Animal rights activists are seeking to drastically change the way the world eats, dresses, farms, and works, all to suit their own personal views. They are against the breeding and all other uses of animals and animal products by humans.

They manipulate the media by constantly referring to the national animal rights organizations (primarily the Humne Society of the United States – HSUS) as the final authority on issues having to do with animals. Newspapers and other media outlets routinely use press releases from these organizations as news reports without ever investigating whether the information they provide is true or false.

The article below is a response to a Roanoke Times piece by Dan Radmacher, editorial page editor, lamenting the lack of trust in the media.

Media mistrust based on experience

Walt Hutchens
Sunday, July 20, 2008

Editorial page editor Dan Radmacher complains that many people close their minds to anything appearing in the media (“Don’t discount all news sources,” June 29 column). He misses the point: Our distrust comes from our experience.

Most of us are experts on something. And most of us have seen such soft-headed coverage of the area we know about that we don’t trust any of what we see or read.

Laws about the keeping and breeding of pets — my area — are an example. Not only do the media generally get these stories wrong, but they show an utter lack of curiosity about the truth.

Remember the “Virginia is for puppy mills” campaign last year by the Humane Society of the U.S.? The Roanoke Times’ lead story was taken almost entirely from the Humane Society’s press release and an interview with a society staff member. Would you publish a story about black America based mainly on a KKK press release and quoting the Imperial Wizard?

If the KKK were politically correct, you bet you would.

Here’s the first sentence of your editorial, “Protect puppies and people”:

“The Humane Society of the United States suspects that more than 900 commercial puppy dealers are operating in Virginia, yet fewer than 20 are licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.”

That leaves the impression that most breeders are violating the law, doesn’t it? That incorrect impression was the Humane Society’s intent. Are we unreasonable to expect that you’d get and print the facts?

There are probably about 900 breeder Web sites indicating a Virginia location. Many, however, are hobbyists who only occasionally have puppies available and who lose money on most litters. Most of the rest sell only directly to the public.

Neither of these groups is required to be federally licensed and, since USDA regulations are written for breeding farms (for example they don’t allow puppies in your home), complying with them in order to become licensed would require a lowering of standards for most.

All Virginia commercial breeders are subject to inspection by animal control and the state veterinarian. All must comply with zoning regulations that may make additional requirements. Localities also have the power to license anyone who sells pets as a business. All breeders must comply with the laws that cover all animal owners and even hobbyists may be inspected if a warrant is obtained.

Where does the Humane Society — a charitable corporation with no official status — get the power to bust breeders as it did in the case of Horton’s Pups? How is it that nearly all dogs taken from what are claimed to be horribly abusive situations are in good enough condition to be sold days afterward?

Was it truly impossible for you to lay bare the real story — that many statements by the Humane Society (and other animal rights organizations) are not backed up by the facts? That these are people who make a great deal of money by leading Americans to believe that our donations help animals, rather than the truth: Almost all the money goes to campaigns to pass laws against accepted animal uses and husbandry practices?

Garbage in, garbage out: Your editorial led the society-organized chorus calling for more regulation. House Bill 538 — the claimed fix — barely passed.

I haven’t seen anything in The Times to the effect that the new law isn’t regulation, but an effective ban on breeding dogs at any more than a part-time scale. Neither has there been an impact piece: How will the 100 to 200 Virginia farmers who will shortly be out of business cope? What will happen to perhaps 10,000 breeding stock dogs that are no longer needed? Where will Virginians go for the puppies that won’t be legally bred here?

Eliminating pets is only one facet of the no-animal-use movement. Production of meat, milk and eggs, hunting and fishing, even circuses are all being made steadily more expensive and difficult.

Medical research that uses animals is slowing down as security precautions become tighter and more costly. The number of researchers willing to live with abuse and threats of violence against themselves and their families is falling. Is this really of so little significance that coverage based on society press releases is good enough?

The wounds of which editorial page editor Radmacher complains are self-inflicted. If you want us to trust you on subjects for which we lack direct knowledge, then you need to do competent work on those we know about.

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