(ANIMAL NEWS/TAKE ACTION) The Animal Foundation in Las Vegas, Nevada, is the highest volume single-site animal shelter in the U.S. But despite its nonprofit, 501(c)3 status, activists claim the organization is breaking a law that bans the promotional sale of live animals as the shelter is set to raffle 150 Pomeranian puppies rescued last month.
The pups–who were found in the back of a U-Haul truck driven by a “backyard breeder” on the run–are reportedly being sold in online auctions and even during one live auction at a Vegas Golden Knights pro-hockey game on December 18.
Activists fear these sales could sentence the already-abused pups to uncertain lives with unscreened adopters who are purchasing the dogs on a whim. But the Animal Foundation disagrees, claiming all potential adopters are carefully vetted.
Not only is raffling live animals in direct violation of Clark County Code CCC 10.32.180, but live animal auctions are also highly condemned by a number of animal welfare agencies, including the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS).
The HSUS’ Charity Auction Statement states:
“The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) opposes the auctioning off, selling, or donation of live animals for use in charity fundraisers, lotteries, promotional distributions, or other events. This includes fundraisers carried on in person, online, over the phone, or through other media channels.
Bringing a pet into the home is a commitment that should last ten to twenty years. Companion animal and human relationships are more successful when they are considered carefully, and embarked upon with an understanding of the commitment (emotional, physical, and financial) and responsibility required. These are things not necessarily considered by someone at a fundraiser reacting to an impulse to “win” or desire to outdo a fellow bidder.”
The statement continues:
“Auctioning off an animal to the highest bidder with no concern for his or her future or for the undue hardship placed on a family who may bring the wrong type of pet home on a whim is not only irresponsible, but also unethical. This is a poor example for a charity to set, and we hope that any charities considering hosting an event using live animals as prizes will take this to heart, and choose a more humane method of fundraising.”
However, despite this seemingly firm stance on animal auctions, the HSUS is turning a blind eye to the situation. By no coincidence, the instigator of these live puppy auctions, Janie Greenspun Gale, is a rich benefactor of the HSUS and isn’t getting any pushback from the organization because of her past donations.
Yet there are several other experienced animal rescue organizations that have offered to take in these pups where they belong to be socialized, house-trained, loved, and fostered on their way to real forever homes.
1. Call on Wayne Pacelle, CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, to put an end to these unethical live puppy auctions:
“Dear Wayne Pacelle,
I am calling on you and the Humane Society of the United States to put an end to the Animal Foundation’s illegal puppy sales. Not only is auctioning off live animals an irresponsible and unethical practice, but as you know, it is “a poor example for a charity to set,” and is in direct opposition of the HSUS’ pro-animal stance. We urge you to stop to the hypocrisy once and for all and give these animals a chance at real, loving forever homes.”
2. Contact the following Clark County officials urging them to enforce Clark County Code CCC 10.32.180:
Clark County Commissioners:
District A – Steve Sisolak
District B – Marilyn Kirkpatrick
District C – Larry Brown
District D – Lawrence Weekly
District E – Chris Giunchigliani
District F – Susan Brager
District G – James B. Gibson
Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson:
3. Click here to send a message directly to the Animal Foundation expressing your concerns over their unethical practices.
Jurisdictions all across the country are voting against irresponsible pet sale practices as bans against retail pet store sales are becoming a growing trend.
In October 2017, California became the first state to require that pet stores exclusively sell rescue animals. Las Vegas voted in favor of a similar law in 2016, but a split Las Vegas City Council repealed the ban in November of last year.
“A national board member of the HSUS should be keenly aware of the organization’s position and in addition, should not ignore the cruelty laws in the county that are meant to protect animals,” maintains Gina Greisen of the activist group Nevada Voters for Animals.
We urge animal rights activists and citizens to insist that these laws meant to protect animals are enforced and that the national position of the HSUS be recognized.
UPDATE – January 4, 2018: The HSUS provided the following official statement in response to our campaign:
Our statement on pet auctions is limited to situations where maximizing revenue is put above the welfare of the animal, and where there are no adoption requirements. Many of the conditions we raised concerns about in that statement do not hold in this case.
We do not oppose The Animal Foundation’s (TAF) adoption requirements, and therefore we are not in opposition to TAF’s choice for finding suitable homes for these animals.
We will note that in Southern Nevada, TAF alone has the capacity to take in, care for, and hold in custody, a 160+ dogs seizure. They do not receive extra funding from their contracted municipalities for this or any other high intake events which may occur.
Last, given the intense interest driven by the high media profile for these dogs’ story, there was no apparent need on TAF’s part to rely on others to help place the dogs in loving homes.
— Jeff Dixon, Nevada State Director, The Humane Society of the United States