Why is Showing Animals Respect & Kindness alone in fighting pigeon shoots?
[Guest columnist Steve Hindi founded Showing Animals Respect & Kindness, https://sharkonline.org/, in 1992.]
The cowardly psychopaths of the Philadelphia Gun Club, located in Bensalem, Pennsylvania, began their slaughter season on Friday the thirteenth of November 2020, shooting emaciated, dehydrated live pigeons tossed out of boxes at short range.
Based on past history, SHARK anticipated they would start the previous Friday, and sent a team out there. We can’t afford to make the more than eight hundred mile trip (one way) from Illinois every week, so on Friday the thirteenth we were evaded.
Where was HSUS?
Fortunately, our investigator Stu Chaifetz lives not too far away, in New Jersey, and he went there, alone. Since Stu is a certified drone pilot, he could video document the killing from above, so the abuse and suffering of the pigeons would not be forgotten.
Last year, Stu was repeatedly harassed by the club’s attorney, accompanied by a thug who is a retired Bensalem cop.
Philadelphia Gun Club
We originally got into the effort against the Philadelphia Gun Club at the request of Heidi Prescott, of the Humane Society of the United States, back in 2009. She only had to ask once, and we were there the very next weekend.
For more than a decade, SHARK has never stopped working to stop the horrific cruelty of the Philadelphia Gun Club.
As for the Humane Society of the United States, once we arrived, they never returned. It wasn’t supposed to be that way.
The Philadelphia Gun Club property lies right next to the Delaware River. One of the first things we noticed when we first arrived is that wounded birds would often fall into the water, and would slowly drown. We asked the Humane Society of the United States if we could borrow a small boat to rescue those birds. Although HSUS has boats, our request was refused. We had to buy small boats so we could do what needed to be done.
Never gave us a penny
The Humane Society of the United States never told us that they would abandon the Philadelphia Gun Club when we arrived.
While it reaps, hoards and wastes untold millions of dollars in donations, HSUS never gave us a penny to deal continuously with the PGC for as long as it takes.
When the PGC and its members filed numerous frivolous lawsuits in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, the Humane Society of the United States never helped to pay our legal costs, which are substantial.
Nor was there any offer from their lawyers to help. While most of the Philadelphia Gun Club’s meritless punitive lawsuits have been thrown out, some remain in court today, and continue to drain us.
The cause celebre of animal advocacy
There was a time when pigeon shoots were the cause celebre of the animal advocacy movement. Nearly every group was publicly involved in loudly proclaiming that the shoots must end. The Fund for Animals (folded into the Humane Society of the United States in 2005), People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, and many others raised untold fortunes vowing to end these terrible slaughters.
There was an annual conference in Harrisburg just ahead of the infamous Hegins pigeon shoot. Speakers would proclaim dedication to ending the carnage. Candles were lit in memory of the pigeons. Little bells were rung. Tears were shed, because everyone cared so damned much.
Groups from around nation bussed activists to Hegins, where voices were raised and bullhorns amplified our collective outrage.
Then, after promising to never abandon the victims of pigeon shoots, the movement leadership abandoned them, as they have abandoned so many other issues once donors tire, turning to newer and trendier issues from which to raise more fortunes.
A few years ago, the Humane Society of the United States and the Federated Humane Societies of Pennsylvania took the betrayal a step farther. To secure a new humane law in Pennsylvania, they gave pigeon shoots some legal cover they never had before. There was lots of money to be raised from the “success” of a new humane law, so pigeons were thrown under the bus to keep the National Rifle Association quiet and agreeable.
SHARK loudly protested, but as usual, we were largely decried as “trouble makers.” God knows this movement needs more trouble makers, and less marketers and money counters.
(See Biggest pigeon shoots in years follow Pennsylvania cruelty law exemption, Pigeon shoots––that HSUS said it stopped––continue in Maryland, and
Did HSUS & Humane Pennsylvania sacrifice pigeons to NRA demand?)
The Pennsylvania Gun Club isn’t the only pigeon shooting venue left in Pennsylvania. SHARK has shut down a number of them, but a few remain. They are, however, harder to find than a dogfight these days.
Many times we have asked the Humane Society of the United States and the Federated Humane Societies of Pennsylvania to help us locate the remaining shoots so we can use our drones to document and expose the killing, and the abandonment of the injured, who may suffer for days or weeks before they succumb to their wounds, or infection, predation, exposure, hunger or thirst.
The Humane Society of the United States and the Federated Humane Societies of Pennsylvania have always refused, or just fail to respond.
Today those involved in the scam that is animal protection should hang their heads in shame, but that won’t happen. These people are shameless, and more important, there is money to be raised and counted. Betrayal of the cause is, for these people, just another day.
SHARK never forgot the pigeons, and we’ve accomplished a lot of victories for them. We knocked pigeon shoots out of Illinois entirely, and stopped them in Alabama and Oklahoma. Our video footage of a shoot site in Maryland — close to the headquarters of PETA and HSUS—was instrumental in passing a law to ban pigeon shoots there. When we were at the shoot site, while PETA and HSUS were no-shows.
I wish our victories of yesterday made me feel better about what is happening in Bensalem today, but it doesn’t, because I know it shouldn’t be this way. SHARK will continue to fight for the pigeons slaughtered in Pennsylvania and anywhere else we find them.
If there is anyone there who actually wants to do something, as opposed to just talking about it, feel free to contact us at email@example.com.
Jamaka Petzak says
Giving anything, including any kind of support, to that big “animal advocacy organization” is far in my past. Sharing to socials with gratitude to ANIMALS 24-7 and SHARK, in hope that those with anything to give will consider carefully before giving to that organization and instead, give where it will truly matter.
“Today those involved in the scam that is animal protection should hang their heads in shame, but that won’t happen. These people are shameless, and more important, there is money to be raised and counted. Betrayal of the cause is, for these people, just another day.” Tough words but it reflects the reality of our times. Humans betray humans too. More so in our times. By the way, do these pigeon shooters eat the pigeons?
Merritt Clifton says
No, pigeon shooters do not eat the pigeons they shoot. Usually the remains are tossed into piles to be burned and/or buried.
Karen Davis says
As Merritt Clifton notes, the pigeons shot by pigeon shooters are thrown into piles to be burned or buried when the massacre is over. In the 1990s I attended the annual Labor Day pigeon shoot in Hegins, PA. One year, I released a box of pigeons just as they were about to be released to be wounded and killed, and was arrested and charged with “property destruction” or some such “unlawful act.”
The dead pigeons were piled into huge barrels or dumpsters which overflowed at the top with the dead birds.
As for the “reality of our times”: if only this reality and so many others were characteristic only of “our times,” but they are not. For animals, the reality of human devilry is all the time and virtually everywhere. A glimpse into the history of human treatment of nonhuman animals in all recorded cultures shows that human societies have always mistreated animals, for sacrifice, food, sport, all manner of superstitions, and so on. “Our time” is different from past times notably with respect to the scale of abuses, the countless numbers of birds, mammals and aquatic animals suffering and dying at our hands.
Karen Davis, PhD, President, United Poultry Concerns. http://www.upc-online.org
Peggy W Larson, DVM MS JD says
Pigeons are sentient. They feel fear, pain and stress just like our cats and dogs feel. Would the population of these backward states celebrate a cat shoot or a puppy shoot? I wonder!
I rescued a pigeon years ago that could not fly. She and my cat became friends. They would sit on the deck and groom themselves less that 4 feet apart. The cat never chased or bothered the bird.
Why don’t these pigeon shooters become real men and go out and pick up trash on the roadsides? Or volunteer at a humane organization? Or help the homeless? Killing helpless birds for fun reveals their diminished level of manhood.
Merritt Clifton says
If pigeon shooters did what they do to practically any other species as intelligent as pigeons, they would likely soon be picking up trash along roadsides in orange jumpsuits.