by Steve Hindi, founder, Showing Animals Respect & Kindness
Predation, parasitism, fraud and outright theft are enormous problems in the animal protection industry that even a 90-day wormer cannot fix.
ANIMALS 24-7 in George Santos was a small-timer among animal charity scammers, and in a wealth of previous exposés, has unfortunately barely rippled the scum on the cess pool.
Too bad that there are precious few people who are willing or able to acknowledge it, and even fewer who to speak out against it.
Duping donors on a much larger scale
There are the small time fraudsters like George Santos and Will Potter (see Idaho ag-gag falls, AETA does nothing, & Will Potter’s drone allegedly flew away), and then there are those such as Alex Pacheco, of 600 Million Stray Dogs Need You, who dupe donors on a much larger scale.
(See “600 Million” reasons to toss Alex Pacheco’s alleged spay/neuter cookies, Pseudo-science & the Alex Pacheco “Spay & Neuter” Cookie, Alex Pacheco of “600 Million” says he was gunner on a boat with no guns, Steve Hindi & SHARK up the ante & call Alex Pacheco’s bluff, Alex Pacheco serves stale “Spay & Neuter Cookies” again for Christmas, and Spay/neuter popcorn? It’s as real as Alex Pacheco’s s/n cookies!)
Predators & scammers
Any cause in which more than 80% of the activists and donors are female will tend to attract sexual predators, who––having no sincere interest in the cause itself––make a show of participating in order to scam and score.
The animal rights movement has been crippled by the combination of sexual predation and scamming among the alleged leadership right from the beginning.
Gay sexual predators and scammers, operating on a scale that might make Santos blush, showed up as soon as gay activists did, creating a rainbow mirage.
Then there are the big groups such as the Humane Society of the United States and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals who mix legitimate projects with marketing bullshit and false claims that would shut them down in the real world.
Holding it together
I have often called out all those people and organizations and more, as have Merritt and Beth Clifton of ANIMALS 24-7. All of us have gotten a lot of blowback for doing so.
Self-examination, not to be confused with meditative navel-gazing, is not popular in the world of animal protection.
For more than four decades, I owned a company that manufactured industrial fasteners. That is a tough but profitable area of business if you do things right. We had to make our products within tight specifications measuring within parameters of a few thousands of an inch. Certifications about measurements, materials used, plating thicknesses, etc. were a regular requirement.
You don’t get to fake quality control.
“In my industry, credibility was everything”
We had to price our products right, because buyers knew their jobs depended on not being ignorant or incompetent. The product had to be delivered on time, because if a production line went down for lack of our products, no sweet talk would carry the day.
Our suppliers and we often had to certify specs and content. Screw that up, and there would be lawsuits, and you could kiss your reputation goodbye. My company spent very little money on advertising, because we had a reputation built on decades of service.
In animal protection on the other hand, organizations can grift hundreds of millions of dollars on lies repeated for decades, especially about “victories” that are never actually won, while money flows in on the promise that those victories can be won for just a few more donations, or can be won for the donors posthumously, for just the bulk of their estates.
In my industry, credibility was everything, and it should be no different in animal protection.
That daring young man & his non-flying machine
The facts, however are quite different. In animal protection, you can make up a sob story, or create a fictitious cookie, or fake campaign, or pretend to fly drones when you don’t, or grab some stock photos and claim that you are saving animals, and you’re potentially in the money.
Just ask George Santos, Alex Pacheco, Will Potter, PETA, HSUS, and so many others.
Will Potter, for instance, back in 2014 claimed he was going to do heroic drone work.
SHARK already had a working drone operation, and we knew how productive drones can be. We applauded Potter’s supposed intent, and I personally offered to assist in any way possible.
“No intention of following through”
But Potter didn’t want help. It wasn’t long before we realized why: because Will Potter had no intention of following through.
When we smelled the grift, we started looking into Mr. Potter. We proved first that the drone claim was nonsense. Potter raised many tens of thousands of dollars, but had little if anything to show for it.
Then we proved that virtually everything that Potter claimed about himself was made up, and that Potter is a fraud. (See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e3ucsO-AtE8.)
The response from many people in animal protection was to side with Potter, claiming that we were attacking him, as opposed to the reality that we were exposing a fraud.
“A top priority should be rooting out corruption”
People who have been in animal protection for decades couldn’t see the grift, and except for the Cliftons, those who did see it would not speak up.
Potter somehow got himself a spot as a senior fellow with TED Conferences. When we shared our information with TED, the organization inexplicably sided with Potter.
Credibility is everything in the real world, and therein lies the problem for animal protection. Someone who really wants to help animals, but who is burned by an individual or organization, large or small, is less likely to contribute their time, money or effort in the future.
This is common sense, isn’t it? Given that obvious truth, a top priority for any movement should be rooting out corruption from within.
Yet it isn’t.
Consider the case of Alex Pacheco, the former PETA co-founder Alex Pacheco who since 2009 has been raising funds to develop his thoroughly fake/fictitious/made-up sterilization cookie.
Pacheco’s cookie is perhaps the most obvious con job in animal protection.
I actually offered Pacheco ten thousand dollars of my own money if he could prove that he is actually even working toward that goal.
Pacheco didn’t respond, because there isn’t even a little bit of verifiable effort being made to develop said cookie. But other than the Cliftons and SHARK, who speaks out?
Ingrid Newark could expose Alex Pacheco
The other PETA cofounder, Ingrid Newkirk, could expose Alex Pacheco. Ingrid worked with Pacheco for nearly 20 years. She surely knows the cookie scheme for what it is. She knows that Pacheco rips people off, and diverts money from real animal causes.
Yet for some reason this is not a problem for her, or for anyone else at PETA. At any point for the last couple of decades, Ingrid Newkirk could have stepped forward and spoken out. She hasn’t.
Of course, PETA has its own schemes going, like the fake drones that were used for a while to get attention from the media, and to extract money from suckers.
PETA has pulled lots of tricks like that, as has HSUS and so many other “legitimate” groups, also including the Best Friends Animal Society, whose long-stated goal of making U.S. animal shelters “no-kill” by 2025 can only be reached by closing shelter doors to animals in need, and the American SPCA, whose president’s annual compensation of nearly a million dollars per year exceeds the annual budget of most legitimate humane societies worldwide.
The prolific rot in animal rights is the big reason why SHARK stopped having anything to do with the national conferences. I was chastised for speaking out against even the most obvious frauds.
“Spreading propaganda & selling junk”
These events were not about making a better movement; they were about spreading propaganda and selling junk.
Fraudsters like Pacheco were given awards; grifters like Will Potter were given a platform.
Animal advocates are quick to condemn individual companies, government agencies, etc. that are abusive to animals, but those who profit from schemes to steal funds or steal credit or anything else cause enormous harm with impunity.
“We should line up to testify”
There was a time, long ago, when I accepted an “animal lover” or an “animal protection organization” as instantly on the side of good.
Those days are long gone, and it should not be that way.
If we as a movement/industry truly gave a damn about animals, there would be repercussions for those who hurt the cause with their shenanigans. We would line up to testify in court against the predators and crooks.
If we are going to be quick to judge those who hurt animals on the other side, we should be equally quick to judge those who also hurt animals by stealing from donors through marketing schemes, with lies, and through outright fraud.
You can’t get away with such nonsense in the real world, and you sure as hell shouldn’t get away with it in animal protection.