Recently, a woman I admire in the animal welfare community was invited to be on an internet radio show where they were going to discuss human rights vs animal rights. They had invited her because some of the rescues she had attempted to perform had gotten controversial press coverage. The conversation never actually got to what it was advertised to be before I shut it off.
The host of the show had invited too many guests and everybody wanted to talk at once, and all of them wanted to talk about different things. (Except for the person I had tuned in to listen to. She politely offered her opinion when it was asked of her, and she answered questions about her cause.) I tried, but couldn’t listen to the whole thing, because after about a half an hour of mostly incomprehensible blabbering, (where ultimately almost everyone on the show actually agreed with the woman I had tuned in for) the host began blatantly attempting to bait her and discredit her.
One of the interesting things that came through to me during the time I did listen, however, was that the radio host clearly had this woman lumped into the category of “Animal Rights” when she is obviously all about Animal Welfare. I’d like to explain the difference for those of you who don’t know.
Animal Rights activists subscribe to the belief that animals have the same rights as humans. Proponents believe that animals and humans should not really interact. That animals shouldn’t even be kept as pets, because that’s a form of slavery. Proponents of the philosophy would ban the raising of livestock, petting zoos, marine parks, breeding of purebred pets and any use of animals for entertainment. (Imagine! No Lassie! No Benjy! No National Velvet!)
Animal Welfare advocates subscribe to the belief that animals should be well cared for. The philosophy encompasses all aspects of animal well-being, including proper housing, management, disease prevention and treatment, responsible care, humane handling, and, when necessary, humane euthanasia.
If you are a regular donor to humane causes, with the knowledge of this distinction, you can make a better decision as to which camp you prefer to support. A lot of animal lovers donate to the biggest animal organizations in the country because their names are well known. But before you decide on a humane charity, please consider the following.
PETA: Animal Rights. Incidentally, they just released their kill statistics for 2010. PETA took in 4569 animals, of which 838 were adopted out, 3,630 were killed, and 63 were transferred out of the shelter. PETA’s kill rate in 2010 was 80%. Most people don’t know what a high kill rate they have. PETA believes that an animal is better off dead than a pet.
HSUS: Animal Welfare. While the Humane Society of the United States has the clout to perform large scale animal rescues like puppy mills and horse farms, they do not have a shelter. Animals rescued go to whatever local shelters have room to house them, and not all of them are no-kills. While HSUS is doing great work getting animals out of bad situations, they do not subsidize the shelters that take in the animals they’ve rescued. HSUS uses the largest percentage of the monetary donations they receive to buy advertising and marketing that asks for more donations.
It’s a little disconcerting, isn’t it? You love animals and you want to donate to a reputable organization that helps them, yet the two most well known organizations in the country are using your dollars for dubious pursuits.
I suggest that if you want to donate to a humane group, that you donate your dollars to small local 501(c )3 organizations, that are staffed by volunteers and rely on donations to operate. Here are some of my recommendations.
PAWS: Animal Welfare. No Kill, free roam shelter. Volunteer organization. http://www.pawscanada.org/index.html
DOGS DESERVE BETTER: Animal Welfare. No Kill.
Volunteer organization. Rescuing, fostering, rehabbing and rehoming formerly chained dogs. http://www.dogsdeservebetter.org
VALLEY SAVE-A-PET: Animal Welfare. No Kill. Volunteer organization. Rescuing, fostering, rehoming. Low cost spay and neuter. http://www.valleysaveapet.org (new website under construction)
SANCTUARY FOR SENIOR DOGS: Animal Welfare. No Kill. Rescuing, fostering, rehoming senior dogs that have been abandoned in shelters. http://sanctuaryforseniordogs.org/
THE GENTLE BARN: Animal Welfare. No Kill. Rescue, rehabilitation and sanctuary for animals. (focus on farm animals) http://gentlebarn.org/index.php
I hope you will add your own favorite small, local rescue group(s) below in the comments section.