Animal Rights Groups Push Fake News!

“Fake news” is a hot topic these days for political reasons but many people may be unaware that activist groups use news media to promote Progressive causes. National groups like the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) push the animal rights agenda by using fake news stories and attacking hardworking Americans who have animal-related businesses.

Tom and Debra Ritter own Cornerstone Farms, a beautiful 60-acre farm in northeast Missouri. They raise a variety of animals on their farm and have a state-licensed kennel. They have been showing, training, breeding, and raising dogs for over 30 years. The Ritters belong to 10 registries and associations for dog breeders. They are inspected by the United States Department of Agriculture, the Missouri Department of Agriculture, the American Kennel Club, and veterinarian-inspected. They have a vet tech, trainer, and professional groomers available 24/7 on the farm. They have an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau. The Ritters are a Christian family who have devoted their lives to adopting and raising children to provide them with a better life.


The Ritters are in compliance with USDA and state dog breeding laws. They have never been cited or investigated for harming an animal. The Ritters have never had their license to operate revoked and it has always been renewed according to law. You would think that they might deserve some praise, right? Not from the animal rights groups, Human Society of the United States (HSUS) or the Missouri Alliance for Animal Legislation (MAAL). MAAL, headed by Executive Director Bob Baker, is a well-funded animal rights lobbying group that campaigns against farmers, dog breeders, the horse carriage industry, and other animal enterprises in Missouri.

With the help of Fox2-St. Louis News reporter Chris Hayes, MAAL has made false claims about the couple and their family business. MAAL has arbitrarily placed the Ritters’ kennel on a list of “horrible hundred” kennels. Hayes has ambushed the Ritters, showing up unannounced with cameras, and trespassed on their property to try to obtain video. The Ritters have had to obtain legal help – not for the first time – to protect their rights.

The Ritters point to their last USDA inspection report from May 2016 which shows no violations at all – which is hard for breeders to earn. USDA inspectors can vary. Some are knowledgeable about animals but others have taken on animal rights ideology and don’t particularly like dog breeders. Inspectors look at the tiniest details when making an inspection. Results can depend on the time of day the inspection takes place. For example, an inspection that takes place very early in the morning might find stool in a kennel or an empty water bowl if the kennel staff hasn’t had time to clean the kennels yet. These are violations. Rust on wire or cobwebs in a corner are violations. Insects are violations. Most people don’t realize just how picky USDA inspections are today. Animal rights groups like to play on people’s emotions and beg for money about so-called “puppy mills” but USDA-inspected kennels do not fall into that category.

Missouri has been a particular flashpoint when it comes to dog breeding. The Missouri Dog Breeding Act, known as Prop B, was on the ballot in 2010. The measure was very narrowly approved, with the vote largely breaking along urban-rural lines. Urban St. Louis voted for the measure while most of the rural parts of the state – more familiar with animals – opposed it. Ninety percent of the financial support for Prop B came from outside Missouri, with most of that money coming from HSUS and their allies. However, once the measure reached the legislature, it was revised. Opponents of the measure feared, with justification, that this kind of bill, in its original form, could be used to punish the state’s other agricultural interests. Missouri has about 100,000 farms, almost all of which are family-owned with an average size of about 270 acres. Cattle and hogs are top animals for farmers in Missouri and farmers are well aware of the harm HSUS and MAAL can do to them.

Animal rights groups have made false claims and posted fake photos online that were not taken at the Ritters’ farm. This harassment has been ongoing for years. The Ritters have been forced to hire an attorney to fight the false accusations and have some of the photos removed. However, HSUS has assets of about $200 million. It’s hard for one family to fight a rich, giant organization. Not only does HSUS reach into every state legislature and Congress with their lobbyists, they can afford to mount a media campaign to try to smear honest breeders like the Ritters. The Ritters have faced financial hardship, not to mention threatening phone calls and e-mails in which the lives of their children were threatened. At one time they even had to contact the FBI and Homeland Security because activists, believing the allegations made by HSUS, made phone calls threatening to kill members of the Ritter family.

In case you don’t know, the Humane Society of the United States is not a government agency. It is not affiliated with any local animal shelters. It is not a mainstream animal welfare organization as it likes to claim. It is a radical animal rights lobbying group that takes in millions of dollars every year and spends almost all of the money on extreme animal rights measures. They use sad commercials with puppies and kittens to get money from an unsuspecting public then turn around and spend the money to make pet ownership more difficult, increase regulations on farmers, stop hunting and fishing, end zoos and circuses, and promote a vegan diet.

When it comes to “fake news,” no one does it like HSUS does. They have been masters of pushing their animal rights agenda with phoney news, blogs, commercials, and other media for years. They have tried to ruin the lives of good people like the Ritters who really love animals. Think about that the next time you see a “news” story that makes a dog breeder or family farmer the villain.

Carlotta Cooper is vice president of Sportsmen’s and Animal Owners Voting Alliance and contributing writer for The Cavalry Group.

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