Marty Irby, Executive Director of Animal Wellness Action, serves as their chief lobbyist. Formerly, Irby worked for the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), but left and followed Wayne Pacelle, former HSUS CEO, after Pacelle resigned in February 2018 following numerous sexual harassment claims brought against him for his preditory like behavior. When both surfaced at Animal Wellness Action (AWA), Irby claimed “Wayne Pacelle is a friend to Animal Wellness Action….and has volunteered to help….He is unpaid, does not have a title, and is not a member of the board or an employee.” This statement was only the partial truth as Irby omitted the fact that Pacelle is the founder of AWA.
In reviewing documents filed with the FEC, a few things jump out at you, such as there are no reported disbursements to Irby or Pacelle; operating expenses are only $510.00 for 2018 and $739.00 for 2019; there are contributions from HSUS employees (Josh Balk, HSUS Vice President of the Farm Animal Division donated $5000.00); there are contributions from animal rights activist (Jeanne C. Edwards inherited a shopping center in Texas and told restaurants in the shopping center to stop serving meat, a hardware store to told to stop selling mousetraps and caviar was prohibited from being included in gift baskets); donations to U.S. Congressmen exceeded $40,000.00 in 2018; over $30,000.00 has been donated to U.S. Congressmen so far in 2019, including Kurt Schrader for Congress.
If you’re still on the fence about whether or not Irby and AWA are credible, it only takes looking a little deeper.
Irby testified to congress on November 13, 2013, “In May 2012, I was as President faced with perhaps the most critical decision that has ever faced our breed: should I continue to perpetuate the lies that padded and chained horses are mostly sound….” and further stated “I knew things must change…”
In every OpEd or statement Irby publishes, he accuses members of Congress who oppose his position of supporting sore and the “pro-soring coalition”; asks that you “free” the Tennessee Walking Horse because of the “rampant abuse” because he knows and he knows because he was once right in the center of the industry that perpetuates soring.
Sounds legit, but only if you do not know that in May 2013, Irby was showing padded Tennessee Walking Horses. That’s one full year after he claimed to have had an epiphany that pads and action devices were cruel and one full year after he knew he could not perpetuate the lies of the industry. It was also one full year after he attempted to extort money from the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration, who banned him from the showgrounds as a result of the attempted extortion.
Before being banned from the Celebration grounds, where the World Championships are held, Irby has stated “Walking Horses are born and bred with three natural gaits – a flat walk, a running walk, and a ‘rocking chair’ canter – and to say they have to be sored to walk is patently false.” Irby also said “To consider amendment of the Horse Protection Act Regulations currently in place regarding the action device and pads would be to take action to address a problem which simply does not exist with no scientific proof to the contrary.”