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PhilRuffin and Gabby-smPhil Snyder, Executive Director

Press Articles

WHAT IS A HUMANIAC?

englewood sun logoBy Phil Snyder, Executive Director Suncoast Humane Society

Published in the Englewood Sun on March 19, 2017

I have heard the term HUMANIAC used, if not thousands, at least hundreds of times during my career in the animal care, control, welfare and protection field. I am sure I have used it occasionally and I know I have been called it more than a few times.

The true meaning is somewhat unclear. I guess it is a combination of being humane and a maniac at the same time. Sort of ‘over the top’ with your views and your actions towards animals and often towards people. Maybe radical and/or extreme fits. One dictionary describes the term, wrongly I think, as “One who dedicates their time, effort and own personal resources to helping animals.” If that was the true definition, most animal lovers would qualify as a humaniac. That definition more clearly fits the meaning of a compassionate person, not a humaniac.

Over the years I spent investigating abusive acts of cruelty, I found that I was considered a humaniac by some dog and cock fighters. Once during a cockfighting raid in Tennessee, a fighter dropped an article with a picture of me that was published in an underground fighting magazine. The article stated, “Humaniac vows to end animal fighting.” I was flattered but being a realist, I don’t think I would have made a vow quite that bold.

Exactly what do they mean when someone is labeled as a humaniac? I think it varies with the intention of the user of the slang word. Some people, especially those who eat meat, think vegetarians and vegans are humaniacs with what they consider extreme beliefs. It is however, interesting to note that studies show that the inhumane treatment of animals rates third behind health and environment as concerns when people choose not to eat meat. Maybe they should be called health nuts or tree huggers instead of humaniacs.

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), and especially People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), are considered humaniacs by the more organized animal use and abuse industries. This includes rodeos, circuses, and dog racing to name a few. They feel the humane groups promote false and radical information regarding their activities. They fail to acknowledge the successful investigations that have been conducted, exposing neglect and abuse within those industries.

And then there are anti-vivisectionist and the Animal Liberation Front (ALF). The later has been suspected of multiple break-ins of animal research laboratories over the years. Many consider these to be unlawful actions of humaniacs. I believe at one time, before real terrorism rose its ugly head, the ALF was actually on the US terrorist list.

So, what is a humaniac? Is it those who go beyond the normal consideration of mainstream thinking, when trying to help animals? It may be a term created by animal abusers, used to distract from the seriousness of their actions. I think it is at least both and maybe more. However, if the dictionaries can’t define it properly, who can?