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A Race to the Bottom

Right now the Humane Society of the United States' international division, HSI, is in what could be described as a "race to the bottom" with the RSPCA in Australia. As documented on the HumaneMyth website, "Humane Choice," the animal products labeling scheme launched by HSI in Australia in 2006, is every bit as misleading as the one developed by the RSPCA.


The exaggerated claims made by both programs are practically indistinguishable. HSI’s initial press release stated: "The Humane Choice label will denote the animal has had the best life and death offered to any farm animal. They basically live their lives as they would have done on Old McDonald's farm, being allowed to satisfy their behavioural needs, to forage and move untethered and uncaged, with free access to outside areas, shade when it's hot, shelter when it's cold, with a good diet and a humane death."

When organizations claiming to work for animal protection revive the myth of "Old McDonald’s farm," and as a consequence, reap positive PR, new members, and even direct financial rewards from the animal exploiting industry, it is a sure sign that something has gone terribly wrong.

A 2012 article in The Sydney Morning Herald titled "Consumers Duped by RSPCA, Farmers Claim," has animal users associated with the "Humane Choice" labeling scheme bashing the RSPCA and its industry partners. Now these large animal "protection" organizations are not only competing with each other for donor money, but they have descended to an even lower level, fighting over the financial and PR benefits available to those willing to sell off the animals' interests to the highest bidder. 

In their zeal to close the sale, organizations collaborating with the industry end up making a mockery of the truth, and along the way, objectifying animals in ways just as extreme as the industry itself. Consider how the RSPCA in the UK now characterizes the animals used and killed to fuel their "Freedom Food" labeling scheme, with one RSPCA-approved meat company boasting of its "spoilt pigs," their lives presumably so fine and happy they can be described as overindulged.

Spoilt Pig

As in Australia, true animal advocates now have the thankless task of exposing the lies being propagated by morally bankrupt advocacy organizations that are willfully misleading the public.

Hillside Sanctuary and its founder, Wendy Valentine, who is also one of HumaneMyth's original contributors, have carried out numerous investigations of RSPCA fraudery in the UK. Hillside's work (see here and here, for just two examples) demonstrates once again the terrible price paid by the animals when the public is sent the message that exploitation can be "fixed" or made just if it is only carried out in the "right way." 

Here in the US, The Humane Society of the United States has taken its own plunge into moral bankruptcy by inviting the industry right into the organization's decision-making hub. John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, one of the largest meat retailers in America, now sits on the HSUS Board of Directors. This is surely one of the most egregious examples of conflict of interest on the part of a US advocacy organization, as demonstrated in this video investigative report by HumaneMyth, Happy Meatopia.

Happy Meatopia

And if there is any doubt about how far off the rails HSUS has gone, the organization hired a vice-president, Joe Maxwell, who, with his industry partners, profits from the slaughter of upwards of 50,000 pigs each year, sold through HSUS Board member John Mackey's Whole Foods enterprise.


Check out HumaneMyth's exposé of HSUS's elaborate collaboration with and enrichment of animal exploiters, at 50thousandpigs.org


Free Range Fraud

An Open Letter to Animal Advocates

from James LaVeck and Jenny Stein, site hosts for HumaneMyth, co-founders of Tribe of Heart, and filmmakers of the documentaries Peaceable Kingdom: The Journey Home and The Witness

August, 2013

Right now in Australia, a small organization called Animal Liberation Victoria is struggling to expose an injustice so ugly that many mainstream media outlets have been hesitant to get involved (Learn more at FreeRangeFraud.com). There, as here in the US, the injustice is not only enabled, but directly fueled, by some of the country's wealthiest, best known animal advocacy organizations. As these corporatized charities have found a way to increase their bottom lines by forming elaborate collaborative partnerships with the animal exploiters themselves, they have steadily lost their moral compass. Increasingly, members of the public and the media are unable to distinguish between the interests and goals of those in the meat industry and those of organizations that present themselves as the standard bearers of animal protection.

RSPCA sealIn this case, Australia's Royal Society for the Protection of Animals (RSPCA) is getting paid by the animal exploiting industry for accrediting as "humane" facilities that are used to breed, control, and kill vast numbers of animals. The packaged body parts that come out of these "bred free-range" facilities bear a special RSPCA label — its "Paw of Approval" — and thereby command a premium price. And, incredibly, out of the profits of each package of animal remains that are sold, the RSPCA receives a cash royalty.

RSPCA approved meatJust take a moment to think about what this means. A major animal "protection" organization has gone into business with those who use and kill the very beings this organization claims to protect. By accepting a financial benefit from the death of every individual whose body parts now bear its "Paw of Approval," the RSPCA has essentially sold its moral authority to the highest bidder. Now engaged in an extreme level of conflict of interest, the organization has fatally undermined its own ability to tell the truth about what actually happens to these animals — because telling the whole truth about the activities of its industry partners would entail discrediting itself.

The message aggressively communicated to the public by the RSPCA and its industry partners is that individuals being used and killed on these officially-certified “right-kind” of farms enjoy an existence not so different from that of a beloved animal companion — that they cavort in fresh air and sunshine, lay in clean bedding, eat quality food, receive medical attention when needed, and in general, live a carefree existence. For those familiar with animal advocacy, it’s easy to see how the language and imagery associated with animal sanctuaries is being appropriated to create the illusion that using and killing animals the "right way" is a form of true kindness.

ALV expose videoOne of HumaneMyth's founding contributors, Patty Mark, and her investigative team at Animal Liberation Victoria (ALV), took it upon themselves to document the reality behind the slick publicity campaigns being put out jointly by the RSPCA and the industry. They visited RSPCA-certified facilities 16 times over the course of the last 14 months. The undercover photos and video footage that ALV collected are horrifically disturbing, and provide a compelling portrait of what appears to be, in our opinion, a massive fraud being perpetrated on the public by the RSPCA. ALV’s documentation captures the true ugliness of systematic exploitation—the overwhelming filth, the untended injuries and illnesses, the animals in pain and distress, the corpses of neglected animals lying about like uncollected refuse.

Shmuel RescueIn addition to shattering the illusion that the RSPCA and its meat industry partners have been manufacturing of Old MacDonald's bucolic farm, Patty and her team, as they always do, rescued some of the most desperately suffering animals they encountered in these facilities, individuals who without immediate intervention would soon perish. One of those they rescued during this investigation was an adolescent pig named Shmuel. He was so weak when first discovered that he was thought to be dead. The photos of his emaciated body hauntingly conjure the worse cruelties humans carry out on each other. Poor Shmuel, hovering so close to death, eagerly accepted the love and compassionate care he received during his last few days on this earth. He died in a state of dignity, liberated from the system that treated him as less than a nobody, as a discarded bit of nothing. His story asks us to contemplate what it is about us humans that leads us to believe that the systematic enslavement of others is a “necessary evil,” or that such pernicious injustices can somehow be made "nice" or "humane."

Those who run the RSPCA should place a photo of Shmuel on their desks and take a good hard look into his eyes whenever they deposit industry money into their organization’s bank account. It doesn't really matter how much it is. Is taking a dime any better or worse than taking a million dollars to cover up what happened to Shmuel, and every other animal whose very life is stolen for the sake of profit?

Animal Liberation Victoria is fighting to get this ground-breaking investigation in front of enough people to make a difference. It is going to take an international effort to make this happen. Patty and her team have already done the hard work of collecting the evidence. Now, all they ask is that concerned individuals help by doing two things:

  1. Sign ALV's PETITION demanding that the RSPCA "get out of business with animal abusers."
  2. Share ALV's INVESTIGATIVE VIDEO and FREE RANGE FRAUD WEBSITE with as many people in as many countries as possible.

ALV is a small grassroots group taking on a much larger organization that has access not just to their own vast resources but also to those of their wealthy meat industry partners. International support can play a key role in throwing a spotlight on this injustice, and in debunking the toxic myth of "humane" exploitation.

When we signed the petition, we did it for Shmuel, and in faith that his life, and every life, means something more than money. We hope you will join us.

Pigs at RSPCA approved farm

Investigative Photography and Video by Animal Liberation Victoria: FreeRangeFraud.com

ALV Press Release - Aug. 28, 2013

MELBOURNE - Animal Liberation Victoria (ALV) has spent the past 14 months carrying out 16 undercover investigations inside RSPCA Approved piggeries throughout Victoria. A total of 18 pigs were rescued. Their injuries and illnesses included pneumonia, broken legs, cerebral palsy, testicular hernias, scoliosis, open necrotic wounds, and septic arthritis. Decomposing bodies were regularly discovered rotting in sheds and pigs were filmed cannibalising each other.

The investigation has clearly demonstrated that the RSPCA 'Paw of Approval' is a fraud that is duping consumers and allowing the RSPCA to profit from animal suffering.

ALV's open rescue teams routinely found pigs living knee deep and sometimes chest deep in their own excrement, pigs forced to sleep in a sludge of their own faeces/urine, and decaying bodies left to rot in the sheds or scattered around the property. Some 'eco shelters' were overrun with rats as big as possums and pigs were filmed cannibalising each other. Mother sows were filmed outdoors wading through a slurry of their own waste to reach a filthy water trough, their only shelter a dilapidated pile of rotting hay bales covered with a tarp.

The RSPCA self regulates their national Paw of Approval endorsement scheme which allows chosen producers the right to label their animal products with the RSPCA's Paw of Approval symbol. The RSPCA receives royalties from each product sold. There is no transparency from the RSPCA in regards to allowing consumers to inspect their 'higher welfare' piggeries. They refuse to even disclose where their 'approved' piggeries are located.

ALV's investigation clearly shows that the RSPCA is failing all the animals involved, as well as deceiving the public who are willing to pay a premium price for what they believe to be 'higher welfare' animal products.

ALV has lodged a complaint with the ACCC regarding the RSPCA's misleading and deceptive advertising and marketing communications to the public.

The RSPCA Australia's website states: "The RSPCA Paw of Approval is only found on products that come from animals that are part of the RSPCA Approved Farming Scheme. If you see the RSPCA logo on a carton of eggs, packet of pork, chicken or turkey, you can be assured that animals involved in the production of these products were raised under high animal welfare standards." ALV have submitted video evidence to the ACCC to show that this is clearly not the case. ALV's complaint is currently being investigated by the ACCC.

Patty Mark, Founder of ALV said today, "You can't trust the RSPCA, they are profiting from animal suffering, deceiving consumers and betraying the very creatures they are duty bound to protect. It is time for the RSPCA to be stripped of their cruelty prosecution powers. It is a farce that we turn to them to help abused animals when they have a vested financial interest in allowing the abuse to continue."

Further information at FreeRangeFraud.com

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