When long-time animal rights activist “>Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) last June, he sent a memo to all HSUS staffers articulating his vision for the future. The HSUS’s new “campaigns section,” Pacelle wrote, “will focus on farm animals.” For those keeping track, the group’s new budget is about three times the size of is a strict vegan whose goal is to create “a National Rifle Association of the animal rights movement.” And he’s adding additional unapologetic meat and dairy “abolitionists” to his staff.

In February, former Compassion Over Killing (COK) president Miyun Park joined HSUS as a staffer in its new “farm animals and sustainable agriculture department.” Around the same time, HSUS added COK’s other co-founder, Paul Shapiro, to its staff as “Manager, Factory Farming Campaign.”

Like Wayne Pacelle, both Park and Shapiro are self-described strict vegans. Hiring them signals that Pacelle is serious about giving anti-meat campaigns a prominent place in his group’s mammoth structure. And Shapiro noted during an August 2004 animal-rights seminar (hosted by United Poultry Concerns) that after just 10 weeks at the helm, Pacelle had “already implemented a ‘no animal products in the office’ policy … You know, they’re going to have actual farmed-animal campaigns now, where they’re going to be trying to legislate against gestation crates and all this stuff.”

In October, just a few months before he became an HSUS staffer, Shapiro told the 2004 National Student Animal Rights Conference: “The time is ripe for us to take action. Everything in the news is pointing towards it; we see things every day we can capitalize on” He added, “[N]othing is more important than promoting veganism.”

Americans who enjoy meat, cheese, eggs, and milk may soon come to regard HSUS as a new PETA, with an even broader reach. HSUS has over $113 million in assets and an annual operating budget of $69 million to spend on programs dreamed up by its new rising stars. And the group’s recent merger with The Fund For Animals will likely bump its budget into the $80 million range.

Most of that enormous budget comes in the form of small donations from average Americans, many of whom think they’re supporting their local “humane society.” HSUS’s fundraising mailers often use photographs of dogs and cats that imply a connection. But as HSUS itself admits (in a disclosure buried deep within its website):

[T]he Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is not affiliated with, nor is it a parent organization for, local humane societies, animal shelters, or animal care and control agencies … The HSUS does not operate or have direct control over any animal shelter.