The Humane Economy
March 24, 2016 | In this talk, Wayne Pacelle explores the concept of a humane economy and his perspective on the economics of animal exploitation. He suggests a practical roadmap for how we can use the marketplace to promote the welfare of all living creatures. Pacelle is President and CEO of the Humane Society of the US.Related Events: The Humane Economy
This presentation is brought to you by Arizona State University's Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability and a generous investment by Julie Ann Wrigley. Wrigley Lecture Series-- world renowned thinkers and problem solvers engage the community in dialogues to address sustainability challenges.
Katherine Gross: Welcome everyone. On behalf of the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability, Sosa and I would like to welcome you tonight. My name is Catherine Gross. I'm a student at ASU and in addition to the student organization, Veg Aware, I am also an intern with the Humane Society of the United States Arizona, which has been an incredible experience. I nominated our special guest, Wayne Pacelle, to be a Wrigley speaker and I'm so thrilled that he's here today.Let me tell you more about the Wrigley Lecture Series on Sustainability. It is funded by Julie Ann Wrigley and the series brings world-renowned thinkers and problem-solvers to campus where they engage the community in addressing sustainability challenges. Wrigley speakers are chosen by a select committee of sustainability scientists, graduate and undergraduate students like myself, and the Wrigley Institute staff members.
These special visitors stimulate our efforts in sustainability research and education to ensure that our programs meet the needs of a changing worlds. Wrigley visitors offer more than a concluding hour-long speech that encapsulates their life's work. On Wrigley days, our speakers meet informally with faculty members, students, and community members in a variety of settings.
Now I'd like to introduce to you Dr. Deborah Wilson. Dr. Wilson is a renowned surgeon. She is on the Arizona State Council of the Humane Society of the United States Arizona and she is one of Arizona's most effective and passionate animal advocates. She is also on the HSUS farm animal protection council.
Her animal rescue and sanctuary, the Circle L Ranch in Prescott Valley, is constantly overflowing with rescued animals and often home to over 60 dogs, several litters of puppies, 18 horses, one mule, 17 sheep, 90 goats, forty geese-- four geese, I'm sorry-- four roosters, seven hens, over 200 rescued animals total. I'm honored to introduce Dr. Deborah Wilson.[APPLAUSE]
Deborah Wilson: Thank you. So this is Sosa and Sosa is the very fortunate recipient of the services of the Humane Society of the United States rural area veterinary services. Sosa was on Apache reservation in San Carlos and was hit by a car and her leg was injured and it needed to be amputated.
So I am honored to be able to introduce one of the people I respect and admire most in this world, Wayne Pacelle, the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Humane Society of the United States. I have known Wayne for over 10 years now and I think more than anyone else I know or know of, Wayne has committed his life to the animals. Wayne speaks for the animals, he advocates for the animals, he writes for the animals, he testifies in front of Senate and Congress for the animals. He will do anything for the animals.
And when it comes down to a crisis, to Katrina, to a puppy mill rescue, to a dog fighting raid, Wayne is right in there with the rest of us with his sleeves rolled up, mucking around like we do. He has written two books. The first book, The Bond, Our Kinship with Animals, Our Call to Defend Them was published in 2011 and was a New York Times bestseller.
His second book, The Humane Economy, How Innovators and Consumers are Transforming the Lives of Animals will be released next month. This book is a story of how entrepreneurs, Fortune 500 CEOs, world-class scientists, forward-thinking philanthropists, and a new class of political and governmental leaders, both inspired and pressured by conscious consumers, are changing the lives for animals. Wayne Pacelle.
Wayne Pacelle: You know, someone who has so many animals in her home and her sanctuary, what an amazing example of humanity and decency Deborah is. And I'm really humbled to be here. Cat, thank you for that very wonderful introduction. I'm so glad that each of you has come out tonight. Thank you very, very much for being part of this.
Dr. Wilson said that this is a passion of mine and it always has been a great passion ever since I was a little kid, animals have always occupied the mental space for me. And I really didn't need anyone to tell me that I needed to be good to animals. I wasn't alert to the wide range of problems that exist for animals, but I knew that we as a human species, as individuals needed to do our best and to protect animals from cruelty.
So I'm especially glad to be out here in Arizona, a state that has had a number of animal issues on the ballot. And the people of the state I'm always favored ballot measures, whether it's outlawing cockfighting or banning steel jaw traps or stopping extreme confinement of animals on factory farms or defeating terrible measures that were submitted to the ballot by the legislature to kind of enshrine trophy hunting rights or to do other things that were really inimical to animal welfare.
And I'm also glad to be specifically at the School of Sustainability. I mean, what a wonderful concept it is to have a teaching institution that talks about our responsibilities to the planet and to one another. So Lauren, thank you, Lauren Kuby, thank you very much for having me and of course, the Wrigley Lecture Series has so many wonderful and esteemed people. I am, as they say, very, very pleased to be among them and among these great leaders who are really asking us to do more as individuals and a society to protect this planet and, of course, to protect the creatures who live on it and depend upon our goodness and our mercy.
So tonight I want to tell you a little bit about this new book that I've written that Debbie has mentioned called the Humane Economy. And I want to get into it first by just mentioning a little bit about the Humane Society of the United States. I've been privileged to serve as President and CEO of the organization for the last 11, nearly 12 years. And it is a perfect fit for me because it advocates for all animals. And I am concerned about companion animals. I'm concerned about farm animals. I'm concerned about wild animals, wherever they are-- whether they're in Arizona or other parts of the US or anywhere in the world. And as you can see from this montage of different species, these are all creatures that we advocate on behalf of.
And it really is an amazing circumstance that animals are everywhere in our lives. And one aspect that I try to drop out in this book is that animals are actually a big part of our economy. And they've been a big part of the economy in terms of people exploiting them. That's been one big rationale for people having animals and using them, but there's a new economy that's being built that's grounded on the idea of appreciating animals and tapping into this vast and emerging sentiment that exists that recognizes the place of animals in our society. And it's the tension between those two visions of how we're going to handle animals in the economy that is really the central work of the organization that I represent and work for.
You know, when we think about animals and the economy, you can really monetize many dimensions of how we're dealing with animals. 171 million dogs and cats live in our homes and then if you add in the rabbits and the hamsters and so many other species, it's about 350 million animals in our homes.
There are more pets than people in American households and we spend more than $60 billion a year on these creatures-- not just food, but also veterinary care and toys. I know that our Lily gets a lot of toys and a lot of different kinds of treats that we're buying all the time.
And so many of us who have animals in our lives treat these creatures as members of the family. They are not ornaments, they are not things to just have around when we happen to like them. They are members of our lives, our family, and we care about them, we celebrate them, and when we lose them, we grieve for them. And what a human response it is and an appropriate response to grieve when we lose these creatures.
We also are connected to nature. We spend at least $55 billion a year on wildlife watching and other wildlife appreciation activities. We have a whole network of national parks in the United States.
You've got Petrified Forest here, you've got Grand Canyon, you've got lots of other federal lands, and lots of state parks. All over the United States parks and places are places of refuge for us as well as for animals. We're deeply connected to nature.
You can look at the biggest cities in the United States like New York City, the most populous city in the US. Right in the middle of the city the planners of that city designed a park, Central Park, a place even in the height of civilization, human construction, and architecture, road building, we wanted a place where people could go and kind of take a deep breath and see green spaces and breathe some fresh air. Parks and places that protect animals are really part of who we are.
And, you know, this notion of how we treat the animals is not some invention of contemporary times. It's been something that's been around as a notion for so many years, but looking at our contemporary times, it's a map of the United States, of course, and if you can see on the lower corner of this slide, this is a status of lawmaking on malicious cruelty to animals in 1985.
So there are three keys. One is this blue pit bull type dog represents a state in 1985 that had a felony level penalty for dogfighting. So you can see a few states did, New Mexico here, and then Kansas and Oklahoma, maybe about 10 states. And then the next one is this white chicken or rooster. And that represents a state that had felony level penalties for cockfighting in 1985. You can see very few states, Wisconsin and New York and, you know, just three or four or five states. And then, finally, this yellow cat-- the colors aren't really coming out great resolution here-- this cat represents a state that had felony level penalties for general malicious cruelty, doing something really terrible to an animal. You can see a few states had it, but not many.
We said at the Humane Society, I mean, this is unacceptable. I mean, if we are going to address issues broadly of how human beings relate to animals, we are going to have to have a baseline standard of care. We cannot just have a slap on the wrist or no slap at all for people who exhibit the most intentional and malicious forms of cruelty. So we said, one thing we've got to do is change this legal framework.
So we've been working state by state and, of course, at the federal level as well to strengthen the legal framework for animals. And now this is what it looks like.
This map has been filled out and what it says, I think, to the nation, to the world is that we don't tolerate malicious cruelty to animals, no stage fights. Unfortunately, we had to do this on the ballot here, not in the legislature. The legislature wouldn't outlaw cockfighting here in Arizona, but we took it to the people and it was overwhelmingly approved.
So one of the things that we're working on now is, of course, having this anti-cruelty sensibility be broadly applied. And if you think about the work of the Humane Society of the United States, you think, well, we're not really debating the issue of whether cruelty to animals is wrong. That legal framework that I showed you already kind of shows that we've resolved that question.
The key question for us today is how do we logically apply anti-cruelty principles in a world where animals are used in so many different sectors of the economy and where their use is often tied to so many practices that intersect with our daily lives like the food we eat, the household products and cosmetics that we buy in the store, the clothes that we wear, the coats and other garments, the gloves and the boots and the shoes, the forms of entertainment like going to the circus or going to SeaWorld and other forms of entertainment to have live animal acts, and I could go on and on and on.
That is really the central question of what we're trying to accomplish is to more logically apply this notion that all animals matter and that we should be decent to them. You know, we're starting to see more and more laws to protect exotic animals and to deal with puppy mills, but there's also a backlash to try to stop us from taking pictures of animals on large scale farms or to enshrine the existing state of the law which might be deficient in terms of animal protection by passing, say, right to farm measure.
So we've got a real mix and blend of issues that are being debated in state legislatures, in the Congress, debated in corporate boardrooms. And we're at a very vibrant time in the history of the animal protection movement when we're really reaching a tipping point in terms of really accepting the idea that animals matter and that protection of animals should be enshrined in the law and should be enshrined in the policies of corporations that have animals in their operational models.
So-- just looking up here-- so, you know, these are some difficult images to see and they, I think, reflect some diversity of uses of animals in our society. And, as I said, you know, it's not just that we have dogs or cats in our homes or it's not just that the marine mammals [INAUDIBLE], animals are everywhere in our lives.
And they're built into so many economic activities that a lot of people don't even think about. They don't ponder what's going on in food and agricultural, in testing and wildlife management, And one of the things that we're trying to do is ask people of conscience to take these matters in a very serious way and to act on these beliefs.
And, of course, this notion that I've advanced here with the Humane Economy is that we don't have to have winners and losers. We can have a robust, growing economy and also be good to animals. In fact, my argument is that only the companies that are good to animals are the ones, in the end, that are going to succeed because now we have this mass of consumers who are increasingly alert to the needs of animals.
You know, it wasn't that long ago when we thought that animals were just kind of operating purely by instinct, people denied that they could feel pain like we humans do, a lot of people thought they were just in this endless quest of food gathering and mating, and there wasn't much to their lives. We now know from the work of Jane Goodall with chimpanzees in Africa and Donald Griffin and all the work he's done with bats and other species and so many other scientists that these animals have rich lives.
They have a sense of past and future. They have a feeling of love and appreciation for their family members. They have the same spark of life that we have. They have the same desire to live that we have. They may not be our equals in terms of mental capacity, in creating the things that we have created as a species, but in their capacity to suffer, they are equals. And in terms of relevant moral criteria, that, to me, is the key one.
You know, when I think about the humanity economy, I think about this issue of whales. You know, we were once the greatest-- greatest in the sense of the biggest-- whaling nation in the world. We had ships that left ports in New Bedford and Nantucket and they would ply the world's oceans in search of right whales and humpback whales, and blue whales, and fin whales. And people killed those whales and cut them up, extracted the oil, and whale oil fuel the 18th century and 19th century economies of a growing nation, the United States, but in the latter part of the 19th century, the second half, we developed petroleum and we began also to begin to think about our responsibilities to animals.
After the Civil War you had the first conservation groups formed, you had more and more science, Charles Darwin advanced his theories of evolution and the continuity of life, and we began to realize well, we may be able to generate energy in other ways and we also are now recognizing that these whales are the largest animals who ever lived on the planet. They can be 100 feet long and be 100 tons in terms of the biggest blue whales. Should we be killing them? Should we be harpooning them just for some whale oil when we now have alternatives?
And you can kind of fast forward to our current circumstance where the United States, once the biggest whaling nation in the world, is now the biggest opponent of commercial whaling in the world. We lead international efforts to stop whaling and now only three nations in the world the 200 or so nations still engaged in commercial whaling and it's a dying activity in all three of those countries-- Japan, Norway, and Iceland. And in its place, now we have a new business built on the appreciation of whales. We have whale watching tours that leave from Monterrey or from Los Angeles or now from New Bedford or Nantucket.
And the only place we see the whaling ships is in the museums that talk about this portion of our US history. And now it's a multibillion dollar economic enterprise to keep whales alive and to watch them. And the beauty is you can watch them over and over and over again. You can kill them only once but you can watch them 100, 200, or 500 times. That is sustainability, that is humane, and that is economic progress, and I think, for all of us here tonight, a great example of what it means to think about the humane economy.
This is Lily, whom I mentioned to you before. And this is at a PetSmart. And, you know, PetSmart, based here in Phoenix, is one of the big brand names in the area of pet supplies and pets. And it was a couple decades ago that PetSmart and just about every other pet store in the United States was selling dogs for profit and those dogs were produced by breeders, typically in the Midwest-- in Iowa and Kansas and Missouri and Nebraska, maybe Pennsylvania or a few other states-- and the dogs were kind of raised like farm animals were raised on farms.
It was an agricultural mentality. The mother dogs, the breeding dogs, were kept in a cage. They were impregnated every cycle. They were kept outside during the extremes of heat or cold. They were never getting in the house. They might have hundreds of dogs in a single one of these puppy mills. They were denied veterinarian care. And when they were used up, they were killed and discarded.
That is the state of puppy mills in the US and the pet stores were the ones that were channeling and selling those dogs who were inhumanely produced at these mills, mainly in the middle part of the country. But PetSmart, in the 90s, said were going to upend in that model. We're going to stop getting dogs from puppy mills and we're going to open our doors to rescue groups and shelters and we're going to kind of trade on the idea of people meeting this incredible new family member and bringing this new family member into their lives, like we brought Lily into our lives.
And they saw that when people adopted a dog from the shelter, they spent five times more with lots of toys and lots of beds and lots of food. And they were monetizing the idea of love and appreciation for animals. So PetSmart has grown as an enormous company. In fact, in 2014 there was a private equity, it was the largest private equity deal in the world, where PetSmart was acquired by one of these private equity entities and it was the biggest private equity deal in the world.
It wasn't a mining company that was purchased, it wasn't a telecom company that was purchased, it wasn't a defense contractor, it was a pet store chain. That really speaks to the incredible power of pets and animals in our lives. And Lily, we adopted her at a PetSmart in northern Virginia and she is the love of our life for sure.
You know, it was a year ago, March, that Ringling Brothers decided that it was going to give up its elephants in traveling acts. It's a campaign that HSUS and so many other animal organizations had launched decades ago that continued. The notion that elephants, the biggest land mammals in the world, are going to go to Milwaukee for three days and then they're going to go to Minneapolis and then they're going to go to Fargo and then they're going to go to Cheyenne and then they're going to go to Denver.
And they're on the road for 350 days a year. They're on chains 22 hours a day. The only time they get off of the chains is when they're walked over to the rink when they do their performances. And the handlers all have bull hooks.
I mean the public was saying no, we don't want this. These animals are incredible, they're intelligent, they're smart, they live in the wild with their extended family groups. And they live in an equatorial part of the world, whether India or the Asian elephants or the African elephants om Kenya or Tanzania or Botswana.
And Ringling Brothers realized that the public, especially kids, was turning away from this idea that they had seen investigations of what happens the elephants or they just saw that the elephants were just unhappy being shuttled around and on these boxcars on trains.
And it was a real moment in the history of the animal protection movement when Ringling decided to give up the elephants. And, you know, was a cartoon just after this that basically, OK, we're in better shape, but what about you orcas at SeaWorld? And as some of you saw last week, we had a pretty big announcement about this issue.
And-- it was a book called death at SeaWorld by a friend of mine, David Kirby, who really talked about the death of Dawn Brancheau, was a trainer of orcas and was involved in the performances. And she was killed by a whale named Tilikum and Kirby didn't talk just about that, but talked about the frustration that the orcas feel and them being in a small pool and how they can live 100 years in the wild.
And then there was also a documentary called Blackfish that has been running serially on CNN. Many of you have probably seen this. And this really begin to change public attitudes toward SeaWorld and toward the captive display industry.
And this was what happened to the stock price of SeaWorld. So once the public began to see what--
--once the public saw the real story, they didn't like it. And, again, thinking about the principles of the humane economy, these notions of the public really begin to understand and then boycotting or talking to friends or others, telling other people, don't go, started to have an effect and the stock price drop precipitously, attendance dropped. And, of course, we live in this dynamic world and it was really exciting for me to, with the CEO of SeaWorld, to announce last week that they were ending the breeding of orcas that they were going to shift their model to a rescue and rehabilitation model for marine mammals, and that they were going to start and join with us in our global campaigns against commercial sealing and whaling and shark penning.
And we even got them to change their food policy at SeaWorld where they have 22 and 1/2 million customers and 20,000 employees. They're all doing-- SeaWorld is going to do only cage free eggs, crate free pork, sustainable seafood. They're going to have vegan options. This is an incredible--
--incredible transformation and example of the humane economy at work. And notably, when we made the announcement on Thursday, on Thursday and Friday the stock price went up about 15.5%, showing that when you do the right thing, you're going to be rewarded in the humane economy.
You know, the economy has so many different areas where animals are used. They've been used in cosmetic tests, poisoning animals at high dosages, feeding animals chemicals and compounds or finished cosmetic products until half the animals die. And they put the products in the eye at a dosage level that we would never really experience and the eye is severely injured. These became customary practices in terms of the research and development activities from many companies and we said, no, this is not acceptable, it doesn't give you reliable results and now we have better ways.
We can use safer ingredients, things that would not poison us or hurt our eyes and we can test some of these new compounds and chemicals with 21st century technologies-- high throughput tests and other methods that can give us a much more sophisticated read on the toxicity or lack of toxicity of these products. And we're now seeing an incredible global movement to end cosmetic testing and chemical testing on animals.
India, the second biggest country in the world by population, just a couple of years ago at our urging not only banned any cosmetic testing on animals but said you cannot sell any cosmetics in India, 1.2 billion people, if you tested the cosmetics on animals somewhere else, closing off the entire market, one of the biggest countries in the world.
The European Union did the same thing for the 30 or so countries that are part of the EU, 500 million people in that market. When global companies can now get no access to India and the EU and New Zealand and other countries, the writing is on the wall that change has to come and we're seeing great change. All of these brands are stopped, have stopped using animals for their cosmetic tests, an incredible group and we're going to see that number expand. This, again, is the humane economy in progress.
And many of you, I'm sure, heard about the killing of Cecil by a Minnesota dentist this summer. He had a guide and he and the guide took part of an elephant and used the elephant as bait to lure Cecil out of Hwange National Park and then shot Cecil with an arrow and then posed for this photo after killing Cecil. A very brave Zimbabwean activist heard about this, got word out, created an international furor, and the public really began to wake up to the realities of globe trotting trophy hunting where wealthy Americans travel all over the world to kill the rarest animals, to accumulate points, if you will, within the trophy-hunting community.
So the Africa Big Five is an award you get if you shoot a lion, a leopard, a Cape Buffalo, a rhino, and an elephants. There are antler games of the world, there are bears of the world where you shoot five of the eight bears, there are cats of the world where you shoot six of the eight big cats of the world. This is a trophy hunting subculture that exists and Americans are at the center of it killing these animals all over the world in this competitive trophy hunting enterprise.
So we and others began to say, you know, not only are we going to try to shut down the American market to these imports-- and we now have gotten the United States to list African lions as threatened or endangered and it's going to stop the flow of trophies into the United States. We got that done just a couple of months ago. But we also worked with the airlines to get them to stop shipping trophies of any members of the African Big Five at all-- not to the United States and not to any other place. So these are the airlines that have committed to no shipping of trophies. An incredible, incredible [INAUDIBLE].
So, you know, the airlines didn't have to have their accountants and other people doing a lot of arithmetic on this issue. The pool of people interested in trophy hunting is in the thousands. The pool of people interested in seeing lions and elephants and leopards and other creatures is in the tens and hundreds of millions. The economic potential of wildlife watching is so much more vast. Why would these companies want to jeopardize their brand by having a tiny percentage of their passengers involved in this trade and trafficking of animal parts when so many other consumers are going to judge whether this is a good company or a bad company based on what they're carrying in the cargo hold.
And we're seeing a broader change. This is an ad that the government of Botswana took in National Geographic magazine. Botswana in 2014, took effect in 2015, banned all trophy hunting of elephants and all other creatures.
This is only two million people in Botswana. It's the largest elephant population in all of Africa. It's got lions and leopards and all of these incredible creatures. They used to be the biggest trophy hunting country along with South Africa in Africa and they banned it overnight. And what they're now doing is saying come to Botswana by the millions, you know, to see and appreciate our wildlife and leave these creatures intact. This, again, is the humane economy in progress.
And, you know, there is plenty of economic analysis to support this. It's, of course, common sense, but there was a study done to show that elephants are 76 times more valuable to the economies of Africa alive than dead. You kill the elephant and the trophy hunting escapade or you kill them for their ivory to provide this product in the international marketplace for trinkets or other sorts of things made from ivory, but when people go and see these animals, that's where the millions of dollars are generated. You know, when people go to Africa, they're not generally going to see the architecture, they're not going there to see-- they're going to see the greatest, you know, assemblage of wildlife in the world.
And the future of these African countries, the future of their economic health, the future in terms of jobs for young people and women depends on preserving these wild creatures. That is the future of the African continent. So many of the countries in Africa and so many leaders in Africa now recognize this and that's why Botswana, that's why Kenya banned sport hunting, that's why Rwanda, you have these incredible experiences to go see the mountain gorillas in Rwanda. It's the biggest industry in Rwanda. Protecting those gorillas is part of a moral responsibility, but it's also part of economic and national security for these countries.
And, you know, I mentioned fashion too. Just a few months ago, we announced that Hugo Boss the luxury fashion retailer, is ending its sale of fur. And just on Tuesday we announce that Giorgio Armani is also leaving fur aside.[APPLAUSE]
You know, when you have expeditions who go to the North Pole or to the South Pole, are people decked out in a bobcat coat or a coyote coat? No. We've got Gore-Tex, we've got products that we have developed, whether synthetic or natural fibers that keep us much warmer. We now can mimic almost entirely the fur of animals with fake fur. There is no reason to kill 20 or 30 or 40 animals to make a fur coat whether they're trapped in the wild or raised on a fur factory. This is a relic of an earlier era in our history and now it's time to move on.
We can have successful fashion, we can keep ourselves warm, we can be stylish without leaving a trail of animal victims in the process. It's not about sacrificing. We can have all of the things that we want. But just make an easy choice with a better outcome for the animals. It's that simple in this day and age. We have this incredible human creativity. We can figure out these problems and that's what's at the core of the humane economy, the idea that we are smart enough to figure out a different way.
And one of the biggest issues of all, of course, is the raising of animals for food. The average American eats 29 or so animals a year. Think about that. I mean, Dr. Wilson rescues a lot of dogs, you know, personally. Most of us aren't capable of that sort of sacrifice and that level of commitment but just by eating more thoughtfully you could save 5 or 10 or 15 or, if you go all the way, 29 animals a year, just by eating more or only plant-based foods.
And, you know, now we have so many companies that are producing plant based proteins that are so similar to meat in terms of their texture and their taste. They're superior in their nutritional qualities and they don't come with the bad stuff like the hormones or the ractopamine or the other things that we feed these animals in order to keep them from getting sick in these overcrowded environments or to accelerate or spur their growth so that they are getting to a market weight in a short period of time and then we can slaughter them.
And, you know, when you think about what we're doing with these animals on these farms, if you really kind of pull the curtain back and see what we are doing to them, you think, oh my god, this is just madness, but somehow we become socialized to accept these routine practices as acceptable. You know, these poor laying hens in this cage, there are six or eight birds in a cage, and under the industry voluntary standard which 25% of the egg producers don't even meat, the birds get 67 square inches of space per bird.
Every standard 8 1/2 by 11 sheet of paper is 93 square inches. I mean, you have an average copy paper, not the legal sheets, 8 1/2 by 14 or 11 by 14, whatever it is, the normal size 8 and 1/2 by 11 is 93 square inches, about that big. Each bird gets 2/3 the size of that sheet of paper to live on that amount of space for the 12 to 18 months that she's alive.
It would be like a small elevator in an office building that you spend some time in. Think of the smallest elevator that you've ever been in and think about six or eight people in that elevator and it's stuck. I mean, you'd go crazy after 30 minutes. Think about an hour, think about six hours, think about 24 hours, think about, well, maybe they'll push some food in front of you once a day, maybe give you a drink of water. Think about two months or six months or a year.
I mean, this is madness. Are we this miserly that that's the best we can do? Are we this uncreative that that's the best we can achieve an agricultural production? Are we this heartless to do this to these living, breathing suffering creatures who depend on our mercy and are a goodness and our decency?
I mean, this is ridiculous. It should never have gotten this bad and it should never have been the system that came to dominate US egg production in the United States. So here you have a hen who through a normal reproductive process is producing an egg. She doesn't need to be killed, yet we're still putting them through this torment.
Or think about these pigs. You know, we have so much information about the intelligence of pigs. You know, so many scientists have said they are at least as smart as dogs are. They have this great nose. They want to root around in the mud, they want to search for grubs. They eat insects. They're omnivorous. They're not just this slothful creature that just lays in the mud and doesn't move. They move around. Look at wild pigs. Look at their behavior in the wild. But this is what we do to them?
We take a 300 or 400 or 500 pound breeding sow and put her in a two foot wide crate about as wide as my shoulders? Seven feet long, she's pretty long, five and a half, six feet. The only thing she can do for the three years basically that she's in the crate producing piglets is to take one step forward and one step back. I mean, they go mad, they wave their heads back and forth, they chew on the bars of the crates.
I can tell you, I've been to these farms. I've been to these pig farms, I've been to these egg factories. I went to an egg factory that 10 million birds, had a complex of facilities. They were stacked eight high. I mean, think of big cities in Arizona. I mean, there were more birds in one building than there are the biggest cities all crammed together. That is conventional agriculture.
And, yes, it's efficient, yes it produces cheap-- in terms of the cost of the supermarket-- cheap eggs and cheap pork, but at what moral cost and what cost in terms of the waste, the public health problems of antibiotic resistant bacteria, the problems of property values dropping as this load of manure comes from all these animals crammed in one place with untreated waste going into lagoons that pollutes the air and purifies the water?
I mean, what are the costs? The costs are so expensive when you factor all the externalities and when you have a true accounting of what's going on. The heart disease, the cancers that are associated with a diet heavy in animal product consumption with all these hormones and other products given to the animals. The good news is that finally, we're breaking through. We're starting to see animals if they're going to be raised for food at least they're allowed to move.
You know, animals with wings and legs, animals built to move should be allowed to move. It's that basic. You know, it's not complicated animal rights theory. It's just common sense. These are living beings and now, really because of the work of HSUS and other groups where we've thrown back the curtain on what's happening and we've really got the public stirred up about these issues, we're starting to see big change.
Big companies like Nestle, the biggest food company in the world, has adopted the five freedoms of animal welfare. Wal-Mart, the biggest retailer in the world that sells 25% of all groceries has also adopted the five freedoms of farm animal welfare. McDonald's in September for the $2 billion plus exit buys says it's going to entirely cage free.
And what's happening is an absolute revolution in the pig industry and also in the egg industry. And we have convinced all the big names, just about all the big names, in food retail-- whether the fast food companies like McDonald's or Burger King, or they're food service providers like Aramark or Sodexo, or grocery chains like Basha's or Albertson's or Safeway or Costco, they're now all starting to change their supply chains to reflect the sensibility about animals.
So these are just some of the companies that have gone cage free. Here are some others and others. Just in the last--
--almost all of these companies just in the last six months have taken this step. Again, a small step for us. A small step, in some ways, for these companies, but a very, very big step for us as a society and certainly for these animals.
And, you know, this whole notion of the humane economy is one that I'm hoping becomes part of our national discussion, this idea that we cannot disassociate our commerce and our business from our values. When we go to work, we don't leave our values behind. I mean, we live in a capitalist economy. The businesses that are doing work, providing jobs are the core of our society. They're supposed to play by the rules, they're supposed to reach for high standards.
Businesses produce goods and services that are valuable for us. They enhance and enrich our lives. They give us flat screen TVs, they give us iPhones, they give us all sorts of things that are so important to us. In the process of getting those products and so many others to market we don't want to violate and compromise our principles.
I mean, food companies should not be pushing food on us that comes from tortured animals. Cosmetic companies should not be doing poisoning of animals as a customary practice to get those products to market.Clothing company should not be relying on trappers to put out steel jawed traps to kill bobcats and beavers and other creatures to keep us warm with our coats. Ringling Brothers should not be keeping elephants on chains for 22 hours a day and shipping them to 120 cities a year.
I mean, these are crazy things. We can do better. We are not making some complicated argument about animal rights. We're really talking more about human responsibility. It's more about us than it is about them as animals. Of course, we have to accept the basic principle that animals think and feel, but any person who is conscious knows that to be true. We are really talking about acting on established values.
If we accept that cruelty to animals is wrong, we cannot countenance the sorts of things that I've shown you in pictures on these slides. We can and must and should do better. If we are so great as a species, and we are, we should be able to figure this out.
The whole watchword of human history has changed. We moved from the telegraph to the telephone to the iPhone, the internet. We moved from the horse and buggy to the internal combustion engine to aircraft travel. I mean, think of any industry and think of the progress that we've seen to bring us to where we are. Think of architecture. Think of almost any business and, of course, they've been changing.
It's time that we change the way that animals are treated in businesses that were grounded on animal exploitation. It's right for animals, it's right increasingly for the businesses because that's what we're expecting as a society that is more and more alert to the needs of animals.
But this sort of change that happens across different sectors of the economy is not self-executing. It happens because there are good people who stand up and demand reform. The whole history of our country is built on thought leaders and principled people who said we've got to do things a better way, whether they were moral crusaders or business entrepreneurs.
I mean, look at the history of our country. I mean, in the latter part of the 18th century when we were formed, it was just white propertied males who had all the political rights and all the power and had the capital. We had a struggle for the first 80 years of our history to eliminate chattel slavery. We fought a great civil war over it. 600,000 people died. It split the country in half, but people were fighting for a principle that human bondage is unacceptable and it was inconsistent with the principles of our constitution and our Bill of Rights.
Those lofty principles mean something-- freedom, justice, fairness. We had the denial of women's voting rights for 140 years. It wasn't until 1920 that half the population got the right to vote. There were suffragists who fought and battled, who were mocked early in the process, but they fought and they got their right to vote.
And, of course, we look back and think, how could it have taken so long? How could we have been so silly? We've had fights over civil rights in the 50s, in the 60s. We're battling on environmental protection and sustainability, but you better believe we should also be battling for animals.
We have an asymmetrical relationship with them. We can kill them, we can imprison them on factory farms, we can wipe out entire species. We just barely stopped before killing off the bison in the United States. We brought them from 40 to 60 million which is 500 animals in the period of about three decades.
In the 19th century, there were billions of passenger pigeons and in the span of just 40 years they were gone. And that was when we had much more rudimentary technology than we have today. We had the ability to wipe out the most abundant species from the planet even then. So our power is so much greater now to do terrible things to animals.
I mean, factory farming is an example of human ingenuity disassociated from conscience. But when we can think about human ingenuity and marry it to conscience, that's the society that we want. That's the society that we can all be proud of. That's a society with not so many victims.
So I ask each of you to think about your life what you can do to contribute to the cause of stopping systemic cruelty and building a truly humane society, building a humane economy. These animals depend on our agency. They depend on our doing something and no longer being a bystander in the face of these problems. So I hope after tonight you'll join with us and I'm thankful for your being here tonight. Thank you so much.
Deborah Wilson: So we're going to-- some of you sent in questions. I didn't have the mic on for that.
Wayne Pacelle: A little gas from the little puppy.
Deborah Wilson: So some of you sent--
Wayne Pacelle: Nothing to get in a twist about though.
Deborah Wilson: Some of you sent in questions and I will go through them for Wayne and give him an opportunity to answer them. So the first question is, how did the SeaWorld come together and how will Humane Society of the United States ensure that SeaWorld implements the announced changes? Does the agreement include that the orcas that SeaWorld has sent to other parks like Paco-- excuse me-- does--
Wayne Pacelle: Laurel Park?
Deborah Wilson: Yeah, Laurel Park, yeah. So, also, what can we expect to see happen in other animals in captivity at Sea World and will performances be discontinued for the dolphins, porpoises, and sealions?
Wayne Pacelle: Yeah, we've been working on the issue of the treatment of the animals at SeaWorld for many years. And I had a colleague, Naomi Rose, who was an orca PhD. Scientist who studied the orcas in Puget Sound in Washington and we were actually involved years ago with the Keiko issue. After the movie Free Willy there was a orca who was rescued from a really terrible marine park in Central America. And Keiko was brought up to Oregon and there was an attempt to try to release him.
And we've been working on it, other groups have been working on that issue as well. And once Ringling happened a year ago I knew that SeaWorld had been isolated and I knew that there'd have to be change, but I wasn't sure when it would come and how it would come.
And a longtime friend of mine who was a Republican congressman from California-- he had just retired in 2014-- he knew the new CEO of SeaWorld, a guy named Joel Mandy. And he said he thought he was a new kind of leader who could bring SeaWorld into the 21st century. So he said you should talk with him and Joel was nervous, a lot of the folks at SeaWorld were really kind of in battle mode and they were defending what they were doing. But I argued with him that, you know, the humane economy is a real thing, that if your company is going to survive, you've got to change, and the orcas are never going to be the same way seen the same way after Blackfish. And you've got to do something dramatic on that.
And I said not just the orcas, these other animals. If you want to exhibit other animals, you should do your best to get animals who are in need of rescue-- so dolphins who were stranded on the beach or other animals who were in trouble. And if they can be healed but they're unreleasable because they've got injuries, then those animals need a place and you can basically be kind of sheltering and have a sanctuary in place. So I ticked off the different elements of the agreement, but I think it's very, very important. It's a very good advance. It's not perfect, but it was as far as they could go at this time. And one thing I've learned is that so many companies that embrace animal protection, that first step is the toughest and that they will make additional steps after. I've seen that with McDonald's, I've seen that with Walmart, I've seen it with so many other companies in the sector. You've got to start.
So I think the accountability here is that the CEO went on television all over the world and said we're going to do this. And if they don't, then obviously they'll lose all their credibility and will be the subject of withering criticism from us and everybody else. So we'll make sure that it gets done.
Deborah Wilson: Second question, how do you diplomatically approach a company to ask them to enact more humane policies without sounding accusatory or demanding. In other words, what's the Wayne Pacelle secret to getting companies to implement humane policies?
Wayne Pacelle: Well, you know, I'm a big believer in rational thought and I'm a big believer that we have a shared set of values in our society and that you can appeal to CEOs and board members and others and if you make a compelling case, you know, a good, decent person is going to respond. And if you back it up with economics and you back it up with science, then you're really kind of closing the escape routes for people who don't want to change. One of the things I've seen also is that there's not always the sort of leadership that you would want and hope to see, whether in the corporate world or in politics or in any other domain in society, but when you do have a few leaders who break out, so many others then follow.
And in my book, you know, I talk about Whole Foods Market as a company that really has changed the whole grocery and supermarket sector, not just with the physical look and set up of their stores but also by embracing animal welfare and getting lots of vegetarian vegan products, having now a multi-tiered animal welfare rating system for the animal products that are offered, talking about issues like sustainability. I mean, you can see Whole Foods and look at its history and then see how Safeway and so many other companies changed as a consequence. And when one really breaks and shows that that can be a successful economic model, that you can monetize that, then the others followed.
And it was startling for me. I mean, I knew it was going to happen, but it was still startling to see after McDonald's went cage free in September, I mean, we've been making an announcement almost every day. And our farm animal protection team who are the best sales force that exists-- I mean, these guys and gals are incredible-- they are talking to the food procurement people for these companies and showing them how to do it and reminding them of their responsibilities.
And a lot of people want to do the right thing. They just didn't know that they could move in this direction and now that they're doing it, they feel good and they want to do more. And that's the beauty of the humane economy. And good action begets more progressive and positive action.
Deborah Wilson: Can you tell us about the network of organizations with animal friendly titles that have been attacking HSUS? Who are the people and industries behind these front groups?
Wayne Pacelle: You know, you just see it throughout all social movements and throughout history. I mean, you look back in the 1950s and you saw what happened to the NAACP as it was fighting segregation. It wasn't just citizen groups that were fighting the NAACP, it was the government of Alabama or the government of Arkansas, I mean, using the power of the state to suppress these reforms that were long overdue. If you look at in the early 1970s, I mean, the federal government infiltrated organizations, the American Indian Movement and others to disrupt what was occurring.
So the animal protection movement has seen its share of infiltration from groups that want to maintain the status quo and we've also seen the state, whether the state governments that try to have ag gag laws that make it a crime to take pictures of animals on factory farms or take videos of animals on factory farms. The backlash comes in many different forms, many different manifestations.
One of the most linear forms is when corporations that want to thwart progress hire a public relations firm and that public relations firm then creates some nice-sounding name like the oil industry creating a front group that says, oh, for sustainable and protection of the environment when they're really just trying to protect their ability to drill in a sensitive area.
And this is what's happened to us with a guy in DC who's known to conduct character assassination and brand attacks has been hired by puppy mills and the pork industry and the service industry to try to slow down HSUS, to try to say, well, the Humane Society of the US should give all of its money to animal shelters.
Well, we love animal shelters. Animal shelters do great work, we support them in a lot of ways, but we're not just a pass-through organization that gives grants to animal shelters. We're trying to change the circus industry and we're trying to change the food industry and we're trying to change the testing of animals. We're trying to deal with wildlife management all over the world. I mean, we're taking on the biggest toughest fights and addressing multibillion dollar industries every day. I like to tell my wife Lisa that every day, to me, feels like I'm playing 100 chess games at one time, fighting all these different battles.
So I love animal shelters but animal protection is a lot more than just helping animals in shelters. There are 8 million dogs and cats who enter shelters and we've got to get the number of animals to zero who are euthanized in those shelters, but there are 77 billion animals raised for food in the world-- billion. There are billions of wild animals who are at risk from trophy hunting and habitat destruction, commercial trade. I mean, we're talking about most of the resources in animal protection are devoted to a small number of companion animals.
We're trying to address the 99% of the other animals who are not getting as much attention. And believe me, we don't fault the focus of the groups that are working to protect companion animals. We celebrate their work, but we recognize that we're taking on the biggest fights. But when you do, you get a backlash. And that is exactly what happens with us and, you know, we depend on smart supporters of ours to see through it.
And then, you know, I am half Italian and very stubborn and it's been said that I have Italian Alzheimer's. I forget everything but a grudge.
So not only am I committed to fighting through it, I want to really accelerate the change in those industries that are funding these clowns against us. So I'm going to get after them especially.
Deborah Wilson: I'm a conservation biologist but also a wild horse and burro advocate. How can we stop the BLM from their barbaric in the field spays and castrations of these animals and their systemic annihilation of America's wild horse herds?
Wayne Pacelle: Well, the wild horses and burros of the West that are protected under federal law are a 1971 Wild Horse and Free Roaming Burro Act. And, unfortunately, we haven't had the level of enforcement and proper implementation of the law that was expected after that law was passed in 1971. And we've gotten into a very unusual circumstance where our federal government, which is charged with protecting them, is gathering them up because they think that there are too many on the public lands.
And they are putting them in holding facilities because they can't adopt them out to people. We now have more wild horses and burros in federal holding facilities than we do on the range. It's about 50,000 wild horses and burros out on range and another 50,000 who are in holding facilities.
And we have said that the very clear solution to this issue where there are competing concerns on our public lands-- ranchers and some hunters don't like the fact that the horses and the burros eat the forage because they want the elk that they want to shoot or they want the cattle that they want to graze, they want them to get the forage. So one, we think very elegant solution, which I talk about in the humane economy-- an example of a new technology opening up options for us, is to contracept the horses. We have an immuno-contraceptive vaccine that can be delivered with a gun that has a good range of about 40 or 50 yards.
And I've been on efforts to contracept these horses by shooting them and it's painless for the horses and it's focused on the female segment of the population. And it's a way to keep them on the range and eliminate the idea of capturing them and all the stress with the roundups and then feeding them which is now cannibalizing thirds of the budget of the Bureau of Land Management, which is the federal agency that's managing the horses.
But ultimately it's really about tolerance and I must say that if there are 50,000 or so wild horses and burros roaming all of the Western states including Arizona here, there are four million, at least, sheep and cattle on those public lands that produce a tiny percentage of the beef that we eat as a society and a small percentage of the wool that we use for clothing in our society.
So that's an example of the special interests kind of driving the use of our public lands and so many problems of the round up of the horses and burros, the killing of wolves and mountain lions and bears and coyotes, and the destruction of riparian areas relate to public lands grazing and this appetite that we have for so much meat. We eat more meat per capita than any other country in the world, I think, other than Liechtenstein. And we eat more than the Argentinians, we eat more than the French. I mean, there's no reason why we can't reduce even by 10% or 20%.
We have a campaign called Meatless Mondays. We just ask people to start by stop eating meat on Monday. You know, sample the incredible array of foods that exist and eat plant based foods. You can save animals, you can help the environment, you can reduce the effects of public land grazing, we can address the climate change issues.
I mean, a lot of people talk about the energy sector and transportation and the emission of greenhouse gases, well livestock agriculture is as big as they come in terms of the impact. 18% of all greenhouse gas emissions relate to livestock agriculture.
And when you think about it, 40 years ago Francis Moore Lappe wrote a book called Diet for a Small Planet and she talked about how animals are protein factories in reverse. They take a lot of plant matter and convert it into a small amount of animal flesh.
The ratios vary for different species. It might be 10 or 12 or 13 pounds of grain to produce one pound of beef, seven or eight pounds of grain to produce one pound of pork, three or four pounds for chicken, but those are all inefficient uses. I mean, you go to Iowa and other parts of the Midwest, you see these vast fields of corn and soybeans. Almost all of that is going to feed animals who then efficiently convert that plant matter. So that means all the pesticides that we apply, all the water use, all the use of topsoil, and all the run off into our streams and rivers.
I mean, the collateral effects of the meat industry are incredible. So I think that, again, a serious-minded person must examine these issues. And our appetite or our habits in eating should not impede us from taking an honest look at what's going on.
Deborah Wilson: So to follow here, what do you think about the future of replacing meat from animals to cultured meat from real meat cells, still in the research and development phase. It would be more sustainable than conventional animal farming without the cruelty and the fat content can be controlled with the same taste and texture as real meat.
Wayne Pacelle: I mean, I think it's totally doable. And you look at what's happened in our society. I mean, I started in the workforce before the internet started. I mean, what a crazy thing that we could be sending all these e-mail messages out and people all over the world can get them or we could do Skype and-- I mean, things that were science fiction are now part of our daily existence.
So not only can we have cultured meat, we've been doing that. We've been doing that already with insulin and other products. We've been growing cells already. This is just growing cells for the purpose of creating enough tissue that it replicates the meat that we eat.
When you grow cultured cells, you don't have to grow a brain, you don't have to grow a heart, you don't have to grow bones, it can be much more efficient. You don't have all of these collateral effects, and you don't have the moral problems of killing an animal with a brain and a heart. And even aside from that, we have incredible, an incredible ability to use plants to create protein.
The plant based proteins that exist, the Hampton Creek, which I feature in the book, is replicating eggs in terms of their binding properties and their protein characteristics and they're doing it more cheaply without victimizing one laying hen.
So in my adult life I've seen an incredible array of plant based proteins in the marketplace. You go to any supermarket and you see them. They are going to continue to get better and better. And consumers will demand more and entrepreneurs will respond, that's the way capitalism works, that's the way change happens. That's the history of our country. And I think we'll see innovators who are going to be doing cell culture stuff.
And the biggest minds in the world are embracing it. Sergey Brin, co-founder of Google, is financing some of the cultured meat work. Bill Gates, who is pretty good at innovation himself, he said that we need to think about more plant-based foods and that we need a disruption in our food industry. And I also will tell you that I think that you're seeing a lot of agitation in a good way from farmers who are doing things more humanely-- who are fighting factory farming, who are letting animals live and be like animals. And I think the changes are happening from all sorts of directions.
I mean, there's the biggest egg company in Arizona, which is one of the biggest in the country, Hickman Farms, they're going completely cage free. They are, in fact--
--they're going to double their capacity and do it all cage free. They're going to be one of the companies that's going to be supplying McDonald's and the Costco's and the others. And the change is coming through different channels and different portals and it's breathtaking to see, but we can get there faster if we all keep pushing.
And you become members of the Humane Society of US and other groups. I mean, it's through collective action. One reason that I joined HSUS on the staff is I felt that more than anything animal protection needed a powerful organization to take on the biggest problems that exist.
You cannot fight the meat industry or the pork lobby and all these huge companies-- Smithfield, Tyson-- these are multibillion dollar companies, global companies. You cannot fight them with a pea shooter. You have to bring talent and you have to bring millions of people. You have to bring an army to bear. That's why we're trying to organize the organization in the way that we're doing it. When we have millions of people who are in lockstep with what we want to achieve, not for any personal gain but for societal gain, for the altruism that purpose of relieving the suffering of animals, that's what it takes.
That's why we're trying to grow the organization. That's why I wrote this book. I want to travel all over the country talk about it to recruit people like you to try to engage you in this work, to remind people. Many of you probably know about a lot of these problems, but some of you don't.
I didn't know about problems. As a kid, I loved animals so much. And my uncle, he loved the West Highland Terriers and he wanted to get Westies for me. I have a large family so he got our dog, Randy, and then he got Candy, Mandy, Sandy, and others for all of us in the family.
And we loved Randy. I grew up in Connecticut and Randy came from Kansas. We thought, oh my god, Randy is from Kansas, isn't that exotic and exciting? And little did I know, later on, that Kansas was the number one puppy mill state in the country.
So here we were, an animal loving family, my uncle loved animals, made that choice, and a quarter mile away-- so Kansas is more than 1,000 miles from Connecticut-- a quarter mile away it was the police precinct, we didn't have a local Humane Society in New Haven, and the police precinct was the animal control operation. So I could have gotten a dog and saved a life a quarter mile away, instead we got a dog from Kansas and fed this economic engine of puppy mills. There was no malice, it was just lack of awareness. So that's why I wrote the book.
And, you know, I also wrote the book to try to provide thought leadership. I mean, we've been talking about the green economy. I mean, we should. I mean, the green economy, sustainability is a vital concept and value system. Now we need to also build into this broader narrative, the humane economy. So I hope you'll all think about getting the book and spreading it around.
Deborah Wilson: I think [INAUDIBLE] one more question. Do you think that Michael Vick should be able to own a dog?
Wayne Pacelle: Well, let me just say on the Michael Vick issue, this is an area where I waded into the subject and I did so and I would do it again just as I did it before.
You know, in 1997, before I was CEO, I was the Chief Political Person at the Humane Society. I went to our resident animal fighting expert at HSUS and I said, give me the down low on animal fighting in the US. And he said, you know, Wayne, it's not good. You remember that map I gave you. He said, you know at the time dogfighting was a misdemeanor in like 40 states, cockfighting was legal in Arizona and a bunch of other states, like six states at the time.
The federal law was anemic. So I said at that point, before I was CEO, I said we've got to do something about this. And that's why-- that's when we started on the Arizona ballot measure and then we did Missouri that same year.
And we started this campaign. In 2002 I led the effort in Congress to upgrade the federal law on animal fighting. And it was under that law that Michael Vick was prosecuted. If we hadn't passed that law, if we hadn't trained those USDA law enforcement folks, Michael Vick would never have been arrested.
And we demanded Michael Vick's prosecution because what he did in animals was despicable, not only staging the fights but, you know, killing poor-performing dogs. And, you know, here you had a guy who was a supremely talented person, he made millions of dollars, worked hard, I'm sure, as an athlete, but used his fortune to do ill when he could have done anything else in the world to entertain himself.
So after he was at Leavenworth Prison and just at the end of his prison term he had one of his people reach out to me, I'm sure, in large part, because he wanted to redeem himself, but redemption is part of what anyone does when you've fallen on bad times and fortune.
And the person called and said Michael would like to be involved with the Humane Society, like to do some work against dogfighting, sign letters or whatever. And I said to the person, I said, well, thanks very much, but I don't think so. I appreciate your call though, have a nice day.
So I hung up. And I started to think about why I do this work. And I started to think about how change happens. And I said to myself, I mean Michael Vick did something terrible, but when it comes to animals, we are all sinners. I mean, I and my uncle we got that puppy mill dog, and I ate factory farm meat products when I was a kid, we tethered our dog outside, left her out in the cold. I mean, what was I thinking?
We're all sinners because moral problems are everywhere around us. It is so easy for us to point a finger at someone who is doing something that is alien to our experience, but when, in reality, we're doing lots of things that are causing as much harm to animals every day of the year. So if I said, you know, I'm going to turn my back on Michael Vick and not try to help him do better and be a better person, then what business do I have being involved at the Humane Society of the United States?
We're about change. We're not just about affirming people who are already doing all the right things. We're trying to get people who are doing the wrong thing, wittingly or unwittingly, to do better.
And I thought to myself, here we are lily white movement in animal protection and here is an African-American celebrity who says he wants to help. Well, I'm going to let him help but I'm going to make him work. I called back and said, yeah, we'll work with him if he's serious about it, he sticks with it for at least two years, and travels around the country and talks to kids in urban communities and talks to them about the evils of dog fighting and warns them that you can jeopardize your future and that it's terrible, it's a terrible thing to do to animals.
And I met with him. I went out to Leavenworth prison. I recount this in my first book. And I wasn't sure whether he was changed. I'm not sure how anyone's changed, when I meet with a factory farm entrepreneur or I work with the CEO of SeaWorld, I don't know exactly what's in a person's heart. I can only give them the opportunity to do the right thing and if they don't do the right thing it's on them, it's not on me.
So I traveled around with Michael to 40 to 50 cities. We talked to tens of thousands of kids. And I will also tell you that I think we want a lot of support within the African-American community for giving someone a chance to do better. And to this day I don't exactly know what Michael thinks about animals. He told me a lot of things in terms of how he had grown, but can I know for sure? No.
But I do know that when his probation period ended after five years, he was allowed to get a dog. And I was pretty confident that at that point having been probably the most shamed person in the United States on animal cruelty issues, he was going to behave. I didn't advocate that he got a dog, but I said it's his legal right to do so.
And I don't make judgments about every single person who's going to get a dog. I mean we have adoption procedures and we have standards and the rule of law in our society and cruelty to animals is wrong. If someone lands on the other side of the fence, I'll be the first one to demand that they suffer penalties, but I want people to change.
I want the people who are doing the worst things to change. In fact, I want them to be the first people to change because those are the ones who are doing the worst things. Those are the ones we need to stop doing bad things and move to do better things and to treat animals properly. So, yeah, the Michael Vick thing was an interesting one for me.
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