Myth: HSUS wants to outlaw all pets

Claim: The HSUS wants to outlaw ownership of all pets.
Status: False.

The Humane Society of the US is the target of many ludicrous conspiracy theories. One constellation of myths revolves around the idea that the HSUS has a radical agenda that wants to prohibit any use or ownership of animals. The myth that HSUS is anti-pet is a variation on that theme.

No such policy — stated or hidden — exists at the Humane Society of the US. Its actions are completely consistent with its principal mission: the elimination of animal cruelty wherever it exists.

Consider the following:

  • A significant portion of HSUS program dollars are spent on shelter promotion, advocacy, and adoption programs.
  • The HSUS website features numerous articles on selecting, caring for, and having fun with your pet.
  • The HSUS Outreach programs work with housing professionals to develop pet-friendly rental policies.
  • The HSUS actively promotes pets in the workplace.
  • The HSUS is a founding partner of the Shelter Pet Project, one of the largest pet adoption ad campaigns in history.
  • Many — if not most — HSUS employees have beloved pets who they are fiercely protective of.

These are not the signs of a pet-hating organization.

Misrepresentation of HSUS policies and legislative initiatives accounts for some of the confusion.

HSUS opposes private ownership of endangered species, undomesticated animals, and all reptiles. While most people agree with banning ownership of endangered species, the other two issues generate fury among reptile breeders and sellers. Although HSUS opposes ownership of reptiles, they do not oppose the ownership of all pets. You can read more about the HSUS opposition to ownership of non-domesticated animals.

The HSUS supports, or has supported in the past, a number of policies and legislative initiatives that some dog breeders have disagreed with. While HSUS opposes abusive breeding practices like those found in puppy mills and some amateur kennels, it does not oppose the ownership of pets, and it does not oppose responsible breeders. You can read more about the relationship between breeders and the HSUS.

Claim: The HSUS supports breed-specific legislation (BSL).
Status: False.

The HSUS strongly opposes breed specific legislation. From their website:

The HSUS opposes laws and ordinances aimed at forbidding or regulating dog ownership based solely on breed or type of dog. Breed-specific legislation (BSL) does not enhance public safety or reduce dog bite incidents. Rather, such laws, regulations, and ordinances are costly to enforce and harm families, dogs, and communities.

Claim: The HSUS recommends that all dogs seized from dog fighting operations be euthanized.
Status: False.

Prior to 2009, many organizations believed that dogs selectively bred for viciousness were genetically predisposed to aggression, and could not be safely rehabilitated. This was the policy in effect when the victims of Michael Vick’s dog fighting operation were rescued from abuse. However, it became increasingly apparent that this euthanasia policy was unfair to the canine victims of violence.

In 2009, Best Friends Animal Society, the Humane Society of the United States, the ASPCA, BAD RAP, the National Animal Control Association, Maddie’s Fund, the Nevada Humane Society, and the Spartanburg Humane Society met in a summit meeting to discuss the disposition of dogs seized from dog fighting operations. The outcome of this summit meeting was a landmark agreement that fighting dogs should be evaluated individually, and that dogs deemed suitable for placement should be offered to adopters.

It was a transformative moment in the care of fighting dogs which helped to define the HSUS policies in place today. That policy has been put into action in hundreds of cases, including 200 pit bulls rescued from an Ohio dog fighting ring, and the rescue of two dozen dogs from a Texas fighting operation.

But that’s something that deceptive front groups would rather not acknowledge. Instead, groups like the Center for Consumer Freedom actively encourage the false idea that HSUS currently supports the euthanasia of pit bulls in a despicable attempt to turn animal lovers against each other.

Official Policy Statement on Companion Animals
Can’t Judge a Bull by the Cover
Why Breed Specific Legislation Doesn’t Work
The Case Against Dog Breed Discrimination by Homeowners’ Insurance Companies
The HSUS Applauds Gov. Patrick for Strengthening Animal Welfare in Massachusetts

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