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.
(See Why did the ASPCA pres get $966,004, while we got $9.70 an hour?)
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.
S. Chinny Krishna says
I am on Mr Hindi’s side about most of what he wrote. The scamsters in animal welfare are taking away a lot of money that genuine animal welfare groups could effectively use.
Like Mr Steve Hindi did, I also currently run an industry and have for almost 50 years. So, I can confirm what he says about quality, timely delivery, pricing and – most importantly – credibility. One of our customers, SRF Ltd, has been with us for 48 years. Another, Grundfos India, has been with us since 1996 and we are a single-source supplier for some of their major components. Without credibility, you can’t do that.
I am also a cofounder, in 1959, of the group we registered in 1964 as the Blue Cross of India. While we have permitted only two NGOs to use the words Blue Cross in their names, there are over 20 fraudulent organisations cashing in on the name Blue Cross. So, I also agree with Hindi when he says there are more predators within the movement than outside.
And the remuneration of the ASPCA President is a crying shame. We are still primarily volunteer driven and strongly feel that money given to help animals should primarily go to animals.
My only negative note would be on calling out the misdeeds of another group. The Tamil Nadu State Animal Welfare Board recently shut down a money-making group, The Yeshua AW Trust, which was a genuine scam. We had said nothing only because it would look like us running down the “competition” (for want of a better word)
Most of the rescued animals are in one of our shelters at the TNSAWB’s request
Michael Grant says
As Steve Hindi wrote, “animals deserve a far, far better movement.”
and to quote Gretchen Wyler – Alas, The animals cannot choose their advocates.
Animal “welfare” has indeed become an “industry” complete with merchandise (cats and dogs), “bargain sales” (adoptathons), and “inventory” (vetted, attractive shelter animals), and huge marketing and fundraising blitzes (virtually all the money goes to this)
I think it was better as grassroots work with sincere volunteers and professionals who helped screen adopters and follow up, who worked to reduce unwanted litters in urban and rural areas, who did effective humane education and did not steal credit for work others did.
Imagine if we could have this sort of movement. These days I keep hearing it referred to as the Inhumane Movement. Which it is.
So what are we to do? I am a simple individual who donates monthly to PETA and said Humane Society. Where will my donations be properly applied and who to trust???
Peter Hamilton Lifeforce Foundation says
Ask them for the campaigns that were truly theirs AND what they can prove that they alone have accomplished!
There have been quite a few big $$$ organizations that took credit for my exposure of vivisection and my other campaigns!
Peter Hamilton Lifeforce Foundation says
There are also all the compromises over the decades by the $$$ organizations. For example, my investigations led to the fist bans on wild and domestic animal acts in circuses on Vancouver Island, BC. But when it went to Vancouver City Council one or two organizations only supported bans for domestic animals. Even a Shriner from the Shriners Circus Organization stated he saw abuses of horses and dogs. The other cities followed Vancouver and the political compromises continued!!!
It will all be in my History of the Animal Rights and Wrongs Movements!
Jamaka Petzak says
As with every living being who is unable to defend him- or herself, members of other species are far too easily exploited, neglected, abused, and taken advantage of; as their “voice” and protectors, those of us who truly care need to keep our focus on THEM and on doing the best we can for them. For me, that involves personal responsibility for those in my direct care, and on working with others who share my goals in whatever way I can. I am in agreement with Michael Grant posting before me in putting my trust in grassroots organizations doing hands-on work that truly benefits those I care about. Local rescue/spay/neuter/adoption groups represent this.
Christine French says
Mary, why not start by sending the combined total of those two donations to Animals 24-7? You would never have known about this, and many other topics, if it were not for this website. Merritt and Beth work tirelessly to keep us all informed. They recently informed us they are paid less than $10 an hour for their invaluable work. You will get a lot more bang for your buck by making your donations to small organizations. Everyone reading this should cough up a few dollars, just as they would if they wanted to buy a newspaper or magazine, and send them to Animals 24-7.
Merritt & Beth Clifton says
Thank you, Christine, who is herself among our monthly donors. Christine formerly directed several humane societies around the U.S., as well as serving on the founding board of Doing Things for Animals, the host of the original No Kill Conference series, begun in 1995.
Christine sent her comment in before ANIMALS 24-7 managed to finish offering our own advice to donors, to focus primarily on local organizations whose work you can personally monitor, secondarily on organizations whose work you can verify from sources other than their own appeals. (Our work, for example, you can verify because you see it in your email inbox almost every day. You know about many other organizations through our reportage and reportage by other media.)
Donors may also verify financial information by examining nonprofit organizations’ IRS Form 990 filings at http://www.Guidestar.org, but we recommend caution in doing this, because many nonprofits, especially those donors most need to be cautious about, use a variety of accounting tricks to make their program expenditure look higher relative to fundraising expense & administrative salaries than is actually the case.
Further, the Guidestar and Charity Navigator evaluations of charities are produced primarily by robotic reviews of IRS Form 990 filings, with no actual on-the-ground program verification. Therefore, if an organization plays games on Form 990 filings, both Guidestar and Charity Navigator may give unwarranted “platinum” and “gold” ratings to charities that would consistently flunk on-the-ground program verification. Conversely, some excellent “mom-and-pop” charities may flunk the Guidestar and Charity Navigator evaluations simply because they are still managed by the founders and very small boards of directors who all remain actively involved.
Again, donate first & most to the charities you know.
Dr. Will Tuttle says
Well said, Steve and many thanks to you for your many years of dedicated advocacy and in-the-trenches activism! And also to Merritt and Beth as well – As you say, it is regrettable how gullible many vegans and animal advocates are, failing to see obvious frauds of many kinds, and also allowing our movement to be infiltrated by predatory philanthropy that destroys effectiveness, and by many divisive agendas – while the animals pay the price. Keep up the great work!
Annoula Wylderich says
Thanks to all those who put their heart and soul and resources into our cause. I also have a grassroots organization that is self funded, so we don’t solicit for donations. But I know how much more we could accomplish by receiving outside help. I hope that those who do have the tools at hand will use them wisely; and for the rest who wish to be supporters, they need to conduct their due diligence, ask questions, and expect answers that will provide them with the assurance that their dollars are being utilized as effectively as possible.