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Ten Ways You Can Help Animals

A stray dog forages for food in a rubbish tip, Egypt


Help reduce animal overpopulation

The Problem:

Every year, between 6 and 8 million dogs and cats enter shelters in the U.S. Sadly, about half of these animals are euthanized because there are not enough homes for them. This problem is made worse by “factory-style” dog-breeding facilities known as puppy mills, which put profit above the welfare of animals. Most dogs raised in puppy mills are housed in shockingly poor conditions and receive little, if any, medical care. Animal over-population often leads to hungry, aggressive, and unhealthy strays that can compromise their welfare and threaten public health.

The Solution:

  • Adopt your next new friend from an animal shelter or rescue group instead of buying from a breeder or pet store.

  • Make sure your new friend is spayed or neutered.

  • Research different breeds to ensure you find one that's right for you and your family.

Report animal cruelty

The Problem:

Despite the fact that animal cruelty is illegal in all 50 states, it remains shockingly prevalent in our society and often goes unreported. Cruelty to animals can take many forms, including direct acts of violence (e.g. beating or mutilating) or negligence (e.g. denying adequate food, water, or shelter). Not only do these acts cause severe animal suffering, they are often linked to a pattern of other violent acts within families and society.

The Solution:

  • Learn how to recognize signs of abuse or neglect, such as extremely thin animals, wounds on the body, and animals who cower in fear when approached by their owners.

  • Report abuse immediately to your local humane society, animal control or law enforcement agency.

  • Educate yourself and others about how to properly train and care for companion animals.

Never participate in animal fighting, including dogfighting, cockfighting, or hog-dog fighting. This is a particularly insidious form of animal cruelty that should be reported to authorities immediately.

Live in harmony with your wild neighbors

The Problem:

As urban development continues to destroy wild habitat, animals are forced to live in closer proximity to humans. People frequently encounter a variety of wildlife species, including deer, bats, squirrels, raccoons, and mice in their everyday lives. Conflicts can arise when these animals enter our homes or backyards looking for food and shelter. Unfortunately, many people use cruel and environmentally irresponsible methods to deal with human-wildlife conflicts.

The Solution:

  • Prevent conflicts with wildlife before they occur by doing such things as securing garbage cans, feeding companion animals indoors, blocking holes and filling cracks in your home.

  • Control nuisance animals humanely with motion activated sprinklers, acoustical alarms, or visual deterrents (e.g. scarecrows, reflectors).

  • If you require outside assistance, make sure your ‘Animal Problem Control Officer' does not use inhumane methods like poisoning, drowning, or shooting.

  • Keep your cat inside. They are predatory by nature and are capable of killing numerous wild species.

  • If you find an orphaned or injured animal, contact your local wildlife rehabilitator, police department, or animal control officer. Never approach or try to handle a wild animal.

  • Create a haven for wildlife in your backyard by planting trees or shrubs, providing a water source and limiting your use of toxic pesticides.

Make more humane food choices

The Problem:

Billions of farm animals are raised and killed for human consumption each year. A majority of these animals are subjected to various forms of cruelty behind the closed doors of factory farms, where animals are treated as little more than meat-making machines. They are crammed into extremely small spaces, denied the ability to perform natural behaviors, and pushed beyond their physical limits.

The Solution:

  • Choose only free range or organic meat, milk and eggs, or products certified as coming from humanely raised animals. U.S. humane food certification programs include “Certified Humane,” “Free Farmed,” and “Animal Welfare Approved.”

  • Beware of misleading labels such as “natural,” which have no meaning in terms of animal welfare and may be placed on products from animals raised on factory farms.

  • Ask your local markets and restaurants to offer more free-range, organic, and humane certified foods.

  • Make healthy food choices by adding more fruits and veggies to your diet and reducing your consumption of meat.

Use the power of the purse

The Problem:

Every year, untold numbers of animals are subjected to painful procedures in safety testing for cosmetic and household products. Animals used in product tests may endure cruel skin and eye irritation tests, as well as lethal oral poisoning experiments. Toxicity tests involve force-feeding products to animals to observe reactions (e.g. convulsions, skin eruptions, and diarrhea) until a certain percentage of the animals die. During testing, little veterinary care is provided to the animals and the use of anesthetics is rare.

The Solution:

  • Shop with compassion. Choose only products that have not been tested on animals. Look for the Leaping Bunny Logo – the highest level of assurance that a company is cruelty-free.

  • Be wary of products claiming to be “cruelty-free” or “not tested on animals.” Some companies state that they do not test on animals, when in fact they merely contract someone else to do the testing.

  • Write or call companies to let them know you will not be purchasing their products until they stop testing on animals.

  • Inform others. Most people aren't aware that many household products depend on animal suffering.

Live light on the land

The Problem:

Pollution poses a threat to animals in many forms. Discarded trash, including plastic six-pack rings, can become entangled around the necks of animals, causing injury or death. Plastic grocery bags and wraps can be lethal to wild animals who often mistake it for food. Industrial pollution (from heavy metals, PCBs, and other pollutants) also takes a heavy toll on animals as it degrades the environment and destroys precious habitat.

The Solution:

  • Reduce. Don't use "throw-away" products like paper plates, napkins, and plastic silverware.

  • Reuse. Take your own bags to stores to carry home your groceries and shopping.

  • Recycle. Rinse all recyclable glass and plastic containers to remove food remnants that might attract animals and remember to cut apart each ring in plastic six-pack carriers before you discard them.

Be a compassionate traveler

The Problem:

The exploitation of animals is a common by-product of the tourism industry. Cruelty, confinement, neglect and abuse is the price millions of animals worldwide pay for tourist entertainment. Performing animals and animals used for rides or photos are placed under enormous stress and are often drugged or beaten to ensure they remain submissive around human spectators. The trade in animal products for gifts or souvenirs also contributes to severe animal suffering and threatens the survival of endangered species.

The Solution:

  • The number one way travelers can protect animals is through their pocketbooks. Support animal-friendly services and avoid those that exploit animals.

  • Don't accept culture as a justification for cruelty; boycott bullfights and festivals using animals.

  • Never pose for a photo with a wild animal.

  • Never use animal rides or transport that could cause animal suffering.

  • Never buy wildlife souvenirs or products that may have endangered or caused suffering to animals, such as ivory, tortoiseshell, fur, and horns.

Avoid establishments that keep wild animals in captivity

The Problem:

The public display industry exacts a heavy physical and mental toll on wild animals. Captive animals are forced to live in artificial, stressful, cramped conditions, away from their family and friends. Meeting the complex needs of wild animals is nearly impossible in captive situations. For example, dolphins in the wild may travel many miles a day foraging for food, socializing with pod mates, or exploring their vast underwater world. These natural instincts are completely stifled in captivity, causing a great deal of stress to the animals.

The Solution:

  • Don't visit marine parks, zoos, or other establishments that hold wild animals in captivity.

  • If you want to observe these magnificent animals, visit places that allow people to view animals in natural and humane conditions (national parks, nature reserves, animal sanctuaries, rehabilitation centers).

  • Try wild dolphin or whale watching. These eco-friendly excursions enable tourists to become immersed in the natural world of marine mammals without threatening the health and welfare of wild species.

Be prepared for disaster

The Problem:

Disasters, such as tornadoes, earthquakes, or hurricanes, can strike at any time, with little or no notice. Without an easy-to-execute plan, families are sometimes forced to choose between their own safety and the safety of their beloved animals. During Hurricane Katrina, tens of thousands of animals became homeless or died. Many animal guardians lost their lives alongside their companions because they could not bear to abandon them.

The Solution:

  • Be prepared! Take the time to make a plan and assemble an emergency kit for you and your companion animals.

  • Evacuate early, if you can, before a mandatory evacuation order is issued.

  • Take your companion animals with you. They can easily be lost, injured, or killed if they are left behind to fend for themselves.

Support international recognition of the importance of animal welfare

The Problem:

Billions of animals around the world are affected by humans, and rely on people to treat them with compassion. Sadly, in many countries there is little national and no international protection for animals. WSPA believes that an international agreement on welfare standards should become a key goal for the animal welfare movement in the 21st century.

The Solution:

Secure a Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare at the United Nations, which would:

  • Recognize animals as sentient beings, capable of suffering and experiencing pain.

  • Recognize that animal welfare is an issue of importance as a part of the social development of nations.

  • Act as a catalyst for better animal welfare provisions worldwide.

  • You can help by signing the petition! Reaching our goal of 10 million signatures worldwide will raise public and government awareness about animals and the importance of considering their welfare.

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