Midwest Retail Giant Meijer Inc. has ended its promotion with the nation's largest anti-hunting organization.
The leadership at Meijer, a Michigan-based regional chain of retail superstores, has responded to the concerns of the sportsman community and ended its partnership with the anti-hunting group, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), in an online pet photo contest.
Meijer initially refused a U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance (USSA) request to abandon the partnership, which according to information on the Meijer website, called for the company to donate $1 for each person that entered the contest, up to a maximum of $5,000, to the HSUS Foreclosure Pets Fund.
On Friday, April 25, the USSA sent out a call to action for sportsmen to voice their concerns over these donations to the biggest anti-hunting organization in the world. Sportsmen immediately took action, flooding the retailer with phone calls, faxes and emails.
Thanks to this action by sportsmen, Meijer has now eliminated the portion of the contest that included a donation to HSUS.
"Our program was an outgrowth of our history of supporting local humane societies. We were not aware of the concerns that exist among hunters about HSUS. As you know, we have strongly supported the hunting community over many decades," said Meijer vice president of corporate communications and public affairs, Stacie Behler. "We have discontinued our donation program as a result of the feedback. No new funds will be collected. The funds that were collected will be used exclusively for their Foreclosure Pets Fund, which is a grants program for animal shelters, non-sheltered rescue/adoption groups and animal care and control agencies to establish, expand, or publicize services or programs that assist families caring for their pets during the current economic crisis."
The money donated to HSUS through this promotion, while not going directly to its anti-hunting campaign, would have freed up dollars from the organization's general fund that could have been used to continue the attack on the rights of sportsmen.
"This once again proves that the sportsman's voice is not to be taken lightly," said USSA senior vice president Rick Story. "We hope that in the future, companies such as Meijer will consider how partnerships will be received before launching them."
Behler recognized that hunters and sportsmen are a huge customer base for Meijer and mentioned that the company had received messages and emails from concerned sportsmen that identified other sportsman-friendly national organizations that could be substituted for HSUS in helping pets.
The HSUS is America's leading opponent of hunting, fishing and trapping. It led the charge in a 2006 ballot campaign to ban dove hunting in Meijer's home state of Michigan, contributing $1.6 million to the effort. It opposes hunting on National Wildlife Refuges and other public lands. In fact, the organization is a plaintiff in an ongoing federal lawsuit to ban hunting on the refuges. HSUS does not operate or oversee animal shelters or have any legal controls over them.
Meijer is to be congratulated for quickly severing its ties to HSUS once it began hearing from sportsmen. Although the U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance is satisfied with Meijer's decision, the fact that the partnership ever took place is still cause for concern.
Meijer is a seller of sporting goods and hunting and fishing licenses and indicates on its website that it operates 182 locations throughout Michigan, Illinois, Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky.
The end result of this campaign once again proves that sportsmen can make a difference. Companies such as Iams, General Mills, Accor Hotels, Pet Safe, Sears and Ace Hardware also ended relationships with HSUS after thousands of sportsmen levied strong protest.
The U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance is a national association of sportsmen and sportsmen's organizations that protects the rights of hunters, anglers and trappers in the courts, legislatures, at the ballot, in Congress and through public education programs. For more information about the U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance and its work, call (614) 888-4868 or visit its website, www.ussportsmen.org.