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The State of Our Movement and Moving Forward

 

 

 

 

 

December 29, 2016

DEAR FRIENDS,

2016 was a banner year for SHARK as we broke new ground and scored new victories for animals. We are going to start 2017 off with a major campaign against the National Finals Rodeo, and the cruelty they committed against horses. That will launch Monday, January 2nd, and we hope you will be with us to take action for these animals.

From the very beginning of SHARK, we have taken on campaigns no one else would touch and made ground-breaking innovations through the use of technology to save animals. Our victories are legion: we’ve done everything from shutting down a slaughterhouse after we videotaped pigs having their throats slit to exposing deer kills where they were netted and had a bolt shot into their heads, to forcing the state of Illinois to ban pigeon shoots. And then there are the hundreds of rodeos we have documented and new campaigns such as fighting to save cownose rays who are shot with arrows and beaten with metal bats. And all of that is just a fraction of what we’ve accomplished.

 

 

 

A baby cownose ray attached to her mother at a killing contest in Maryland. This is how close we get to the bad guys so we can expose their vile cruelty. Thanks to SHARK's hard work on this issue, legislation is going to be introduced to ban these despicable slaughters
 
 
We go where the animals need us, trudging through deep snow or burning in summer heat. We have been assaulted, threatened at gunpoint, bloodied and hit with gunshot pellets more times than I could ever remember.  Our blood has mixed with the blood of wounded pigeons when we were injured rescuing them, and all this happened because putting ourselves in physical harm’s way was the only way to save these animals and expose the cruelty being committed to them.

Left: a pro-pigeon shoot gunman threatens Steve Hindi and Janet Enoch. Right: Steve Hindi after being struck with a metal dog leash at a pigeon shoot
 
SHARK does not do easy. We do not do safe. We do what is required of us to save lives.

That, however, is not the ideology of the mainstream animal protection movement. That ideology is instead based on money, how to raise as much of it as possible, and how not to take on any campaigns that might offend donors, especially for animals that are not deemed financially worthy of support. These groups focus on animals that are considered cute whose faces are then plastered on an endless series of fundraising mailers. This race for cash has created an impotent movement where groups and individuals con good people out of money while providing little for animals. This fraud is all around us and it is killing our movement and much worse than that, the animals we are supposed to protect.

These groups hoard millions of dollars and dish out six-figure extravagant salaries to their leadership while accomplishing only a fraction of what we do. This corporatization is more of a threat than any of our enemies because it changed the direction or our movement from saving lives to padding bank accounts and it will allow nothing to interfere with that mission.

One perfect example was when a donor to US Senator Jim Inhofe sent an anonymous letter to many groups asking for help in stopping Inhofe’s live pigeon shoot political fundraiser. Out of all those groups and the hundreds of millions of dollars they collectively had, only SHARK, a group with almost no money, had the courage to send someone inside the event, undercover, to document the horrors that unfolded.
 
 
A pigeon wounded at US Senator Inhofe's vile fundraiser. Only SHARK cared enough to send an investigator undercover to expose this cruelty 
 
 
Why didn’t the others do it? Because they were afraid. Exposing a powerful US Senator is risky and that could hurt their bottom line. That is why prioritizing money above animals is destroying our movement.

I am writing to you in such stark terms because the animal protection movement is at the tipping point. The good groups out there are suffering while the ineffective groups and charlatans thrive. If the scale keeps sliding downward soon there will be no one truly fighting for animals and we will only be left with soulless machines reaping in hundreds of millions of dollars while hundreds of millions of animals are ignored and dying because they are not cute or popular enough to raise money off of.

Some will think this is being divisive, but that is false. The division in our movement has already happened, and it did so when some realized they could profit more from the war against animals then ending the war itself. This is not the same movement of 20 or 30 years ago. Although there has always been a con artist here or there seeking to defraud donors, what we are seeing now is an institutionalized parasitic creation that feeds sugar en masse to its donors and hides its empty promises behind a veneer of internet pop-up ads and glossy photographs. This is not unlike politicians who spend most of their time raising money and then work not for the greater good but to please their patrons in order to get even more money. If we are ever to be united again, then these structures must be exposed and the public awoken to the fraud they represent.

SHARK has worked with many groups over the past years, groups that have reached out for our help and expertise and we will continue to do that for as long as we can. These are the real activists, the people who care and want to make a difference. These are serious people undertaking serious campaigns and are sometimes rewarded for that with betrayal, as a corporate group may sweep in to falsely claim the victory as being theirs and of course fundraise off of that deception. That is the true divisiveness that plagues our movement today.
 
 
This is Grace, a NJ deer who was shot in the face with an arrow. She suffered like this for months until SHARK got involved, filmed her, and made a major campaign forcing the state of NJ to finally take action and safely remove the arrow 

I believe in SHARK and what the animal protection movement once stood for. And I put my own money where my mouth is, for the only reason SHARK is still going is that I donated $100,000 of my personal money to it.

We are out of money. Without a large infusion of funds, by the end of March we will have to let two of our investigators go (we've already lost one investigator), but I will continue on fighting as I always have.  If you want a thriving, innovative organization who will fight the good fight and save lives without fear or hesitation, then SHARK is your home.