TRIPLE TROUBLE FOR HSUS (reprinted from ANIMAL PEOPLE, 9/95)

WASHINGTON D.C.--August 10 dawned bright for the Humane Society of the U.S.,

as newspapers across the country carried a photo of HSUS director of

legislative affairs Wayne Pacelle and Senator Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) decrying

puppy mills at a press conference held the day before to announce that

Santorum and 14 other Senators had jointly signed a letter to Agriculture

Secretary Daniel Glickman, seeking stiffer enforcement of the Animal Welfare

Act.

Then someone noticed that the letter Santorum sent was markedly different

from the letter sent by 110 House members and three Senators in the same

cause--and the effect of Santorum's letter was to undercut the House letter,

whose signers were rallied by Rep. Glenn Poshard (D-Ill.)

The Poshard letter, circulated to potential signers on June 27 and

delivered to Glickman on August 8, asked for Glickman's "strong support" in

imposing ten specific new standards for puppy and kitten breeding facilities:

"Increase basic cage size for companion animals permanently housed in the

facilities; improve flooring within the primary enclosures by requiring

plastic-coated wire of a specific width; increase the size and material of

the resting surface for each animal in a primary enclosure; require constant

access to potable water for all animals housed in the facility; limit the

number of times/frequency breeding stock can be bred over a certain time

period; strengthen the sanitation requirements for the primary enclosure;

eliminate the ability to tether animals; reexamine temperature guidelines;

require more specific daily exercise of animals at the facilities; exclude

'another dog' as acceptable exercise."

The requests for specific regulations were based on the findings of an

internal review of USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service/Regulatory

Enforcement Animal Care activity, which found that the present regulations

leave so much to the judgement of facility owners and veterinarians as to be

unenforceable against all but the most egregious abuse. Apparent violations

of basic care standards often can't be prosecuted because the regulations

allow the alleged offenders to hold that they are following professional

advice.

Santorum, Poshard, and humane groups were to present the letter to media

on August 9.

"Unfortunately," American Humane Association legislative director Adele

Douglass wrote in an alert to members, "the Washington Post chided Senator

Santorum for wanting stronger puppy mill regulations, especially since, as

a Republican, he is traditionally anti-regulation. We believe that the

Washington Post blurb, combined with pressure from the American Kennel Club

and the American Veterinary Medical Association, resulted in a change in the

original letter's content. On August 4, just days before the letter was to

be sent to the USDA, Senator Santorum's letter was changed to ask for

enforcement of current regulations only."

AKC CUT LETTER'S DEMANDS

Congressional and Senatorial aides who spoke to ANIMAL PEOPLE--some of whom

called before their offices were asked for comment--confirmed that this is

exactly what happened: after 124 other legislators had already signed on,

Santorum huddled with AKC lobbyist Jim Holt, AVMA lobbyist Pamela Abney,

and Pacelle, deleting the requests that cage sizes be increased, water be

always available, tethering be banned, temperature guidelines be

re-examined, flooring follow specific material requirements, and the number

of times an animal may be bred be restricted, and putting the onus on the

USDA to enforce the existing regulations that it had already found to be

unenforceable.

Balking, Poshard, the 110 members of the House, and Senators Paul Simon

(D-Ill.), Carol Mosely Braun (D-Ill.), and Paul Wellman (DFL-Minnesota)

sent the original letter--but the damage was done, in that Santorum and HSUS

drew national publicity for ostensibly seeking tougher USDA-APHIS-REAC

enforcement, even as Santorum's rewritten letter sent the message to

Congress that efforts to help APHIS-REAC get the regulatory tools it needs

won't get Republican support in the Senate.

Also at the Santorum/Pacelle press conference, APHIS staffer Cynthia Eck

was left to lament that the USDA lacks the authority to regulate either pet

stores or breeders who only sell directly to the public, and that lack of

personnel limits APHIS to inspecting the 4,600 federally licensed breeders

and dealers only once a year, on average.

Santorum had seemed a strange sponsor for a crackdown on puppy mills: a

member of the Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus, with little if any record in

support of pro-animal legislation, from Pennsylvania, which state senator

Stewart Greenleaf described in 1993 as "The puppy mill capitol of the world."

Greenleaf was author of an unsuccessful state bill to police puppy mills,

many of which are located in the northern and western parts of the

state--Santorum's base of support as a member of the House, 1991-1994, and

in his 1994 election to the U.S. Senate.

While the AKC position on puppy mill regulation is consistent with the

organization's position as the voice of dog breeders, the AVMA and HSUS

positions were somewhat more surprising. No one at HSUS was talking, on the

record, but ANIMAL PEOPLE was given to understand by well-placed persons

that Pacelle opted for the highest possible profile on the issue, instead

alignment with other humane groups and the signers of the Poshard letter, as

some HSUS staff purportedly favored.

Abney, of the AVMA, told ANIMAL PEOPLE that, "I feel that if those

facilities required to be licensed were licensed and inspected, with

follow-through enforcement [of existing regulations], then the majority of

problems seen with commercial breeding facilities would disappear. If

USDA-APHIS-REAC were to allocate time and resources toward properly enforcing

the current regulations, the welfare of the animals would rapidly improve.

However, if USDA was forced to labor through a cost-benefit analysis

pending the introduction of new regulations, there would be far less

resources to enforce the current regulations. Moreover, if the regulations

were found to be wanting after proper enforcement, then the specific

deficiencies could be addressed directly."

While the House has passed a bill requiring cost-benefit analysis of new

regulations, which Santorum strongly favors, the bill has not cleared the

Senate, and even if passed by the Senate, is almost certain to be vetoed by

President Bill Clinton. Abney's response further overlooked that APHIS-REAC

has already declared a lack of essential resources and has reported on

specific regulatory deficiencies; that's what occasioned Poshard's letter in

the first place.

So advised, AVMA assistant director of scientific activities John Boyce

reiterated that, "Dr. Abney and I, along with several of our colleagues,

are attempting to represent the official position of the AVMA on this issue,

namely that our first priority should be to see that USDA receives adequate

funding to allow proper enforcement of existing animal care regulations."

Yet not one word in the Santorum letter even hinted at making more funding

available to the USDA.

That left another possible explanation: specific regulatory requirements

applied to breeding facilities might also be applied, as a basic care

standard, in various pending state efforts to regulate boarding kennels--a

common sideline of veterinary clinics. The veterinary community is sensitive

to regulation of boarding kennels right now due to a series of tangles with

the American Boarding Kennel Association over alleged conflict of interest in

regulations which require facilities to be approved by a veterinarian or have

a "veterinarian of record." ABKA officers in Connecticut and North Carolina

recently persuaded state agriculture authorities to suspend veterinary

approval requirements, because veterinarians could potentially protect a

monopoly on providing boarding service by refusing to approve kennels run by

non-vets.

Perhaps significantly, the Santorum letter includes in place of the Poshard

letter's request for a specific requirement that dogs get daily exercise,

the phrase "Exercise guidelines, as determined by the attending

veterinarian, must be followed." Thus, if a vet runs a breeding kennel,

he could do about exercise whatever he/she pleases.

VP DAVID WILLS FIRED

The puppy mill flap was just one headache for HSUS president Paul Irwin and

Humane Society International president John Hoyt, whose organization is the

umbrella for HSUS and several affiliated organizations. On August 9, they

were obliged to put HSUS vice president David Wills on administrative

leave. On August 11, after rumors about the circumstances raced through the

animal protection community, Wills was fired.

Just weeks earlier, in June, Hoyt and Irwin, both former clergymen,

presided over a lavish Mexican wedding for Wills and Laurie White, former

wife of PETA president Alex Pacheco, now a volunteer for the Washington

Humane Society. Some sources told ANIMAL PEOPLE that Pacelle and Ark Trust

Genesis project assistant Kirsten Rosenberg, who were married at about the

same time, were wed at the same ceremony.

Wills' departure came as HSUS/HSI board members questioned the use of

HSUS/HSI funds to pay wedding-related costs and cover Wills' personal debts.

Insiders told ANIMAL PEOPLE that Wills had drawn significant loans against

his $70,000-plus salary, had taken a female subordinate abroad without prior

authorization, had submitted expense accounts including business lunches and

other meetings that never took place, and had transferred a female staffer

to longtime friend Pacelle's office in an purported attempt to keep people

with knowledge of his personal affairs from comparing notes. Details of some

of the alleged transactions were recorded by current and former employees,

who also alleged sexual harassment by Wills at various times over a

three-year period. Several serious charges were detailed in a 21-page

affidavit, while further charges, by other plaintiffs, may be included in

affidavits yet to be filed.

On August 9, an e-mail message to HSUS staff announced that Wills' duties

as director of companion animals and investigations would be temporarily

handled by John Kullberg, president of the American SPCA 1979-1991, and head

of the HSUS Wildlife Land Trust since October 1994.

Earlier in the summer, Wills accepted the June 30 recommendation of circuit

court mediation judge Steven N. Andrews of Oakland County, Michigan, that

he should pay $42,500 restitution and damages to Sandra LeBost, of Royal

Oak, Michigan, who allegedly loaned Wills $28,311 and her father's gold

watch, with a claimed worth of $10,000, and was not repaid, when Wills

left his former post as executive director of the Michigan Humane Society to

form the National Society for Animal Protection in mid-1989. Wills headed

NSAP, now dormant, for two years before taking his HSUS job.

A mediation judge is believed to have recommended that Wills pay $21,000 to

William and Judith McBride, of Ortonville, Michigan, who allegedly loaned

Wills $20,000 in May and June, 1991, and were also not repaid. That case,

however, will apparently go to court. Meanwhile, a pre-settlement probe

of Wills' ability to pay the recommended sums reported that according to the

Washington D.C. registrar of deeds, the street address Wills furnished to

the court apparently does not exist.

Wills' fall from grace after several years as Hoyt's heir-apparent left in

doubt the positions of Pacelle and lobbyists Aaron Medlock and Bill Long,

whom Wills recruited from the Fund for Animals in April 1994. Also in

question was the further association with HSUS of DeDay LaRene, a longtime

Wills pal who joined HSUS to do community service after spending a year in

federal prison for helping Joey Giacalone conceal $410,000 from the IRS.

LaRene had represented Giacalone since a 1975 grand jury probe of the

disappearance of former Teamster boss Jimmy Hoffa, and in 1988 represented

Robert Miles, Michigan grand dragon of the Ku Klux Klan. Yet another HSUS

staffer believed likely to be packing was Joan Witt, LaRene's wife, who

followed Wills from a humane society post in Nashua, New Hampshire, first

to MHS and then to HSUS.

ANIMAL PEOPLE was told by senior persons within HSUS that negotiations over

a possible HSUS takeover of the Washington D.C. animal control contract,

begun by Wills, will continue. The Washington Humane Society contract

expired in May. The major obstacle to the deal is purportedly the intention

of WHS to keep responsibility for anti-cruelty enforcement, granted to it by

Congress, which administrates Washington D.C.

STUMBLING BLOCH

At deadline ANIMAL PEOPLE was still investigating whether either HSUS or

HSUS senior officers took investment advice from financial radio talk show

host I.H. "Sonny" Bloch, and if so, what the result was. Bloch, 58, was

associated with HSUS for at least a decade, first as host of a TV program

about pets and later, from 1991 until spring 1995, as a member of the HSUS

board of directors. Bloch is now in federal prison in Manhattan, awaiting

multiple trials, beginning with a federal court suit filed in Newark, New

Jersey in December 1994 by 280 investors from 33 states, alleging Bloch

fraudulently induced them to invest $9.38 million in a worthless wireless

cable system.

A longtime resident of Tampa, Florida, Bloch fled to the Dominican

Republic in March 1995, purportedly to avoid "persecution" by federal agents

who were probing accusations of financial misdealings and statutory rape.

Bloch declared his innocence.

Statutory rape charges have apparently not been filed to date. However, on

May 26, as Bloch was still broadcasting daily from Santo Domingo, the

Securities and Exchange Commission charged him and four others with bilking

investors of $3.8 million by selling $21 million worth of memberships in

firms set up to buy three radio stations. Later that day, Dominican

authorities arrested Bloch at request of the FBI and returned him to the U.S.

Then, on July 7, federal prosecutors in Manhattan indicted Bloch on eight

counts of tax fraud, perjury, and obstruction of justice, regarding his

financial dealings from 1991 through 1993 with Broadcast Management

Corporation, the producer of his financial talk show, which aired on 170

stations from 1980 until earlier this year.

HSUS NOTES

Dennis White, recently dismissed after 19 years as head of the American

Humane Association's animal protection division, has been hired to represent

HSUS in Dallas, Texas. * HSUS field reps are reportedly now being asked

to work from their homes, without secretarial service. Several regional

posts are vacant, and the HSUS service regions are apparently being

realigned to cut the number of regional reps.

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