This morning, as I was readying my girls for the bus, the Today Show was on. Yes, I'm still watching it, bit by semi-miserable bit, but I was excited to have something on the TV that didn't have a cartoon character on it (unless one considers Al Roker cartoonish).
Anyway, the teaser for the next half hour's programming included a piece about how the HSUS (Humane Society of the United States) was calling out an AKC certified dog breeder raising dogs in miserable conditions.
My animal loving eight year old's ears immediately perked up. Nine thousand questions later, I had answered that yes, some folks are not nice to animals, even though one should always be kind to animals, but no, groups like HSUS are not necessarily trying to do the right thing. I had to explain to my daughter, who is her dad's number one cattle helper (also known as a Junior Herdsman) as she waited for the bus, that a group like HSUS thinks that both producers like Daddy with his cows and Grandpa with his hogs are not taking good care of their animals.
That's when the six year old got in on the conversation, and I quote, "What do you mean they think Daddy doesn't do the right thing with the cows? How do they know?"
Tell me that someone like Wayne Pacelle, CEO of HSUS, should be regulating what Joe Webel, COO of our cattle operation, does on a day like today. As I look out on the ever greening pasture to the south of our house, I know our cows are "happy cows," like those in California, but not without a lot of work and worry. HSUS has no idea what goes on with a real cattle operation, and while we're different from ranchers in Oklahoma, feed lots in Colorado (did I just say the F-word...FEED LOT???? They're not as bad as perceived, friends...but don't google it, send me a message), or dairy farms in Wisconsin, we're all doing our best with what we have.
Have I ever mentioned that the weather plays a huge part in our operation? Thanks to the craziness of the drought, the weird winter, and the lack of hay, many a sleepless night was had by Joe in regards to feeding his cows. Even though it's May 1st, and the cows should be grazing on acre after acre of lush, tall spring grass, this week and last has been cooler than normal, wet as heck, and, thus, frustrating. Even though it was warm yesterday and will be again today, because of the domino effect of the drought, we've had some worry in how to keep our mamas and babies and bulls fat and happy.
Thankfully, Joe is a good herdsman, and has figured it out, but not without worry or work or extra money and time spent in the process.
That's the thing HSUS is missing when they attack livestock farmers. While I don't want puppies to be raised in squalor, livestock is literally a different breed from a dog (pardon the reference). HSUS is a FOR profit organization that has no interest in helping livestock farmers, or any animal lover or breeder or whatever, get better. They want to regulate the heck out of everything and then shut people like us down.
I repeat: I do not want puppies to live in less than favorable conditions. I hate those commercials with sad eyed animals in pens and cats with goopy eyes in overstuffed crates. I don't want livestock to be grazing in a field that isn't safe. I am not turning a blind eye to those producers who aren't using their resources wisely, but, in my very humble opinion, those farmers are the exception, and NOT the rule.
So, to answer Josie's question, HSUS doesn't know what goes on in our livestock operation, so why am I worried about them?
One word: power.
They have the power of the media. They have the power of celebrities (google Ellen Degeneres...who is very funny, but a huge activist in this cause). They have an amazing marketing team that has allowed them to infiltrate into everything from television personalities to government officials. But, like everything else, we as producers have to be informed, armed, and ready to stand up for ourselves and this profession.
My hope is that someone will really take a look at HSUS's financials and realize that there's no money going toward local shelters. My hope is that someone will stand up to this craziness and quit allowing this group to be so influential when there's no grounds for them to stand upon.
That's a tall order in our world today of causes and celebrities and all that jazz, but it's okay to hope, right?