10 things you can do to make a Change For Animals
Sometimes, when we see or hear about animal suffering it can seem overwhelming. The problems appear so huge, how can we as individuals possibly make a difference?
But there are many things we can do in our everyday lives that can have a profound impact on the lives and welfare of animals.
Making the right choice for animals is not an all-or-nothing endeavour. Every single choice we make can result in a positive change for animals, and each time we consider their welfare and act accordingly we are making a difference.
1. Don't buy products tested on animals
Many everyday items such as toiletries, cosmetics and household cleaning products have been tested on animals or contain ingredients that have been. To test these products, animals may be force-fed chemicals, have the substances rubbed into their skin or dripped into their eyes, or they may be made to inhale the fumes. Such testing is no longer necessary and an increasing number of animal-friendly alternatives are readily available. This helpful Derm Review guide provides additional information on the history of animal testing, the law of animal testing in different countries, and arguments against animal testing.
Many large retailers already produce and sell cruelty free products. For a list of companies and brands that do not use animal testing, visit the Go Cruelty Free website and you can find more useful information about Cruelty Free beauty shopping here, and a beginners' guide to cruelty-free and vegan skin care here.
Consider making a commitment to play your part in eliminating animal testing by purchasing products that are certified cruelty free symbolised by the Leaping Bunny logo. Also, by signing the Leaping Bunny Pledge, you will help make the collective voice against vivisection even stronger and encourage more companies to make their products cruelty free.
2. Go vegetarian or vegan
Consider adopting a vegetarian or vegan diet – it’s better for your health, the environment and of course means far fewer animals are used and killed to provide for your diet.
It is easier than you might think and more information, including extensive detail about having a nutritious animal-free diet, is available on many websites such as the Vegetarian Society and the Vegan Society.
3. Don't use pesticides on lawns or use cruel animal traps in your garden or home
Unfortunately, many people unknowingly use cruel methods that either injure or kill wild animals that visit our gardens or homes.
Pesticides indiscriminately kill insects that are also essential food for birds and other wildlife
Glue traps will ensnare any small animal who wanders across it or lands on its surface. Trapped rodents and other animals suffer enormously during the days that it takes for them to die. Glue traps can also rip patches of skin, fur and feathers off the animals’ body as they struggle to escape, and animals may even chew off their own limbs trying to get free.
Please always research and seek advice for locally available humane options.
4. Avoid cruel entertainment
All animal lovers enjoy seeing and watching animals, but it’s essential to ensure that animals never suffer for our entertainment. Animals kept in captivity, such as those in zoos or aquariums, lead miserable lives in environments that often don’t meet even their most basic natural physical, social, behavioural and emotional needs, and, as a consequence, the welfare of these animals is severely compromised. Natural history museums and nature walks are great animal friendly alternatives.
Interactive activities involving animals such as swimming with dolphins may appear to be fun and harmless, but these are known to cause stress for the animals involved. For more information on the welfare concerns associated with swimming with captive dolphins, please find out more here.
Never go to circuses or other shows that contain animal acts. Animals used in circuses and other travelling shows suffer greatly from being constantly confined and continually moved around.
Performing animals are subjected to severe physical and emotional abuse during ‘training’, are forced to perform to a timetable, and are made to exhibit acts that do not come naturally to them, as well as being exposed to ridicule and indignity. For more information on the welfare concerns of circus and performing animals, please visit the Asia for Animals Coalition website.
You could instead visit circuses and shows that only use human acts, such as trapeze artists, jugglers, clowns, tightrope walkers and acrobats. Click here for a list of animal-free circuses.
5. Always dispose of rubbish responsibly
Protecting pets, farm animals and wildlife from harmful rubbish is straightforward – simply dispose of your waste responsibly. Everyday objects can become hazards to many animals, for example:
Chinese lanterns can have devastating effects on birds and other animals.
Smaller animals will often forage inside containers and cans and might get their heads trapped. Larger animals may get their tongues caught or damaged by sharp edges.
Glass bottles and jars break easily, leaving sharp pieces that can cause serious injury and infections.
Plastic bags can suffocate animals or be a choking hazard if chewed or swallowed. Make sure you reuse your bags, and when they cannot be reused, be sure to tie a knot in the bags and recycle them.
Animals can get entangled in plastic can holders, causing deep sores, wounds and choking. Always cut the loops before putting them in a rubbish or recycling bin.
Recycle and reuse all items wherever you can and, if you are out, always take your rubbish home or put it in a bin responsibly.
6. Never buy or wear fur
Real fur is not just used to make full-length fur coats - today, fur is used most frequently as trim on garments such as coats, gloves, boots and sweaters. Fur is also increasingly being used to make toys for children and pets, ornaments, and even in interior design on bedspreads and cushion covers. Items and products made with real fur often do not have to be labelled as such and often cost no more than products containing ‘fake fur’.
There are a few simple steps that you can take to try to distinguish between fake and real fur, but the simple rule is that if you aren’t sure whether it’s fake or real fur, don’t buy it!
If you want to have an even greater impact on ending the fur trade, you can write to or email retailers that are still selling fur and politely request they that end their association with this cruel industry by signing up to the fur free retailer scheme. Many retailers are often unaware of the suffering involved in fur production, so it is important that we let them know. More information about fur and a template letter which can be sent to retailers can be accessed here.
7. Don't fund animal suffering on holiday
There are many things you can do while travelling and as a tourist to avoid cruel animal practices. Use our Responsible Tourism guide before you go to make sure that you do not take part in any activities that compromise animal welfare.
Never visit cruel events which are sometimes masked as culture. Cockfights, bullfights, rodeos, running with bulls, and the use of animals in religious or other festivals might all be defended as local tradition, but culture is never an excuse for cruelty.
Never purchase souvenirs made from animals. Avoid any product made from animals, including all fur, skin, ivory, shells, animal horn or bone and turtle shell products.
Never pay to have your picture taken with or pose for a selfie with a wild animal. Many of these animals have been taken from the wild and their mothers killed. They are usually drugged, harshly trained and/or have had their teeth or fangs removed to ensure that they ‘behave’ around tourists.
Think carefully before going on an animal ride. Avoid all rides on wild animals (for example elephants and emus) - these animals are not domesticated and should remain in the wild. Evidence has shown that the way these animals are kept and trained is inadequate and cruel. If you want to ride a horse, donkey, mule or camel or take a carriage ride please use this guide to ensure you only support owners who care for their animals and are kind to them.
If your hotel or restaurant keeps wild animals, be sure to express your disapproval in person and in writing to the owner and your tour operator.
If you witness animal cruelty or exploitation, record the details of what you have seen, noting the date, time and location, and try to take as many photos as you can (but remember, never pay to take such pictures). Then report the incident to a local animal welfare organisation, the local tourist offices and your tour operator.
8. Be a responsible pet owner
You can help reduce animal overpopulation that causes the premature deaths of many millions of unwanted dogs, cats, rabbits and other animals every year. If you have a pet make sure that it is neutered to prevent the birth of more animals, and ensure that your pet has proper identification such as a collar, tag and microchip, so that if it gets lost it can be traced back to you.
The next time you consider getting a new pet, please adopt an animal from a local rescue shelter rather than purchasing it from a pet shop or breeder. It is a common misconception that animals in rescue are unwanted because they are older and have behavioural problems, these animals, just like any others, simply want to be in a loving home.
9. Volunteer at your local animal shelter
Animal shelters are always in need of more help whether it's walking dogs, grooming cats, preparing food, cleaning out water bowls or countless other activities that can suit everyone’s interests and abilities.
Call your local shelter today and ask whether they need any help. You could make a big difference in the lives of homeless dogs, cats and other animals in your area!
10. Make your voice heard for animals
Never underestimate the power of making your voice heard for animals. Speaking out changes minds and policies. Without the tireless efforts of members of the public, many of the successes in animal protection worldwide would not have come about. Please continue to sign petitions, write letters to those in a position to effect change, fundraise, support charities that you know and trust, raise awareness in your local communities or on social media, considering fostering or adopting animals whenever you can… the list is endless!
Don’t keep all this to yourself! Tell your family and friends so that they can also make their lives animal-friendly.
Together we can all make a change for animals!