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
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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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