Over the past several months, there have been leadership and structural changes at several animal rights activist organizations. The Animal Agriculture Alliance monitors these groups and helps protect the industry from activist attacks. It’s important for anyone in animal agriculture to stay informed so we can anticipate the activists’ future strategies and tactics to damage the reputation of our industry.

At the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), two of the most aggressive leaders have left their positions. Wayne Pacelle, on staff at HSUS since 1994 and serving as president and CEO since 2004, resigned in February, leaving a vacancy at the top of the organization.

Kitty Block, who joined HSUS in 1992 and is currently president of HSUS’ international branch, has taken the helm as acting president and CEO. Her biography focuses on horse slaughter, using dogs and cats for fur in China, and protection of whales, dolphins and wildlife. While eliminating meat consumption doesn’t seem to be a personal passion of hers, her first post on the HSUS blog since starting the new role includes a reference to HSUS’ corporate campaign regarding broiler welfare.

At the beginning of this year, Paul Shapiro’s 13-year career at HSUS also came to an end. Shapiro’s stated reason for leaving HSUS was to focus on promoting his new book about lab-grown meat, which was released around the same time as his departure.

HSUS’ staffing changes aren’t the only shakeup in the animal rights world. Earlier this year, Nathan Runkle, founder of Mercy for Animals, announced that he was stepping out of his role as president. He remains on the MFA board of directors and his farewell address mentioned a desire to focus on “helping launch exciting new companies and initiatives.” Matt Rice, former executive vice president, will take over leadership of MFA. Rice used to be director of investigations and worked with “undercover investigators,” so we anticipate continued attempts by MFA to pay activists to get hired on farms.

Nick Cooney, founder of The Humane League, has also departed from MFA after serving as executive vice president until November. He’s still a managing trustee at New Crop Capital, a private venture capital fund (spun-off from MFA) that invests in products that “replace foods derived from conventional animal agriculture.” Bruce Friedrich, executive director of The Good Food Institute and formerly with PETA and Farm Sanctuary, is also an adviser to New Crop Capital.

In another organizational change, Compassion Over Killing and the Farm Animal Rights Movement announced a cooperative agreement in January. Several programs are transitioning from FARM to COK, including World Day for Farmed Animals and the “10 Billion Lives” tour (now known as the “Have We Been Lied To?” tour). FARM will continue managing the Animal Rights National Conference.

The Animal Agriculture Alliance will continue keeping an eye on shifts in the animal rights world and letting our members know what they could mean for animal agriculture. For more information on animal rights organizations, visit animalagalliance.org/protect/#animalrights.

Category: Animal Rights Activism

Tag: Compassion Over Killing, Mercy for Animals,