We see the photos of adorable abandoned puppies and kittens in our social media and our heart strings hum. A photo of an abused pet, suffering at the hands of ignorant (or worse, bored or evil) humans has us reaching for our wallet. An abandoned dog story has us volunteering to do outreach or transport for a local rescue. But what about farm animals and lab animals? They get lost in the shuffle. Animal Charity Evaluators‘ blog has a great visual of what this discrepancy looks like in terms of donations:
Why is it so hard for humans to equate animal suffering and animals in need of help with farm animals in the same way that we do for pets? Psychologically, we have become removed from our own agriculture and food system over the years. We buy chicken in packages in the store and never think of how the chicken was treated while alive (in some cases, people don’t equate their food with a living animal at all). People like chef Jamie Oliver are trying to raise awareness about animals’ role in our food supply at a young age, but it is an uphill battle. Understanding where our food comes from is only part of the issue, however. We also have to contend with misguided and/or dishonest campaigns by organizations like PETA*, who do more harm than good (literally, for many poor animals) in their attempts to get the public to care more about slaughterhouses and poor treatment of lab animals. Add in the loathing some folks feel when they encounter an overly “preachy” vegetarian or vegan who is an evangelist for their own life choices (we know, #notallvegans) and you have a perfect storm for ignoring what is a huge problem for animals in our society.279 chickens were killed per second in the US in 2015. That's nuts.Click To Tweet
Wow: 66% of donations to animal charities in US go to animal shelters, only 0.8% go to farmed animal orgs.Click To Tweet
From Animal Charity Evaluators: Of animals used and killed by humans in the United States, over 99.6% are farmed animals, about 0.2% are animals used in laboratories, 0.07% are used for clothing, and 0.03% are killed in companion animal shelters. However, about 66% of donations to animal charities in the United States go to companion animal shelters, 32% go to groups with mixed or other activities, and just 0.8% of donations go specifically to farmed animal organizations, while 0.7% go to laboratory animal organizations.
So what can you do about non-companion animals getting “lost in the cracks?” We’ve made a list of organizations that help animals that includes both companion animal charities and livestock and lab rescue organizations. We are adding charities to it constantly – if we missed yours, let us know! You can also help by taking kids (and adults) to farms near you to see firsthand where their food cycle begins. Additionally, you can talk to your kids about what it means for scientists and medical companies to use lab animals, why they are important, what we’re doing as a society to move away from animal testing, and what we can do to help lab animals have a better life. Learn more about other ways of thinking about food and clothing, as well. You don’t have to become a vegan or a vegetarian to learn what it means and how it helps the environment to have a portion of the population abstain from eating meat.
*You’ll note that organizations with any kind of bad track record, like PETA, in this case, are not in our database. We are careful to vet charities before adding them.
Image credit: Marion Michelle on Unsplash