The latest Gallup Poll on what is morally acceptable in American culture today should make animal welfare organizations take notice. The poll measured 15 overall moral issues with 3 areas specific to animal rights. The outcome showed that Americans are slow to change when it comes to animals, but are headed in the right direction.
While the results of the Gallup Poll didn’t jump off the charts from last year, it did show that Americans are slowly accepting the moral concept of treating animals humanely; especially in one area.
Below are the 3 animal related topics asked in the Gallup Poll. They reflect the percent of people who find these practices acceptable:
1. Buying & wearing clothing made of animal fur 61%
2. Medical testing on animals 57%
3. Cloning animals 34%
The issue of buying and wearing fur was the question that should worry activist groups most. It saw a decrease in the amount of empathy Americans have for animals. In 2008, 54% of those surveyed thought it was acceptable to wear fur while 61% of poll takers in 2009 said it was O.K.
Wesley J. Smith, senior fellow in bioethics, believes this shift should be a warning to activist groups like PETA, HSUS and the ASPCA. He says, “…the increase in the ‘acceptable’ category might reflect animal rights exhaustion, that is, people are tired of the preaching.”
On the other hand, Smith thinks advocates should be proud that 35% of the nation thinks it is morally wrong to wear fur. He wants people to consider that just a few years ago wearing fur wasn’t a moral issue at all for most Americans. It was seen as a sign of luxury and status that was highly sought after. Now it’s a subject familiar to everyone and the fact that the topic made it to the list of moral questions on the survey should bring a small sense of satisfaction to animal welfare groups.
Regarding the question of medical testing on animals, it appears that Americans are still not getting the message. This category of acceptance increased from 56% in 2008 to 57% in 2009.
These statistics don’t necessarily mean that people are unaware about the torment of animals used in research. It seems to be more of a problem of confidence for Americans. They need more reassurance that medical and scientific advances won’t suffer because they haven’t been tested on animals. This may give clues to activist groups to focus their campaigns on educating the public about the modern techniques available for medical testing.
And finally the question regarding cloning showed the most improvement in how Americans could potentially feel about animals. Only 34% of the population thought it was morally acceptable while a whopping 66% didn’t believe it had any merit. Could this be our true nature coming out or the fact that cloning is relatively new to our culture?
The new Gallup Poll was conducted by a phone survey from May 7- May 10, 2009 with adults at least 18 years old. Overall most people showed concern for animal welfare, but put the well-being of humans first. Which way do you think the trend will continue in the 2010 survey?
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