Activist Watch (Sarah Hubbart) By Sarah Hubbart
Sarah Hubbart is the communications director for the Animal Agriculture Alliance.

PETA, with suits and deodorant

(The views and opinions expressed in this blog are strictly those of the author.)

We’ve all seen the commercials. Sad music accompanied by sadder looking homeless cats and dogs and a call to donate just $19 a month to save lives.

But there’s a new advertisement that has racked up more than one million views on Youtube. It tells a far different story. (And perhaps, a far more honest story.)

Over an emotional piano medley, a narrator explains where your monthly donation to the Humane Society of the United States really goes – to lawyers battling animal agriculture, quote-on-quote “overhead costs”, and to supplement a $32 million hedge fund.

Check out the spoof for yourself here

It’s funny, because it’s true.

But it’s enough to make anyone who cares about animal welfare (and/or animal agriculture) more than a little bit riled up, especially given that a recent survey found that 90 percent of HSUS donors were unaware that it gives just 1 percent of its budget to local pet shelters.

In the new video, HSUS is described as “basically PETA, with suits and deodorant”. But groups like HSUS and PETA are strategically connected in many ways, sharing staff and financial resources.

To illustrate this, let’s look at the career path of one well-connected activist: Miyun Park.

Today, Park is the Executive Director of Global Animal Partnership, a new animal welfare certification program launched by Whole Foods. She is a former Vice President for Farm Animal Welfare for HSUS and before that worked for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine and PETA. But before THAT, she served as President of Compassion Over Killing, an extreme vegan organization based in D.C. that was founded by Paul Shapiro, who currently serves as vice President of Farm Animal Protection for HSUS. (Is your head spinning yet?)

In 2002, Park wrote in Compassion Over Killing’s newsletter:

“…please keep in mind that animals cannot liberate themselves. The only hope they've got is that enough caring people will do everything in their power to finally free them from the enslavement they've been forced to endure for far too long.”

Hmm, animal ownership equated to enslavement? Strong words. These days, Park dresses in business clothes and doesn’t picket in front of McDonald’s restaurants like she used to. She says that she now subscribes to a more mainstream approach to animal welfare, but her extreme viewpoints still come out from time to time.

In 2010, she told attendees of a book signing for the anti-meat book, Gristle:

“I don’t want to be in the position where I am treating someone else different simply because they are another species.”

It just goes to show – today’s professional activists have an extreme history that isn’t always easy to recognize. Sure, people can change. But it’s good to be aware of the ideologies that may be veiled by a nice suit and some business savvy.


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