In a shocking development this week, PIJAC announced today that it had hired as its president and CEO, Ed Sayres, a man who has made his 40-year career in the animal rights industry, including a decade as the president and CEO of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).
The ASPCA has a written policy against exotic animal ownership, including all reptiles and amphibians.
In fact, ASPCA’s web site states that ownership of reptiles, even corn snakes, leopard geckos and dart frogs is, “bad for the animals, bad for us and bad for the environment.”
In recent years, there has been a split in the reptile community about PIJAC and PIJAC’s intentions. However, certain members of the industry have encouraged the reptile community to cozy up to PIJAC. PIJAC has raked in tens of thousands of donation and auction dollars from individual donors, NARBC auctions, and Ship Your Reptiles’ donation program. In March 2013, USARK announced that:
“USARK has established an open line of communication with PIJAC in 2013. The PIJAC Board of Directors voted unanimously to provide USARK an honorary membership. USARK looks forward to a working relationship with PIJAC, who has been protecting the pet industry over 40 years.”
As of today, Phil Goss and USARK are “Association Representatives” of PIJAC. Reptile insider, John Mack, sits on the PIJAC board of directors.
In the wake of PIJAC’s announcement today, some industry members have sought to distance themselves from PIJAC. NARBC announced that it will now be donating all of its auction proceeds to USARK (who, at this time, is still in bed with PIJAC). Presumably, USARK will also eventually break its ties to PIJAC, but that remains to be seen.
Nonetheless, the damage is done. PIJAC has entrenched itself for years with the reptile community and several industry leaders have served on the controversial PIJAC Herp Committee, which has discussed, among other things, the reptile community’s greatest vulnerability: the regulation of feeder rodents. In fact, the PIJAC Herp Committee published its PIJAC Herp Community Feeder Rodent Best Management Practices in September 2013.
All the sensitive information collected in those PIJAC Herp Committee meetings is now at the disposal of Sayres, who for the last decade has spearheaded an animal rights organization with a written policy against the keeping of any reptile or amphibian.
And the acquisition of Sayres did not likely come cheaply. According to the New York Times,
Several [ASPCA] board members had voiced misgivings about his $566,064 salary, more than double that of Wayne Pacelle, his counterpart at the Humane Society of the United States.
Bernstein, J. June 28, 2013. Angst at the A.S.P.C.A., New York Times.
In addition to his fat cat salary, Sayres’ actions at ASPCA raised a number of eyebrows regarding financial improprieties, including the $9.3M payout to Feld Entertainment for a lawsuit alleging mistreatment of elephants when it was discovered that ASPCA’s key witness was receiving monies from the other animal rights groups that had joined the suit, including HSUS.
The ASPCA board treasurer, James W. Gerard, was reported to have been livid over a $400,000 payment made to a consultant that netted just $14,000 for a dog cause, which Gerard called, “a failure of management disclosure to the board . . .As stewards of private donors’ monies, I felt it was an inappropriate expenditure.” Ibid.
Ed Sayres, a career animal rights activist who has lined his pockets with a salary in excess of a half a million dollars, a man who left ASPCA amid questions regarding financial improprieties, and a man who opposes all exotic animal ownership, including reptiles and amphibians, this is who PIJAC has chosen as its new leader, and a leader that the reptile industry, through its auctions and donations has helped to fund.
Today on Facebook, some members of the reptile community were suggesting a “wait and see” approach, likening the Sayres appointment to a BlackOps mission. Rest assured, Sayres is not a double agent for the reptile community, or even the animal community at large. If this is like a BlackOps mission, it is the opposite: the coup is that the animal rights industry just took over PIJAC.
We hope that USARK will join the rest of the reptile community in boycotting PIJAC.