Every year in the U.S. over 20,000,000 cats and dogs end up in a shelter. Of these, over 15,000,000 are euthanized. Many compassionate people and programs around the world are working to protect animals from neglect, cruelty, and extinction.
- Spay and neuter. Each year, millions of dogs and cats are put to death in animal shelters. Spaying and neutering eases the overpopulation problem and prolongs the life of your dog or cat.
- Never buy an animal from a pet shop. Adopt your companion animals from shelters. Pet shops buy from puppy mills and large-scale breeders who contribute to the population crisis and whose over-bred animals are often very unhealthy.
- Never give an animal as a gift. Many an animal has been abandoned because people aren’t prepared to care for it. Discuss it with your friends and family first.
- Take notice and take action. Never ignore stray animals on the street, where they can become victims of disease, starvation, and human cruelty. Contact you local animal shelter to report a lost animal.
- Support your local animal shelter. Animal shelters and SPCAs always need help socializing cats and walking dogs, fostering animals, and cleaning cages and pens. If you cannot volunteer, send a contribution.
- Report abuse. Call your local humane society if you witness any type of cruely or abuse. It is common knowledge that violence towards non-human animals is a precursor of violence towards humans. Dogfighting is illegal and should be reported immediately.
- Keep them safe at home. Be sure to keep collars and tags on dogs and cats (even if they are indoors). In case of an emergency, they can be returned home safely. Be sure to have a secure fence for dogs in your yard.
- Use natural cleaners. Hazardous chemicals are harmful to your animals’ health. Use only non-toxic cleaners in your home, and always clean up antifreeze (which tastes sweet to animals). Contact the Environmental Protection Agency (800-424-9346) to learn how to properly dispose of hazardous chemicals.
- Attend a humane dog training course with your dog. Learn to communicate with your dog, who is eager to please but isn’t always clear on what you expect.
- Provide exercise for your dogs. Dogs need walking, running, digging, and exploring. Find your local dog-friendly park or work with your community to create one.
- Keep cats indoors. Indoor cats live longer, safer, healthier lives. Cars, pesticides, feral cats, and storm drains are just some of the reasons to keep cats indoors. With love and shelter, cats do not feel deprived.
- Educate yourself. Read books to learn to care for your companion animal properly.
Compassion of Animals
Understanding Your Dog
The New Natural Cat
- Consider a more plant-based diet. Plant-based diet greatly reduces risk of cancer and obesity while helping to reduce the negative impact that factory farming has on animals.
- Drink alternatives to cow’s milk. To keep milk production high, dairy cows are artificially inseminated and confined to feed lots. Soy milk and nut milks offer a low-fat, healthy option to cow’s milk.
- Eat alternatives to meat. Soy-based products are a great substitute for cholesterol-free bacon, burgers and cheese.
- Choose organic, free-range chicken. A growing number of people are looking to “free range” as an alternative to factory farm poultry and eggs. The birds supplement their grain feed by foraging for up to 20 percent of their intake and are often moved regularly to fresh pasture.
- Choose organic, cage-free eggs. Millions of egg laying hens are confined in battery cages. The birds cannot stretch their wings or legs, and they cannot fulfill normal behavioral patterns or social needs.
- Choose organic, grass-fed beef. Cows, calves, pigs, chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese, and other animals are kept in small cages, in jam-packed sheds, or on filthy feedlots, often with so little space that they can’t even turn around or lie down comfortably. They are deprived of exercise so that all their bodies’ energy goes toward producing flesh, eggs, or milk for human consumption.
- Educate yourself. Read books about factory farming and the effects meat & dairy have on your health.
Diet for a new America
Battered Birds, Crated Herds: How We Treat the Animals We Eat
Fast Food Nation
Forks Over Knives (a great documentary)
- Buy non-leather products. Leather accounts for 50% of the by-product value of cattle raised for meat. Many alternatives are available, such as satin/fabric dress shoes, sythetic running and hiking shoes, and canvas recreation shoes.
- Boycott fur. Whether killed by steel-jaw leghold traps or electrocuted on fur farms, animals raised and killed for fur suffer tremendously.
- Choose non-animal fabrics. Avoid eelskin, ivory, pearls, feathers, wool, and angora. Choose instead cotton, ramie, canvas, vinyl, nylon, linen, rayon, faux pearls, rubber, or hemp.
- Find alternatives to zoos. Animals are fascinating, but consider watching them in their natural habitat. Victims of illegal trade, forced from their families, and raised in captivity, zoo animals would prefer not to be entertainment for humans. Watch National Geographic videos, read zoology books, and visit local nature centers.
- Join wildlife protection organizations. Capturing young animals from the wild to sell them to zoos is a cruel practice both for mother and baby. Support organizations that protect these animals.
- Do not attend circuses. Animals do not naturally ride bicycles, stand on their heads, balance on balls, or jump through rings of fire. To force them to perform these confusing and physically uncomfortable tricks, trainers use whips, tight collars, muzzles, electric prods, bullhooks, and other painful tools of the trade.
- Boycott marine theme parks. Unable to use their sonar, choose a mate, escape the noise of onlookers, or travel hundreds of miles with their family, captive marine mammals routinely die of pneumonia, ulcers, and other stress-related illnesses. Wild dolphins can live 40 years, and orcas can live 90, but in captivity, they rarely survive their teens. The Cove is an amazing and heartbreaking documentary about the way dolphins are acquired for theme parks. It may change your life.
- Do not patronize dog tracks. The greyhound racing industry breeds approximately 50,000 puppies each year. Of these animals, only 15,000 actually become racing dogs. The rest are “retired,” used as breeding stock or destroyed. Greyhounds that actually become racers live life in small cages, usually no greater than three feet in diameter.
- Boycott the Rodeo. The rodeo consists of painful and often fatal events such as roping, bucking, and steer wrestling events. While the public witnesses only the 8 seconds or so that the animals perform, there are hundreds of hours of unsupervised practice sessions.
- Oppose bullfighting. A cruel spectacle of human dominance, the bullfight purports to be a battle to the death in which either participant, bull or matador, may die. In reality, the bull never has a chance to win. Stabbed in the side before released into the arena, the hurt animal is taunted until angry and then stabbed repeatedly until he dies a painful death.
- Educate yourself. Read books to learn more about how animals suffer in the name of entertainment.
Beyond the Bars: The Zoo Dilemma
When Elephants Weep: The Emotional Lives of Animals
The Souls of Animals
- Buy cruelty-free products. Most consumer products, from soap to cosmetics and cleaners, have been cruelly tested on animals who are intentionally poisoned or blinded. Check the packaging and only buy products that are not tested on animals.
- Call and write companies that currently test products on animals. Let them know you will not use your money to contribute to animal suffering and that you know these tests are not required by any regulatory agencies. Consumer pressure is why many cosmetics companies, such as Revlon, have switched to animal-free testing.
- Do not buy products that contain animal ingredients. Animal and animal-derived ingredients are incorporated into many seemingly innocuous products.
- Educate yourself. American Anti-Vivisection Society and In Defense of Animals offer free, comprehensive lists of companies that DO NOT test on animals. Animal Ingredients A to Z is an easy-to-use, consise reference guide.
- Provide a Wildlife Sanctuary. Leave a good part of your yard natural with bushes and ground cover. The more diverse your yard, the greater variety of birds and small mammals you will attract.
- Keep dead wood. Hundreds of species of birds and animals live in dead trees and feed on the insects there. Top off, rather than chop down, dead trees.
- Provide bird baths. Keep water in a birdbath and in a ground pan all year long.
- Leave wildlife in your attic or chimney alone. If an animal has a nest in an unused part of your house, leave them alone for a few weeks until the youngsters are grown. They will probably move out on their own. Seal up all entry places once the family has left.
- Don’t feed wildlife. Good-intentioned as it may be, feeding geese and other wildlife weakens their natural and necessary fear of humans.
- Recycle Christmas trees. Birds and other small animals use dead wood as nests and protection.
- Cut plastic six-pack rings. These rings are commonly found around the necks of wildlife, from turtles to waterfowl.
- Deter ants with spices. Pour a line of cream of tartar, red chili powder, paprika, or dried peppermint at the place where ants enter the house. They won’t cross it.
- Use bay leaves to keep cockroaches and moths at bay. Spread whole bay leaves in several locations around infested rooms.
- Use an alternative to mothballs. Place cedar chips (or bay leaves) around clothes or sachets made of dried lavender, mint, or rosemary in drawers and closets.
- Don’t kill spiders. Simply remove them and place them outside.
- Support whale watching. One solution to ending whaling is to support whale-watching, which is both educational and humane and supports local communities.
- Educate yourself. Read books about living with Wildlife.
Wild Neighbors: The Humane Approach to Living with Wildlife
- Teach respect for animals. We instinctively grasp the natural bond between children and animals. We fill babies’ cribs with stuffed animals, put floating rubber ducks in their baths, and enjoy animals as the main characters in many children’s books. This natural connection, the child-animal relationship, provides a great opportunity for parents and teachers to instill the core value of leading a compassionate life.
- Support the connection. A child’s bond with a companion animal builds social competency, social sensitivity, interpersonal trust, and empathy — all necessary qualities to building emotional intelligence and compassion.
- Educate your children. Provide your children books about caring for animals.
A Teen’s Guide to Going Vegetarian