Let’s lay some numbers out and you tell me how where you think attention and funding should be in terms of greatest impact for ending animal suffering.
Out of 900 million dogs living on the planet at any given time , 3% of them per year are killed for dog meat globally. That’s 30 million animals.
2 billion pigs are on the planet at any given time, more than double the total number of dogs alive. With the exception of the tiny minority of them living in sanctuaries, ALL TWO BILLION of them are killed every single year.
50 billion chickens are on the planet and they are by far the most populous avian species, more than 45 times more of them than wild avian species. Every single one of those FIFTY BILLION chickens is raised to be killed. Some are killed after 18 months of being forced to produce an unnatural amount of eggs for unnecessary human consumption before being killed, others allowed to live up to 2 months before slaughter, but they are ALL killed.
Sea life of many different species are killed in excess of 2 trillion. They are raised both in cramped and filthy fish farms as well as stolen from their wild habitats in the ecosystem-destroying business of industrial fishing. Sea animals that are not even consumed are often victims of this process as well. While catching the species we want to consume, we also disrupt the food chain for species people actually care about such as orcas, sea turtles, and dolphins.
Funding, both government and private, is heavily weighted towards fluffy endangered species and domestic pets species, and while all are deserving of protection and funds to do so with, it is these same organizations working in conservation and in pet protection that are often the drivers of the suffering of the species not fluffy enough to catch our attention in our newsfeed. The animal advocacy system is focused almost entirely on under 2% of animal life on the planet while throwing the rest to the wolves, so to speak. They do so by being complicit in animal agriculture and working towards happy exploitation of these species rather than suggesting to their “animal loving” fan base that there is no right way to do the wrong thing and that going vegan will actually stop animal suffering.
Ocean life depletion, that sector in which by far the most number of individuals are caught up, is “protected” through fishing policy and quotas and selling bamboo toothbrushes to prevent plastic in the oceans (40% of which is ghost fishing gear). Find an ocean protection organization that actually stands for not eating sea life. Go ahead. It’s not easy. If you want to save the oceans but cannot keep ocean life off your plate, I’m not sure you’re getting the point here. The more you sell that fantasy of “sustainable fishing” in order to protect livelihoods rather than oceans, the less progress we will make towards a dent in the destruction we increasingly cause to a fragile habitat which humans have so little respect for yet so much need for in the fight against climate change and for species protection.
We are all subject to good marketing. No need to be embarrassed. It is not hard to sell ideas and products with a little bit of training, some creativity, and above all, a fat marketing budget with which to sell said ideas and products. We are sold a fantasy that dogs are suffering at profound rates and mostly by those bad people “over there”, far more than those other species whose corpses we buy wrapped in plastic at the supermarket where you can put your Chihuahua in a sweater in your cart basket. We are sold the idea that free-range means no one was harmed in bringing us our breakfast. We eat up the nonsense that a $10 donation to Humane Society International will save a dog’s life from those barbaric dog-eating Asians, and don’t you worry your pretty little head about that bacon cheeseburger you just had because “we have laws” to protect those animals whose murdered corpse you just shoved in your face. It is fantastic marketing, I’ll readily admit, but it is a flaming lie that spreads misinformation in exchange for donor dollars to fund speciesist non-solutions to animal suffering.
But we do have numbers. We have footage from farms and slaughterhouses and transport trucks. We have truth on our side. There is nothing humane about any animal industry that uses animals for food, clothing, entertainment, or research. We pay others to do to a pig what we’d go to jail for doing to a dog in the US. Welfare legislation has never made a damn bit of difference to the animals we use and it never will as long as the prevailing ideology sold to us is that some species matter more than others. Inevitably it is the fluffy and cute ones rather than the ones we chop into pieces and toss on the grill that get the attention and thus the donations.
We want no part in the hypocrisy. Could it financially benefit us if we did? Oh, holy shit fuck yes it would… Damn right. We’d be rolling in it. Still, the messaging is so damaging to so many animals, those we do actually work for, that we simply cannot turn our backs on them rather than fight for moral consistency while still doing the work of rescue, rehab, adoption, veterinary training, and mass sterilization. It’s not an either or situation. It would be much easier to sell out 98% of animal species, but progressing animal rights demands a better solution with a morally consistent message even if it is currently unpopular.
That messaging of welfare organizations is keeping the much needed funding to save those who actually need it most, end animal agriculture, and promote veganism globally in the hands of organizations making money off putting their stamp of approval on animal suffering. These include the Humane societies of every country as none yet even toyed with the idea of animal rights (see RSPCA stamped corpses in the UK supermarkets…wtf?!?), the international organizations working to “end dog meat” (which is pissing up a rope to start with and is built on racism), and conservation organizations in which the focus remains on fluffy animals while they happily hold fundraisers with steak dinners and ignore those species which are not cute enough for their annual fundraising calendars.
If you are an animal lover in the market for hypocrisy and wasted funds, look no further than any organization you can see in your newsfeed because they have the $$$ to get seen, money taken from donors who “love animals” with bacon grease running down their chins. Look for those who want you to sign petitions for cage free eggs at McDonalds, making bigger gestation crates for pigs, and funding government lobbying towards more “sustainable” fishing practices. They are easy to find. Four Paws International, HSI, Soi Dog all working within Asia to start, on top of literally every single rescue in the region with dogs and cats as its target species both local and internationally managed. I dare you to find a single sentence about not killing other animals in any of their websites. ASPCA, HSUS, RSPCA, World Animal Protection, Animals Australia. Find me one who promotes not murdering ANY species. Find one of those organizations who has committed funding to the species suffering in the largest numbers rather than those their animal eating “animal lover” donors find adorable enough to help. Watch where that money goes. It is not going where it is needed because those organizations are not vegan and as a result, their stakeholders never will be either.
It is important to note that I am critical of the overall messaging of these organizations which is based on lying to animal eating “animal lovers” in order to keep the coffers full, but this is not to say that these organizations have done no good at all in a practical sense for some species outside their damaging messaging. For all the work Soi Dog has done that is actually deserving of global praise and attention, it’s by far their mass sterilization program and veterinary work which is truly above any other I have seen in the region. It is groundbreaking, even if their deeply speciesist, and by extension, deeply racist messaging about the dog meat trade is deplorable and damaging to the entire animal rights movement . The work of HSI in disaster relief and rabies vaccination programs is incredibly valuable. Four Paws has done superb work for the bears in Vietnam and other animals in captivity throughout the world. Does this make their deeply speciesist messaging suddenly NOT damaging to animal rights as a whole? Fuck no. Not a chance. The big picture is not something we get to ignore because of a few good programs. Roman Polansky made some great films, but he raped a 14 year old by drugging her, so we don’t quite support him or give him accolades for his films. It’s that simple. These organizations are fully capable of doing great work for these individuals and for communities at the very same time as being morally consistent and advocating for the end of use of ALL species. It’s not an either or thing. You can sterilize and vaccinate dogs at the same time admitting to the public that there is no right way to breed, confine, and murder a dog, cat, giraffe, bear, cow, chicken, pig, goat, sheep, or duck. The idea that these concepts are mutually exclusive is based only on the fact that as a result of no organization of that size has ever been morally consistent and financially solvent because of the fears of animal eating donors backing out on funds. Moral inconsistency is donor-centric, not animal centric. If these animal advocates were actually working for the animals rather than the consumers, producers, and donors who uphold the exploitative industries of animal agriculture, fishing, animal research, horse sports, etc., then we would see real change.
If you want to stop animal suffering, go vegan. I am not sure when not harming animals became so controversial in the animal advocacy world, but we are determined to end that. We will never stop proudly using the word vegan to describe our work. We are not “plant-based”, but vegan, meaning we acknowledge, unlike hypocritical animal advocates, that not harming animals is not a diet. It’s a commitment to being morally consistent and treating all animals not as property regardless of whether they are furry, feathered, or scaled. That is nothing to be ashamed of. When other organizations that call themselves advocates for the animals finally buck the fuck up and commit to not using animals for food, clothing, entertainment or research while removing the stigma they have attached to the word “vegan”, then we will see change.