Why I’m Tired of Animal Welfare Advocacy

I’m tired of animal welfare advocacy.

You people wear me out!
You people wear me out!

I’m tired of the drama. Animal welfare advocacy is emotional overload. Act now or this animal dies! We need your help! We can’t do it without you. Make a donation today! Day after day, year after year, the message remains the same.

I’m tired of the focus not being on the real problem. We don’t have BSL laws because pit bulls are mean. We have BSL laws because humans are mean. And lazy. And foolish. And uneducated. So we fight to have those laws passed or overturned. How about instead pushing for programs in schools and daycare centers teaching kids how to property treat and care for animals?

I’m tired of the in-fighting. PETA wants all or nothing and don’t like HSUS’s piecemeal approach. They also stand against other groups on issues of companion animals. No Kill Nation is against everybody. Did their leader really think those opinion pieces trashing PETA and others were helpful? And have you EVER seen ALL of these groups stand together on an issue? No. And from the looks of things, you never will. It’s a bunch of egos that are sure they’re right, and the rest are wrong.

I'm the sweetest dog in the world, but if your kid smacks at me or pulls my ears, I'll probably nip at him. Does that make me a bad dog?
I’m the sweetest dog in the world, but if your kid smacks at me or pulls my ears, I’ll probably nip at him. Does that make me a bad dog?

I’m tired of being ignored. I get lots of emails from advocacy groups wanting my help. But recently when I asked for access to write about the dog rescue down here, I was ignored. ASPCA told me I could only have access to press releases. HSUS told me to email them, then they never responded to my email. Not that I’m surprised. They have NEVER responded to my email requests. Really, guys. Do you only talk to people who are as big as Ellen? No wonder your reputation among the blogosphere stinks.

But mostly, I’m tired of the slow pace of change. With all the money, all the energy, and all the time given for animal welfare, what do we have to show for it? Oh, I know, you’ll tell me that more people adopt than buy now, and that we euthanize far fewer animals than we used to. Those things are true.

With all the people in the world who are pet owners and all the money spent on those pets, you'd think we could mobilize those same people to promote positive change for animals.
With all the people in the world who are pet owners and all the money spent on those pets, you’d think we could mobilize those same people to promote positive change for animals.

But the mindset of civilization has always been and continues to be that we will help animals as long as we don’t have to do so at the expense of our own comfort. So we keep destroying habitat. We keep eating animal products despite the suffering those animals experience to give us that food. We continue to degrade our waters, our air, and our land. And we keep trying to manipulate it all to so we can have our cake and eat it too.

We continue to spend our time online looking at all those photos of cute kittens and puppies without once asking ourselves where they came from, or where they’re going.

Well, I'm sure they were all adopted and now live perfectly happy lives.
Well, I’m sure they were all adopted and now live perfectly happy lives. Right?

So for those of you who, like me, are tired of the big egos and the drama queens, got any ideas on how we can advocate for animals without letting the others drive us up the wall?


82 thoughts on “Why I’m Tired of Animal Welfare Advocacy

  1. We agree with you totally on this! Sadly most animal welfare groups are loaded with people who’s real goal is power and prestige, not the animals. I spent years helping Save A Sato with placing dogs, fund raising, and transport. I volunteered locally – picking up the dogs at the airport, doing their adoptions and meeting the adopters when they came to pick them up. Both organizations were in power struggles and between all of the lies, accusations and other issues – I gave up,

    Has anything changed in wither one? I don’t know – I sadly do not care anymore.

    Now I will limit what I am involved with – and make sure the organization is truly for the welfare of the animals. The ones I KNOW are and support are PAWS in Norwalk, The Animal Center in Newtown, Mainely Rat Rescue and a few groups on Facebook.

    1. There are some that set a positive example. Kevin and Tracey do so much to quietly promote PAWS, and I have never heard them use the drama approach with us. There are other groups that do that.

  2. Honestly? I used to do rescue. I did the daily searches, the posts. And I had nightmares. Finally, after decades when nothing substantial seemed to have changed, not even a general public awareness of puppy mills and why they should NOT buy from pet shops — and pet shops are still selling puppies and kittens despite everything we have all done — I quit. I haven’t given up on animals. I gave up on people.

    1. I don’t want to give up. I want to change the rules. There MUST be some way for folks like us to take action without having to depend on the usual suspects.

  3. I think it’s a big thing to insist about responsible pet ownership and continuously not give up on educating humans (even if they piss you off because of their ignorance). One of the things I’ve read that’s made me reconsider my stand is with regard to the BSL laws.

    According to Temple Grandin, BSL won’t make things right. Assuming they would ban breeding of pitbulls and assuming all pitbulls will become an extinct dog breed, humans will still find other breeds to do dog fight such as Akitas and Chows… So in actuality, BSL will probably lessen the number of Pitbulls, but it won’t prevent dog fighting. So it’s like an endless loop.

  4. I hear you loud and clear and it’s the same thing when you watch the news… why is our government always fighting and taking sides against one another? Can’t we just collectively focus on the issues as a untied front? Whatever. Ugg… getting worked up. I agree that instituting programs in schools is key and that is something I have plans to work on.

  5. A while back I worked for my local humane society and I was shocked at some of the things the management staff said about other rescue groups, from bashing HSUS and PETA to even local groups. When I spoke up and asked what the deal was all I was met with were a bunch of complaints about them and badmouthing. We’re supposed to be working for the same thing here folks, the animals!

  6. Make ripples in the pond. Years ago I quit working with all of them and just started rescuing cats on my own. I cleared my neighborhood of abandoned cats and educated my neighbors about spay and neuter, gave them information on low-cost spay and neuter and even secretly took a few cats whose owners were totally neglecting them. Over 20 years, my neighborhood is still pretty clear of stray and abandoned cats, my neighbors know who I am and that I have information for them about cats, dogs and other animals, and I work with my borough on these things. Someone has to do the big stuff, the legislation and enforcement, but it’s the grassroots activity that makes the change.

  7. You’re doing it. This post is an excellent example. You mentioned the Blogosphere. Well, you are the Blogosphere – as am I. People do read our work. We are the unthanked, and in most cases unpaid, voice of independent journalism and activism online. And we are making a difference. And as more and more people “tune in,” our voices get louder. Keep up the great work. You’re one of my favorite sites. Oh, and Jack loves you guys too, although he fancies himself a better writer. (Keep that between us. His ego is so fragile.) 🙂

  8. I hear you. I am so tired of watching Peta, HSUS and NKN calling each other names. If they’re all trying to help animals, couldn’t they put their egos aside and work together? There is enough common ground in their missions that if they would just focus on that instead of the differences they would be able to!

  9. I have recently entered the world of animal activism. By mistake I peed on someone else’s territory and was firmly sent to the dog box. Now I just keep my tail between my legs and do whatever it takes to improve the welfare of animals. I have, though, connected with some wonderful like- minded people. As you all say, don’t lose sight of the ultimate goal of helping defenseless creatures, and put pettiness aside..

  10. Exactly! I have figured out that I can only make it better one creature at a time. I don’t have the funds, or the influence, or the reach to correct the laws/organizations of the country/world…but I can ensure every animal that crosses my path has my respect and consideration. I’m not vegan, but I only consume eggs that are free-range/organic (don’t tell me that organic/free-range isn’t as it’s advertised…I know that, but it’s the best that I have access to), I purchase meat from a local farm that raises and ‘slaughters’ the creatures humanly (I could easily go vegetarian, but my husband could not), and the animals that enter my household are part of the family and are given consideration/respect. I can’t ‘fix’ the world (I’ve tried and just ended up with sleepless nights and frustration) but I CAN fix MY world. In my world, mankind is not the superior being….we are just one of many.

  11. This post was so on target. Locally we have quite a few shelters. Some are no kill and one is what I would call a kind kill. They do try to home animals. They medicated and kept my one-eyed cat for 5 months until I adopted her to get her out of there. A mean shelter would have euthanized her right out of the box. That shelter is the only one who takes animals. All the no kill shelters are full and if you find a stray or a batch of kittens it is impossible to get help. However, they don’t work with the no kill shelters and the no kill shelters don’t work with each other. The whole thing is a freaking mess. I tried to volunteer and got frustrated and I think that that is probably how all the various shelters got started.

  12. interesting and valid and exactly how I feel, too. Also, so saddened to see the “example” pictures of the animals to be aided.

    What about a sit in somewhere? An Occupation like Wall Street?

    also–they don’t give us food–so much as become it.

    I am not surprised the big advocacy agencies ignored you. They–like Big Pharm–are about the bottom line. If animal suffering were ended, why, they’d be out of their cash cow job. Just as if cancer were eradicated, and that’s why these states persist. Money. Power.

  13. I support the small local groups with money and time. these folks assist down on their luck owners with help for food and vet care so they can keep their companions, match up people with service companions, rescue the myriad of lost/abandoned hunting dogs, the list goes on and on. They do programs when they can in local schools to promote responsibility and care, sponsor adoption events…they are small, no-kill shelters who work one and one with animals and people, giving medical care, love, and sustenance. I got my Sam Cat from such an agency. Our local branches of SPCA work with each other in situations when a sister group needs help, take in animals rescued from hoarders, alert larger agencies to animal fighting rings and training camps, do their best with limited resources – do it well and with love and bravery.

    We are never going to end the fighting and elitism between “national” organizations and we are not going to save the world. What we can and must do is to save what we can. We have to be bigger than these groups, not in size and finances, but in compassion, activism, and diligence. I have seen a small animal rescue group to be much larger and now in better facilities and with a higher profile because of their compassion, activism and diligence. And the support of local people who signed on for the journey.

    Rumpy, I thank you for this rant because you are spot-on. You keep it up and I’ll keep telling my friends about this. Deal?

      1. I’m sorry. I wish you could get acquainted with some of these folks. We humans are just a bunch of squabblers, aren’t we? If only we would learn the lessons you all teach just by your existence.

  14. I think this is the most sensible, cogent piece I’ve seen in ages about what does and doesn’t work in discussing, promoting, advocating for or acting in *any* good cause. I don’t know a solution, because I suspect it’s such a universal ill among humans that it would require Nobel Peace Prize brilliance *plus*. But I will do my tiny part to get people thinking about this by sharing (linking to ) your post. Cheers to you! xo

      1. Indeed. I hope you don’t mind that I made an artwork from your great photo of Rumpy in this post to help lure people over to see yours–he’s such a charming and persuasive ambassador! 🙂

  15. VERY well-said. If it helps, I think you are doing an incredible job of keeping people aware, but I know first-hand how draining it can be. Honestly, take a break if you need it. Write about things that don’t get your blood boiling and enjoy your pets. It doesn’t have to be for long, but sometimes avoiding these things for a little while can be refreshing. You are so wonderful, keep your cup full, too! XOXO

    1. I’m not tired of what I’m doing. I’m tired of being bombarded with the crap from everybody else. I am taking a break. I don’t read other blogs. I don’t read emails. And I stay off of social media as much as possible.

      1. I am really glad you are taking a break. Advocacy for any undermined group is exhausting and thankless. I know you are not tired of what you are doing, that is precisely the reason it is great that you are taking a breather. I had to do that recently too.

    1. There are two types of thinkers in the world: those who address causes and those who address outcomes. Each fills a need. You look like a causation person frustrated with the outcome people! That’s ok.i’d rather spend money on causation too, but most charities address outcomes. You need to look up a layer to some of the legal advocacy groups, perhaps? Environmental justice? You’ll find your niche. Just look in different places for like-minded people.

  16. Was just reading similar sentiments expressed by people involved in wild horse & burro rescue. Until we humans evolve to the point of selflessness I fear no end will come to any of these atrocities being committed against animals & humans. I will say that HSUS has been a powerful ally in the fight against horse slaughter returning to the US. Without them & several other groups slaughter plants would already be killing horses. No one is perfect. We must all put the animals or humans we seek to benefit above ourselves. Sometimes that means working with groups or individuals we may not see eye to eye with. The main goal is to save lives, educate, & promote laws that protect. Laws are extremely important, if the King Amendment makes it ALL animals are going to lose & lose big! We have to learn to be effective advocates that know how to bring about change through legislature. Sharing is a great tool but it takes much more than that to really force change. Some days it feels like nothing more than beating my head against a brick wall but change is happening so I perservere.

  17. Some times its the little things that make the difference,start small and locally then when you have succes at that level then expand it…little steps not leaps and you will find more satisfaction in tackling the issues,xx Rachel

  18. Hey Rumpy, those are pretty good questions. I’ve been asking myself very similar ones. It seems to me that most of the human race is becoming more selfish than ever. I can only come up with ideas to make small differences, when I would like to put the world to rights.

  19. It’s definitely a tiring world, it’s sooo much easier not giving a crap but we can’t do that either because our conscience will scream! You’re doing a great job though spreading the word in a relaxed way.

  20. In my opinion, and I was a volunteer wildlife rehabilitator for several years, this article is frank, perhaps hard to read, but spot on. I stopped volunteering because of the politics, the ignorance but, most of all, because people’s stupid pride got in the way of what was right for the animals. I will be sharing your article left, right and centre. so succinct, so unsettling – so accurate

  21. I think that you expressed a growing sentiment. Animal Advocacy is not a single issue or agenda: and there is not a single legislative avenue that can be followed to institute change. The in-fighting and drama are hurting the movements(s) rather than furthering the cause. These organizations generate big money and are run like big corporations.

    Maybe you should start an advocacy group for animal advocates… one that focuses on bringing all the disparate, smaller groups together into a more powerful entity.

  22. Totally agree with you. I have asked for quotes from the RSPCA a few times over the years, once when I worked on a local radio station and a few times on the blog, I never get any response. Three times I reported animal cruelty and they didn’t do anything. I am developing a much lower opinion of these big supposed animal loving organisation who couldn’t care less if you aren’t newspaper or on TV.

    I don’t know how you could do something but if you work anything out I’m in.

    ~ Amy

  23. Prompting change in others is difficult work. So far the only person I have had any real success with is me. There are smaller local organizations and they are the ones I support, where it has a direct & tangible benefit. If we withdraw our support from agencies who don’t earn their credibility then it will become apparent to them that their attitudes and practices aren’t acceptable. You are doing great things though, and the blogosphere is a great medium.

  24. We can reward shelters/rescue organizations that get it right. We can ignore the ones that get it wrong. eventually, the ones that get it wrong, will smarten up and get it right if they want to stay open. Is it a perfect solution? Probably not. But it’s the best idea I have at the moment.

  25. Wow. I read your headline and almost scrolled by. But I thought, stop, wait, you love this guy’s posts, so read what he has to say. Maybe he has a point. I agree with everything but your headline. I agree we need to approach these complex issues differently. I do not like a lot of animal advocacy groups. I don’t like a lot of their tactics. I don’t like their my-way-or-the-highway attitudes. I do not like their infighting and pitching themselves at each other like roosters in a cock fight.

    And yes, I do have an idea, and I’m putting my heart out there in this big cold internet with it. I’m writing it, it’s a novel, and it is meant to educate those ignoramuses who think they are pet lovers but will read inside my pages that they are hurting their dogs and neglecting their dogs and didn’t even realize it.

    Love your posts!

  26. Great post, Rumpy. We totally agree. It’s shameful that the egos and selfishness of humans make it impossible to figure out how we can work together to care for animals. We’re resigned to the fact that we can’t change the world, but we can certainly change things in our own little world, and hope and pray that the ripples that emanate form our actions somehow touch others.

  27. when i first saw your title, i was WHAT? after reading it, you make very good and true points. i have worked with several different rescues and i hear you. i try to stay out of the politics of everything and remind myself it is for the dogs. i see the pictures day in and day out of the dogs, cats, needing help, but then i network with lots of animal advocates. it bothers me greatly that i cannot help them all. i recently started just praying for all the animals that need help everyday. i cannot help them all! it is emotionally draining. and people, such as myself, breaks their heart to see animals mistreated and/killed. we feel guilty when we see animals in need and cannot help them.

    a good friend of mine who started her own rescue is an elementary school teacher educates the children of her school about proper pet care.

    a lot of humans have lost their connection to animals. money has become the top priority over the welfare of animals. the media, dog fighting rings, and irresponsible owners have destroyed the reputation of ‘pit bulls’. they were once revered and honored in this country.

    san diego county recently banned selling dogs, rabbits, and cats in pet stores due to the puppy mill issue. yes, it was a long battle. bureaucracy is delaying any changes in laws that are needed.

    things will remain the same until the human race as a whole learns to love and respect ALL life again. we have lost connection with mother earth with our TV’s, cell phones, ipads, etc. (don’t get me wrong, i love my computer) until that happens we will continue to see poor animals begging for another day of life.

    so in answer to your question, be the change you wish to see. i write a pet blog, as you do, that inspires, advocates animal welfare. i do not put negative thoughts on my blogs, facebook, twitter or anywhere. i am not perfect, but i do not share negativity.

    i like this post so much i am reblogging.

  28. OurPeople make monthly donations to several trusted animal welfare groups (as well as human ones) and try to lead their lives in an exemplary way. OurGirl gets sad and depressed a lot, but she can only do so much for the anipals out in the wider world. Then she does all she can for those close by…us, two TNR community cat colonies and lost or injured animals she and OurBoy come upon in the course of their day.

    They wish things were very different. Native Americans had the best philosophy in relation to their world and every living thing in it. Unfortunately, they were beaten down after Columbus arrived. Purrhaps someday people will come to better understand that way of living and return to it, but probably not in our lifetimes. OurPeople mourn on Columbus Day ~ a *holiday* in many places!! ~ for all the things that were lost afterward.

  29. Oh no……I wonder why those group like ASPCA and HSUS don’t react politely to you? Very weird….the purpose of both of them are almost the same as you who want to save poor animals from various places….I understand how stressful you feel now….you spent lots of time and money for animal welfare…….. 😦

  30. As with so many other advocacies that cross purposes this is the same. Each small splinter wanting recognition and the largest slice of the pie for their own rather than coming together and working together. It is a shame since were they to find common cause so much more could be done.

    What you do is terribly important, loving and heartfelt. Remember you touch hearts and minds with your words. You cannot account for the work of others.

  31. Excellent blog!!! I agree 150% with every point made. I get very upset when people bombard FB or any place about all the homeless 4 leggeds but do nothing! I belong to a Feral Cat rescue & maintenance group. The group has been able to spay/neuter & place 15 of 20 cats to new homes. 2 were too feral & went back to the riverbank where they felt safe & 3 were very ill & had to be PTS. Our population is down to 12 & that was done within 9 months…
    Maybe if people worked in their own communities things would improve? (I also support local no-kill shelter).
    Thank you for a insightful & thoughtful blog.
    Sherri-Ellen & Nylablue

  32. Great comments, but I couldn’t read ’em all, so I hope this hasn’t already been covered.

    We need someone(s) who are charismatic and not only talk the talk but walk the walk, people who truly care about animals. These someones would put together children’s shows about caring for animals (I’m leaving out a few details here, but you can easily fill them in) for the public. TV and school appearances are two platforms that come to mind, but radio shows, movies, puppet shows, all under the same banner. Anyone with an ego is shown the door. You may say this is unrealistic, but look at all the sincere, caring people who are answering this blog. If I were 20 years younger (I’m 70), I would be in the forefront, organizing talent, writing scripts, working with the stage hands and anything else it would take. If this effort becomes a hit or goes viral, we will have something that none of the other self-promoting organizations have.

    We can’t let looking after animals slow us down. I know that sounds like heresy and I don’t mean we all of a sudden go around kicking puppies and kittens. But we can get others to rescue and tend to the animals. We will promote the heck out of that kind of effort and inspire people to do it. Kids grow up remarkably fast, and what they learn in their first seven years or so will last a lifetime. I really wish I were younger. This would work, I know it would, with the passionate kind of people who want to make a difference.

  33. Miss Jen and Rumpy…et al…I would like to meow with you about this sometime…Mom Linda and I are wanting to ‘do’…but want to brainstorm if you are interested. Contact Mom Linda lcrodgers at sbcglobal dot net None of us can ever give up, withdraw, back off…we need to regroup, focus and go after what we can directly influence…we are pawerful in the Paw Blog, Anipal Twitter and FB community…we just have not put ALL these voices together at same time, same place toward ONE SINGLE ACTION…that is within our circle of influence…paw pats, Savannah

  34. Here in southern Alberta (historically, a farming region), most people could not give a good G-damn about animals. There is one fellow who does heroic full time work with bird rescue at his Alberta Birds of Prey and Nature Centre. Those of us who work with other animals (Dogs, Cats, Horses, etc.) need our day jobs to do things like pay the rent, buy groceries etc. I don’t think any of us that go at this independently have it easy.

    But as RumpyDog points out, the only other option is to work with a group – which can lead to all the issues listed above. The situation seems to vary from place to place: Calgary (much larger, to the north) has some great organizations. Here, it seems the independents are leading the way.

    We should not despair. Let us press on and the word will get out. There will always be some pockets (or even whole regions) who couldn’t care less about other species. They should not deter us. As Margaret Mead said: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

    Each of us has to find what works for our particular temperaments, places and times. Revolutions/social movements like ours have their share of big talkers, egotistical generals, and dysfunctional groups of all sizes. Keep what works, discard what doesn’t. Keep going if at all possible. Rest/stop when required. This has always been the way of those who have fought in the trenches.

    It isn’t going to be easy. Helping the weak and innocent has never been easy.

  35. Thank you so much for this post! I’ve only stepped into animal welfare through my blog recently and already I’m sick to death of the drama. What bugs the hell out of me is that the drama is over petty petty things (language, a television program, or a plain misunderstanding). No one is willing to hear differing POVs, because they’re too busy shouting their own and if you don’t agree with them 100% they start in with the name calling; better yet, they just start the discussion off that way. I’d love to know how many of these people walk up to a person IRL and start insulting them and then expect a polite response. Sick Of It All!

  36. Very interesting read! I think another big issue is that a lot of these welfare groups have made this into “you’re either with us or against us!”, leaving responsible breeders and people who enjoy purebred dogs feeling like we aren’t welcome. I think if we could all work together to meet some reasonable goals, like making spaying and neutering a more positive and easy to access option or knowing what you’re getting into when you get that cute little large breed high energy puppy, everyone would benefit. I do think there has been some good to come out of these organizations, people seem to be more aware of some of the big issues now thanks to them, but it’d be nice if we could all be a little less judgmental and be a team.

  37. Personally, my focus is on the CHILDREN. Most adult homo sapiens are already firmly rooted in their speciesism. Children are a blank slate and naturally have the CONNECTION to other species and to their planet. (I fully believe that the connection is trained out of them through life by their parents and society.) Your suggestion to teaching animal welfare (through pet adoption) to children in schools is a good one.

    As for the adults, animal welfare is in everything I do, every day. I may not shout it from the rooftops, preferring the Ghandi approach: “Be the change you want to see.” Efforts are for the fence-sitters only, since it’s easier to urge people over with joy rather than drag them over kicking-and-screaming with facts and figures. Legislation for the voiceless is best done by groups with the lobby power to make those changes.

    Keep up what you do. I know it’s hard going against the “comforts” of others, or even seeing things differently than those in your same “camp.” When your persistence is with joy and admiration, you can’t help but be noticed!

  38. I’d also like to add, I personally am tired of SOME animal advocacy people! There are a lot of elitists in the bunch, (as with most anything that stirs people’s emotions I guess) and being judgmental, snotty, or hateful when people choose to do something differently than oneself helps no one. As someone who also works in a shelter environment and trains dogs, I must admit, the mudslinging between people that essentially have the same goal and love of animals can be very tiresome at times. Great article!

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