I imagined the President and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) would be a kind and compassionate individual. What I didn’t realize was this person would take time out of his busy schedule to chat on the phone to little ol’ me.
But Wayne Pacelle is that person. Not only that, he was also so generous with his time he wrote a testimonial for Animals Have Feelings Too!, the children’s book written by Karen Lee Stevens, the Founder and President of All for Animals. I was lucky enough to talk with Wayne last month about his new book, The Humane Economy: How Innovators and Enlightened Consumers are Transforming the Lives of Animals.
The book carries a positive message, and purposely so, according to Wayne. “Number one, I wanted to tell the story of our human relationship with animals and, related to that, I’ve seen that things are changing at an extraordinary pace for the better,” explained Wayne in our phone call. What’s changing? For one, the HSUS has convinced 175 food companies in the last nine months to change their procurement practices for animal products. That means these companies have moved away from cage confinement of hens and/or crate confinement for pigs and veal calves.
In the book, Wayne argues that the humane economy is reaching all corners of the globe, that companies – and even governments – all over the world are now responding and trying to do the right thing when it comes to animals. The best part? “It turns out that the right moral thing is also typically the best economic outcome,” recalled Wayne. And we all know that both the business and government sectors are always looking at the bottom line.
What does the “Humane Economy” mean? Wayne explained that it is the “ensemble cast of characters who are driving our human economy” who are also looking at ways to be humane to animals. According to the book, these are Fortune 500 company leaders, entrepreneurs, scientists, thought leaders, opinion leaders, creative people creating books and documentaries, to name a few. All of us animal lovers are voicing our opinions and using our wallets to change the way companies and governments think and operate.
I asked him if social media has helped too—remember the furore over the hunter who killed Cecil the Lion? The outrage over Harambe, the gorilla, shot at the Cincinnati Zoo? “It’s closing the gap between our lives and the lives of animals, and most people have good, kind instincts towards animals,” Wayne responded. “When you give people information, they are increasingly likely to act in a sensible and humane way.”
Even Walmart and McDonald’s are creating standards for humane practices, which creates a new dynamic in the food industry. If these big corporations can move the goalposts, then it’s hard for other companies to avoid addressing the issue, and changing.
“The world is changing right in front of our eyes for the better. It doesn’t mean we’re doing a victory lap,” Wayne warned. “We still have a long way to go, but it proves that change is possible – especially when we’re strategic about driving it.”
For more information about Wayne Pacelle, his illustrious career in animal welfare before the HSUS, what he’s done for the HSUS during his tenure, and more about his books, click here. And I’d like to personally thank him again for taking the time to talk to me, as I enjoyed our call very much.
And don’t miss National Mutt Day on July 31! I certainly won’t – my husband and I are proud pet-parents of two mutts, both rescues, and we celebrate them every day. Why not consider finding your new best friend on July 31? I’m sure there’s a mutt at your local humane society or adoption center who’d be very grateful for a loving, new home!