The Humane League
Organization

General

Far from being “humane” to people it disagrees with, The Humane League has a history of unlawful activity conducted in the name of animal rights. If you go The Humane League’s website, you’ll likely see a cute picture of an animal or two, but the organization’s real goal is to harass businesses that serve meat. 

Started in 2005 by Nick Cooney, THL started out as SHAC Philly. If the name SHAC sounds familiar, it’s probably because the FBI has referred to SHAC, or Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty, as a terror group. In a move surely made to improve its image, SHAC Philly changed its name to “Hugs for Puppies.” 

In 2006, the president of Hugs for Puppies, Nick Cooney, was convicted of making terroristic threat against the children of a pharmaceutical company in addition to harassment and criminal conspiracy. In addition, three restraining orders were filed against what became The Humane League of Philadelphia in 2008. THL dropped Philadelphia from its name as it subsequently expanded nationwide.

THL’s growth has been fueled by large donations courtesy of the Open Philanthropy Project to expand corporate harassment campaigns. Cooney, however, is no longer affiliated with the organization after allegations of improper conduct emerged in 2018. 

 

Agenda

The organization’s ultimate goal is veganism. In the short term, its main campaign is harassing companies into adopting costly and often frivolous changes in their meat supply.

These harassment campaigns often involve getting THL’s base to hassle a corporate target of the week. Form emails, picketing, and gross-out messages are oftentimes part of THL’s strategy. While THL’s demands are designed to seem to benefit animals, the organization is really just trying to raise to cost of meat products, with the understanding that higher costs reduce demand.

Another aspect of THL’s agenda is converting people to veganism. In-person interactions occur when activists target people at concert venues, colleges, and pride festivals. In addition, the group has an Internet outreach program that helps the group large lists of supporters to attack businesses, even if the supporters aren’t patrons of that business.

To help make its message seem more legitimate, THL created Humane Labs, which describes itself as “actionable research for animal advocacy.”

 

Funding

The organization has grown considerably since its paltry beginnings thanks to a few wealthy backers. A large chunk of the donations come from organizations such as George Soros’ foundation and The Greenbaum Foundation, an animal-rights foundation.

The largest contributor to THL has been the Open Philanthropy Project, which has pledged more than $17 million to The Humane League since 2016. Founded by Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz, the left-leaning organization has become the rich uncle of animal rights organizations. 

 

Leadership

THL works organizations such as the Humane Society of the United States, Mercy for Animals, and Animal Equality to push veganism.

One of THL’s largest resources is its foot soldier army made up of college students from at least 20 schools, called the Student Alliance for Animals. The program stretches across the country and holds a yearly conference. While in the past, the organization’s support came from a loose coalition of students, the organization plans on growing its college influence through training and professional support.  

David Coman-Hidy, THL’s 25-year-old president, has revealed he embellishes hardcore, aggressive campaigns. “When it is time to launch the campaign, find a vulnerable target, prepare everything for at least a few weeks and then assemble an overwhelming force to utilize from day one. The crueler it is, the quicker the fight is over,” he has said.

The Humane League’s founder, Nick Cooney, is the most notable—and notorious—past employee of the organization. In addition to terroristic threats, Cooney was charged with harassment and conspiracy. More recently, Cooney left another animal rights organization, Mercy for Animals, after allegedly harassing and bullying staffers. Cooney is no longer listed as a THL board member.