US Attitudes Toward Animals: HRC’s Animal Tracker- Year 7

Each year the Humane Research Council surveys the attitudes and behaviors of Americans toward animals. The results of this year’s Animal Tracker study, sponsored by Alley Cat Allies, American Anti-Vivisection Society, Animal Legal Defense Fund, Animal Welfare Trust, Farm Sanctuary, the Humane Society of the United States, Maddie’s Fund, New England Anti-Vivisection Society, & the Pettus Crowe Foundation, were recently released.

The news was good…… and not so good.

I can’t believe so few of you care about us animals!


First, some good news.

Of those responding to the survey, 36% said they’d watched wildlife in the past year and 29% had consumed a meat or dairy substitute. Also, only 15% said they’d been hunting or fishing, 6% said they’d bought an animal, and 5% had been to a circus.

What actions are people taking on behalf of animals? Of respondents, 48% said that their concern for animals had led them to spay or neuter a pet, 29% bought products labeled, “not tested on animals,” and 25% signed a petition for animals.

What advocacy tactics do people support? Of all respondents, 70% support cruelty investigations, 70% support the use of media, 55% support speaking in schools, 48% support ballot initiatives, 47% support filing lawsuits on behalf of animals and 46% support lobbying government officials.

What about the not so good news?

Sadly, 26% of respondents reported having visited a zoo in the past year. Only 10% of respondents had donated to an animal group and only 2% had volunteered for an animal group. Also, only 11% voted for an animal-friendly candidate, only 17% had voted for an animal-friendly law, and only 11% had bought meat or dairy products labeled “Humane.” Only 25% of respondents felt that humane education was very important.

Really? You don't support rescues? How sad.
Really? You don’t support rescues? How sad.

But, as disturbing as those statistics are, that’s not the worst news.

No, the worst news is that comparisons of 2008 and 2014 findings show a decline in support for animal protection. The number of people donating to animal groups is down 16%, and the number of those adopting animals is down 11%. The number of those reporting spaying/neutering pets was down 14%. Those purchasing products not tested on animals was down 12%. Those signing petitions was down 10%, and those voting for animal-friendly politicians was down 9%.

In 2008, 40% of respondents felt that humane education was very important. In 2011, that support dropped to 31%, and this year, it’s down to 25%. During that same period, those saying humane education was not at all important increased from 5% to 9%, and those not knowing it it’s important or not also increased from 5% to 9%.

So why the big drop in support for animal welfare?

 I’m just speculating here, but part of it may coincide with the economic downturn and the corresponding polarization of the country’s views on a variety of topics.

In addition, public relations firms acting on behalf of puppy mills and animal agriculture have pulled out all the stops to change public opinion about animals. Despite the fact that dogs sell (hence the reason you see a dog in almost every commercial on television), there has also been an uptick in the number of commercials in support of animal agriculture. I mean, have you counted the number of ads touting the goodness of bacon? Practically every fast food chain has a burger with bacon they’re advertising.

So, what do you think is contributing to our declining interest in animal welfare? 



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21 thoughts on “US Attitudes Toward Animals: HRC’s Animal Tracker- Year 7

  1. I think you’re right on all counts. The economic downturn has certainly effected us all, as has the national polarization. These problems clearly need to be addressed, before we can again begin meaningful dialog on helping animals, children, the poor, the Deaf, prison inmates, or anyone else who’s suffering. It’s hard to be charitable – even for the worthiest of causes – when you don’t know where your own next meal is coming from. And yes, factory farms and meat packers have been lobbying the government, and force feeding us with an ad-blitz. And they’re not alone. Every time I see one of those Bank of America commercials that shows all those intentionally grainy, black and white close ups of “the American farmer,” I’m reminded of the company that robo-foreclosed on over 10 million homes, just a couple of short years ago. You can’t very well run an evil empire, if your serfs despise you. PR is their last ditch effort at maintaining control. Maybe if we stopped being consumers and went back to being Customers, we could gain back some of the power we once had. There. End of rant.

    1. Astute observation about “consumers” and “customers”. It’s the only hope. People will have to wake up and flex what muscles they have
      (One note, here, the banks/mortgage institutions were under strict orders by the fed to increase home ownership/loans despite risk(common knowledge to those in home sales and lending – they knew exactly where to get clients approved with ease) – so many were lured into the situation without understanding/thinking. Those pulling the puppet strings and writing the scripts are equally evil)

  2. (We are voting! A lot!)
    Disturbing the numbers of dogs and cats on their own: dumped, escaped, or results of feral colonies. This could easily be addressed if there was the will.
    Attitudes are more difficult. One thing not mentioned is the big increase of different views of animals’ value by those arriving from other cultures. We see that locally. When does acceptance of cultural differences have a limit?

  3. I’ve thought that humans stated to get care of animals more and more…..but those numbers showed the true answers… sad….. 😦

  4. Unfortunately, some in the animal welfare community have caused the downturn in public perception of animal shelters. Desperate to re-home every animal, they have placed dangerous dogs in homes where they have ended up severely mauling someone. Shelters are being sued as a result, and the damage it causes in the public eye about adopting and rescuing pets is incalculable.

    In addition, the animal use community has succeeded in dividing the animal welfare community and caused them to war against one another. Examples are all of the hate some “no kill” devotees pile upon both animal shelters and national animal welfare groups.

      1. I must respectfully disagree. There are a lot of issues involved that we can’t control, such as increased PR efforts by the multibillion dollar factory farming, pet breeding, research etc. industries, however we can control our own behavior, and it seems that the reckless actions of a few in the community are having a detrimental effect upon the view of animal rights and welfare as a whole.

  5. Maybe it’s just because we, as a country, and maybe even as a race really seem to not care, in general, about anything except our own selves and our selfish, conspicuously consumptive wants. I think we are doomed, for the most part anyway.

  6. I agree much of it may be due to the economic downturn. Meat of factory bred animals is so ridiculously inexpensive. I’ve just turned vegetarian and my grocery bill is twice that of an American couple that does eat meat. Sure, I could cut down my grocery bill by eating lower grade foods such as non-organic fruits, veggies, dairy, and tofu, or enriched white breads instead of whole grains, or by not eating expensive nuts. But then I’d have to increase my supplements or risk my health. Eating a healthy and humane diet is expensive.

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