By Chris Dorsey, award-winning journalist and author of a dozen books whose work has appeared in scores of publications including the Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, National Geographic, the Robb Report and many others.
Perhaps you’ve seen the late-night appeals on cable channels from animal rights groups—the public service announcements of a starving dog or cat that will have a better life if you only send $25…immediately? You look down at Rover, resting comfortably on his padded dog bed next to the fire and think wouldn’t it be nice if every dog could have such a life. You’re only a phone call and a credit card away from making the world a happier place and feeling better about yourself at the same time.
That’s a common tug-at-the-heart-strings formula employed by groups like the Humane Society of the United States and others. Most of the people who see their fundraising pitches assume that these are the sweet people who once looked after Rover for a couple of days when he found love down the street and ran off before someone collared him and dropped him off at the local shelter. Who doesn’t want to pay such kindness forward? And therein lies the bait and switch that is the hallmark of the animal rights industry. It’s a formula HSUS has used to become the wealthiest animal rights organization in the world—annual revenues now of roughly $130 million.
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