Around the world, millions of exotic animals are held captive as pets. Sadly, the overwhelming majority of people who keep wild animals as pets are unable to provide the care they require. It is estimated that 90% of wild animals kept as pets are dead within the first two years of captivity. Those that survive are often kept in appalling conditions and can pose a serious threat to human health and safety. Over the past 10 years, there have been thousands of incidents of injury and death involving wild animals.
Do not buy exotic animals as "pets."
Educate family and friends about the animal welfare problems and safety concerns related to the private ownership of exotic animals.
Speak out if you see an exotic animal living in deplorable conditions or being abused. Report it to the appropriate animal control agency and the police or sheriff's department.
Get involved. Support legislation to ban private ownership of exotic animals.
Caring for a companion animal is a big responsibility and can sometimes be hard work. It is easy to forget that companion animals depend on us for everything, including nourishment, safety, and medical care. Providing only the bare essentials – food, water, and shelter – is not enough to give your companions a good life. Too many people neglect their animals' need for exercise, mental stimulation, and companionship.
Give your companion animal a good life by providing lots of love, comfortable surroundings, and toys.
Make appropriate arrangements for your companion animals when traveling. Leave them safely at home in familiar surroundings with a trusted friend or relative.
Make appropriate arrangements for the care of your animal companions in the event that they outlive you or you're otherwise unable to look after them. Each year thousands of pets are left homeless and end up euthanized in shelters simply because their human companion passed away or became too ill to care for them.
Never leave your companion unattended in a car in the summer, even for a short period of time. Temperatures can rise alarmingly fast.
Never keep your dog chained up outside.
Purchase a license or identification tag for your companion animals. If they get lost, proper identification could be their ticket home.
Most communities have a shelter overflowing with animals waiting to be adopted. Many of these shelters are understaffed and employees are overworked. Keeping up with the demands of so many animals requires a significant amount of resources and many shelters struggle to maintain adequate supplies. Workers often suffer from compassion fatigue after continued exposure to the results of cruelty, ignorance and apathy toward animals.
Help out! Volunteer to walk a dog, play with a cat, or clean a cage.
Contribute financially or donate items such as bedding, cleaning supplies, pet food, or toys.
Volunteer to help wildlife rehabilitators nurse injured wildlife back to good health.
Every year, more than 50 million animals worldwide, including rabbits, foxes, mink and chinchillas, are violently killed in the name of “fashion.” Some are caught in the wild and die in barbaric traps. Others are raised on fur farms where they spend their entire lives packed into filthy cages. These animals are killed by cruel methods that preserve their pelts, such as neck-breaking, gassing, or anal electrocution.
Forego fur. No market can profit without customers.
Beware of clothes with fur trim or lining. Check the label or ask the sales assistant.
Boycott shops that sell fur, and explain your actions to management.
Educate fellow consumers about the atrocities of fur farming.
Every year, millions of animals – including frogs, rats, pigs, and cats - are dissected in schools and universities across the globe. Most dissected animals are caught in the wild and suffer terribly during capture, handling, and transport. Live frogs, for example, are piled into cloth bags for days or weeks, left to die from suffocation or dehydration. Other animals are obtained as ‘byproducts' of cruel industries. For instance, slaughterhouses provide fetal pigs, and fur farms sell skinned mink, foxes, and rabbits to schools for dissections.
Refuse to dissect an animal.
Request a humane alternative like computer programs, videos, or plastic models.
Spread awareness about dissection. Write a letter to the editor in your school paper. Have students, teachers, and others in your community sign a petition in support of alternatives to dissection.
The kind of language we use to describe animals is very powerful in shaping how we view them. Unfortunately, our society often uses animal names in a degrading fashion. For example, we insult people by calling them a pig, a weasel, or a baboon. One person might ridicule another with terms like chicken or bull-headed. These words can reinforce demeaning attitudes about animals and in turn, shape callous behavior towards them.
Adopt a vocabulary that is accurate and respectful of non-human animals.
When speaking about animals use “who” instead of “which” or “what.”
Refer to individual animals with gender as “he” or “she” instead of “it”.
Describe yourself as a “guardian,” not an “owner” of your “companions,” not “pets.”
Animals are abused and exploited in a variety of forms in the entertainment industry. Circuses that feature animals, for example, use cruel training techniques, like shocking and beating, to force wild animals to perform unnatural and even painful tricks. Dog-racing is another example of severe mistreatment of animals for human amusement. While at the racetrack, dogs are confined in small cages barely large enough for them to stand up or turn around. During races, they suffer serious injuries, like broken legs, cardiac arrest, and spinal cord paralysis. Thousands of dogs are killed each year when they are injured or are no longer fast enough to be profitable.
Stay away from circuses that feature animals, dog-racing tracks, rodeos, and other venues that exploit animals for entertainment.
Make every effort to ensure that traveling animal acts don't stop in your town. Take your message to the sponsors (store owners, radio and television stations) and inform promoters about the problems with animal acts.
Take your friends and family to animal-friendly entertainment. Circuses that employ only human performers are a great way to be amazed and entertained in a cruelty-free manner.
In schools across the country, rabbits, mice, frogs, fish, and countless other animals are subjected to substandard care as teaching “tools” or classroom “pets.” Many teachers bring animals into the classroom with good intentions - to teach responsibility or to raise awareness about animals – but once animals arrive they become victims of abuse and neglect. Animals are often forgotten when school is not in session and suffer from lack of climate control, missed meals, and unsanitary living conditions.
Discourage your teacher from introducing an animal to the class. If you are a parent, talk to principals and teachers about the welfare issues of keeping animals in classrooms.
Contact the school principal or local animal control agency if an animal is suffering in a classroom and no action is being taken.
Find alternative ways to teach children about animals and pet care, such as videos, demonstrations, and guest lectures from animal specialists.
New legislation is an important part of protecting animals and propelling the animal movement forward. Passing animal-protective legislation, however, can be a challenging task. In many cases, elected officials only respond to issues involving non-human animals when their constituents have compelled them to do so. Unfortunately, many people are intimidated or confused by the legislative process and fail to tell their representatives how they feel about animal issues. As a result, important animal legislation easily slips through the cracks.
Register to vote and research the voting records of candidates to ensure that you support animal-friendly lawmakers.
Contact lawmakers regarding animal related legislation and remember to be professional and positive.
Don't make enemies. Never threaten or antagonize a legislator.
Get involved in legislative campaigns. Help someone get elected by volunteering to work, placing a campaign sign in your yard, or handing out leaflets.
Animal suffering is a widespread phenomenon. In every country, animals are being abused, exploited, or all together ignored. We need your help to end cruelty towards animals and to improve their welfare around the world.
The mission of the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) is to form a united global animal welfare movement, and our vision is a world where animal welfare matters and animal cruelty ends. Become a member of WSPA and help with animal welfare activities across the globe.