by Marsha Rakestraw
Faunalytics (formerly called the Humane Resource Council) has released its Year 8 “Animal Tracker” survey of U.S. adults, which serves to capture attitudes and behaviors toward animals.
The focus of the questions varies a bit each time. Here are some of this year’s highlights (taken directly from the survey report):
- There is a high level of support for the animal protection movement. More respondents (70%) rated their opinion of the animal protection cause as “favorable” than any other social movement listed in the survey, except worker’s rights.
- Most U.S. adults (57%) say they discussed or heard about animal protection (including animal rights and animal welfare) only “rarely” or “not at all” over the past three months. By comparison, 43% discussed or heard about it “frequently” or “occasionally.”
- Animal protection groups rank high in credibility for animal welfare information, below only veterinarians. The perceived credibility of animal groups is comparable to family/friends, farmers, and scientists, but greater than corporations and attorneys.
- More than three in four people (77% or more) believe that protecting animals in various situations is “very” or “somewhat” important. By comparison, 17% or less of respondents think that protecting these animals is “not very” or “not at all” important.
- U.S. adults are more likely to think laws are “adequate” for companion animals, endangered species, wildlife, and animals kept in shelters and zoos/aquariums. More people think that laws are “inadequate” for horses/dogs used in racing, animals raised for food, animals in labs, and animals in circuses/rodeos.
(To read the full report, you’ll need to apply for free registration, but it’s well worth it. Faunalytics provides access to relevant and credible research, surveys, and other data, as well as information and tips for becoming more effective advocates.)
What are some important take-aways?
A lot of people have compassion for nonhuman animals and care about their welfare, which means people want to make choices that don’t cause harm. Since many of the systems in our society are largely built on the oppression and exploitation of animals, we can help inspire and empower others to make more compassionate and just choices in their daily lives and the systems they support.
The U.S. public isn’t being exposed enough to animal protection issues and to the realities of existence for nonhuman animals living in a human-dominated world. Additionally, a lot of media frames our relationship with animals only from a dominant, exploitative lens. We can help educate and inform others by putting powerful stories of challenges and solutions related to animal protection issues in front of them (virtually and otherwise), so that they can become better informed, make choices more aligned with their values, and find meaningful ways to take positive action.
Comprehensive humane education is the only education-based social change movement that recognizes that animals (individually and collectively) should be included in the effort to create a more peaceful and just world. Humane education helps reveal our inconsistent relationship with animals, reminds us of the powerful connection we have with nonhuman animals, and inspires us to expand our circle of compassion to include all beings.
We need humane education to be an integral part of every system and every social cause, so that concern for animals — and consideration for their needs and interests as individuals, not just as species — only grows larger and deeper.