The largest and richest animal activist group, whose cause is stopping animal abuse, has been accused of abusing its female employees. Its high profile CEO Wayne Pacelle is at the center of the investigation. This may be just the tip of the iceberg, as more and more women in the radical animal rights movement are now coming forward with allegations. The image of compassion and moral superiority that HSUS likes to portray may be tarnished as the underside of this wealthy and powerful movement is exposed.
The board of directors of HSUS announced last week that it were launching an investigation into allegations that there was “an alleged sexual relationship between Mr. Pacelle and a female employee.” A Washington law firm has been hired to conduct the investigation. In a statement, Eric Bernthal, chair of the board of the HSUS, said: “We believe it is important to deal in substance and not rumors, and our process is designed to ensure confidentiality and fair consideration of these issues.” Pacelle, who has an annual salary of over $300,000 is one of the most powerful people in the animal rights movement and has been instrumental in turning HSUs into one of the most successful fund raising organizations in the country.
According to the web site The Chronicle of Philanthropy, the abuse of women in the animal rights movement is widespread. “I have heard from at least a dozen survivors who have felt compelled to leave organizations or even leave town to get away from men in the movement who were stalking them or whose past violence made it impossible to continue to work with them,” Patrice Jones, co-founder of a Vermont animal sanctuary. Carol Adams, a writer and activist in the movement, claims the movement has a serious problem: when problems arise, women have been discouraged from speaking out. “Women were told for the good of the movement that they should stay quiet,” Ms. Adams said. “Men who should have held the other men accountable chose friendship over justice. You’ve got almost an impregnable group of people protecting one another.”
All of this is not really surprising. A movement based on elitism, disregard for the rights and opinions of others, and political intimidation is ripe for this kind of thing. While it is unfortunate for the victims, perhaps this scandal will illuminate the real purpose and motivation of the radical animal rights movement to the public. It should, at least, cause a drop in donations.
By Gary Truitt