October 15, 2005
Response to HSUS from PasadoRescue

We were asked to post this statement on behalf of PasadoRescue. This statement is not from Kinship Circle. You may cross post it.

Response to HSUS Statement
From PasadoRescue

It appears that supporters of HSUS have expressed their concern over why HSUS was not involved in investigating the St. Bernard dog shootings, or why they didn't assist Pasado's Safe Haven in upgrading Pasado's $10,000 reward offered to find the killers . A blanket response appears to have been issued today by HSUS to thousands of people across the country, based on the forwarded copies we've received. Sadly, HSUS chose to point fingers at us, rather than answer why they haven't acted to help in this case.

We feel it is necessary at this point to respond to this widely-broadcast message. I would like to say that I find this waste of time very sad. The time it took for HSUS to write this - and for us to respond - could have been used to actually do something positive for the animals.

Pasado's Safe Haven is a small organization, comparatively speaking. We have a total of six shelter staff members, three of which are still in New Orleans rescuing animals. I do all of the website work myself, so I take credit for any statement that Mr. Unti refers to (as well as the typos I may make late at night!).

We, like other rescuers in the Gulf, waited for the large animal organizations to DO SOMETHING when the St. Bernard dog shootings came to light. But nothing happened. As quickly as Mr. Unti disseminated the statement about Pasado's, help could have been offered by HSUS in this case.

Pasado's Safe Haven, having been on the ground for weeks rescuing, decided to contact the AG's office and found out that no one had offered help in funding an investigation. We respectfully disagree with Mr. Unti in stating that law enforcement or state authorities rarely want or accept financial assistance. As sad as it may seem, local, county, and state governmental agencies rarely have funds (or will use them) to investigate animal cruelty cases. We routinely offer financial assistance in cases like this. A cat poisoning trial slated to go to court this month, involving a woman who poisoned three cats with anti-freeze, is based on evidence Pasado's paid for on behalf of the prosecuting attorney's office. To us, it's a small price to pay to find the perpetrators of such crimes.

Since that phone call, Mark Steinway, Pasado's Humane Investigator, has been working alongside the Louisiana State AG. And we're very pleased with their response. Not all law enforcement or AG's offices are as responsive.

For those who are not aware, Mark and our veterinarian worked with an Assistant State's Attorney and two AG investigators on the scene at three separate schools and a football field, where cats and dogs had been tied up and shot. The night before the meetings in St. Bernard Parish, Mark purchased all of the investigative recovery equipment: plastic bins, labels, videotape (to document the recovery), paper enclosures for bodies, plastic evidence bags for bullets, etc. to conduct the investigation. The AG's office personnel oversaw the recovery of spent shell casings, other forensics, and the bodies to assure proper investigative protocols were followed. Mark spent very long days literally scooping up the remains of these animals who laid in these hot schools for nearly a month. Mark and our veterinarian transported the bodies to the State of Louisiana's LSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital for necropsy. Pasado's Safe Haven is paying for the radiological exams and necropsies. Once the Diagnostics Lab has completed their work, we will then assume costs for ballistics and other forensics exams necessary to perhaps, find the killers. Additionally, we offered a $10,000 reward seeking the arrest, prosecution, and conviction of whomever is responsible for these crimes. We have never overestimated our ability to pay for the necessary forensics services or the reward, despite HSUS's insinuation to the contrary.

We have not asked HSUS to help in any way, nor will we. Although we have never written about this before this e-mail, it is our opinion that there was a great degree of mismanagement of the Lamar Dickson facility in Gonzales. When HSUS could no longer operate at Lamar Dickson, their representatives approached our rescuers in Raceland, LA to use our facility in exchange for a generous donation to offset our costs. While negotiating in good faith with HSUS to reach an agreement (and without a signed agreement), we allowed HSUS reps to use our facility and support staff, equipment, and supplies. After all, it was in the best interest of serving the most animals possible. But, due to the chaotic nature of the HSUS-led rescue efforts and their inability to keep good records on animals rescued, it was only a matter of four days before our rescuers had to ask HSUS people to leave. We were never reimbursed by HSUS for those four days nor will we ask for reimbursement. Pasado's does not need HSUS's money. What we were attempting to do was force HSUS into making a written commitment to follow through in an organized manner and set clear, reachable goals. This was not to happen.

Simply "writing a letter" to the AG's office, or "offering our full cooperation" as Mr. Unti's letter stated, means little. It looks good for public relations, but DOING something is what counts. Pasado's attitude is "Put your money where your words are". According to published reports, HSUS brought in $17 million dollars in Katrina-related donations. Their net assets total just under $100 million, according to their 2003 tax return. Supporters of HSUS, in our opinion, should ask for a detailed accounting of where the millions of dollars were used to support the animals of this disaster. Supporters of Pasado's, or any other animal rescue group who asked for donations, should be expected to do the same. And we will. I would like to note that the ASPCA DID contact Pasado's and requested we submit a fast-track grant to help our rescue efforts. Additionally, the ASPCA is offering to pay for transport of Katrina animals from shelters back to their owners, as well as reimburse rescuers for associated costs. We applaud them for using their funds in these ways. A safe prediction is that after your letters to HSUS, prompting this discourse, we might be seeing some creative uses of HSUS funds for the animals now.

For details on how HSUS spends your donations, click here: http://www.guidestar.org/FinDocuments/2003/530/225/2003-530225390-1-9.pdf

To see how Pasado's Safe Haven spends your donations, click here: http://www.guidestar.org/FinDocuments/2003/911/843/2003-911843707-1-9.pdf

Once again, my apologies for having to take up your valuable (and my) time responding to this. My only concern is that we find the people responsible for killing these helpless animals. Since we are inundated with requests for a response to the HSUS statement, I would kindly ask for you to widely post this.

Thank you, and for the animals,
Susan Michaels, Co-Founder, Pasado's Safe Haven

Charity Navigator Update: Charity Navigator has now ranked Pasado's Safe
Haven the only 4-Star animal charity in the Northwest. Click to see how
other local and national animal charities use your donated dollars: