OKLAHOMA ANIMAL RIGHTS FUNDRAISING BILL PASSES UNANIMOUSLY IN COMMITTEE
Last month, we covered a bill introduced by Oklahoma State Representative Brian Renegar, House Bill 2250, which would ban animal rights organizations from fundraising in the state unless that money went towards programs in the state. The potential measure was prompted by Humane Society of the United States' (HSUS) alleged actions in Oklahoma in the past few years. In 2013, HSUS purportedly raised money that it claimed was for the purpose of getting misplaced animals back into local animal shelters following disastrous tornado strikes in the town of Moore and its surrounding areas. According to reports, an investigation by Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt found that little-to-no money actually went to that stated purpose, something that has been discovered to have transpired in other areas of natural disasters as well, such as New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina and New York following Hurricane Sandy. Representative Renegar, who is also a veterinarian, was inspired to protect his fellow citizens from being duped into donating money to any organization that would claim to help animals in the state but then use most of that money for ulterior motives. He believes that HSUS in particular has had a dangerous impact in the state, and there is a need to mitigate its influence over well-meaning individuals. It seems his peers in the Oklahoma legislature who comprise the Agriculture and Rural Development Committee would agree. They voted 12-0 to endorse it and the bill will now head to House for a vote later this year. According to its own tax returns, HSUS only donates 1% of its $120+ million budget to local animal shelters. HSUS President and CEO Wayne Pacelle likes to reiterate the talking point that his organization never claims to simply fund animal shelters - although that is strongly implied in all of its advertising. Regardless, the Oklahoma legislature will now have the power to decide if HSUS (and other animal rights groups) will be limited in what can be done with money raised from state donors. And if other states followed Oklahoma's lead and began to seek similar legislation that requires HSUS to actually use the money it raises in the state to help animals in that state? Perhaps HSUS could actually do some good with its money instead of stuffing its own bank account.