by Steve Hindi, founder, Showing Animals Respect & Kindness [SHARK]
As we head into 2022, I’d like to raise an issue––bullying––that has been a persistent problem in the animal advocacy cause. You might not think that bullying would be an issue in the realm of animal protection, but it is, and has been for a long time.
A very recent instance of bullying is to be found in the December 31, 2021 ANIMALS 24-7 report Wildlife Friends to evacuate Phuket Zoo; PETA did zip but claims credit, which focused on eleven tigers and two bears held in the woefully substandard and now defunct Phuket zoo in Thailand.
Diverted public support with false claim of “victory”
The Wildlife Friends Foundation of Thailand is willing to rescue these animals, but they need funding. Unfortunately, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals [PETA] swooped in, claiming it somehow achieved a victory that was actually “won” by the COVID-19 pandemic shutting down Phuket tourist traffic.
This was ten years after PETA appears to have––just once––said anything about the zoo.
Although PETA successfully drew attention (and donations) to itself with the “victory” claim, PETA will not rescue the animals, and has not donated, or offered to donate to either the Wildlife Friends Foundation of Thailand, or the Save Elephant Foundation, which recently rescued the zoo elephants.
These are the organizations who are actually doing the rescuing, will care for the animals afterward, and desperately need the money.
Credit-stealing is profiteering
By falsely claiming credit, an opportunistic, bullying PETA diverts public support that should go to the Wildlife Friends Foundation of Thailand and the Save Elephant Foundation.
PETA’s credit-stealing is not animal protection. It’s profiteering that actually endangers a legitimate rescue effort.
What PETA did was no accident. Groups like PETA, the Humane Society of the United States, the American SPCA, and other large organizations, as well as some smaller organizations and individuals, have long engaged in credit stealing.
Most of the people in this so-called movement ignore this behavior, or even reward it with their donations. This has always seemed odd to me, given that we are supposed to be “ethical.”
Animals pay for credit theft with their lives
Perhaps some people are unaware of what is going on, but my three-plus decades of experience indicates that those who are knowledgeable just don’t have the nerve, or spine, to call this opportunistic bullying out when it happens, and it happens a lot.
The problem with ignoring this behavior goes far beyond mere bruised egos, or hurt feelings. Credit-stealing in many cases is literal theft, and animals may pay for the theft with their very lives.
The current case in Thailand is an excellent example. Similar has happened to Showing Animals Respect & Kindness on many occasions, at the hands of PETA, HSUS and others, so I know the damage it causes to our efforts to help animals first-hand. No money means no activity, no resources (investigators, equipment, vehicles, travel expenses) –– no nothing.
Silence guards the gold
PETA founder and president Ingrid Newkirk’s response to being outed follows a predictable pattern: silence. Not a single word.
Is this what we should expect from the head of the world’s largest animal rights organization?
If there is a defense for what PETA did, I’d like to hear it. If there is no defense, shouldn’t there be an apology, and perhaps a substantial effort to make the Wildlife Friends Foundation of Thailand and its rescue plan whole?
Instead, Newkirk’s response is nothing. That’s the same response we get from animal abusers –– like when SHARK catches the rodeo mafia shocking horses, or covering up animal deaths, or when we catch pigeon shooters burying wounded but still living victims.
Ingrid Newkirk & Alex Pacheco
I expect our opposition to run and hide, because they’re animal abusers. In the case of the Phuket Zoo rescue, however, It appears there is no defense, so there is no response from the person who is most responsible, and is unquestionably in charge. In this movement, that is, or at least should be inexcusable, and it is far from being the first time.
Consider the case of 600 Million Stray Dogs Need You founder Alex Pacheco, who also co-founded PETA with Ingrid Newkirk back in 1981. Pacheco’s decades of outright thievery of millions and millions of clueless donor dollars for his fictitious sterilization cookie has for years diverted resources from legitimate organizations’ efforts to develop real sterilization programs.
“Newkirk lacks integrity, but at least she is consistent”
Except for ANIMALS 24-7 and SHARK, virtually no one says a thing. In fact, the person who worked with Pacheco for years, and perhaps knew him best –– Ingrid Newkirk –– is silent. Her integrity may be lacking, but at least she’s consistent.
PETA has “Ethical” in its name, but the group’s ethics seem to be otherwise in very short supply. Unfortunately, ethics are an endangered quality with numerous organizations in animal protection. Nevertheless, we as a movement want people to follow us when we tell them to refrain from animal products, and to treat animals with kindness.
Hold individuals & organizations accountable
We ask people to clean up the way they treat animals, but we have demonstrated that we are unwilling to clean our own house. Anyone who thinks this kind of contradictory, hypocritical behavior will sell in the real world is just delusional.
With the new year, I suggest we resolve to be truth-tellers, and to hold individuals and organizations responsible for their claims and actions. How about we no longer tolerate the scammers and thieves who steal from the animals we all claim we’re trying to help? Imagine how things could change for the better if money given for animals actually went to help those animals?
Will this resolution result in some upheaval and debate? Sure it will, and that will be a good thing. I used to believe that peace in the movement would lead to more productivity, but it has instead led to quiet bullying, profiteering, and deception, and more and more animals suffer and die.
The scamming and thieving bullies know they can manipulate the ignorant to fill their pockets with money only so long as the rest of us are unwilling to speak out.
Society has come to see bullying as a problem that should not be tolerated.
Isn’t it time for us to catch up?