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Humane Society

Paws and Claws kennel assistant, Valeri Borer, checks each kennel to make sure all the animals have enough water before closing down for the night.

Telegram photo by Cole W. Eberle

COLUMBUS - The Platte Valley Humane Society turned down a grant from the Humane Society of the United States because of the national group's support of legislative measures affect the agriculture industry

The board of directors for the local humane society voted against accepting a $5,000 grant from national Humane Society. The 10 member board was unanimous in its rejection.

The group was approached with the grant a couple of weeks ago after a visit from a representative from the welfare group.

A letter sent to the national group declining the donation states that the local society is in an agricultural community and is concerned that "some of your policies regarding farm animals would be in conflict with the ideals of many of our local supporters."

The national Humane Society is not affiliated with the local shelter. It has not given a donation to the organization in the past and the proposed grant wasn't sought out, said board president Steve McClure.

The Platte Valley Humane Society relies on donations to help operate and care for the animals at the Erna R. Badstieber Paws and Claws Adoption Center.

The $5,000 that was offered is almost half of what is raised during the Platte Valley annual Furball, its biggest fundraiser of the year. So dismissing the grant was a difficult decision.

"Without a doubt, the HSUS does some good. But there are some causes that they have that seem a little bit in conflict with our local people since we are an agricultural community," McClure said.

He said the organization's promotion of eating less meat was one of the conflicts. McClure said that is contrary to a lot of the local agricultural companies.

The decision by the board earned praise from local ag producers.

"Our humane society distancing themselves from the HSUS says an awful lot. I commend Deb Potter and the entire board for making that decision. They believe in the agriculture community and producers," said Jim Pillen, president of Progressive Swine Technologies.

Pillen said the "HSUS is a Trojan horse hiding behind dogs and cats," and that the organization misrepresents what it does. According to its own website, the HSUS is not affiliated with local animal shelters. The organization promotes advocacy, pet-ownership education and passage and enforcement of animal protections laws.

With agriculture and the livestock industry a big part of the state's economy, concerns have been raised about organizations like HSUS pushing for legislation that would change how the industry is ran.

In recent months, Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman has been outspoken about the group and its possible efforts for a ballot initiative directed at animal agriculture. Locally, the Columbus Chamber of Commerce recently passed a resolution supporting livestock production in the state and opposing influences from outside groups.

"The chamber is strongly supportive of the state's livestock industry and are aware of the challenges the HSUS has presented to other parts of the country," said Chamber President K.C. Belitz.

McClure said the local humane society receives support from people in the ag industry and from animal advocates. They didn't want to anger either side by taking the grant.

"We thought that maybe we should just bow out and not accept these funds and maybe we wouldn't be crossing any feelings of people who are advocates and those in the industry," McClure said.

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