Myth: Wayne Pacelle said…

Claim: Wayne Pacelle said he doesn’t feel bonded to animals.
Claim: Wayne Pacelle said he has no problem with the extinction of domestic animals.
Claim: Wayne Pacelle said he doesn’t like animals and doesn’t think they are cute.
Status: Misleading.

Claim: Wayne Pacelle said that every responsible breeder is a puppy miller, every family farmer is factory farmer, and every responsible hunter is a poacher.
Status: False.

Mutilating a quote by selective editing is essentially lying by omission, and it’s a common tactic of opponents of animal welfare. It’s difficult to justify cruelty and extremism without relying on distortion, especially when the person you’re trying to portray as an animal-hating madman is one of the world’s foremost advocates for animal welfare.

Here’s an excerpt from Ted Kerasote’s 1994 book Bloodties: Nature, Culture and the Hunt, in which he interviews Wayne Pacelle:

“So I’ve always had an affinity for wildlife, and the direct assault made on that wildlife by hunters and trappers has always infuriated me. Even when I went out on a couple fishing operations, just when people were fishing you know, I was disgusted and so appalled by the animals suffocating in the air. I was less than ten.” “At the same time,” he says, making sure that I don’t misunderstand him, “I don’t have a hands-on fondness for animals. I did not grow up bonded to any particular nonhuman animal. I like them and I pet them and I’m kind to them, but there’s no special bond between me and other animals. The reason that I campaign on the issue of animal rights is that I intensely dislike suffering, and the fact that humans unnecessarily perpetrate suffering on animals. It’s more of an intellectual/philosophical motivation than it is a hands-on one.”

In contrast to that thoughtful exchange, Pacelle’s opponents present a tiny, misleading fragment intended to demonize him:

I don’t have a hands-on fondness for animals. I did not grow up bonded to any particular nonhuman animal.
Selective editing destroys the meaning and intent of the quote. But just to be sure, we contacted Mr. Kerasote and asked for his perspective on the issue. He replied:

Thanks for writing and being such a careful reader. My interviews with Wayne for Bloodties were conducted between January 26 and January 29, 1992. That’s now nineteen years ago when he was with The Fund For Animals. Last July 30 I spent a day with him in Washington, D.C., interviewing him for the shelter chapter of my new book Why Dogs Die Young. As the CEO of HSUS, he is a far different person from the person he was at the helm of The Fund. He has become far more accommodating to those whose beliefs differ from his — for example, his having formed alliances with those in the organic, grass-fed, and humanely raised livestock movement so as to bring about legislation that improves the lives of factory-farmed animals. In short, he is much more of a political realist these days. He also has two cats. People change.

HSUS has done some good work in reducing the suffering of farm animals. In addition, they’ve campaigned against canned hunting, which I agree with — animals should not be shot in small enclosures. HSUS also just hosted a conference on purebred dogs, its theme being how we might improve their health by reducing inbreeding. It drew geneticists, veterinarians, and animal welfarists from Sweden, the UK, Canada, and America, and opened the eyes of some in the American purebred dog world to the advances that have been made in Europe and would be a welcome addition to the North American dog scene. Another positive thing HSUS has done is to support TNR (trap/neuter/release) of feral cats.

I don’t agree with everything HSUS does — but I believe it’s become a better organization under Wayne’s stewardship.

All my best,

Ted Kerasote

Out-of-context and selectively edited quotes are a staple of the smear campaign against animal welfare. Here’s another favorite of HumaneWatch and its followers:

We have no problems with the extinction of domestic animals. One generation and out.

That’s pretty damning evidence, isn’t it? A bold confession of Wayne Pacelle’s hatred for animals and desire to see them wiped out, and proof of the HSUS agenda to eliminate animals…

In reality, this quote dates back to a 1993 agricultural forum, where an attendee asked whether heirloom breeds of cattle (outdated breeds of livestock no longer used for commercial purposes) should be protected from extinction. Pacelle explained that he did not believe we needed an endangered species act specifically for rare livestock breeds.

Now, let’s see the quote in its true context:

We have no ethical obligation to preserve the different breeds of livestock produced through selective breeding… One generation and out. We have no problems with the extinction of domestic animals. They are creations of human selective breeding.

That’s quite a different picture from the distorted image painted by HSUS opponents, don’t you think?

HumaneWatch provides another deliberately out-of-context, selectively edited, decades-old quote, this one from a 1986 article in a student newspaper:

I don’t love animals or think they’re cute.

As you might have guessed, this quote from a man who has dedicated most of his life to protecting animals from cruelty is badly distorted. Here’s the quote in context:

I don’t love animals or think they’re cute. I respect them. That is why I, along with many others, will be in the Yale forest Thanksgiving morning fighting the DEP, the hunters, and the law in an attempt to sabotage Yale’s and the DEP’s [deer] hunt. I will be speaking for those who cannot.

The statement was never a declaration of distaste for animals. It was a declaration of 20 year old Wayne Pacelle’s belief that wild animals are not “the property of narrow but powerful interest groups.”

HumaneWatch isn’t the only animal cruelty apologist who mangles the truth. Here’s another example from Frank Losey, a former lobbyist now working with the Missouri Pet Breeder Association to protect puppy mill profits:

In an E-Mail dated November 16, 2009, the President and CEO of the HSUS stated that every “responsible breeder” is a “puppy miller;” every “family farmer” is “factory farmer;” and every “responsible hunter” is a “poacher.”

But is that really what Pacelle said? When Losey produced the email, we found that Pacelle said exactly the opposite:

From: Wayne Pacelle
To: Frank Losey
Date: Mon, 16 Nov 2009 19:22:43 -0500
Subject: Your letter
Frank,

I am in receipt of your letter. I am happy to recognize breeders who make tangible steps to improve animal welfare. But simply condemning substandard breeders does not help animals. Nobody thinks they’re a substandard breeder, a puppy mill, or a factory farm. People rationalize their conduct when it comes to the mistreatment of animals. Every puppy miller is a responsible breeder, every factory farmer a family farmer, and ever poacher a responsible hunter, in terms of their self-descriptions.

Let me ask you to look inward on a matter. I know you and your allies like to say HSUS spends 3.67 percent of its annual funds on animal care. That is so demonstrably false. We spend many millions on animal care, and the plurality of our workers do animal care – our 5 permanent animal care centers; our emergency shelters for pets horses, and other animals;, our emergency response operations for animal fighting cases, hoarding operations, and other animals in distress; our rural areas veterinary operations; our humane wildlife services programs; and so much more. Stop taking the amount we donate to other groups and treating it like that’s the only spend-out on animal care. In addition to giving several million a year in grants, we do our own animal care – more than any other group in the United States. Find me one that helps more animals directly, or spends more on animal care, and you will have taught me something new.

Wayne Pacelle
President & CEO

“Every puppy miller is a responsible breeder” is not the same as “every responsible breeder is a puppy miller”, any more than “every orange is a fruit” has the same meaning as “every fruit is an orange”.

By deliberately misquoting Pacelle, Losey tries to give the impression that this was an attack on responsible farmers, breeders, and hunters, when in fact Pacelle was defending them and placing blame where it belongs: on the abusers.

Want to learn more? Read Wayne Pacelle’s commentary on out of context quotes.

Or, return to Myths and Misconceptions.