Saturday, January 12, 2013
Americans have always had a love affair with pets. Stories about pets are common subjects for “human interest” pieces in news publications. We read about dogs who save human lives and the lives of their canine companions. We read stories about long-lived dogs, talented dogs and ugly dogs. We read about dogs who are so faithful to their owners that they remain steadfast at their gravesite.
Then there was the story just this week about the cat in Florida who spent nearly two months walking home after being lost from the owner’s motor vehicle almost 200 miles from home. 2
We also often read stories about animal cruelty and abuse. Tales of “hoarding” and “puppy mills” grab the interest and sell news. These stories serve to solicit contributions by the organizations who are the self-appointed saviors of abused animals. This is mostly a black-and-white issue, or so it might appear on the surface. Animal abusers need to be stopped and they need to be punished, while animal saviors desperately need our financial support. A no-brainer, right?
Well, maybe things aren’t quite as black-and-white as they might seem. Some “abusers” have themselves been affected by financial ruin, a sudden turn in their health, loss of job or home, or even a death in the family. All these factors can affect the ability to care properly for their pets. Even if the accused abuser is completely broke, or physically or mentally disabled, the reports of abuse are completely lacking in sympathy for the person down on his or her luck. Oftentimes, rabid followers publicly call for a lynching of purported “abusers”. If we were talking about children in these households instead of animals, there would be assistance available. Instead, we deliver only scorn.
Pet “rescue” on the other hand, has become the trendy activity. “My pet was rescued” Jane announces proudly. Her friends and relatives congratulate her for her largesse. Win-win, she gets to enjoy a companion and get a boost to her self-esteem at the same time. Proclaiming that you just BOUGHT a new puppy or kitten does not produce the same warm public accolades. On the contrary, you may be derided with jeers about supporting evil breeders, causing shelter deaths and contributing to pet overpopulation (all of these silly notions have been thoroughly debunked here in the past).
And never mind the fact that you do BUY pets from rescues. They aren’t giving them away, folks!
Then, oddly enough, we sometimes also have cases of saviors-turned-abusers. There are also plenty of news stories recounting tales of animal “rescues” where the care has gone sour, and the animals have to be rescued from the rescuer. Generally, what happens in such cases is that a rescue entity becomes overloaded with more animals than it has the resources to care for. Now, the very group that we trusted to “rescue” has suddenly become the “hoarder”. How can that be? How can a hero one day become a villain the next?
“Hoarder”, “abuser”, and “puppy mill” are all pejorative slurs that are thrown about handily in the popular news media. Similarly brainless terms like “rescue” and “shelter” are thrown about in a self-congratulatory, feel-good manner, when in actuality they are meaningless and do not necessarily reflect any actual beneficence on the part of the person or group being described. Such stereotypical monikers do not often reflect reality, and that is a major reason why we should refrain from using them.
Americans donate to various animal charities by hand over fist each year. The ASPCA rakes in $144 million per year, with net assets of $188 million, while the HSUS receives about $177 million each year. 3
This is mostly accomplished through donations from a generous, pet-loving public who are urged by these self-appointed saviors to please donate a certain monthly amount. Say around $19 a month? Just a suggestion, since hey, you really want to help poor suffering animals. “Look at these horrific pictures and please open your wallet!!!” And people do, by the hundreds of millions of dollars each and every year.
In February, 2012, a cat “rescue” called Caboodle Cat Ranch Sanctuary near Tallahassee, Florida was raided. The rescuer had hundred of cats on the premises. Animal rights operatives spent many months gathering up “evidence” in the form of photographs taken of sick animals that were being housed on the premises. The cats were removed from the rescue and remanded to the care of the local law enforcement agency. ASPCA immediately stepped in and sent literally HUNDREDS of people in to care for the cats.4
The ASPCA subsequently asked for $1.8 million dollars in reimbursement for care of
these “rescued” cats. From their website:
“In a letter to the judge, Director Tim Rickey of the ASPCA details how $1.2 million [as of June 22] has been spent on care for Caboodle Ranch cats. In addition to medical care and basic necessities, the cats are receiving behavioral enrichment to “remedy the effects of the severe neglect and lack of socialization they experienced during their time at Caboodle Ranch.”
Problem is, the itemized list of expenses was released to the public, and very little of those expenses were related to actual care of the cats. Most of it was for airfare, hotels and meals for the humans involved. The expense statement the ASPCA turned in was simply outrageous! Listing “plumbing”, “carpet cleaning”, “chocolates for the ladies”, “lunch at Panera’s for 100+” (totaling over 1200.00), resort hotels, $400 thousand in airfares and rental cars and the list of vacation expenses goes on and on. $1000 for snacks in a two-day period. One person even submitted the charge to replace her cell phone battery. What gall! Very little was listed in the way of actual veterinary expenses. 5
On the other hand, the owner of Caboodle cat ranch claimed to be able to produce over $90,000 in veterinary bills for the cats, that he personally had paid when the cats were in his possession. Hmmm. Which “rescue” was truly legit here? The jury seems to be still out on that.
Knowing the manipulative history of animal rights fanatics, I am very skeptical about the Caboodle Cat Ranch Rescue. If you’d like to read more information about the case, check this post on YesBiscuit (and please do read the comments):
So just how reliable is the ASPCA.....really?
Recently, the ASPCA agreed to pay Feld Entertainment a whopping $9.3 million settlement in a suit brought against them under the federal Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. Seems they manufactured evidence. Are they admitting guilt? It certainly seems so. 6
Well, now we know how the ASPCA will use your $19 per month automatic payments; they will be sending them to the Ringling Brothers circus, even though they originally conspired to bring the circus down. Poetic justice! At least THOSE donations will actually to go care for some animals. Good deal.
The request for the $1.8 million dollars expenses reimbursement was denied. Here is the trial court ruling:
“The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, hereafter referred to as ‘ASPCA’ did NOT have an agency relationship...”
Perhaps the courts are waking up to the blatant abuses of groups who, despite their self-proclaimed sainthood status, are not necessarily the do-gooders one would expect based on their names.