Yellow Tail wine, based in Australia, had established a new promotion  with the Humane Society of the United States. The effort, announced last week, included an agreement for the winery to contribute $100,000 to HSUS. (See Just say “G’day” to Yellow Tail.)

Specifically, Yellow Tail’s $100,000 was going to support an HSUS program called “Spay Day on-line pet photo contest.”   The program seems a bit indirect if one is truly attempting to focus on animal care and well-being.

However, several U.S. wine drinkers and food producers quickly responded to the joint venture. In just a few days, hundreds of farmers, ranchers, hunters and pet lovers used, among other avenues, social media to urge Yellow Tail’ officials to reconsider their HSUS support.

One such example can be found on YouTube, with a video featuring a South Dakota cattle rancher.   

Among the groups contacting Yellow Tail was Animal Agriculture Alliance, which outlined HSUS $100 million budget, its spending patterns and fund-raising tactics among other things.

“Analysis of their (HSUS) 2008 tax return sows that only one-half of 1 percent of the group’s funds actually went towards caring for animals.,” the Alliance told Yellow Tail officials. “While wanting to help animals is indeed a noble goal, we urge you to instead pledge your money to local shelters, which often are underfunded, but provide much-needed services to homeless pets.” Not to mention that HSUS is not associated with nor does it fund local animal shelters.

Kay Johnson Smith, the Alliance’s executive vice president, reported in a conference call late last week that Yellow Tail representatives were “stunned by the negative responses they have been getting” related to the HSUS funding program.

Following is an example of Yellow Tail officials’ response, to correspondence such as the one sent by Geni Wren, editor of Bovine Veterinarian, which is a sister publication to Pork magazine.

Yellow Tail’s e-mail response said:

Thank you very much for your e-mail. We recognize that many consumers have commented on our donation to the Humane Society (of the United States). 

We’ve listened to your recent feedback and it was very helpful to us – in fact it prompted us to specifically choose the areas where we’d most like to celebrate animals. Here’s what we’ve decided: We’ll still honor our monetary commitment to the HSUS, but now we are specifically directing our $100,000 donation to HSUS’ Animal Rescue Team, which launch on-the-ground missions to rescue animals in peril. The HSUS Animal Rescue Team is a leading disaster response agency for animals, contributing millions of dollars to rebuild animal shelters destroyed in natural disasters, responding to floods, fires, and other disasters.

We may not always agree with 100 percent of what an organization represents, but rescuing animals displaced from natural disasters is a cause we support.

It is our policy to continually assess the impact of all of our charitable gifts and consumer feedback is extremely important to us. We hope that you will understand that this allocation of money is a direct result of hearing your concerns.  We are listening, and we thank you for sharing your thoughts with us.


[yellow tail] wines

“Agriculture leaders must act now by talking to legislators, talking to the public, getting involved in their communities and using social mediums…to tell their true stories rather than letting animal-rights activist groups, like HSUS, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and others tell it for them,” says Johnson Smith.

If you want to drop Yellow Tail a note, you can do so at Show your support for food producers and help unveil the truth about HSUS and such animal-rights groups, but always keep it respectful and professional.