September 2011

LOS ANGELES–What did the American Humane Association do while Irene became the first hurricane to hit New Jersey since 1903, and did more damage in Vermont than any disaster since the Flood of 1927?

On August 26, 2011, six days after Irene hit the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, but one day before Irene struck North Carolina, the AHA announced that “Even as the Red Star 82-foot truck drives toward North Carolina from its Denver home base, AHA President Dr. Robin R. Ganzert waits out the hurricane on her North Carolina farm.”

Said Ganzert, “It’s very important that families, and especially children, know that we will help keep their animals safe and sound.”

No further AHA media releases about Irene were issued. But on August 27, as Irene ripped through Virginia, AHA publicist Mark Stubis advised media that viewers of the Fox TV “reality” cooking show Hell’s Kitchen would on August 29 “be served up a course of compassion, caring and hope.” Said Stubis, “Ganzert was joined at the [pre-taped] event by two of her children, AHA board chair Eric Bruner, and a host of the charity’s VIP supporters.”

The destruction done by Irene dominated newscasts on the evening of August 29. Vermont farmers were shown risking their lives to rescue pigs, sheep, and at least one dog from deep and fast-flowing storm water. The Red Star van was apparently still on the road. If it ever arrived anywhere, the AHA web site through September 12 made no mention of it. But Ganzert et al of the AHA were seen chowing down on scallops, chicken, and lamb.

Friends of Animals president and vegan cookbook author Priscilla Feral told ANIMAL PEOPLE that she lost count, but believed there were even more meat dishes than the scallops, chicken, and lamb served as part of the six-course dinner, said by the Hell’s Kitchen hosts to have raised $3 million each for the AHA and the American Cancer Society.

“Farm animal protection, eating farm animals, sorry does not compute,” commented This Dish Is Veg editor Eric Fortney. “Yeah, we know American Humane has never portrayed itself as a vegan or even vegetarian group. Nonetheless wouldn’t it be prudent to choose a more inconspicuous setting when deciding to ingest the very creatures you purport to protect? Needless to say, plenty of ‘animals were harmed’ in the making of the VIP charity dinner featured on Hell’s Kitchen.”

Agreed Best Friends Animal Society cofounder Michael Mountain, now editor of the web site, “AHA does not claim to be a vegetarian organization. They’re in the business of offering ‘cruelty free’-type labels to meat producers who qualify and pay for the label. But the AHA supposedly exists to promote kindness to animals. Regardless of your own personal lifestyle, do you think a humane organization that’s promoting the protection of all animals should be serving beef, chicken and scallops at its own VIP dinner?”

All mention of the Hell’s Kitchen episode vanished from the AHA web site by September 9.