Best Practices

Humane Discourse and Conduct within Animal Welfare

November 1, 2012

In celebration of National Animal Shelter Appreciation Week 2010, The HSUS launched the Pledge for Humane Discourse and Conduct within Animal Welfare. The Pledge aims to remind the animal welfare community that “[V]erbal and physical attacks, threats, harassment, and other acts of violence ultimately do not help animals. Instead, they eliminate opportunities for civil debate, dialogue and collaboration, which are now more than ever so critical to building humane communities.”

By creating the Pledge, we don’t intend to stifle discussion about new and better approaches to sheltering, nor do we intend to excuse those who aren’t meeting their commitments. Shelters must work hard to constantly improve their level of care and service, and they have an obligation to seek out and implement even more creative ways to address the underlying reasons for pet homelessness within their community. We simply offer the Pledge as a reminder to all that the golden rule still applies, whether you are dealing with someone face-to-face or speaking about them anonymously from 3,000 miles away. We must always bear in mind that name calling, unfounded accusations, and frivolous disparagement of a shelter or rescue only drives the public away and discourages them from adopting—and with 80% of Americans still getting their pets from sources other than shelters and rescues, that’s a losing proposition for shelter animals if ever there was one.

Here at The HSUS, we extend our deepest gratitude to all of the organizations from Miami to Maine, Kentucky to California, and even beyond our borders, that have joined with us so far by signing the Pledge. If you, your organization, or your circle of animal advocates has already signed, thank you! If you haven’t signed the Pledge yet, please do so now—commit to promoting compassion and respect, not just for animals but also for those who work tirelessly on their behalf. And after you’ve signed, be sure to review our resources for putting the pledge into action. With a renewed focus on implementing positive change and working together, we can save many more animals.

Our Pledge

We the undersigned individuals and organizations, in conjunction with the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), reject and condemn verbal abuse, threats, and acts of violence directed against animal welfare personnel. There is no place in the humane movement for physical or verbal intimidation, violence, or acts of terrorism.

Such behavior is wholly inconsistent with a core ethic of promoting compassion and respect, and undermines the credibility of the entire animal welfare movement. Our goal must be to affirm the value and integrity of all life, whether animal or human, and to encourage others to do likewise. Verbal attacks, threats, harassment, defamation, and acts of violence, moreover, do not ultimately help animals. Instead, they eliminate opportunities for dialogue, collaboration and cooperation, making our shared goals, including that of ending the euthanasia of healthy, adoptable animals, harder to achieve. A free and respectful exchange of views in the ongoing national conversation about animal welfare practices, including animal sheltering practices, is the standard to which humane organizations and communities should aspire and adhere.

We call on every animal welfare group and advocate to join us in actively promoting compassion and respect not just for animals but for those people who work tirelessly on their behalf.