HSUS rep Samantha Mullen is sued in N.Y. for knocking no-kill

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, September 2003:

PEARL RIVER, N.Y.– Friends of Rockland
Shelter Animals Inc. on June 20 sued the Humane
Society of the United States and HSUS program
coordinator Samantha Mullen for allegedly
interfering in a business relationship by making
“false and misleading statements” in a February
19, 2003 letter to C. Scott Vanderhoef, chief
executive for Rockland County, New York.
According to the complaint, Friends of
Rockland Shelter Inc. “with the assistance of the
American SPCA, was involved in valid, existing
and ongoing negotiations” to take over the county
shelter from Hi Tor Animal Care Center, a
private contractor.

The complaint states that, “Defendant
Mullen with the knowledge and assistance of HSUS
did intervere with the citizens of the County of
Rockland receiving a ‘no-kill’ animal shelter.
Defendant Mullen with the assistance of HSUS did
publicly attempt to justify the inhumane acts of
a shelter which is know to have a high rate of
killing animals to make room for more animals to
be killed at its shelter. Despite their public
personae as a humane organization and the program
director of a humane organization, defendants
did publicly promote a ‘kill’ shelter over a ‘no
kill’ shelter to plaintiff’s and the public’s
great disadvantage.”
HSUS did not respond to a request for comment.
Signing the complaint as Friends of
Rockland Shelter Animals plaintiff was Peter
Muller, husband of Anne Muller, who has headed
the Coalition to Abolish Sport Hunting since the
August 1992 death of founder Luke Dommer. Both
Mullers are prominently involved with the
affiliated Coalition to Prevent the Destruction
of Canada Geese.
Individual defendant Samantha Mullen, in
her former capacity as executive director of the
New York State Humane Association, led the
decade-long series of raids that eventually shut
down the Animals Farm Home, at Ellenville, New
Animals Farm Home operator Justin
McCarthy, age 68 when the facility was finally
closed in 1988, was described by Newsweek in
1984 as “St. Francis of the Catskills,” and by
Reader’s Digest in 1986 as “a real-life Dr.
As the New York Times eventually
revealed, McCarthy had been convicted of six
armed robberies, and later did public relations
work for Cubans opposed to Fidel Castro.
Purporting to run a care-for-life no-kill
sanctuary, McCarthy allegedly took in more than
1,000 dogs, 70 cats, and various other animals
between 1981 and 1987, plus $500,000 in
donations–but the money vanished while most of
the animals starved.
Of approximately 475 animals Mullen and
colleagues reportedly discovered amid the remains
of perhaps 200 more at the Animals Farm Home in
November 1987, about 175 were euthanized at the
Mullen went on to raid and prosecute many
other animal hoarders who masqueraded as no-kill
shelter operators. Some had histories of
continuing to collect animals and donations
despite more than 30 years of receiving citations
for neglect.
Like PETA founder Ingrid Newkirk, who
began her career in animal work as a Washington
D.C. animal control officer, Mullen was a
protégé of longtime HSUS companion animal
program director Phyllis Wright. Wright, who
died in October 1992, may be best remembered for
the 1967 essay “Why we must euthanize,” which
was canon for shelter workers trained before the
advent of high-volume, low-cost dog and cat
sterilization, when the volume of shelter
killing was approximately eight times higher than
Also like Newkirk, Mullen still echoes
Wright’s skepticism of no-kill sheltering and
neuter/return feral cat control, though HSUS
itself has become much more accepting of both.
Ironically, the letter for which Mullen
and HSUS are being sued was markedly less caustic
than many criticisms of no-kill projects by
Newkirk, other PETA staff, the late Wright,
her successor Ken White (now heading the
Peninsula Humane Society in San Mateo,
California), and his successor Mark Paulhus (now
heading the Southern Hope Humane Society in Cobb
County, Georgia).
ANIMAL PEOPLE pointed out to Muller that
a favorable verdict for Friends of Rockland
Shelter Animals Inc. could have a chilling effect
on the ability of citizens and activist groups to
criticize shelters. Usually no-kill proponents
are the critics, not those who could claim to
have a business relationship at risk.
Replied Muller, “I’m sure the case law
will cut both ways. Since many activists are
fairly judgement-proof, this will probably help
them to go after big organizations with deep
pockets who push kill shelters.”

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