HSUS ‘Rescues,’ Forgets Baltimore’s Horses
Center for Consumer Freedom – December 22, 2009
The so-called “Humane Society” of the United States (HSUS) has once again proven why its name – which conjures up images of saving helpless pets – isn’t deserved. A new Baltimore Sun investigation reveals that the 19 horses HSUS and Baltimore city officials confiscated last month from "Arabbers" (street peddlers who sell produce in urban neighborhoods) have been penned up in unsanitary conditions and mostly forgotten about. Can someone tell us what’s so “humane” about that?
On November 10, Baltimore Health Department officials – with HSUS spurring them on – seized 19 healthy horses owned by these streetcart operators from their stable in southwest Baltimore. They were then moved to a rat-infested tent under a bridge shared by 51 other ponies that the city confiscated in 2007.
But Bob Wood, a Baltimore veteran of training horses for polo, grew suspicious while viewing photos of these most recently seized horses. After looking into it further, Wood couldn’t disguise his disgust when talking to the Sun:
At the time the horses were seized, the Humane Society of the United States said "many of the horses were suffering from medical ailments including parasite infestation, malnutrition and extremely overgrown hooves."
Mr. Wood says that’s an exaggeration, and that the words "parasite" and "malnutrition" appear nowhere on the citations against [horse owners] Mr. Savoy and the Chases. After reviewing the documents, Mr. Wood concluded that only two animals had serious problems. Most of the violations were innocuous, he says, or the kind of things common to stables.
Mr. Wood, who has trained horses for polo and cross-country jumping for 40 years, says the city has "moved the goal posts" on what traditionally constitutes mistreatment to shutter a stable, and horse owners everywhere should be concerned. "If [city health officials] move the standard from real neglect – malnutrition, abuse, lameness – to this kind of stuff," Mr. Wood says, "then anyone can have their horses taken from them."
HSUS has a history of making promises it can’t (or won’t) keep. In 2005, shortly after Hurricane Katrina hit, HSUS launched an aggressive fundraising appeal to save the hurricane-orphaned pets. Yet an Atlanta TV news team found that the group could account for less than $7 million of the $34 million it raised in Katrina’s name. This prompted an 18-month-long investigation by the Louisiana Attorney General.
That news report, which aired on WSB-TV in May, asked some pretty inconvenient questions about where donations to HSUS really end up. (Hint: Hardly any of the cash benefits homeless cats and dogs.)
HSUS is currently trying to raise $1 million for its "Animal Survivors Fund" by December 31, yet it didn’t see fit to use any of its $162 million in net assets (including over $49 million in cash) to provide adequate shelter for the Baltimore horses it has already displaced. (Yes, HSUS is already that rich. See page 11 of this PDF if you’re curious.)
Not all save-the-animals charities are created equal. And at least one of them has some serious explaining to do.