On November 22nd, The Humane Society of the United States (The HSUS) and The Fund for Animals (The Fund) announced that they will join forces in an unprecedented and historic combination. This is the first time in the history of the animal protection movement that two national, high-profile organizations have united in order to advance their common mission.
The two organizations made this announcement exactly 50 years to the day that The HSUS began operations in Washington on November 22, 1954. Both organizations' boards of directors, which will combine to operate as one, voted unanimously in a series of meetings over the last several months. The merger will formally occur on January 1, 2005.
"Our groups have decided to join forces not out of necessity, but because we believe we can do more to help animals together than we can do operating separately,"said David O. Wiebers, M.D., chair of The HSUS's board of directors. "By combining resources the new entity will bring unprecedented energy to the battles we take on. This union ushers in a whole new era of strengthened activism for animals."
The two groups plan to operate their advocacy programs under the banner of The HSUS, building a new external affairs department to focus on major, defining issues such as fur, sport hunting, factory farming, and malicious animal cruelty, including animal fighting. They will pursue these goals with a multifaceted approach involving investigations, litigation, communications, and professional campaigning.
"With our new campaigns, we will create meaningful social change for animals,"said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The HSUS. "Our goal is nothing short of a kinder society, where compassionate individuals join with us to ensure that animals are not abused either in random acts of cruelty or in institutional settings, such as industrial factory farms."
The Fund will continue as a direct animal care organization, giving the groups a new and unparalleled depth in hands-on animal protection and rescue.
The Fund's three animal care facilities—its Black Beauty Ranch in Texas, Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in California, and Rabbit Sanctuary in South Carolina—will be coordinated with The HSUS's three animal care programs—its Cape Wildlife Center in Massachusetts, Spay and Neuter Clinic and Animal Welfare Center in Dallas, and Rural Area Veterinary Services (RAVS) program, which provides free spay-neuter and veterinary services for dogs and cats in economically disadvantaged areas. The Fund's flagship animal sanctuary, Black Beauty Ranch, will be renamed the "Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch"to memorialize the Fund's founder.
The groups have also launched a new 501(c)(4) political organization, the HSUS Fund for Animals, to augment their existing public policy work and allow for a more substantial investment of resources in political and lobbying activities.
"The new political arm will enable us to expand our public policy work, enlarge our network of trained activists, and level the playing field with the industries that promote and condone cruelty to animals,"said Michael Markarian, president of The Fund. "We may not be able to match our opponents dollar for dollar, but we will be more aggressive and more effective, putting the animal abusers on the defensive and pushing forward a wide range of reforms for animals. That means a greater focus on building support for state and federal laws to protect animals, more ballot initiatives, and, ultimately, more victories for animals."
The HSUS and The Fund have a long history of working together. Famed author and social critic Cleveland Amory was active on the board of directors of The HSUS from 1962 to 1970. He founded The Fund for Animals in 1967 and led the organization until his death in 1998. Today, the groups jointly publish the Humane Scorecard, which tracks the voting records of members of Congress, as well as HUMANElines, a weekly electronic alert with subscribers drawn from both organizations. Together, they operate the Humane Activist Network, which organizes thousands of volunteers and calls them to action on important issues. And they have collaborated successfully on ballot initiatives, state and federal legislation, hunting and fur campaigns, and litigation.
"Cleveland often spoke of building an ‘army of the kind,' a network of animal organizations of unprecedented size and reach,"said Marian Probst, chair of The Fund's board of directors, who founded the organization with Amory. "This would be Cleveland's dream come true."
The HSUS has eight million members and constituents, a 2004 budget of $82 million, and more than $100 million in assets. The Fund has 200,000 members and constituents, a 2004 budget of $7 million, and $20 million in assets. Washington, D.C. will remain the base of operations for the combined organization, which has a planned 2005 budget of over $95 million.
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