What Can We Do to Reduce Animal Cruelty?

seal hunt
Hardly a day goes by without another gruesome story of cruel atrocities against animals. The latest revelations (don’t click this link if you’re squeamish) about the horrific suffering inflicted on animals transported live huge distances in tiny cramped stifling hot spaces without food or water (they have to be alive when slaughtered to conform to the grotesque, painful, ritualistic slaughtering standards of the world’s fastest-growing religions) come as no surprise to animal welfare activists.

Massive, monstrous factory farms that reduce living, feeling creatures to milk and meat machines, in lifelong misery and suffering. Slaughterhouses whose activities are so heartless and barbaric that a single visit can leave you traumatized for life. Testing labs that profit by torturing animals because it’s cheaper than other methods of demonstrating product safety. Puppy mills (many run by ‘quaint’ religious groups) that breed sickly animals non-stop under unimaginably dreadful conditions, just for profit. And some of the animal cruelty designed to procure organs, tusks and other parts from (often endangered) species as quack cures and health enhancers defies description. It just goes on and on.

Regular readers know that I’ve largely given up on political solutions to complex problems. There is just too much money greasing too many greedy political palms to ever permit the passage and enforcement of any kind of reasonable animal welfare regulations. So what can we do?

First, we can refuse to buy the products of companies that profit from animal cruelty. Become a vegetarian or a vegan. If you can’t do that, buy only locally-produced, free-range meats from small farms whose owners you know personally. It’s good for the local economy, for your health, and for the animals. And boycott farms that produce, and restaurants that serve, meats from confined milk-only-diet baby animals (e.g. veal).

When you buy health, personal and chemical products, buy only those clearly certified as not tested on animals. The standards are poor, inconsistent and sloppily regulated, but they’re a start. Or make your own products from simple natural ingredients (saves money too).

Never buy animals from puppy mills or pet stores. If you are looking for a pet, please select one from an animal shelter. And make sure it’s neutered. If you choose a cat, please do the birds a favour and keep it indoors. And please don’t keep animals caged in small spaces or tied up. Confinement is crueler than pain.

We’ll never get the laws changed, or the religious practices changed. People have been trying to reform animal cruelty laws and religious practices for centuries, with virtually no success. Of course we should keep trying, and identify and vote for candidates who take no money from Big Agribusiness or Big Pharma. But political activism will never be enough.

What we can do is starve the organizations that profit from animal cruelty — factory farms, slaughterhouses, Big Agribusiness and Big Pharma, pet stores, fur merchants, irresponsible restaurants, cosmetic, health product, personal care and chemical companies, and transportation companies that ship live animals.

Only when enough of us buy intelligently (or, more accurately, stop buying ignorantly) will we have enough of an effect to make animal cruelty unprofitable. And onlywhen it becomes unprofitable will it stop.

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6 Responses to What Can We Do to Reduce Animal Cruelty?

  1. Amanda says:

    I may be either too skeptical or too pessimistic (I can’t decide which) to believe any amount of boycotting will affect a change. Thought that’s not saying we can’t or shouldn’t, for personal conviction and belief, still do our part.

  2. prad says:

    several good ideas, dave.a tree-sitting, animal-rights friend of mine told me many years ago that different people are good at different things. some write letters. some do protests. some take legal action. some use bolt-cutters. some just change their own lives. she said, “we need everyone”.in friendship,prad

  3. Tracy says:

    Amanda, if you don’t think boycotting brings about change, research the bus boycotts of the Civil Rights era.Becoming vegetarian (or vegan) is so empowering! It’s an incredible feeling knowing you are making a difference at least three times a day because you’re not contributing to animal cruelty. And it’s so easy, so good for you, and so delicious! Give it a try for 30 days. You’ll wish you had started years ago.

  4. We never had a pet dog before because my brothers and sisters were a bit allergic to fur. However, I always make it a point to stop by pet stores once in a while to look at the dogs. It’s so sad to see them caged up. They’re locked up in a cage where they can’t even move three steps. It’s heartbreaking, actually. You just want to set them all loose.

  5. Buy a copy of Redemption by Nathan Winograd. He shares disturbing stories of the failures of the sheltering industry, i.e., millions of animal deaths per year that can be prevented by routing out managerial incompetence.

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