Replies to “Pigeon shoots ––that HSUS said it stopped––continue in Maryland,” by Steve Hindi, president, Showing Animals Respect & Kindness
From Wayne Pacelle, president & CEO, The Humane Society of the United States:
Last year, we were informed for the first time in my memory that there was a planned live pigeon shoot scheduled in Maryland. We have long believed the shoots are illegal in the state, and we worked to verify that, reaching out to Brian Frosh, a long-time friend of the organization and the Maryland Attorney General. That outreach produced the attached letter from him, affirming that these barbaric contests are illegal currently, because pigeons fall under the restrictions against hunting wild birds.
We’ve notified relevant law enforcement about the attorney general’s take on pigeon shoots, but like you, we don’t know exactly where the pigeon shooters are going. If you have solid info that we don’t possess, we’ll jump on it and reach out to law enforcement. In the weeks ahead, we’ll also be working to support the attorney general’s opinion and to attempt to reinforce that idea in the legislature.
“Vigilance, enforcement, and intelligence gathering”
There are proscriptions in all U.S. states against dogfighting or cockfighting, but that doesn’t mean that every staged fight is prevented or stopped. There are lawbreakers in the world. That’s where vigilance, enforcement, and intelligence gathering come in, along with tweaking the laws to make them even more clear and the penalties for violators stronger. The attorney general’s position is definitive and a good tool to promote enforcement, but it’s not the final word and we have to bring those legal principles to life in the state.
Live pigeon shoots are disgraceful and sick, and that’s always been our position. We are committed to ending pigeon shoots everywhere. We’ve notified relevant law enforcement [about the Henderson shoot]. And we have additional plans to root out pigeon shoots.
ANIMALS 24-7 notes:
While HSUS president Wayne Pacelle affirms hereby that the organization became aware in 2017 that pigeon shoots might be held in Maryland, he fails to identify any action HSUS undertook to prevent those pigeon shoots before any occurred beyond obtaining the appended opinion from Maryland assistant attorney general Jeremy M. McCoy (not attorney general Brian Frosh) that if pigeon shoots were held, they would be illegal.
In September 2017, HSUS senior vice president of campaigns Heidi Prescott assured Animals 24-7 via publicist Anna West that HSUS had “recently secured an attorney general’s opinion in Maryland that will prevent live pigeon shoots from occurring there.”
But what, if anything, was actually done by way of prevention? Was McCoy’s opinion distributed in any manner to either law enforcement or gun clubs and shooting ranges, as the likely hosts of any pigeon shoots that might be held?
SHARK did “vigilance” and “intelligence gathering,” while HSUS did what?
Reality is that neither assistant attorney general McCoy’s opinIon nor anything HSUS did in the way of “vigilance, enforcement, and intelligence gathering” was sufficient to prevent the pigeon shoot held on January 4, 2018 in Henderson, Maryland.
Neither does Pacelle’s statement describe anything done yet, or ongoing, to do the “vigilance, enforcement, and intelligence gathering” necessary to either stop future pigeon shoots or bring to justice anyone who was involved with the pigeon shoot recently held.
Steve Hindi, Janet Enoch, and Stu Chaifetz of Showing Animals Respect & Kindness, meanwhile, responded to a tip received on the morning of January 4, 2018 that the pigeon shoot was underway by immediately doing the “vigilance, enforcement, and intelligence gathering” needed to identify the location, obtain video from the scene, and post the video online within the weekend, even though Hindi, Enoch, and Chaifetz each were hundreds of miles from the scene, and even though getting to the scene was inhibited by a blizzard.
The pigeon shoot location was, incidentally, only 80 miles from the HSUS headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland.
The context for the HSUS claim to have prevented live pigeon shoots from being held in Maryland is also of note, since West’s statement issued on behalf of Prescott primarily concerned the HSUS support for HB 1238, “Libre’s Law,” a purported reform of Pennsylvania humane law enacted in 2017 which includes an apparent blanket exemption for pigeon shoots, through language excluding from prosecution “Shooting activities not otherwise prohibited under this subchapter.”