Pigs: Clean, Intelligent – and Tortured on Factory Farms

Here I am with Wilbur in the animated movie “Charlotte’s Web.” The movie had an all-star cast: Debbie Reynolds voicing Charlotte the spider, Paul Lynde as Templeton the rat, Henry Gibson as Wilbur the pig, and Agnes Moorehead as the Goose. Then there was me; I did the voice of Fern, the little farm girl who saves Wilbur from her father’s axe!

The reason why I love this film so much is that it’s really an animal rights film. “Charlotte’s Web” depicts all the animals as having unique personalities as well as having the capacity to feel pain, sadness, fear, joy, and happiness. If you’ve never seen it, watch the movie on Netflix and you’ll understand exactly what I’m saying!

The movie opens with me as Fern, eating breakfast and seeing my father carrying an axe out to the barn. “Where’s Papa going with the axe?” I ask my mother, and she tells me a litter of piglets were born the previous night and he was going to kill the “runt.” I race to my father in tears, hoping to stop him. In my most favorite line from the movie, I ask him, “If I had been born a runt, would you have killed me?” And so begins the film and Fern’s and Wilbur’s loving, compassionate relationship.

I didn’t know at the time how horribly pigs are treated then killed to produce pork, but I had an innate sense that animals should not be killed, exploited or abused for a human’s pleasure. As Plutarch aptly expressed it, “But for the sake of some little mouthful of flesh we deprive a soul of the sun and the light, and that proportion of life and time it had been born into this world to enjoy.”

Activists give water to overheated, dehydrated pigs crammed into a transport truck.

There’s an animal rights group in Los Angeles that waits outside an enormous slaughter facility where truckloads of poor, suffering pigs are brought to be butchered. When the trucks stop at the entrance, activists offer water to the pigs they can reach. The pigs are completely dehydrated, their skin burned from the long, grueling trip, and packed in the trucks so tightly they can’t even turn around.

Did you know that pigs are highly intelligent animals? Not that that should matter, but they are. Some very ignorant people believe pigs are dirty, but this is not true. The reason pigs love to take mud baths is that their skin, which is very sensitive, has no sweat glands, so the only way they can cool down is to roll in the mud. Wouldn’t you roll in something cool if you were unable to sweat?

Pigs are clever animals, as well as friendly, loyal, and intelligent. They are naturally very clean and avoid soiling their living areas. When they are not confined on factory farms, pigs spend hours playing, lying in the sun, and exploring their surroundings with their powerful sense of smell. On modern factory farms, these outgoing, sensitive animals spend their entire lives in cramped, filthy warehouses under the constant stress of intense confinement, denied everything that is natural and important to them.

Piglets struggle to be fed by their mother behind bars in a factory farm.

Mother pigs – sows – spend most of their miserable lives in tiny gestation and farrowing crates so small that they can’t turn around. They are impregnated again and again until their bodies give out and are then sent to slaughter. Piglets are torn away from their distraught mothers just a few weeks after birth. With no painkillers to ease their suffering, their tails are chopped off, the ends of their teeth are snipped off with pliers, and the males are castrated. The young pigs then spend their short lives in cramped, crowded pens atop slabs of filthy concrete.

When the time comes for slaughter, pigs are forcibly herded onto transport trucks that often travel for many miles exposed to all manner of weather. Many pigs die from heat exhaustion in the summer or arrive frozen to the inside of the truck in the winter. According to industry reports, more than one million pigs die in transport each year, and at least 40,000 sustain injuries by the time they arrive at the slaughterhouse. There at the slaughterhouse, due to improper stunning methods, many pigs are still conscious when they are dumped into tanks of scalding-hot water, which is intended to remove their hair and soften their skin. For more information, please see PETA’s eye-opening article on factory farming pigs.

What can you do to help put an end to this cruelty? The best way is to switch to consuming vegan foods. Please consider ordering PETA’s free vegan starter kit, which contains great tips and free recipes to help you make the transition to animal-friendly eating.

Peace for ALL the animals with whom we share this planet!

The Carriage Industry Is Taking You for a Ride

Pictured here are two scenes from the Walt Disney movie “The One and Only, Genuine, Original Family Band.” In the first, I am riding in a horse-drawn wagon with my movie dad Buddy Ebsen and brother John Walmsley; in the other, I and all my movie siblings ride in a carriage with our grandpa, Walter Brennan.

In another essay on this site I posted a photo of me posed on a large horse when I was very young, and told you about the horrible cruelty of horse racing. Today I’d like to say a few words about the cruelty of horse-drawn carriages on our streets, like those in New York City.

I’ve always felt sad for the carriage horses, plodding along wearily on the streets as buses and cars go whizzing by, just inches away. Carriage horses are forced to pull heavy loads in extreme weather, dodge traffic, and pound the pavement day in and day out until they get old, injured, or sick, after which they’re sent to the slaughterhouse. These horses lead very sad lives. From constant walking and standing on hard streets, lameness and hoof deterioration are inevitable in carriage horses. Many develop respiratory ailments from breathing in exhaust fumes, and suffer debilitating leg problems from walking on hard surfaces. Weather conditions, too, can prove fatal for working horses. Carriage horses are exposed to long shifts in bitter cold and wet weather in the winter, and scorching heat and debilitating humidity in the summer. Many drop dead on the city streets from dehydration and heatstroke.

A carriage horse dies on the streets of New York.

In an audit of the New York carriage industry, the city’s comptroller found that horses on the street did not have ready access to water, had insufficient shade during hot weather, and that, because of poor street drainage, “the horses are left to stand in pools of dirty water.”

People around the world are increasingly recognizing that it’s the carriage industry – not just the horses – taking them for a ride. Please don’t patronize carriage rides, and explain to family and friends why they shouldn’t, either. If your city allows carriages on city streets, urge your legislators to propose legislation that will ban them.

Peace for ALL the animals with whom we share the planet!

Racehorses Never Win

Here I am at the age of 4 or 5 up on a very large horse!! I might be smiling but, boy, was I scared. I didn’t have to be; horses, like many large mammals, are gentle giants. But maybe because I was so tiny, I felt really frightened. I was able to cover up my fear because at 6 I got a part where I rode one on an episode of “Branded,” starring Chuck Connors. I was around horses while filming the movie “The One and Only, Genuine, Original Family Band,” as well as the Walt Disney TV movie, “Smoke,” starring Ronny Howard. When filming the series “Lassie,” I rode a horse regularly; by that time I was pretty much over my fear of riding.

As an adult, I completely overcame my fear of horses and learned a lot about them in the process. Horses are herd animals. They naturally want to be around other horses, graze in meadows, trot great distances, play and court, but they suffer greatly when used to pull carriages around busy city streets, as in New York, or are made to race around tracks.

Behind the romanticized façade of thoroughbred horse racing is a world of injuries, drug abuse, gruesome breakdowns, and slaughter. Horses who weigh at least 1,000 pounds are supported by ankles the size of a human’s, and are forced to run around dirt tracks at speeds of more than 30 miles an hour while carrying a rider on their backs. Celebrated filly Eight Belles was euthanized on the track after breaking both front ankles during the 2008 Kentucky Derby; her poor ankles couldn’t sustain her running that fast. At another race, a horse named Appeal to the City hemorrhaged around her eye when jockey Jeremy Rose “engaged in extreme misuse of the whip.” In his Kentucky Derby win, American Pharaoh was struck with a whip at least 32 times by jockey Victor Espinoza. Pushed beyond their limits, most horses are subjected to cocktails of legal and illegal drugs intended to mask injuries and artificially enhance performance.

Racehorses are the victims of a multi-billion-dollar industry that is rife with drug abuse, injuries, and race fixing, and many horses’ careers end in slaughterhouses. Horses used for racing are forced to sprint — often under the threat of whips and even illegal electric-shocking devices — at speeds so fast that they frequently sustain injuries and even hemorrhage from the lungs. While spectators show off their fancy outfits and sip mint juleps, horses are running for their lives.
Coming up soon: me in another riding role and the horribly sad and lonely life of carriage horses. I hope all who read these posts learn something they didn’t know about animals, and share them with their friends and co-workers. We all need to stand up and be a voice for the voiceless.

Peace for ALL the animals with whom we share the planet!

Thinking About Adding a Friend to Your Household? Adopt and Save a Life!

Here I am, playing with my beloved Dalmatian, Tabathena, when she was a puppy. When I first got her, I didn’t know she was completely deaf. Unable to hear me, she always looked at me intensely and learned to know by the expression on my face what I wanted her to do. When we walked together, Tabathena would always look behind to see where I was and where I was going, and was so attentive that she didn’t even need a leash. Because of her behavior we finally figured out that she couldn’t hear, but that didn’t affect my affection for her, it actually only increased it.

I loved taking Tabathena on walks around the neighborhood. We lived in a very private and quiet neighborhood at the foot of the Hollywood Hills where there was practically no traffic. It was a part of the “Old Hollywood.” Famous directors and actors lived there before Beverly Hills became fashionable. I didn’t have many friends, so afternoons I wasn’t working, rehearsing, or going out on interviews, I would take Tabathena and walk around the neighborhood. I would pass by and sometimes even walk across the large estates in neighborhood, like that of legendary director Cecil B DeMille. Just a few months ago, Angelina Jolie bought the DeMille estate for 23 million dollars. Charlie Chaplin’s property was next to DeMille’s. Other actors who lived at one time in the neighborhood included Mary Pickford and Carole Lombard. I had a friend who lived in the house formerly owned by W. C. Fields; when she and her family moved away, they sold the house to Lily Tomlin.

When I was an adult I learned that Dalmatians are so inbred that many are deaf. Because the sound of sirens will make most dogs howl cringe in pain, Dalmatians, because of their deafness, made ideal mascots on fire engines. I got Tabathena from a litter from a dog owned by my sister Wendy’s friend. The friend’s family bred Dalmatians. Always feeling sorry for the smallest and weakest, I chose the runt of the litter. I didn’t realize at the time that one should never get their dogs, cats, puppies, or kittens from a breeder or pet shop. Besides the fact that purebreds have a lot of health issues, buying a companion animal from a breeder or pet shop takes away the chance to save a life of a wonderful animal who is desperately in need of a safe and loving home.

For years I have begged people who are looking to get a pet (companion animal) to do the ethical and compassionate thing and go directly to an animal shelter or a rescue and ADOPT their next best friend. If for some reason they want a purebred dog or cat, there are “breed rescues” as well as many purebred dogs and cats in shelters and at www.petfinders.com.

Did you know that animal shelters kill healthy, wonderful dogs, cats, puppies, and kittens? One reason is that too many people don’t spay/neuter their pets, and when those pets have litters, these babies end up in the “pound.” Another, as I said, is that when people buy instead of adopting, homeless dogs, cats, puppies and kittens are left at shelters to die. I’ve seen with my own eyes dogs of all shapes, sizes, and breeds with a rope around their necks, tied to a shelter wall, waiting in line to be taken into the kill room; their little legs shaking. Some of them cry with fear and anxiety. It was witnessing that that gave me the impetus to try to educate the public to adopt companion animals and steer them away from breeders and pet shops.

For more information, please read my essay, “Your Animals are Cutered When They’re Neutered” on my website www.PamelynFerdin.com.

Thinking about adding a friend to your household? Adopt and save a life! Thank you.

Peace for ALL the animals with whom we share the planet!

 

Adopt from a City or County Shelter or Rescue Organization and Save a Life!

When I was four years old I guest-starred on a television show called “The Littlest Hobo.” The Littlest Hobo was a homeless German Shepherd who wandered the Canadian countryside getting involved in all kind of adventures. I guess you could say the show was Canada’s answer to “Lassie.” I played a little girl who gets lost and is found by The Littlest Hobo and, thanks to his intelligence and determination, is reunited with her parents.

Even as a four-year-old, I had a very strong connection to animals. I instinctively knew that animals were smart, loving beings. In the show, there was a scene where I was supposed to have fallen halfway down a steep embankment and was clinging precariously to a bush above a rushing river. The scene called for the dog, whose real name was London, to rescue me by clenching my arm with his teeth and pulling me up the embankment to safety. The wardrobe gal wrapped my arm in a thick bandage, concealed under my clothing and a thick sweater. I wasn’t scared, I knew I had a job to do.

In rehearsing the scene, the director explained to me that I couldn’t “help” London by using my legs to push myself up the embankment, I had to act like a “rag doll” and let London do all the work. But poor London would not clench my arm in his teeth. I’m sure he was afraid he’d hurt me. It took some doing, but finally London’s trainer got him to grip my arm with his teeth and pull me up the embankment, upon which the director called out “Print!”

When my sweater and the wrapping were removed, I had teeth marks on my arm! But I knew that the only reason London gripped me so hard, was because the trainer had forced him and belittled him to do what he instinctively did not want to do; London was a gentle soul.

If you’re looking for a companion animal like London, please adopt from your city or county shelter or contact a rescue organization; never buy from a breeder or pet shop. Five million healthy, loving, darling cats, dogs, puppies, and kittens are killed in shelters (pounds) every year in America because not enough people adopt them. When you adopt, you truly are saving a life!

Peace for ALL the animals with whom we share the planet!

New York Joins L.A. in Banning the Use of Wild or Exotic Animals in Entertainment

 

I photographed these beautiful animals in their natural and rightful habitat on a trip to Africa.

VICTORY! Just two months after the Los Angeles City Council voted to ban the exploitation of wild or exotic animals for entertainment or amusement, the New York City Council made history on June 21, 2017, by voting 43-6 in favor of Intro 1233A, which prohibits circuses with wild animal acts from performing in New York City.

Animals aren’t actors, objects to be imprisoned and gawked at, or circus clowns. Yet thousands of these animals are forced to perform painful and confusing “tricks” by means of physical punishment, being beaten and stabbed with bullhooks or tormented with electrical prods. These poor animals are hauled across the country in cramped and airless railroad boxcars or tractor-trailer trucks, kept chained or caged in barren, mind-numbing, filthy enclosures, and separated from their families and friends, all for the sake of human “entertainment.” Most of these animals live shortened life spans; many die still in chains.

Now we can add New York City to the growing list of cities and counties that will not allow this abuse to continue. Los Angeles, San Francisco, and several counties in Massachusetts, New Jersey, Idaho, and North Carolina have also said NO to wild animals in circuses. That’s a huge step in the right direction!

Hopefully NYC will now turn their attention to the plight of the city’s poor, sad carriage horses who suffer and routinely drop dead on the streets of our nation’s biggest metropolis.

Peace for ALL the animals with whom we share the planet!

 

Los Angeles Bans the Use of Wild or Exotic Animals in Entertainment

Protesting in Los Angeles against the use of animals in entertainment.

The Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously on April 25, 2017 to ban the use of wild or exotic animals for entertainment or amusement, passing a motion by Council member David Ryu that affects circuses, other wild animal shows, displays in public areas such as sidewalks and parks, and rentals for parties or events. Los Angeles becomes the largest municipality in the United States to take such action.

I am so very thankful to the City Council for this ban! I can only hope all cities across the country – and the world – follow in Los Angeles’ footsteps.

Animals aren’t actors, spectacles to be imprisoned and gawked at, or circus clowns. Yet thousands of these animals are forced to perform confusing and silly tricks by using physical punishment such as hitting them with bull hooks or tormenting them with electrical prods. These poor animals are hauled across the country in cramped and airless railroad boxcars or tractor-trailer trucks, kept chained or caged in barren, mind-numbing, filthy enclosures, and separated from their families and friends, all for the sake of human “entertainment.” Most of these animals live shortened life spans; many die still in chains.

Now – at least in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and several counties in Massachusetts, New Jersey, Idaho, and North Carolina – this sort of animal abuse won’t be allowed to continue. That’s a huge step in the right direction!

I would be grateful if all who read this post, even those who don’t live in L.A., could take a moment to email the members of the Los Angeles City Council to thank them for their vote and urge them to follow up by drafting the strongest possible ordinance. Feel free to copy mine, or use your own words. Email addresses are listed at the bottom of this post. Thank you!

Dear Council Member,

Thank you for your courage and compassion in voting in favor of the ban on using wild or exotic animals for entertainment in the City of Los Angeles. I urge you and the rest of the Council to draft and approve the strongest and most widely-reaching ordinance to effect this ban.

L.A. City Council members:

David Ryu:
councilmember.ryu@lacity.org

Nury Martinez:
councilmember.martinez@lacity.org

Paul Krekorian:
councilmember.krekorian@lacity.org

Bob Blumenfield:
councilmember.blumenfield@lacity.org

Paul Koretz:
councilmember.koretz@lacity.org

Marqueece Harris-Dawson:
councilmember.harris-dawson@lacity.org

Curren D. Price, Jr.:
councilmember.price@lacity.org

Herb J. Wesson, Jr.:
councilmember.wesson@lacity.org

Mike Bonin:
councilmember.bonin@lacity.org

Mitchell Englander:
councilmember.englander@lacity.org

Mitch O’Farrell:
councilmember.ofarrell@lacity.org

Jose Huizar:
councilmember.huizar@lacity.org

Joe Buscaino:
councilmember.buscaino@lacity.org

 

Peace for ALL the animals with whom we share the planet!

 

 

Say NO to Animal Testing!

Here I am holding a rabbit on an episode of “Space Academy.” I remember that rabbit because I could tell he was scared, so I picked him up and held him in my arms and he relaxed.

You know, I’m against vivisection, experimentation on animals. Did you know that product testing labs are STILL vivisecting thousands upon thousands of innocent animals?

Because they are mild-tempered and easy to handle, confine, and breed, rabbits are frequent victims of animal experimenters; more than 170,000 of them are abused in U.S. laboratories every year.

Despite the availability of more modern, humane, and effective alternatives, rabbits are still tormented in the notorious Draize eye irritancy test, in which cosmetics, dishwashing liquid, drain cleaner, and other substances are dripped into the animals’ eyes, often causing redness, swelling, discharge, ulceration, hemorrhaging, cloudiness, or blindness. After the experiments are over the rabbits are killed. In addition, even though internationally-accepted non-animal methods exist, rabbits’ backs are shaved and corrosive chemicals are applied to their raw skin in skin corrosion tests and left there for up to two weeks. These chemicals often burn the skin, leading to tissue damage. The victims of these tests are given no pain relief during this excruciatingly painful experience and, again, after the test is finished, they are killed.

Horrific experiments like those above are being done to cats, dogs, primates, and other animals by laboratories around the world. Please say NO to vivisection and boycott any products that have been tested on animals. Look for products packaged with the symbol that says, “NOT TESTED ON ANIMALS.”

Peace for ALL the animals with whom we share the planet!

 

The Suffering That Goes into a Carton of Eggs

In a 1968 episode of “The Flying Nun,” I played a little girl visiting the Convent San Tanco. In one scene, a tiny baby bird falls from its nest in the convent’s bell tower. The baby’s crying for its mama moves me to near tears. Sally Field’s Sister Bertrille uses her ability to “fly” to return the baby bird safely to its nest.
When I think about birds now I think about the horrific abuse birds – chickens, ducks, and others – endure on egg-laying farms. Egg farms continually breed birds so they have a fresh supply of hens to lay eggs. After two years spending their lives in horribly cramped conditions inside huge warehouses, the chickens stop laying enough eggs to pay for their feed, and they are shipped to the slaughterhouse.
If babies in the hatchery turn out to be males (who, of course, don’t lay eggs), they’re considered useless by-products. Those poor chicks are tossed ALIVE into the trash, crying out for their mothers, or thrown ALIVE into rendering machines to be ground up and used as feed for other animals.
Female chicks have part of their beaks cut off while they’re fully conscious because egg-laying hens are forced to live in such crowded conditions they peck each other. This is why I don’t eat eggs, or any other animals for that matter. Birds such as “broiler” chickens and egg-laying hens live such miserable lives that I simply cannot ethically eat their abused corpses.

Peace for ALL the animals with whom we share the planet!

The Truth Behind the Glossy Heifer Catalogs: A Closer Look at the Holiday Animal Gifting Industry

Here’s a photo of me from a Christmas episode of the short-lived 1967-1968 sitcom, “The Second Hundred Years.” I was nine years old then, and in the episode I played Nancy, a girl who pretended she didn’t want to go to a holiday party when, in truth, she was ashamed to admit she didn’t own a party dress because her single, working mom was too poor to buy her one. Luke, played by Monte Markham, learns Nancy’s secret and gives her a beautiful party dress as a Christmas gift. She, in turn, gives Luke a sampler she embroidered herself by hand. I received a gift, too – after the episode was done I was given the dress to keep. I was thrilled – I loved that dress! Receiving that gift made me happy. Not all gifts turn out the way we intend. Today I know that some gifts people give out of the goodness of their heart result in the suffering and death of humans and non-human animals.

During the holiday gift-giving season, a popular choice for gift donations are programs that send live farm animals as “gifts,” ostensibly to help alleviate hunger and poverty in low-income countries. The reality is, animal gifting does not help the groups it proposes to help; such programs actually harm those communities. The most well-known soliciting organization, Heifer International, is one of the worst offenders. Heifer International would like you to think your donation gives a lift to impoverished peoples when it does just the opposite.

10 REASONS TO SAY NO TO ANIMAL GIFTING HUNGER RELIEF ORGANIZATIONS

  1. MOST DAIRY ANIMAL RECIPIENTS ARE LACTOSE INTOLERANT AND HARMED BY DAIRY.

75% of the world is lactose-intolerant, and 90% of Asian and African populations are lactose intolerant. Increased dairy production is frequently touted as one of the greatest successes of animal gifting programs. But, in reality, both small- and large-scale dairy programs negatively affect the health, well-being, and productivity of people in lactose intolerant populations.

Lactose intolerance occurs when there is not enough of an enzyme called lactase. The result is widespread digestive ills such as stomach pain, gas, bloating, cramps, diarrhea, and even vomiting. Consuming milk from other animals is also associated with allergies, asthma, and a host of autoimmune disorders. Most mammals (including humans) become lactose intolerant after weaning. Milk is very specifically created for infants, not adults. Furthermore, there is no need for humans to consume the milk of other animals. Logically, this makes perfect sense but rarely is it fully considered. The resources used to produce dairy ought to be spent on alternatives that provide a higher quality and quantity of calories, protein and calcium.

A typical dairy factory farm.

While animal gifting programs seem to focus on small-scale farming, they have extremely large-scale implications that pave the way for factory farming, and exponentially increase consumption of meat, dairy and eggs throughout entire countries and beyond.

For example, Heifer International is largely considered responsible for the kick-off of industrialized dairy in Japan after World War II. Heifer International boasts that their projects produced 3.6 million gallons of milk in one year in Uganda, and developed a national dairy program in Tanzania. These massive programs were developed despite the fact that 90% of Asian and African populations are lactose intolerant.

  1. MORE FARMED ANIMALS DOES NOT EQUATE TO LESS HUNGER.

Pro-meat biases mean that sustainable plant crops that provide better nutrition and greater income are often overlooked.

A starving cow scavenging trash during 2011 drought in Kenya.

In Ethiopia, over 40% of the population is considered hungry or starving, yet the country has 50 million cattle (one of the largest herds in the world), as well as almost 50 million sheep and goats, and 35 million chickens unnecessarily consuming food, land and water, Severe overgrazing has led to deforestation, soil erosion, and eventual desertification.

Instead of using precious food, water, topsoil, and massive amounts of land and energy to raise livestock, countries like Ethiopia, for instance, could grow teff, an ancient and extremely nutritious grain grown in that country for the past 20,000 to 30,000 years. Teff is very high in protein, with an excellent amino acid profile, and is high in fiber and calcium – one cup of teff provides more calcium than a cup of milk – and is a rich source of boron, copper, phosphorus, zinc, and iron. Researchers have found that teff can be grown by farmers at a yield of 2,000 to 3,000 pounds per acre, with more sustainable growing techniques employed and no water irrigation. Teff has been shown to grow well in water-stressed areas and it is pest resistant.

  1. MORE FARMED ANIMALS MEAN MORE MOUTHS TO FEED.

Many recipients of animal gifting programs struggle to provide even the most basic care to the animals they receive. Animals do not magically produce milk and meat or just “live off the land” by grazing (see below). Animals must be provided food and water in areas where these resources are already scarce, and many of the animals Heifer International gives to impoverished populations care of unaware donors wind up suffering from neglect, dehydration, lack of shelter from temperature extremes, and starvation.

  1. FARMED ANIMALS DO NOT JUST “LIVE OFF THE LAND.”
Zero-grazing animals frequently languish in confinement.

While tempting to believe, farmed animals do not just “live off the land,” consuming only grass and scraps that don’t compete with human consumption. In response to criticism that promoting irresponsible animal agriculture in regions already plagued by desertification and drought, Heifer International and other organizations promote their animals’ “zero-grazing” requirements. “Zero-grazing” is simply a euphemism for “confined in filthy pens.” 

Animal gifting organizations such as Heifer International promote inherently water-intensive animal farming, even in areas identified as water-scarce. Raising animals for food requires up to 10 times more water than growing crops for direct consumption. Additionally, in many arid communities, water is only available from a communal well or reservoir, in which case hydrating animals is a labor-intensive process for adults and children who must travel by foot and can only carry so much. Because of this, hundreds of thousands of animals die a slow death from dehydration.

Initiatives such as micro-irrigation (or drip irrigation) projects for growing crops are far more sustainable and ecologically sound. With micro-irrigation, crops can be grown year-round, harvesting rainwater and precisely redistributing it, and supplying families with sources of food as well as income from surplus harvest. Some families in impoverished countries whose animals have died from dehydration and malnutrition have begun growing crops instead and experiencing food security, better nutrition, and access to healthcare and education from the resulting steady income.

  1. EXPERTS DISAPPROVE OF ANIMAL GIFTING.

The World Land Trust calls animal gifting programs “madness… environmentally unsound and economically disastrous….” WLT concludes that “now that the grave consequences of introducing large numbers of goats and other animals into fragile, arid environments is well documented, it is grossly irresponsible … to continue with these schemes … as a means of raising quick money for charities over the Christmas season.”

Sean O’Neill of the Times of London explains that animal gifting organizations like Heifer International and similar organizations spend exorbitant amounts of money on colorful, glossy catalogs with pictures of cute children hugging and kissing animals wearing Christmas hats along with promises of helping the poor in developing countries, when in fact they do the exact opposite. Children who allegedly benefit from animal gifts are frequently taken out of school to tend to animals. Ultimately, most of their animal “friends” will suffer painful deaths due to disease, dehydration and slaughter.

  1. ANIMAL GIFTING PROGRAMS MISLEAD THE PUBLIC.

Heifer International and similar organizations want their donors to believe that gift recipients and their animals are happy, but they are far from it.  Many gifted animals suffer from confinement, neglect, malnutrition, and lack of protection from weather and temperature extremes. Animals also endure horrific slaughter processes and long-distance transport where they are literally forced to lie down and tied with heavy rope so they can’t get up and die miserable deaths during transport.

According to Animal Nepal founder, Lucia DeVries, “I have been sending letters to Dutch agencies to stop this kind of program for yet another reason: the animals are generally slaughtered in an inhumane manner. In Nepal, for instance, there is only one slaughterhouse, in the capital, Katmandu. This means that virtually all livestock are killed with the often not-too-sharp-knife of rural butchers, causing much suffering to the animal and possibly to the butcher. I’ve met quite a few people who lost fingers while trying to kill a goat.”

  1. ANIMAL GIFTING ORGANIZATIONS ENGAGE IN QUESTIONABLE SPENDING.

Heifer International spent more than $22 million for printing, distribution, processing, and other fundraising-related costs. According to Heifer International’s public tax form, the organization spent $22,359,441 on fundraising alone in one year. Concerns about the priorities and appropriate use of donations apply to all animal gifting programs, but Heifer International raises special concerns because of their annual budget -in excess of $100 million a year – and their well-known luxury spending practices.

Is this where you want your donation to go, to pay for fancy buildings and expensive glossy catalogs that are shipped to tens of thousands of people who haven’t requested or even want them?

Former Indian minister for social welfare and animal protection, Maneka Gandhi, has said, “Nothing irritates me more than charities abroad that collect money and purport to give it to women or children or for animals in Asia or Africa. Very little reaches the country or the cause for which it is meant. Most of it goes toward their own ‘infrastructure,’ which means rent, staff, travel and ‘investigation.’

  1. ANIMAL GIFTING PROGRAMS RAISE CONCERNS FROM CHARITY RATERS.

The Give Well charity-rating organization deemed in their evaluation of Heifer International that the organization lacked sufficient transparency and priority programming to secure positive recommendations or funding. Numerous other charity-rating organizations do not recommend Heifer International as a recipient of your donor dollars because they lack transparency and show no positive results regarding those living in impoverished countries.

  1. THERE ARE BETTER FEEDING PROGRAMS AND GIFT DONATION PROGRAMS.

Due to popular demand, A Well Fed World created a special Plants-4-Hunger  program to provide a compassionate and highly-effective gift-giving alternative.

A Well-Fed World sends 100% of your donation to four hand-picked groups with low overhead and proven successes in high-need areas. These hunger relief projects provide both immediate assistance and long-term community solutions that feed families without harming animals.

They make it easy with one tax-letter, gift card and present. You may also choose to give directly to these groups or choose from their grants list.

Peace for ALL the animals with whom we share the planet!