If animal lovers wanted to catch the Humane Society’s recent live stream on Facebook, they needed to have their evenings free.
A crew of eight employees from The Humane Society of the United States (The HSUS)
flew to South Korea in late March to rescue
dogs living on a dog meat farm. Yes, that’s exactly what it sounds like. This was the group’s
seventh trip to that country for the same purpose. These aren’t PETA-style guerilla missions; the Humane Society works with farm
owners who want to get out of the business. It
destroys all the cages and shelters, brings the
dogs back to America, then helps the owner
transition into a new type of work. The group
streamed early in the morning local time, so
videos played on the East Coast around 8 p.m.
the previous day.
Hearing about a mission is one thing, but
seeing it is even more powerful. The Humane
Society’s supporters agree, because an average of 1,000 viewers tuned in for the group’s
three live broadcasts from South Korea, delivered via Facebook Live. On-demand views
pushed that number higher. Viewers saw the
grim conditions that the rescuers faced, with
grimy cages stacked one on top of the other.
They also saw the faces of the rescued animals, some shy, but many hopeful.
After 7 days in the country, the Humane Society’s crew flew back on March 26 in a plane
full of 55 rescued dogs. The lucky pups are
getting forever homes in the U.S., while The
HSUS got national press for its work.
“Obviously, some people are very sensitive
about people eating dogs,” explains Frank Loftus, senior director of video for the Humane Society. “We don’t get into that at all. We keep everything on the positive, because these farmers
are changing their lives. They probably got into
it years ago and they want to get out of it, and so
we’re helping them. We don’t portray the farmer as bad. We portray the farmer as a good person changing their life.” Loftus has been with
the Humane Society on and off since 1997.
This wasn’t The HSUS’s first experiment with
live video. It’s been streaming for decades as a
way to bring people into its work, but it’s still
learning and improving the process. In South
Korea, it used LiveU Solo cell-mux devices to upload from remote rural locations, and achieved
a 5 Mbps stream. A team member in Maryland
was able to connect to the LiveU event, start the
live stream, and send it to the Facebook Live account. She was also able to communicate with
the remote team members so everyone knew
what was going live. That setup was new for the
team, and the process made streaming a lot
easier for the people on location.
A Long History of Streaming
The Humane Society first livestreamed in the
late 1990s, when video was postage-stamp-sized
and ultra-low-resolution. In 1999, it streamed live
video from a fur-free fashion show using Real-Networks and CONUS. To send the 176x132-
pixel stream, it needed a fiber uplink to Real-Networks in Seattle, where the video was sent
out across the world. The HSUS ran a Real channel back then called Animal Channel. When it
first began streaming, skeptics wondered who
would watch video on a computer.
Live video was far costlier in those days, especially when shooting in remote locations. After
the fashion show, the Humane Society’s shoots
were limited since it didn’t have the funds for a
satellite truck. It began offering more live video
when Telestream Wirecast came out with a live
The Humane Society Streams
Lifesaving Missions Live to Its Supporters By Troy Dreier
In March, Humane
flew to South Korea
to rescue dogs living
on a dog meat farm,
the rescue live