“My dog is better than 90% of all humans.”
“I understand animals more than I do people.”
You’ve heard comments like this. You’ve said comments like this. I know I have.
But if we stay stuck in this mindset, we’re not helping animals.
Humans are Animals
Sure, we’ve risen to the top of the food chain. But humans are part of the animal kingdom. We have more in common with dogs, cows, and tigers than we do with plankton, gravel, and coconut palms.
What’s more, our welfare is linked to that of so-called lower animals.
Animals don’t thrive where people live in unsustainable and unhealthy ways. And people don’t thrive when animals don’t.
Want one example? Take a look at American factory farming.
- Americans want plentiful and cheap meat.
- Farms run like factories meet that goal cost effectively—with the support of massive government subsidies.
- Factory farms concentrate animals in unhealthy conditions which require antibiotics and other drugs to keep them from dying prematurely.
- The resulting concentration of waste poisons the water of anyone living nearby and even gets sucked up into nearby vegetable crops allowing people thousands of miles from a feedlot to become sick or die.
Chickens, pigs, and cows in factory farms live terrible, although short, lives. And people become sick from the damage the farms do to the environment and other food crops. They’re bad for people. They’re bad for animals.
I picked a hard example on purpose.
The treatment of livestock animals challenges animal lovers. But if it’s hard for you and me to choose food that doesn’t perpetrate cruel treatment of animals, how much harder will it be to convince someone to support welfare causes who doesn’t like animals? Or who only likes them as dinner?
If we want to convince non-animal lovers to stand with us to protect animals, we have to show that caring for animals also protects people.
Luckily, it’s getting easier to do that.
Protecting Pets to Stop Domestic Abuse
Judges have a new tool to help victims of household abuse break free from their abusers. For the past 7 years, they’ve been increasingly including pets in orders of protection. And laws passed in about 20 states have given judges specific powers to protect pets in a household with someone abusing their partner, spouse, or children.
The motivation in these laws is not primarily to protect animals. Rather, abusers use the animals in a home to keep control over their human victim.
New laws give judges more power to remove animals from dangerous situations. And human victims of abuse find it easier to escape a bad situation knowing that they’re not putting their beloved pet in more danger.
The new laws protect animals. And they protect people.
Link Your Cause to People
Send me a petition to outlaw puppy mills? I’ll sign it. Ask me to boycott companies who make shock collars? Of course.
But we need more than just crazy dog and cat people to change the way animals are treated in this country. And it will happen once we start showing people how protecting animals also benefits them.
It’s going to take some creativity. It’s going to take some research. And it’s going to make us look for ways to connect and empathize with people who don’t already line up beside us in caring for animals.
But it’s ultimately going to be the most successful method.
How to Capture That Last 50%
The move to ban puppy mills has been started by people who love animals. But they’ll be outlawed because puppy mills are bad capitalism and because they make things worse for people.
Recent research in economics and behavioral game theory has found that 20% of people are altruists. They’re the people running rescues, adopting mill breeding dogs, and going undercover in puppy mills.
The same research finds that 30% of people are selfish. They’re the ones running the puppy mills.
But 50% of people will act in positive ways if it’s easy and makes sense for them to do so. And it’s that 50% we need to convince to make big change for animals.
Blog the Change for Animals 2013
Last year my theme for Blog the Change for Animals was to stop preaching to the choir.
This year, I’ll focus on finding the ways helping animals also helps people. I have three more posts to write this year. So I’ll ask you to challenge me.
Tell me in the comments what general animal cause (puppy mills, cat TNR, wild animal conservation, etc.) most touches your heart. And dare me to find all the ways people would benefit from animals being protected in that way.
If I choose your cause, I’ll write about it during one of the 2013 Blog the Change for Animals posts and give a shout out to you for the idea.
It’s a win win. I get an idea to write about. You get to promote an idea that’s important to you and you might even get a few new ideas for talking about it with people.
Looks like what’s good for the blogger is good for the reader. And good for animals too.