American Humane, fighting losses, drops Farm Animal Services; FAS to go Independent
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, March 2003:
Washington, D.C.–The fiscally troubled American Humane
Association on February 20 cut loose Farm Animal Services, which had
been the first major new program started under AHA auspices since it
began supervising the screen industry in 1940.
While Farm Animal Services may continue to certify products
from animals raised according to standards it has developed for
dairy, poultry, and egg producers, FAS vice president Gini Barrett
said, it is discontinuing the Free Farmed logo program that it
started in partnership with the AHA.
FAS has required that farm animals be able perform natural
behaviors, do not have antibiotics and hormones added to their diets
to enhance growth, receive nutritious food, and are humanely
transported and slaughtered.
“When the Free Farmed program was started, the commitment
from AHA was to fund it from startup in 2000 to projected
self-sufficiency in 2006,” Barrett explained in a press release.
“Unfortunately, after two and a half years, American Humane
decided that it could no longer make a binding long-term financial
commitment. The FAS board felt it would be unethical to continue to
promote the program and add producers with this uncertain financial
Free Farmed was a U.S. counterpart to programs created by the
Royal SPCA of Great Britain and the Royal SPCA of Australia. FAS was
begun by former AHA Washington D.C. office director Adele Douglass in
fulfillment of a pledge to the late Henry Spira, founder of Animal
Rights International and the Coalition for Non-Violent Food. Spira
died in 1998.
Seeking a new image, after more than a decade of frequent
operating losses, the AHA in January announced that it would become
simply “American Humane,” dropping use of the word “Association.”
Started in Albany, New York, in 1876 as an intended
national umbrella for U.S. humane societies, the AHA debuted by
asking Congress to prevent the extinction of the North American
bison. The AHA split into separate but parallel animal and child
protection divisions two years later.
From 1900 until 1950 the AHA operated orphanages for New York
state, and except for initiating the Red Star animal disaster relief
program in 1914, which later became Emergency Animal Services, the
most prominent AHA campaigns were child-oriented. Of particular note
was “Wear White At Night,” a poster campaign that brought a lasting
drop in the numbers of children–and adults–who were killed by cars
while walking after dark.
Relocating to Denver in 1956, the AHA for the next 40 years
fought a losing battle against the Humane Society of the U.S.,
founded in 1954, for primacy of influence within the animal
The initial distinction between them was chiefly that under
the influence of the child protection division, the AHA favored the
use of shelter animals in biomedical research; HSUS did not. The
AHA also lagged behind HSUS in opposing hunting and wearing fur. By
the early 1980s, however, their policies on most issues were
virtually identical, as were their shelter accreditation standards.
When economic stress obliged the AHA to halt shelter
accreditation in 1992, the HSUS shelter accreditation program
metamorphized into a consulting program.
HSUS pressed its advantage in 1993 by starting the HSUS Expo
to compete with the AHA Training Conference, then the biggest of the
annual humane conferences. HSUS also started a disaster relief
program parallel to the AHA program, which had already gained
competition from United Animal Nations.
[Terri Crisp, founder of the UAN disaster relief team,
left UAN in November 2001, and in March 2002 formed her own disaster
relief group, Noah’s Wish, at P.O. Box 997, Placerville, Ca
95667; 530-622-9313; <firstname.lastname@example.org>.] AHA countered by pushing “The Link,” a campaign to make
animal and child protection professionals aware of the frequent
association of animal abuse with child abuse. The campaign was
eminently successful, yet was eclipsed in public recognition by an
HSUS campaign promoting awareness of how often animal abusers go on
to commit violent crimes against people of all ages.
During the brief tenure of Ed Sayres as director of the
animal protection division, 1995-1997, the AHA co-hosted the 1996
No-Kill Conference, but missed the chance to share the momentum of
the no-kill movement when a traditionalist faction forced Sayres out.
Sayres subsequently headed PETsMART Charities for a year and has been
president of the San Francisco SPCA since January 1999.
The 1999 No-Kill Conference and AHA Training Conference were
held back-to-back in Chicago and Minneapolis. The No-Kill
Conference, by then a project of the North Shore Animal League
America, drew the 500-plus participants that the AHA conference drew
at peak. The AHA conference drew half as many–barely more than the
1996 No-Kill Conference had.
The strengths of the AHA in the 1990s, amid frequent rumors
of internal splits and mergers with other groups that never occurred,
were the Hollywood office, which under Barrett 1997-2001 became
larger and more active than the rest of the animal protection
division, and the Washington D.C. office, which under Douglass took
leading roles in passing the 1990 Pet Theft Act and the 1994 Horse
HSUS recently added a Hollywood office by absorbing the Ark
Trust and the Genesis Awards program it coordinated.