Our response to ACE's response

SHARK’s video exposing Animal Charity Evaluators (ACE): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3inYlGkFNv0

ACE’s response:  https://animalcharityevaluators.org/transparency/criticisms/shark/

Showing Animals Respect and Kindness (SHARK) recently released a video exposing Animal Charity Evaluators (ACE). ACE issued a response, one that ignored the major points of our video. Because we believe that there are serious ramifications to what ACE does, including that innumerable animal lives are at stake, we are continuing this discussion

1. ACE calls Ducks Unlimited (DU), a pro-hunting group that is responsible for slaughtering millions of animals, “General Animal Welfare” and “Wild Animal Rescue and Shelter.” That they did this is undeniable.

For ACE to say they rejected DU while leaving their name on their "All Charity Reviews” webpage, and therefore misleading people into thinking DU is a pro-animal group, is ludicrous. If we can’t trust ACE to do something as simple as to check and see if a group they are considering to review is anti-animal, why would we trust anything they put out? 

Our point that ACE didn’t have the basic intelligence to do a simple Google search stands, and it shows that ACE's science and methods are extraordinarily flawed.  

Put it this way…how did one of the leading pro-hunting groups in our nation make ACE's “considered" list instead of one of the tens of thousands of animal groups out there? We believe ACE padded the number of groups they claim to have reviewed in order to make it appear that they were working with a large amount of organizations, when the reality is they focused on their pre-selected groups.

2. ACE ignored that they put misleading information on their Guidestar page.  In ACE’s response they state that they have a ”...combined total of over 100 reviews,”while on Guidestar they wrote that, in 2016 alone, they had, "Conducted evaluations of over 300 animal charities.” Such a vast discrepancy can’t be written off as a mistake.

Guidestar is a site used by the public to gauge the worth of non-profits. By putting false information on Guidestar, ACE has shown a willingness to deceive the public about their work. This is a common theme we have found about ACE.

3. ACE completely ignored the fact that Nick Cooney, whose groups profit the most from ACE’s recommendations, holds an official position with ACE, and that the committee Cooney is on gave money to Mercy for Animals, the group he personally profits from as it’s Executive Vice-President.

This is unethical and indefensible.  ACE must have realized that because, even though this was one of the major issues we exposed, they specifically avoided it completely. Again, when ACE says they acknowledge conflicts of interest, it doesn’t negate unethical activity, it confirms it.

4. Since the release of our video we have discovered another serious conflict of interest between ACE and their recommended groups that we will expose in the near future. The bottom line is, ACE is swollen with conflicts of interest between its personnel and board members and the groups they recommend. As there are potentially millions of dollars in donations at stake, this is serious and we contend that it may represent consumer fraud.

5. ACE says they have conducted 48 “comprehensive reviews” while their website states only 21. In their last letter to us, which we have published online, they state that "we have reviewed some organizations more than once” and that "Some organizations have disbanded and others asked us not to publish our review.” Therefore, 48 “comprehensive reviews” is a misleading and useless number, as many of those are the same group or a group that doesn’t exist. ACE’s website says they have 21 comprehensive reviews and we believe that is the only number that has any merit to use.

Our point was that ACE focused on a small selection of favored groups, a majority of which have conflicts of interests that we know about (and there may be more). That ACE spent resources and time reviewing some of those handpicked groups more than once, instead of performing reviews for other non-favored groups, shows how hyper-focused they are on advocating for those groups.

The point that ACE gives veto power over reviews being made public is critically important. By doing so, ACE  proves that they are not an objective evaluator but instead one that is subservient to the businesses they claim to review. We should look at ACE as being a biased industry representative group, one that promotes its members financial interests, rather than an evaluator meant to inform the public on the best way for them to donate their money.

Why did SHARK release our video exposing ACE?  Because we believe what ACE is doing is dangerous and unethical.

In our opinion, ACE is going to hurt far more animals than they think they can help by forcing those who want recommendations (and the financial incentives that come with it) to conform to their ideology. That acquiescence to ACE’s will may have a devastating effect on innovation and creativity.

It also means that billions of animals who suffer and die excruciating deaths through fishing, hunting, laboratory experiments, etc… are going to be ignored because ACE doesn’t consider their lives to be as worthy of help as the lives they chose to focus on. Don’t forget that the most animals killed by far are fish. ACE conveniently disregards fish because the plight of fish doesn’t conform to the program ACE wants to promote.

And that’s the heart of ACE’s problem; in our opinion, it's not about ACE making their ideology fit the science, but making the science fit their ideology.

We shouldn’t even justify what ACE is doing by calling it “science.” It is not. What they do fails the basic fundamentals of what science demands and is political propaganda at best. We will have more on that in the future as well.

As someone who has been fighting hard for animals for nearly 30 years I can tell you that I have seen many scams and fads during my time, with entire highways to hell paved with supposed good intentions. In my opinion, what ACE represents is just the latest in a long line of terminally flawed ideologies that will eventually collapse when donors realize how much money they’ve wasted and how little effect, if any, it has had on saving animal lives. Tragically, I think ACE will do a lot of damage before that time comes, which is why it is so necessary to speak out against them.

SHARK is a group that fights hard for animals. We don’t sit around all day in offices thinking about what others can do to help animals, we go out and help animals, just as many hard working groups do. Our people have been held at gun point, shot at, beaten and deliberately hit with a car. On more than one occasion our own blood, escaping from injuries received on the frontlines, has mixed with the blood of a wounded animal held in our arms.

We take fighting for animals seriously and we don’t appreciate it when groups engage in deception to cloud the eyes of good people who want to support the cause of helping animals. Perhaps ACE thought they were being clever when they created an evaluation group to promote friends and favored organizations, but it’s not honest and it damages all the good, hard working groups out there - and ultimately that hurts the animals.

We again challenge ACE to debate this issues openly and publicly.  We do not fear standing up for our beliefs and what we say. Now we will see if ACE feels the same way.