Animal Welfare: No Gimmicks, Just Straight Talk

So yesterday I’m listening to NPR, and on Marketplace they’re talking about the ban on fur sales in West Hollywood, CA. Gary Francione, law professor at Rutgers University, was asked what he thought about the ban, and he called it great for welfare groups touting the new law to raise money, but it doesn’t do much to promote animal welfare.

I agree. 

Shameless use of cute to get your attention
Shameless use of cute to get your attention

Truth is there’s lots of folks that want to feel good about helping animals. So we give a few bucks to our favorite animal charity, or fight to save the life of one dog or cat, while knowing very little about the plight of animals around the world.

What are those big charities doing? To be sure, some are doing some great things. But the one thing I don’t see them doing is educating the public in a rational manner. I see lots of ads filled with emotional overload that get you to open your wallet. I see lots of big fights for or against legislation impacting animals. But where is the public education? All I see is fund-raising.

And it seems that not only are we NOT talking about the issues, we’re not maintaining statistics either. Estimates vary from 3 to 6 million dogs and cats euthanized in the US each year. In dog-loving USA we can’t get a straight answer on how many animals we euthanize. In Australia it’s 250,000. Japan averages 204,000 animals euthanized annually. What? A small country like Japan euthanizes that many dogs and cats?

Even though those numbers are mind-boggling, they are nothing compared to the numbers of animals we kill each year for food. 

Yep, still using cute to manipulate you. Is it working?
Yep, still using cute to manipulate you. Is it working?

In 2009, here’s an estimate of how many animals we killed worldwide for food:

293 million cows

518 million sheep

633 million turkeys

1 billion rabbits

1.3 billion pigs

52 billion chickens

And 1 trillion fish and sea creatures

And there were plenty other animals eaten as well.

Actually I'm responsible for more deaths, because I feed meat to the dogs and cats that live here
More cute to keep you here long enough to read the rest of the blog post

Overwhelmed yet? Then how about this: If you eat meat, you contribute to the death of one cow, one pig, 25 chickens, and over 100 fish and water creatures every year. 

A majority of humans see nothing wrong with most of these killings. Actually, many of my readers don’t see anything wrong with it. 

I truly think that if you’re visiting this blog regularly, you’re at least thinking. I may not reply to your comments, but I know some of you are seriously looking at your diet. You’re making small changes in the way you cook and eat.

We need to have more public discussions led by people of rational thought instead of people posing in public wearing nothing but lettuce leaves.

Our euthanasia of cats and dogs is declining because we’re changing our perception of companion animals. Dogs used to live in the back yard. Now we buy our dogs Christmas presents.

It’s time that we begin to see other animals differently as well. Let’s look at the life of the average cow or chicken in a calm manner. Then perhaps your yearly consumption of 25 chickens will drop to 24…. or even 20.

What’s that you say? That small number won’t impact the big picture?  

Maybe not, but it will sure make a difference for that chicken.

55 thoughts on “Animal Welfare: No Gimmicks, Just Straight Talk

  1. With all the complications of allergies in my family I cannot see myself ever going vegetarian or vegan. I don’t like the taste of the substitute ones and while I truly respect people for making the decision not to eat meat or other things I can’t see myself ever doing it. It’s just not me. I hope that doesn’t offend you.

    You are right in saying a lot of people throw money at something, maybe in the hopes it will go away. I’ve become very motivated reading your blog in helping the welfare of guinea pigs. I know it’s only one animal, and only one part of what is going on but it’s what I can do. Already I have managed to help a selection of rescue guinea pigs find homes, convince four local pet shops not to keep rabbits and guinea pigs together and got three of them to put up posters on things you need to know about guinea pigs. I’m also highlighting the zoos and farms keeping rabbits and guinea pigs together and naming and shaming them in an effort to get them to change.

    If it hadn’t been for reading everything you do I probably never would have had the confidence to believe I could make a difference but listing all of them above I can see that I am managing to make small steps in the right direction.

    If everyone did something small, that maybe took time instead of money then we might get somewhere with animal welfare.

    ~ Amy

    1. You are amazing Amy. And I am not at all upset with you because of your dietary choices. But I think I know you well enough to know that yours are choices and not mindless habits. You are a very thoughtful person and I am honored to be your friend.

  2. 293 million cows.. that’s not even. We were walking past chicken at the store and I casually dropped how chickens are killed here. My boyfriend ran away from the chicken. It’s all mass consumption though.. we don’t NEED to eat that much meat, I don’t get those buckets of chicken either. If we didn’t eat so much meat we wouldn’t need giant farms and animals being killed brutally. Grr.

    1. True. So the trick is to discover how we can actually change the way people think about eating meat in a way that doesn’t make them angry or defensive. Sometimes casual conversations like the one you had with your boyfriend make a greater impact than we can ever know.

  3. Wow those numbers are huge. I didn’t need the cute to continue reading but thank you..I am glad to know things are slowly changing in shelters across the nation. But you are right, we need to focus on all animal rights…why are so many rabbits being killed? Are they killed due to animal testing or for food or what? I know I for one can stand to go meatless as I do love veggies. So to save a cow, pig or chicken would be worth it. Thanks to recent public awareness farms are taking steps to give these animals a better quality of life.

      1. You’re kidding… Food consumption? I’ve had wild hare when I lived in Germany, along with wild boar. But those are dome staggering numbers. I know it doesn’t seem like there’s ever enough being done about animal welfare, but it is something which is better than nothing.

      2. Many people in the world consume rabbit, including here in the US. And it is something. Let’s not allow ourselves to accept that it is enough.

  4. I know of three sheep here that are my friends and will never be table meat.
    People still say oh when they die will you eat them and hubby and I say..we wouldn’t eat our children so why our sheep..they are our friends and I think if people spent some time with these creatures they would feel the same way.
    We are not total vegetarians yet but are slowly becoming so without even realising it, and when we do make choices we try to make good ones..far from perfect yet.The cute was lovely but still would have read your post Rumpy 🙂

      1. I agree..i think more about choices I make the older I get,choices in everything that involves affecting my world around me and outside me..perhaps becoming less selfish as I age.

  5. I now know that it’s time to face this fact seriously…….have to think changes….your post for vegan diet has taught me there are some other ways to substitute for animals meat.

  6. Ah you’re right Rumpy 🙂 Like I said before, I stopped eating pork within the last few months. I also convinced my mom to stop eating pork! I want to cut down on eating beef and chicken. As for fish, I’ve never liked it and don’t eat any sea creatures. I don’t eat sea creatures not just because I think they taste bad, but also because I find things like lobsters and crabs to resemble giant bugs…

  7. I grew up on a farm that had cattle and most of my friends did too but I had a steer that I absolutely loved, his name was Speed Limit (because his ear tag was number 55). One day I couldn’t find him so I asked at dinner where he was, my older sister spoke up and said he’s on your plate. It took me a minute and then I started freaking out because I knew what was happening to all my cows. And, I couldn’t believe everyone was OK with it. Since then it’s been next to impossible to get me to eat meat.

    Just thought I’d share that story…

    1. Ya never know what will be the pivotal moment when we internalize how our actions impact other living things. You happen to know where your food comes from. Many people in the developed world haven’t a clue.

  8. I am making more conscious choices at the market than in past and we eat more salads, meatless, and more fresh vegetables over pasta than meatballs ( I did find some meatless meat balls that were great) We won’t ever be meatless, but our choices are changing and that is progress in my book. After seeing the movie Silence of the Lambs, I swore off lamb. Knowing where it comes from and how it is slaughtered changed my life. Just sayin’….

    1. I think that is the same way I see things. It’s a journey that begins with thinking about how we perceive animals. Then hang on for a wild ride as our whole life changes!

  9. interesting post Rumpy,we eat meat but only small amounts and I am careful about where it comes from.Just because we eat meat it doesn’t mean we can’t make sure that the animals we consume have a great happy life,xx Rachel

  10. Meat was a staple when I was growing up. Every Friday night we had the traditional meal of chicken in a Jewish home. It’s been hard to change the habit. I have cut down on how much meat I eat.

  11. We have meatless nights several times a week. We also eat chicken and fish. What we have cut back on – big time – is beef (hamburger, etc.) and pork.

    I applaud your efforts, Rumpydog, in getting out the message about spaying, neutering, animal rights, and caring for animals. In my own small way, I have encouraged people to adopt animals from shelters and to realize that the animals are family members. Keep up the great work.

  12. As a former volunteer dog rescuer (saving them from vivisection in my more active days), I was mom to three rescued dogs. One lived 16 years. Amazing what love and connection can do for animals, even us. Those dogs gave me a happier, healthier life and friendship/companionship unrivaled to this day. I still eat chicken and fish but neither often. Usually more eggs, cottage cheese or tofu. Just feel better and I don’t mean merely my conscience. It physically and mentally feels better, brighter, not so sluggish mentally or physically. Not sure we were ever meant to eat so much meat… my mom told me her doctor said beef lives in your system for weeks or months after eating, it putrefies there. No wonder so much bowel cancer which she also got. Just thinking aloud here. I know you won’t mind. Thanks for letting me do so and thanks for this good reminder.

  13. I believe every one of us could be doing something to help animals. I don´t have the money to donate. I got my talents like my voice and making music and videos for animals to spread awareness, for animals. I share animals in needs of homes, to this days only lost 6 furbabies to kill shelters. I share infos about no kill shelters and spaying. I take part in petitions that I believe are for positive changes and well written with no aggression. I talk about my life style, in the hope to inspire others to search new and more positive ways of living, in my case I am a vegan and only use products not tested on animals. I too stay on homeopathy if need it, as much as I can. I do what I can to help animals in need. These small actions can save more animals than donating in some cases. I avoid buying products from companies that support animal testing or the dog meat trade. So there is so much that we as individuals could be doing and it can a differenc and sometimes bigger than we think. Sadly many don´t believe this can change things or can´t be bothered making these changes, or simply don´t want. Is a free choice, but in the end of the day, we could be changing the lives of so many animals for the better. Thank you for this article!!!

  14. I read a story a few years ago describing the art of sexting chickens. They have people who are experts at telling the sex of a chick at a very young age. This is important for the food industry because male chickens don’t taste as good as females so weeding out the males early saves them money. The story didn’t say what happens to all those poor males but I am sure they are part of the 52 billion. That means every chicken you eat actually counts as two.

  15. Jen, I so respect the work you are trying to do here. Knowing what you believe in, I need a straight answer and I hope I can find it here. You say (in another post) that you have no use for the big animal charities and rescuers, and in many areas I agree. But what about the work they do. Who is going to do it, if they don’t. Here is an ad from the Humane Society that does everything you claim it does…use cute and/or emotion to rake in the “required” donations in order to help one animal or a segment of animals (copied and pasted).


    Help Animals In Need.
    View email in web browser.

    The following is a special message from The Humane Society of the United States.

    Dear Friend,

    You can call me “Andy.” It’s not my real name. But since I’m an undercover investigator for The Humane Society of the United States, I have to keep things anonymous.

    Today I want to tell you about one mother pig at a factory farm in Wyoming. When I found this sow
    one day last April, she was lying on the ground — her legs were swollen and covered in deep gashes. She had sores all over her body. When I touched her legs she recoiled in pain.

    The people responsible for her care did not even leave her water. But, I caught a few drops of water from a nearby hose and brought my hand to her mouth.

    All of a sudden, she lifted her head and lapped up the water. With all the strength she had left, she inched her way toward water — for what might have been her last drink.

    There were many — too many — other horrors at this facility. Workers punching pregnant mother pigs, drop-kicking piglets like soccer balls and smashing them into concrete floors.

    My job is to document these abuses for one reason: to expose them.

    And it’s working. As a result of this investigation, seven workers at this factory farm pleaded guilty or were convicted of animal cruelty. And, we’ve worked with more than 60 major companies — including McDonald’s, Burger King, Costco, and Target — to announce that they will stop using small, metal cages in which breeding sows are confined for almost their entire lives. This is tremendous progress, but there’s still so much work to be done.

    Will you make a gift of $35 — or whatever you can afford — and help us continue our work to create a better world for all animals?


    Undercover Investigator
    The Humane Society of the United States

    You’re receiving this email because you signed a petition at GreaterGood and chose to remain opted-in to receive updates.
    We email our supporters approximately once a week.

    GreaterGood, One Union Square, 600 University Street, Suite 1000, Seattle, WA 98101 1-206-268-5400


    GreaterGood is associated with various charitable organizations, including animal rescue, world hunger, etc., and is apparently advocating help for The Humane Society of the United States.

    My burning question is this…if these organizations are not the ones we should donate to, who will do the work they are doing? To tell the truth, that presentation by HSUS brought me to tears. I can’t imagine the conditions those pigs live in and the pain that they suffer every day. I am somewhat confused, although considerably enlightened in some areas, by the information you provided the other day, and need some help to sort it all out. I appreciate the information you have provided…but now what?

    1. I am not
      going to tell you what to do with your money. What I am going to say is:

      -when big rescue help is required, they are available to do it
      – they advocate for laws that protect animals
      I will also say that;
      – those ads are professionally designed to evoke the very response you describe

      I’ll also ask you how often you read a piece by an outside reporter about the work these groups do? I specifically asked to see the inside workings of the rescue effort in AL. ASPCA said no. HSUS didn’t even reply to my request.

  16. You forgot to mention the countless mice, snakes, birds, and insects that are killed when you eat a salad or tofu or other ‘vegetarian’ meal. The act of reaping and sowing the earth kills thousands upon thousands if not millions. The pesticides needed to grow unicrops in fields is in and of itself overwhelming, as well as the fertilizers which are often chemical if not petroleum in nature which generally runs off and ruins the eco-system in the surrounding areas.

    While I am not thrilled with the fact that a living being dies for my continued survival, I also know that with out meat eaters cows and chickens and pigs would most likely cease to exist. I now make sure that my meat is humanely raised and lived a good life before it died. It is sad that this needs to be the case. Before CAFO, I imagine a good portion of our food animals lived good lives.. Just as before the word ‘organic’ became necessary, our food all was organic..

  17. so many reasons to go vegan. I am a lacto-ovo pescatarian…and must do better. The greenhouse effect, the inhumanity, the inhumanity…the inhumanity…and the bad resultant health…so manny reasons…animals have souls purer than ours by far, and I truly believe that.

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