Wayne Pacelle (born August 4, 1965) is the President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), the nation's largest animal advocacy organization, with nearly 10 million members as of 2006. Pacelle took office June 1, 2004, after serving for nearly 10 years as the organization's chief lobbyist and spokesperson. Since becoming CEO, he has substantially expanded the organization's membership base and its influence on public policy.
Pacelle's family is Italian and Greek American. In October 2008, he received the National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) Special Achievement Award for Humanitarian Service.
Pacelle, born into an Italian-American family in New Haven, Connecticut, enjoyed reading natural history as a child and developed an early concern about animals' mistreatment. He 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.
Since he joined HSUS in 1994, Pacelle has played a role in the passage of more than 15 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), and require government agencies to include pets in disaster planning (2006). 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. 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.
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. 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.
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).
Under Pacelle's direction, the Humane Society has secured the adoption of "cage-free" egg-purchasing policies by several hundred universities and corporations; the exposure of an international trophy hunting scam; 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.
In early 2008, the Humane Society'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. 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.
Two November 2006 ballot initiatives conducted with HSUS's support outlawed dove hunting in Michigan and abusive factory 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. 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" also followed suit.
The Humane Society 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.
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. For his management of HSUS's response to Hurricane Katrina, The NonProfit Times named Pacelle "Executive of the Year" (2005). In 2008, Pacelle also received a Special Achievement Award for Humanitarian Service from the National Italian-American Foundation. The same year, Supermarket News named Pacelle one of its "Power 50," citing his leadership on farm animal welfare issues.