Our Attitudes About Animals Are Changing for the Better
The latest Gallup poll released this week shows our attitudes towards animals are certainly changing, and this year it’s good news because we’re getting more concerned with the ways they’re used and treated.
Gallup first surveyed people about their views on animals in 2003, and came out with the headline “Public Lukewarm on Animal Rights.” This year, the title says it all: ”In U.S., More Say Animals Should Have Same Rights as People.”
The questions and topics have changed over the years, but it’s clear that we’re growing more empathetic. In 2003 and 2008, 25 percent of people surveyed said animals deserve the same protection from harm and exploitation as we do. Today, that’s up to 32 percent and the number has increased across all major demographic groups. A further 62 percent believe that animals deserve at least “some protection” from harm and exploitation.
This year the survey also asked people for the first time how worried they were about the treatment of animals in different environments and industries. Over two-thirds of Americans are now worried about animals used in circuses, sports and research, and more than half are worried about animals at marine parks, aquariums and zoos, along with animals raised for food. Pets come in at the bottom, but still almost half of us are concerned about them.
The animal rights movement obviously began long before Gallup began asking questions, but a lot has happened since then. Gallup theorizes that, while there are numerous factors involved, issues surrounding animals are now regularly seen through articles in the daily news, exposés and films, as well as campaigns from animal advocacy organizations.
Advances in technology have allowed us to share information about issues affecting animals across the globe every single day. Dozens of undercover investigations have exposed cruelty to farm animals, documentaries like The Cove and Blackfish have helped raise awareness about the harm we’re causing marine mammals and problems with keeping cetaceans in captivity.
Today, we’re watching huge changes happen for the benefit of animals across industries. Some lawmakers are considering banning orca performances, while the U.S. is retiring it’s federally owned research chimpanzees. Now cases are pending in court over whether to grant them legal personhood.
Countries around the world are banning cosmetic testing on animals and members of Congress have also stepped up with federal legislation that would get that done here. They’ve called for investigations into Wildlife Services over it’s reckless and wasteful killing of millions of animals every year and into a federally funded research lab for egregious cruelty to farm animals.
Gallup stated, “While it is not clear which, if any, of these factors have influenced public opinion, it is clear that Americans have become more likely to believe that animals should have the same rights and protections as people, though this still remains the minority viewpoint.”
Industries that use animals count on public support and the way we spend our money. As we continue to grow more aware about the intelligence and emotional lives of the creatures we share this planet with, and appreciative of the belief that they are someone, not something, the clear change in attitude offers hope that many of the industries that continue to harm and exploit animals for profit won’t last.
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