Please help ANIMAL PEOPLE to keep the humane cause on message!
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, October 2008:
(Actual publication date 11-5-08.)
What if the U.S. humane community had not made the catastrophic mistakes that it did in response to the Great Depression and the recessions that followed each of the major mid-20th century wars?
What if a strong independent voice had helped humane leadership to cope with financial crunches with a combination of practical help and reminders of the importance of remaining focused on mission?
What if humane work had continued to emphasize outreach, advocacy, prosecuting cruelty, and education, at a time when humane education was forthrightly presented as moral education, when state wildlife agencies were not yet dependent upon funding from the sale of hunting licenses, and when Americans consumed less than half as much meat per capita as today?
We cannot know what might have happened, but we can certainly contemplate the possibilities.
There was a monthly periodical in that era, The National Humane Review, published by the American Humane Association, which did much during those hard times to assist and encourage humane work, especially abroad.
Impressive humane societies were established in China, the Philippines, the Caribbean region, and in parts of Africa. Most of these bold starts were swept away by World War II. Their momentum was lost.
Unfortunately, because The National Humane Review was linked to the positions and policies of what was then the only U.S. national animal advocacy organization, it rarely hosted debate over contentious issues, and had no corrective influence when mainstream humane societies turned in the wrong direction.
Often The National Humane Review led in the wrong direction, as when it repeatedly denounced dog and cat sterilization as vivisection, even though the AHA did not oppose animal use in experiments.
Eventually, in 1954, frustrated National Humane Review editor Fred Myer broke with the AHA to form the Humane Society of the United States.
Myer introduced an epoch of growth through division. The 240 U.S. humane societies then active became 700 by 1970, 3,500 by 1990, and more than 6,500 today.
Yet the humane community still had no independent voice, taking new ideas into every shelter, monitoring the accountability of the richest organizations, encouraging the smallest to become more successful, introducing the leaders in the various sub-sectors of animal advocacy and rescue to each other, and re-extending outreach worldwide.
There was still no periodical not beholden to any particular group or funder to stand up, like Henry Bergh in his top hat, and point beyond the closest horizons toward the consequences of wrong turns and the possibilities of going a different way. Many attempts were made to try to start such a periodical, but none survived and succeeded until ANIMAL PEOPLE emerged in 1992.
Our very first editions challenged the old dogma of Why we must euthanize with the case for neuter/return, presenting the data from our own successful 320-cat test of the method. But even as ANIMAL PEOPLE urged the conventional humane community to move away from old excuses for high-volume killing, we also urged no-kill shelters to become more realistic and effective in demonstrating high-quality animal care and developing fundraising and volunteer programs adequate to do the work they took on.
We challenged animal rights advocates to more effectively connect with mainstream citizens, and encouraged mainstream animal care organizations to remember the moral imperative of advocating for animals.
We put the importance of preparing for disaster on page one of our first edition and emphasized the value of disaster response as an opportunity to educate the public about how humane workers respond to the equivalent of a major disaster every day, even at the best of times.
The need for ANIMAL PEOPLE has only increased with the recent global growth of the humane community. There are now close to 10,000 humane organizations on our mailing list, worldwide. We ask those that can afford to pay for a subscription to do so; but we try to avoid ever putting an animal rescuer in the position of having to choose between subscribing and saving an animal. With the help of our far-sighted and generous donors, who understand the importance of our role in keeping the humane cause informed and focused, we send complimentary subscriptions to every humane society everywhere, as often as we can afford to do so.
ANIMAL PEOPLE is the first and widest-reaching defense the humane community has against repeating the mistakes of the past. But we lost nothing in the recent money market collapses because we had nothing in reserve to lose. Everything we have ever received has gone right back out in fulfilling our mission.
Lately we have not been able to mail all of the complimentary foreign subscriptions. A 35% increase in postage and printing costs hit us just before the economic downturn brought plummeting donations. As many readers as ever have donated, but have donated smaller amounts.
We understand why. We sympathize. But we plead for ANIMAL PEOPLE to be made a higher priority in the coming months. There are still animal charities that would build marble edifices instead of extending outreach, and those who compromise ethical principle to raise a few more dollars, like the humane society that was promoting a rodeo fundraiser a few weeks ago, until ANIMAL PEOPLE asked the people responsible if they wanted to read all about it right here.
Please help ANIMAL PEOPLE to help keep the cause on message. Our role is never more needed than when times are toughest.