ignore the accusations and keep him in his job, leading to what the Post described as “a revolt by major donors and a walkout threat from employees.” Several board members resigned after the vote to retain Pacelle.

While Pacelle denied all the allegations, he wrote in an email to HSUS staff that he was resigning “to put aside any distractions, in the best interests of all parties,” the Post reported. The board has named an acting CEO, attorney Kitty Block, who previously worked with the organization’s international affiliate.

There are indications that Pacelle’s resignation may not be the end of HSUS’ troubles. In a February 6 letter to the Post editor, HSUS activist and donor Gillian McPhee wrote, “…The HSUS board of directors needs a serious overhaul. The board’s job is to hold the chief executive accountable, and the board failed to do that.

“Instead, board members were apparently all too willing to overlook accusations of improper behavior, based on the calculus that Mr. Pacelle was too valuable to the organization’s mission and fundraising.” The letter concludes, “The tone at any organization starts at the top. Until the HSUS board can show it understands that, the future of HSUS remains at risk.”

HumaneWatch.org, a well-known HSUS watchdog group, is reporting that the scandal could affect HSUS fundraising. One of th nation’s major charity rating services, Charity Navigator, has dropped its HSUS rating from four stars to two, and to one star in the financial area.  Another, Animal Charity Evaluators (ACE), has rescinded its HSUS recommendation completely, citing the importance of “strong, ethical leadership and a healthy work environment” as critical components of an effective charity. A third charity, CharityWatch, has repeatedly given HSUS C and D grades for wasting donor money.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NGA RESPONDS TO HSUS PROPAGANDA IN KC STAR

The Kansas City Star has published NGA’s response to an HSUS attack on greyhound racing in Kansas published in the January 7 edition. The op-ed piece by HSUS legislative director Kelly Kultala opposed the re-authorization of greyhound racing in Kansas.

NGA Executive Director Jim Gartland responded that Kultala’s column was misleading and made “outlandish claims” about greyhound racing. Here’s the full text of the letter as edited by the Star and published on January 25.

Racing dogs

A Jan. 8 op-ed made several misleading references to “subsidies” for racing greyhounds. (7A, “Dog racing not the answer for Kansas’ budget”). The money allocated to purses in Kansas, as in several other states, comes from special-purpose taxes imposed on gambling dollars and specifically dedicated to racing purses.

It also makes outlandish claims as to the operation of greyhound farms and kennels. It should be obvious that greyhounds must receive the best possible care to perform at maximum potential on the track.

Greyhound breeding farms and kennels are operated at, and held to, extremely high standards. We not only have to meet state and local regulations, but we also enforce our own rigorous standards through unannounced inspections. We ban violators for life.

It cites injury numbers that are absurdly inaccurate. The fact is that injuries occur in less than one-half of 1 percent of all racing starts nationwide, and the majority are minor enough to allow the greyhounds to return to racing in a matter of weeks.

Even when an injury prevents a return to racing, the greyhounds can transition seamlessly to life as a pampered family pet. In fact, more than 95 percent of all racing greyhounds are either placed in adoptive homes or returned to their owners as pets when they retire.

Studies show that reopening Kansas racing facilities would generate some 4,000 jobs, about $200 million in annual wages and $23 million in annual state and local revenue while piping much-needed money to ranchers, farmers, horse and dog breeders and the services they use and employ. It is a win-win situation for Kansas.

Our legislators should not let extreme animal-rights propaganda get in the way of bringing these huge benefits to the people of our state.

James Gartland

Executive Director

National Greyhound Association

Abilene, Kan.

 

 

NGA CALLS FOR SENSIBLE, FAIR GREYHOUND DRUG TESTING POLICY

The National Greyhound Association (NGA) is calling on the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR), Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering, to work with the greyhound racing industry to promulgate and publish “a sensible, veterinary-based drug testing regimen that protects greyhound health, ensures the integrity of the sport, and provides a fair basis for consistent compliance and enforcement.”

The call comes in response to a December 22 ruling by Administrative Law Judge Lawrence P. Stevenson, who found that state regulators acted illegally earlier this year when they suspended the licenses of two greyhound trainers after the dogs tested positive for traces of a cocaine metabolite. The trainers petitioned the state to invalidate the suspensions, in part because the testing was based on procedures the DPBR was ordered to discontinue in 2015.

The judge found that the positive tests were the result of improper urine sampling procedures that were never officially adopted as state law. The state’s failure to officially promulgate and publish the drug-testing rules effectively invalidates any pending enforcement actions.

Attorney Jennifer Rosenblum, who represented the suspended trainers, said Judge Stevenson has yet to rule on another issue raised in the petition, the contention that the state has failed to establish and publish sensible threshold levels for the substances showing up in trace amounts. A ruling on that count is expected in January.

“Class I violations are being reported for incredibly low trace levels of environmental contaminants that can easily be transferred to greyhounds from the people and objects around them,” Rosenblum said. “Because the Department has never adopted or published acceptable thresholds for any substances, even the tiniest trace amounts are being treated as major violations. That’s not responsible regulation, and it defies common sense.”

NGA Executive Director James Gartland said his organization welcomed the judge’s ruling, and is eager to work constructively with Florida regulators to develop a more responsible drug-testing policy based on sound veterinary science.

“Humans and animals, including greyhounds, can easily pick up trace amounts of cocaine and other drugs from their environment,” Gartland said. “The state should consult with veterinary experts to develop sensible policies that distinguish between trace amounts resulting from environmental contaminants and higher amounts that suggest intentional doping to affect greyhound performance.”

Gartland concluded, “What we have now is a sloppy, careless mess of unadopted, unpublished and inconsistent procedures that produce unfair results. That’s why the judge ruled as he did. Now we have an opportunity to create a much better policy that is fair, professional and based on common-sense standards. The NGA strongly supports that kind of regulatory approach.”

AGC RESCINDS ONE OF TWO GAPY AWARDS

In light of new information received since the announcement of the 2017 Greyhound Adoption Program of the Year (GAPY) honors last week, the AGC Board of Directors has voted to rescind the award given to the Atlanta, Georgia group. The other GAPY award winner, Maritime Greyhound Adoption Program of New Brunswick, Canada, is not affected by the action.

GREY2K DRUG REPORT MERITS “NO CONFIDENCE,” AGC SAYS

AGC Communications Coordinator Jim Gartland said today that Grey2K’s most recent attack on greyhound racing should be taken “with a grain of salt.”  He made the comment in a statement responding to the Grey2K document, “No Confidence: Drugs in the American Greyhound Industry,” published yesterday. Here is the complete text of the AGC statement:

The pseudo-report released today by Grey2K, “No Confidence,” is aptly named, since the public should have no confidence in the data or conclusions expressed in it. As usual, Grey2K has manufactured an issue where there is none.

It is noteworthy that Grey2K could point to only 847 positive drug tests over a ten-year period. To put that number in context, out of more than 6,000,000 racing starts in the past ten years, a total of 847 greyhounds tested positive for drugs. That’s a .0001percent rate of positive tests–less than a ten-thousandth of one percent.

Grey2K hypes the significance of the 71 positive cocaine tests, but when examined against those 6,000,000 racing starts over ten years, that incidence rate is even lower–it’s .00001, or less than a one-hundred thousandth of one percent.

Grey2K also deliberately failed to mention that these tests showed no major drug presence but merely traces of cocaine or cocaine metabolites, most often attributable to contact with and transfer from human handlers, just as U.S. currency contains trace amounts of cocaine left behind by the people who handle it.

The fact is that there has never been a single documented instance where a racing greyhound’s performance was found to have been measurably enhanced by the ingestion of illegal drugs. In fact, veterinarians tell us that a drug dose large enough to significantly enhance a greyhound’s performance would probably kill the dog.

The steroid issue is similarly bogus. The steroids used to control estrus and manage reproduction in female greyhounds while they are actively engaged in racing bears virtually no resemblance to the high-powered drugs used by athletes and body builders. They are administered in a very low dose under veterinary supervision, have no performance consequences and no negative side effects for the dogs.

Grey2K’s “No Confidence” report presents data without context and conclusions without evidence. It is designed for one purpose and one purpose alone–to attract media attention and raise money. The media and the public should take it with a grain of salt.