Rick Berman Attacks the Humane Society

Sad puppyFront group man extraordinaire Rick Berman and his attack group, the Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF), have launched a new Web site, HumaneWatch.org, to harass the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), the country's largest animal welfare organization. In pursuing its mission of stopping animal cruelty, HSUS has apparently run afoul of some large, wealthy business interests, and now it is getting some major pushback.

The Humane Society works to stop egregious, ongoing animal abuse, particularly in money-making enterprises like puppy mills, factory farming, dogfighting, cockfighting, and unsporting hunting practices like "canned hunts," where hunters pay to shoot at captive, domestically-raised, exotic animals. While this is a laudable goal, it pits HSUS against a significant number of wealthy, powerful businesses that engage in animal cruelty practices, like meat and egg producers, factory farmers, canned hunting businesses, contract research labs that do animal testing for big corporations and pharmaceutical companies that exploit animals to manufacture drugs like Premarin, which is used to treat the symptoms of menopause. Premarin is made from pregnant mares' urine and is marketed by Wyeth Pharmacueticals, one of the world's largest drug companies.

People Love Animals

HumaneWatch.org may have a hard time trying to build public animosity towards the Humane Society, since most of civil society cannot countenance the extreme cruelty against animals that occurs in these facilities. (There are now a number of videos showing such treatment posted at SourceWatch.org). At present, Berman's site, HumaneWatch.org, is trying to generate outrage against HSUS by ridiculing the group's recent activities, like raising funds for animal relief in Haiti and marketing its own brand of cruelty-free, all-natural dry dog food that does not support the factory farming industry. HumaneWatch is also trying to hurt and embarrass businesses that donate to HSUS, like the Yellow Tail Wine company, which recently donated $100,000 to HSUS's Animal Rescue Team. To target Yellow Tail, HumaneWatch.org posted a video of a cowboy standing in a manure-filled pen surrounded by cows, and pouring a bottle of Yellow Tail wine on the ground, while explaining that he is doing it to retaliate against the company for supporting the Humane Society. The video makes you want to donate to HSUS and go out and buy Yellow Tail wine to thank them for caring about animals.

Money bagsWho is Funding HumaneWatch.org?

Berman typically sets up his front groups as 501(c)4 organizations and then carries out his attacks through these groups to avoid disclosing his donors, so we have no way of knowing which industries or companies are funding Berman's attack on the Humane Society. We can probably get a good idea, though. Just determine which businesses profit most from animal cruelty, and you'll likely find the funders among them.

One thing we can be certain about: the Humane Society must be doing a decent job of lobbying on behalf of animal welfare, or it wouldn't have found itself in Berman's crosshairs.


I do not know where you get your facts. The HSUS is not being questioned because CCF or anyone else is opposed to the proper care of animals, it is being questioned because in plain black and white on their own page (look it up) is their tax documents that show the absurd amount of money that is being spent on salaries, benefits, lockboxes(REALLY) and other questionable expenditures. I am sure the top brass there will fight to the bitter end to try and convince you that this is about the animals, but believe me it is about the "fox in the hen house". Imagine the animals that will continue to suffer because a rogue organization is never called out. Read the information, with an open mind. Then come to your own conclusion. I have been upset about this LONG before CCF or Humanewatch or anyone else started talking about it. I asked many people to read the documents and then donate accordingly. I handled Corporate donations for 20 years and I have learned something, ASK QUESTIONS. By law they have to tell you what percentage of your donation goes Directly to the care of animals, and what percentage goes directly to the deep pockets of the greedy CEO's. And by the way why would anyone want to stand in the way of stopping undue hardship to the animals. What would anyone gain by that?

You need to go watch that cowboy video again. Is in not filled with manure. They are huge pens, most likely coming from large pastures and are used to feed their cattle during the winter months. You did notice the snow on the ground? I did not see a manure filled pen like you quoted. You do know that cattle have to be fed during the winter months? Or are you just another apartment dweller with no cattle experience?

As you suggested, I returned to HumaneWatch.org to view the video again and critically evaluate it for the presence or absence of cow manure, but the video had been removed from the site. I live in rural Colorado and can definitively say that the presence of snow on the ground does not prevent cows from excreting, even if they are in feed pens. Nor does the size of a pen have any bearing on whether they or not they choose to excrete in it. Go, Cows. Anne Landman

Yellow Tail getting a backlash from donating to HSUS: http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/02/19/2824910.htm?section=justin

I wish you would restrict your comments to registered users. I have noticed a sharp increase in trolling in your comment forums, probably from the very people from organizatins you are writing about. I wonder if they are paid, or even worse, VOLUNTEERS! It's almost like buying, then wearing, a t-shirt that advertizes a commercial product.

"None comes out, and then a lottle." --Ogden Nash Comments had gotten pretty few and far between by the time CMD eliminated the registration requirement.; I imagine that's why they did it. So, Burt, how about registering yourself?

How would my volunteering comments be any different from your volunteering comments? Or does HSUS pay you for commenting?

This piece erroneously stated that [[David Martosko]] is a lobbyist. He works for the [[Center for Consumer Freedom]] (CCF), which is a lobbying organization, and for [[Rick Berman]], who is a lobbyist, but we have no authoritative reference showing that Martosko himself is, in fact, a registered lobbyist. This error has been corrected. Anne Landman

What's your evidence for saying the CCF itself is a "lobbying group"? I'm looking at their tax returns, and I don't see any lobbying purpose there. They don't lobby. Do they? What's your proof?

The following sources point to CCF as a lobbying group: "Unless you follow politics closely, you wouldn't necessarily realize that a group with a name like the Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF) has anything to do with the food industry. In fact ... <em>this group lobbies aggressively</em> against obesity-related public health campaigns -- such as the one directed at removing junk food from schools -- and is funded, according to the Center for Media and Democracy, primarily through donations from big food companies such as Coca-Cola, [[Cargill]], Tyson Foods, and Wendy's." --Adam Voiland, <em>U.S. News and World Report</em>, [http://www.usnews.com/health/articles/2008/10/17/10-things-the-food-industry-doesnt-want-you-to-know.html?PageNr=2 Ten Things the Food Industry Doesn't Want You to Know], October 17, 2008 "The activities of the industry-sponsored group, Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF), merit particular attention. With an annual budget exceeding $3 million, the CCF <em>lobbies aggressively</em> against obesity-related public health campaigns, legislation to regulate marketing of junk food to children, and scientists who advocate for healthier diets. The CCF boasts that “[our] strategy is to shoot the messenger . . . We’ve got to attack [activists’] credibility as spokespersons.” --David Ludwig, Marion Nestle, [whattoeatbook.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/10/1808_002.pdf Can the Food Industry Play a Constructive. Role in the Obesity Epidemic?], <em>Journal of the American Medical Association,</em> JAMA. 2008;300(15):1808-1811 "CCF is an industry front group; its way of defending "consumers' rights" is to <em>lobby aggressively</em> for the interests of the industries that fund its public-relations campaigns." --Deepak Gupta, [http://pubcit.typepad.com/clpblog/2007/11/colbert-exposes.html Stephen Colbert Exposes the "Center for Consumer Freedom"], Public Citizen, Consumer Law and Policy Blog, November 4, 2007 "Martosko himself is no part scientist. He was a music major in college and then an AM radio talk show producer before becoming chief researcher for the <em>Center for Consumer Freedom which is headquartered inside the lobbying offices of Richard Berman, a lobbyist for the restaurant and beverage industry</em>." --Mark Matthews, ABC News/KGO San Francisco, [http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/story?section=news/politics&id=4140447 Lobbyists Hide Behind Non-Profit Fronts], May 3, 2006 [Italicized emphasis added] Anne Landman