Wayne Pacelle

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Wayne Pacelle
Wayne pacelle 5212919.jpg
President of the Humane Society of the United States
In office
June 1, 2004 – February 2, 2018
Preceded by Paul Irwin
Personal details
Born (1965-08-04) August 4, 1965 (age 52)
New Haven, Connecticut
Nationality American
Lisa Fletcher (2013-present)
Education B.A. (History and Studies in the Environment), 1987
Alma mater Yale University
Known for President of the Humane Society of the United States
Website http://www.HSUS.org

Wayne Pacelle (born August 4, 1965[1]) was the president and chief executive officer (CEO) of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS).[2][3] Pacelle took office June 1, 2004, after serving for nearly 10 years as the organization's chief lobbyist and spokesperson, and resigned February 2, 2018, after accusations of sexual harassment against him by Humane Society employees.[4]

Family and early life[edit]

Pacelle was born in New Haven, Connecticut, of Greek and Italian descent. His parents are Richard L. Pacelle, Sr., and Patricia Pacelle.[2][5] Pacelle is the youngest of four children. His older brother, Richard L. Pacelle, Jr., is a political science professor at The University of Tennessee.[6] Growing up in New Haven, Pacelle enjoyed reading natural history as a child and developed an early concern about mistreatment of animals. He attended Notre Dame High School and graduated with degrees in history and environmental studies from Yale University, where William Cronon served as his adviser. Pacelle's environmental studies sensitized him to the fact that "a destructive attitude toward animals in the natural world, along with innovations in technology, could produce colossal damage to animals and ecosystems". His activism led to his appointment in 1989, at age 23, as Executive Director of The Fund for Animals, the organization founded by Cleveland Amory.[7]

Career with the Humane Society of the United States[edit]

Wayne Pacelle at a book signing event, Ann Arbor, Michigan

Since he joined the HSUS in 1994, Pacelle played a role in the passage of more than 25 federal statutes to protect animals, including laws to ban the sale of videos depicting animal cruelty (1999), protect great apes in their native habitats (2000), halt interstate transport of fighting animals (2002), halt commerce in big cats for the pet trade (2003), require government agencies to include pets in disaster planning (2006), make interstate transport of fighting animals a felony (2007), ban the import of puppy mill dogs from abroad (2008), mandate accurate labeling of fur garments (2010), outlaw cruel "animal crush" videos (2010), and elevate protection for sharks from the practice of finning (2011). Pacelle has testified before U.S. House and Senate committees on animal protection issues, including farm animal welfare, "canned hunting", funding for the Animal Welfare Act and other programs, trophy hunting of threatened and endangered species, cockfighting and dogfighting, puppy mills, the exotic pet trade, bear baiting, and chronic wasting disease. Under his leadership, the HSUS has helped to pass more than 500 state statutes during the same period. In addition, he has successfully advocated for a number of amendments to end federal subsidies for programs that harm animals, including one involving the mink industry.[7][8][9]

Pacelle has been associated with 26 successful statewide ballot measure initiatives to protect animals, including measures to prohibit cockfighting, prohibit mourning dove hunting, restrict steel traps and certain poisons, and ban inhumane factory farming methods.[10] He has also been instrumental in the passage of numerous state laws dealing with animal protection. In addition, he has been vocal in criticizing individuals and groups who resort to intimidation, vandalism, or violence in pursuit of animal protection goals.[7]

Under Pacelle's direction, the HSUS has secured the adoption of "cage-free" egg-purchasing policies by several hundred universities and corporations;[11] the phase-out of gestation crates by key pork producers nationwide;[12] the exposure of an international trophy hunting scam;[13] successful congressional votes and litigation to end horse slaughter; and an agreement from the United States Department of Agriculture to begin enforcement of federal laws concerning the transportation of farm animals. In addition, the HSUS's campaign to stop the killing of seal pups in Canada secured pledges to boycott Canadian seafood from more than 1,000 restaurants and grocery stores and 300,000 individuals.

Animal cruelty

In early 2008, the HSUS's investigation of cruelty to animals at the Hallmark/Westland Meat Packing Company sparked the largest beef recall in American history and congressional calls for reform of the slaughterhouse inspection system.[14] In late February, 2008, Pacelle testified on the downer cow issue before a subcommittee of the Senate Agriculture Committee on a panel with USDA Secretary Edward Schafer.[15]


Two November 2006 ballot initiatives conducted with HSUS's support outlawed dove hunting in Michigan and abusive farming practices in Arizona. In January, 2007, several months after passage of the Arizona ballot measure, Smithfield Foods, the largest pork producer in the world, announced that it would phase out the use of gestation crates that immobilize pregnant sows through confinement.[16] During the same month, Maple Leaf Foods, Canada's largest pork producer, did the same. The Strauss Veal company, whose CEO commented that veal crates were "inhumane and archaic"[17] also followed suit.

Agreement with United Egg Producers

In 2011, Pacelle and Chad Gregory of the United Egg Producers (UEP) agreed to work together in support of federal hen welfare legislation. This agreement expired in 2013 after the bill supported by the UEP and The HSUS failed to pass.[18]

Agreement with Sea World

In March 2016, Pacelle and SeaWorld CEO Joel Manby forged an agreement to cooperate on several issues of mutual concern, and SeaWorld agreed to phase out its use of orca whales in performance, to end breeding of captive orcas, and to implement reforms including the introduction of humanely raised products to menus at SeaWorld's theme parks.[19]

Humane Society Legislative Fund

Pacelle is a cofounder of the Humane Society Legislative Fund (HSLF), a 501(c)(4) social welfare organization that lobbies for animal welfare legislation and works to elect humane-minded candidates to public office. He also cofounded Humane USA, a strictly nonpartisan political action committee (PAC) that supports candidates of any political party based on their support for animal protection. These two organizations have helped to defeat hostile anti-animal lawmakers in Congress, including Rep. Chris John of Louisiana (2004), Rep. Richard Pombo of California (2006), and Senator Conrad Burns of Montana (2006).[20]

Corporate combinations

The HSUS has experienced major growth since 2004, primarily as a result of corporate combinations Pacelle forged with The Fund for Animals in 2005 and the Doris Day Animal League in 2006. During the first 30 months of Pacelle's tenure, overall revenues and expenditures grew by more than 50 percent. HSUS's annual budget for 2006 was $103 million. The organization has nearly 10 million members and constituents.[3]


HSUS has faced criticism from various groups during Pacelle’s tenure, including the Center for Consumer Freedom, which receives money from the food industry, and Protect the Harvest, which is funded by oilman Forrest Lucas.

Allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct[edit]

In 2018, The Washington Post reported on an investigation by the Humane Society board into allegations of sexual harassment involving Pacelle. The investigation found three credible accusations of sexual harassment and female leaders who said their “warnings about his conduct went unheeded.”[21][22] The board voted to keep Pacelle, but after several board members resigned in protest and high-profile donors revealed they would withhold donations, Pacelle announced his resignation on February 2, 2018.[23]

Food and agriculture industries[edit]

The Center for Consumer Freedom has criticized Pacelle for holding extreme animal-rights views, arguing, “When Wayne Pacelle took over, it ceased being an animal welfare group and suddenly became an animal rights group.”[24]

Under Pacelle, HSUS has created state agriculture advisories councils. Members of the agriculture councils have criticized the direction of HSUS, arguing that the agriculture councils’ influence has waned while more radical elements of HSUS have gained influence. One Nebraska rancher and spokesman for the agriculture councils claimed that Pacelle allowed HSUS to become a “good ol’ boys vegan club.”[25]

No Kill[edit]

Nathan Winograd, a leader of the no-kill movement seeking to end most euthanasia in animal shelters, has been a critic of Pacelle, saying, “We have learned what we can expect under Mr. Pacelle's tenure. Platitudes, cliches, rhetoric, pretty words. But we cannot expect solutions.”[24]

Personal life[edit]

Wayne Pacelle is married to TV journalist Lisa Fletcher.[26]


Pacelle has been the subject of profiles by the New York Times Magazine (2008), the Los Angeles Times (2008), The New York Times (2007), The Wall Street Journal (2006), The Washington Post (2004), Newsweek (2007), and other major publications. In 2014, he was named one of the Non-Profit Times' "Power and Influence Top 50." The citation read, "He has played a role in the passage of more than two-dozen federal statutes and 26 successful statewide ballot initiatives, which is why he is a punching bag for puppy mills and pseudo-PR firms that profit from animal cruelty."[27]

For his management of HSUS's response to Hurricane Katrina, The NonProfit Times named Pacelle "Executive of the Year" (2005).[28] In 2008, Pacelle also received a Special Achievement Award for Humanitarian Service from the National Italian American Foundation.[29] The same year, Supermarket News named Pacelle one of its "Power 50", citing his leadership on farm animal welfare issues.[30]


The Humane Economy

Published in April 2016, Pacelle's book The Humane Economy: How Innovators and Enlightened Consumers are Transforming the Lives of Animals argues that every business involving animal use is susceptible to disruption and that there are new opportunities to displace or modify animal use while creating wealth and enhancing animal welfare. Jack Welch called it "a critically important read for anyone who cares about business success or animals -- or, like so many of us, both."

The Bond

Published in April 2011, Pacelle's book The Bond: Our Kinship with Animals, Our Call to Defend Them is an exploration of mankind's bond with animals, and a call to respond to the needs of at-risk animals. Jane Goodall says of this book, "If the animals knew about this book, they would, without doubt, confer on Wayne Pacelle, their highest honor." The book debuted at #11 on The New York Times, #8 on the Los Angeles Times, and #8 on The Washington Post best-seller lists.[31]

In addition to The Humane Economy and The Bond, Pacelle has contributed to the following books:


  • Pacelle, Wayne (2015-06-16). "The Long Road to Animal Welfare: How Activism Works in Practice". Foreign Affairs. Retrieved 2016-06-09. The task of securing across-the-board gains for animals has its own special complexities. The cause is ultimately about setting standards for how billions of people interact with tens of billions of animals, including members of thousands of species used in several major sectors of the economy. This will inevitably be a vast, ongoing, multifaceted project. The challenge, therefore, is figuring out how to devise and advocate for plausibly acceptable reforms in the short and medium terms, while linking those to a broader strategy for triggering a revolution in moral consciousness over the long term. 

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Pacelle, Wayne; Olsen, Patricia R. (2006-12-24). "OFFICE SPACE: THE BOSS; After 'Wild Kingdom'". New York Times. Retrieved 2011-04-01. I GREW up in New Haven, the youngest of four. 
  2. ^ a b Hall, Carla (2008-07-19). "Wayne Pacelle works for the winged, finned and furry". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2013-05-03. The head of the U.S. Humane Society has retooled the organization from a mild-mannered protector of dogs and cats into an aggressive group flexing its muscle on behalf of all animals. 
  3. ^ a b Sarasohn, Judy (2006-09-07). "Merger Adds to Humane Society's Bite". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2011-04-01. One would think that a membership roster of 9.5 million would make a special interest group quite special on Capitol Hill, but the Humane Society of the United States wants more firepower. 
  4. ^ Paquette, Danielle (February 2, 2018). "Humane Society CEO resigns after sexual harassment allegations". Retrieved February 3, 2018 – via www.WashingtonPost.com. 
  5. ^ Pacelle, Richard L. Jr. (2003-03-04). Between law & politics: the Solicitor General and the structuring of race, Gender, and Reproductive Rights Litigation. College Station, Texas: Texas A&M University Press. p. xv. ISBN 978-1-58544-234-8. Retrieved 2011-04-18. Lay summary (January 2005). I want to thank my parents, Patricia and Richard, Sr., for all of their constant love, support, guidance, and encouragement. 
  6. ^ "Department of Political Science - The University of Tennessee, Knoxville". polisci.UTK.edu. Retrieved February 3, 2018. 
  7. ^ a b c Oldenburg, Don (2004-08-09). "Vegan in The Henhouse: Wayne Pacelle, Putting Animals On (and Off) The Table". The Washington Post. p. C01. Retrieved 2016-06-08. 
  8. ^ Blum, Debra (2004-06-24). "Animal-Rights Lobbyist Is Selected to Be Top Dog at Humane Society". The Chronicle of Philanthropy. Washington, D.C.: The Chronicle of Higher Education Inc. Retrieved 2011-04-04. Mr. Pacelle, 38, has since built a career around trying to keep animals out of harm's way. 
  9. ^ Mitra, Maureen (2012). "Conversation". Earth Island Institute. Retrieved 2016-06-08. During the past decade, HSUS and Pacelle – who was the society’s chief lobbyist for 10 years before becoming president – have helped pass more than 500 new state laws and over 25 federal statutes to protect animals. 
  10. ^ "Ballot Initiatives". Washington, D.C.: The Humane Society Legislative Fund. Archived from the original on 2011-04-04. Retrieved 2011-04-04. Between 1990 and 2008, animal advocates squared off against factory farmers, hunters, and other animal industries in 41 statewide ballot campaigns, winning in 28 campaigns and marking a huge surge in the use of the process on animal issues. 
  11. ^ Shankar, Deena (2015-04-09). "Cage-free hens pushed to rule roost". Fortune. Retrieved 2016-06-08. 
  12. ^ Brasher, Philip (2012-12-06). "Pork Producers Phase Out Use of Sow Stalls". Roll Call. Retrieved 2016-06-08. 
  13. ^ Lorentzen, Amy (2006-08-06). "Congress votes to shut down trophy hunting tax scam". Associated Press. Archived from the original on 2008-03-11. Retrieved 2011-04-11. The issue came to lawmakers' attention after the Humane Society of the United States conducted a two-year investigation into a scam where they said hunters shot rare animals from around the world, then donated them to phony museums in order to get charitable tax deductions. 
  14. ^ Pierceall, Kimberly; Goad, Ben (2008-02-20). "Congress to investigate food safety process in wake of Chino slaughterhouse scandal". The Press-Enterprise. Riverside, California: Ronald R. Redfern. Retrieved 2011-04-12. 
  15. ^ Pacelle, Wayne (2008-02-29). "Greed vs. Good Sense". Washington, D.C.: The Humane Society of the United States. Retrieved 2011-04-12. 
  16. ^ "Arizona voters truly made difference". The Arizona Republic. Phoenix, Arizona: John Zidich. 2007-01-31. Archived from the original on 2012-07-21. Retrieved 2011-04-12. 
  17. ^ "Nation's Largest Veal Producer Ends Use of Crates". Washington, D.C.: The Humane Society of the United States. 2008-12-24. Retrieved 2011-04-14. [dead link]
  18. ^ "Push for national chicken cage standards stalls". CapitalPress.com. Retrieved February 3, 2018. 
  19. ^ Pedicini, Sandra. "How SeaWorld, Humane Society united". OrlandoSentinel.com. Retrieved February 3, 2018. 
  20. ^ Birnbaum, Jeffrey H. (2007-01-30). "The Humane Society Becomes a Political Animal". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on 2011-04-11. Retrieved 2011-04-11. The Humane Society targeted both in last year's elections after Ehrlich supported bear hunting and Pombo supported commercial whaling and trapping in wildlife refuges. 
  21. ^ Paquette, Danielle (January 29, 2018). "Humane Society CEO is subject of sexual harassment complaints from three women, according to internal investigation". The Washington Post. Retrieved February 9, 2018. 
  22. ^ "CEO Of The Humane Society Resigns Amid Allegations Of Sexual Harassment". NPR.org. Retrieved 2018-02-23. 
  23. ^ Paquette, Danielle (February 2, 2018). "Humane Society CEO resigns after sexual harassment allegations". The Washington Post. Retrieved February 9, 2018. 
  24. ^ a b Hall, Carla. "Wayne Pacelle works for the winged, finned and furry". latimes.com. Retrieved 2016-12-30. 
  25. ^ "The Humane Society's Descent Into Abolitionist Veganism". Weekly Standard. 2016-11-01. Retrieved 2016-12-30. 
  26. ^ Roberts, Roxanne; Argetsinger, Amy (2011-04-06). "Wayne Pacelle of Humane Society and Lisa Fletcher of WJLA — new Washington power couple — are engaged". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on 2011-04-27. Retrieved 2011-04-26. No date set yet, but they plan to get married later this year. 
  27. ^ http://www.thenonprofittimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/8-1-14_Top50PI.pdf
  28. ^ Kahan, Stuart (2005-12-01). "NPT Executive Of The Year: Leaders who stood up to the challenges of Katrina". The NonProfit Times. Morris Plains, New Jersey: John D. McIlquham. Archived from the original on 2008-10-10. Retrieved 2011-04-12. 
  29. ^ "NIAF 33rd Anniversary Gala Review". Washington, D.C.: National Italian American Foundation. 2008. Archived from the original on 2011-09-28. Retrieved 2011-04-01. Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society, came to the podium to receive a NIAF Special Achievement Award in Humanitarian Service, presented by fellow Connecticut native and friend, U.S. Representative Rosa De Lauro. 
  30. ^ Enis, Matthew (2008-07-17). "Wayne Pacelle". Supermarket News. New York City: Penton Media. Archived from the original on 2012-07-14. Retrieved 2011-04-14. 
  31. ^ a b Pacelle, Wayne. "The Humane Economy - Wayne Pacelle - Hardcover". HarperCollins US. Retrieved February 3, 2018. 

External links[edit]