Like many pet lovers, it’s hard for me to resist a fuzzy little kitten or puppy dog playing. I was the official kitten rescuer on our farm and saved the lives of several by bottle feeding them. Many of my childhood memories center around animals – trying to persuade the Saint Bernard to pull me on a sled, hours in the hay mow with cats and fun with calves. I also remember going to local animal shelters and feeling terrible for the animals who had no home. So I “get” the attraction to campaigns run by the Humane Society of the United States – after all, who wants to see these cute little creatures suffer?

The reality is that the Humane Society of the United States is falsely advertising to attract animal lovers’ dollars.  Many great people and organizations have unknowingly contributed because they wanted to help animals. Just this week, Yellow Tail wines announced they were contributing $100,000 to HSUS – and subsequently have found  wrath on Facebook and Twitter with hundreds asking how an agricultural company could come to such a decision.

Why? Take a look at a law school article that outlines “The Myth of the Humane Society of the United States” and illustrates how the bulk of HSUS balance was spent on fundraising, campaigns and lawsuits. “There is one minor detail left out of these commercials. The Humane Society of the United States is not a large network of animal shelters, as it would have you to believe. In fact, the HSUS does not own, operate, or lease a single animal shelter in our country.”

2008 HSUS Expenditures

Before you chalk this up to another farm person who doesn’t value animals as much as you do, consider this.  I have shed thousands of tears about my cows dying, held them in my arms while they took their last breath, gave them I.V.s with more love than most nurses show, supported baby calves who could not stand, nurtured kittens from near death, watched my 4-H animals be loaded on the trailer for slaughter and still remember the heartbreak my first cat getting run over by a UPS truck. I’ve also had my body implanted into the side of a truck by an irate show heifer (yes, I left a dent), been cornered in a box stall by a protective mother cow and had a cow flip me up over a free stall, slammed on to my back.

I “get” animals. I love animals, even when they’re rotten. I believe they should receive the best possible care and be treated with respect. However, I know animals are not human and should not be valued the same as humans.  Farm animals, as much as we may love them, serve a purpose. That purpose is to provide food for humans.  Our society, generations removed from the farm, doesn’t talk about that without getting squeamish. This makes us susceptible to falling prey to false advertising by groups such as HSUS that ARE working to end farm animal production in the States, funded by the campaigns of cats and kittens. As Mike Rowe says “I happen to believe that using emotion to manipulate voters is just plain unethical and wrong.”

In a recent article questioning the campaigns of animal rights groups such as HSUS and PETA, Rowe goes on to say “Who wouldn’t get choked up to see a mistreated animal? And look, I’m sure that some farmers use methods that are not humane.  I’m equally sure that there are many who don’t.  Just like all blondes aren’t dumb and all polish people aren’t stupid, the few bad eggs shouldn’t represent the many good ones (sorry – I just couldn’t resist saying that).   Should we put every good citizen in prison and let the prisoners run free?  Just like you can’t say that every person who owns a puppy is going to treat it like the bozo down the street that runs a puppy mill, you can’t say that all farm animals are abused and all farmers are to blame.  I don’t believe that keeping a chicken in a cage, free from bad weather or predators and feeding them well and making sure they stay healthy is a bad thing.”

Support your local animal shelter if you want to help companion animals. As this article points out, “local donations will result in aid reaching animals.” Get involved and volunteer if you love animals and are concerned with their welfare. But please know there is a substantial difference between your local humane society and the Humane Society of the United States who spends less than 5% of nearly $200 million in assets on local shelters. And, if you are concerned about what farmers are doing to animals, go to a farm (not a petting zoo) and ASK A FARMER. I’ll be glad to help you find one to visit if you’re at a loss of where to get started.

If you’re a farmer,  share some of these facts with your friends – and while you’re at it, tell them about your farm. Who knows, you might help someone understand that your cow is not their dog.