Animal Rights and the Gulf Oil Spill: Their Silence is Deafening

It goes without saying that the ongoing oil spill into the Gulf of Mexico is a disaster of major proportions. In addition to the cost in human lives, the ecological impact may very well become one of the worst recorded environmental catastrophes in our nation’s history. While numerous experts, politicians, and agencies continue to debate the exact extent of the potential tragedy, one thing is already abundantly clear: The Humane Society of The United States (HSUS) could obviously care less.  Their silence is deafening.

It has been approximately three weeks since the Deepwater Horizon rig explosion off the Louisiana coast. Has anybody noticed that while numerous scientists, environmental groups, universities, federal agencies, and government officials have weighed in on the delicate coastal ecosystem at risk (including, but not limited to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the California Oiled Wildlife Care Network at the University of California, the International Bird Rescue Research Center in California, the National Wildlife Federation, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the American Bird Conservancy, the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium, Texas A&M University’s Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies, Louisiana State University, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources , Texas A&M University’s Sea Turtle and Fisheries Ecology Research Lab, the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, the Louisiana Audubon Society, the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies), there had not been one word or reference to the plight of the marine birds, mammals, crustaceans, fish, and ecosystem imperiled by the spill uttered by the HSUS until May 6th? In that one paragraph blog, temporarily posted on its webpage, the CEO and President of the HSUS asked for “patience” in dealing with the spill and its environmental impact.  Not one negative word about the oil industry’s role in causing the problem and devastation was mentioned. In two weeks, that’s the best they could come up with? This coming from an organization that prides itself on going undercover to expose malevolent acts as blatantly as possible in order to garner as much public support to embarrass and shock these groups into changing the way they operate and conduct business?

The Humane Society of the United States considers itself the largest animal advocacy organization in the world. I guess the population of animals living in and around the ocean doesn’t count. Or could it be that the HSUS is allied with the oil industry and would therefore prefer to ignore the oil industry’s role in creating this particular environmental disaster?

Why would the HSUS be politically aligned with the oil industry? Could it have something to do with the fact that every alternative to utilizing animals for food and fiber is dependent upon petroleum products? Where do you think “fake fur” comes from? Could it be that the HSUS is not really an animal advocacy or animal welfare agency, but rather an animal rights organization?

On his daily blog, the President and CEO of the HSUS, Wayne Pacelle, exhorts “If you care about animals, you should care about the environment. To live and be healthy, animals need a healthy environment. And that’s one major reason why The HSUS celebrates Earth Day. Today, as you celebrate Earth Day and explore the many ways to lessen your impact on the planet, consider these actions to help animals and the environment.” This appeared on April 27th, 7 days after the oil-rig explosion in the gulf. Not one mention of this catastrophic event and its effects on the animals or the environment had appeared. Not one. Until one week later when he recommends “patience”.

The blog goes on to promote the HSUS’s wildlife care centers that purportedly rescue and rehabilitate wild animals, urges Congress to pass the International Whale Conservation and Protection Act, lists tips on how to help injured or orphaned animals, recommends visitors to the site to support the Disney nature documentary “Oceans” and to do your part to help save the oceans, and to watch the “Genesis Awards” which raise awareness of animal protection and environmental issues. Unless of course, the environmental issues raised are caused by the oil industry.

A true animal welfare and/or advocacy organization would not have an issue lambasting the oil industry for its less than stellar global record of polluting the planet. A true animal welfare organization concerned with animal protection and environmental issues would have joined the list mentioned above in expressing their concern for the plight of this endangered ecosystem. Unless of course, once again, you are not truly an animal welfare organization but rather an animal rights organization pursuing a veganism agenda, which is reliant on petroleum based products as an alternative to the utilization of animals for food and fiber. It’s never a palatable strategy to bite the hand that feed you.

Perhaps the Humane Society is humane in name only. Despite its public claim to ensure that animals are treated humanely and the environment is respected, the group’s values appear tilted towards an animal rights philosophy. There is no other reasonable explanation as to why the HSUS would remain totally silent while one of the worst potential ecological disasters threatens the largest coastal wetlands area of the United States. Hundreds of species of fish, birds, marine, and other wildlife are imperiled by this spill. Has the HSUS held the oil industry accountable in any way, shape or form?  No. Thank G-d Hurricane Katrina wasn’t caused by the oil industry. What will happen next with the oil spill? No one knows for sure, but even the most optimistic scenarios provide little hope that the coastal marshes and wetlands and the animals that inhabit them will escape unscathed. One thing is for sure, however. Because the oil industry caused it, the HSUS will be conspicuously absent in its criticism.