LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) -- The Nebraska-chapter head of a national animal welfare group said she was offended by language used by Gov. Dave Heineman when he vowed to force her organization out of the state.

Jocelyn Nickerson, state director of the Humane Society of the United States, hand-delivered a letter to Heineman's office on Monday urging the governor to "get off your soapbox" and embrace a discussion about animal welfare.

The letter followed Heineman's comments last week in a speech to cattlemen in Lexington. Referring to the Human Society, Heineman told the cattlemen: "We're going to kick your ass and send you out of the state."

The comment drew a standing ovation, The Lincoln Journal Star reported (

In an interview after she dropped off her letter, Nickerson told the newspaper she took the governor's remarks personally.

"We have 51,000 members in the state who all love animals," said Nickerson, who was named the Humane Society's first Nebraska state director in 2010. "And where does the governor want us to go?"

Heineman has had hostile relations with the national animal advocacy group since at least 2010, when Humane Society President Wayne Pacelle stopped in Lincoln. The Humane Society of the United States is a separate entity from local and state humane societies.

Pacelle said he visited Lincoln to talk to agriculture leaders about gestation crates for hogs and other common livestock confinement practices that his group opposes.

Pacelle has said the Humane Society of the United States has no immediate plans to try to put a ballot issue regulating treatment of animals before Nebraska voters, as the group has done in other states.

Heineman and prominent livestock groups have argued the Humane Society is opposed to modern agriculture.

On Monday, Heineman spokeswoman Jen Rae Hein issued a statement from the governor saying the national animal rights group is "anti-agriculture, and I am going to continue to stand with Nebraska's farmers and ranchers to fight this leftist organization that wants to destroy the No. 1 industry in our state."


Information from: Lincoln Journal Star,

Copyright 2012 The AP.

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