On January 7, in a very disturbing move, The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) announced that the Iams Company will be the "Grand National Sponsor" of HSUS' "Pet Fest America." According to the HSUS Web site, "Pet Fest America is designed to showcase The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) in a very positive festive atmosphere." This unholy alliance with Iams is the work of Paul Irwin, president and CEO of HSUS.
Iams, which is under public fire for allowing cruelty to dogs in its contract laboratories, is giving HSUS an undisclosed amount of money for the opportunity to sponsor the events and make itself look good. By allowing Iams to sponsor Pet Fest, HSUS has provided cover for a company trying desperately to suppress criticism of its pet-food testing policies and to shift attention away from the suffering and dying animals PETA found in an Iams contract laboratory, the second time in a matter of a few years that PETA has exposed cruelty to dogs and cats used by Iams. HSUS is well aware of what PETA uncovered and well aware of Iams' long history of animal abuse, which includes creating diseases and injuries in dogs and cats to test its foods. By taking money from Iams and allowing it to ally itself with HSUS in this "positive festive" forum, HSUS is aiding and abetting Iams' efforts to sweep cruelty under the rug. It is lending cover and a marketing opportunity to a company that it should be actively opposing-a company that misleads consumers into believing that it cares about cats and dogs. Instead, HSUS should tell Iams to stop laboratory tests on dogs and cats, as some other dog-food companies with fewer resources have done.
This growing financial relationship between HSUS and Iams creates a conflict of interest. Andrew Rowan, vice president of HSUS, is a member of the Iams Animal Care Advisory Board, a supposedly "independent group" whose purpose is to review and evaluate Iams' policies and facilities "to ensure the health and well being of dogs and cats" confined in Iams laboratories. One has to ask how HSUS can be an impartial member of the advisory board of the company that pays for its events.
Other sponsors of the HSUS event include Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI), which is partially owned by Iams and whose founder and CEO is well-known big-game hunter Jack Stephens, and Petsafe, maker of "pet containment" and painful "bark control" shock collars for dogs.
Local humane societies and shelters across the country, operations with far less money than HSUS, have had the decency to take a stand for animals and have stopped purchasing and promoting Iams products. Some have even mailed back to Iams the promotional "starter kits" that it gives to shelters to hand out to new companion-animal guardians (to promote Iams foods, of course), along with letters explaining why they will not purchase or promote Iams products until the company stops confining dogs and cats to laboratory cages to test on them, year after year. People who care about animals should never provide cover to those who abuse and kill them.
Please write to Paul Irwin, president and CEO of HSUS, and urge him to immediately sever all financial relationships with Iams-including ending the sponsorship and participation in Pet Fest America by Iams and the company it partially owns, Veterinary Pet Insurance. And please, do not believe the pathetic form letter that you will get back from HSUS. Keep pushing until HSUS gets on the animals' side of this battle:
Paul G. Irwin, President and CEO
Humane Society of the United States
2100 L St. N.W.
Washington, DC 20037
Nicholas Braden, Director
Humane Society of the United States