Pet Charity

On tonight’s episode of Martha Stewart’s Apprentice she had her TV minions help raise money for “Broadway Barks,” which is a charity for homeless animals. Call me heartless but do pets really deserve charity over people? I’m all for the ethical treatment of animals but people still come first. If these pets don’t find homes they’ll be put out of their misery and euthanasized; the same can’t be said for people. This just feels like rich people who love their manicured sharpei so much that they couldn’t bear the though of her brethren shivering out in the cold somewhere, but don’t think twice about the guy sleeping in the alley behind their condo building.

I’m not saying there is anything terribly wrong with giving to a pet charity. It’s just something I can’t see myself ever doing. Agree, disagree?

Where were you when I was going at it in a pit thread about this very thing? Just kidding.

Yeah, I agree with you. I think it’s great to support charities; however, some of these pet charities irk me. I don’t believe non-human animals suffer as much as people, not only because like you said they can be euthanized (which is terrible, but often necessary), but also because, well, they’re not human. We can go on all day about whether elephants can retain long-term memory (and believe me, in that pit thread, we did), but the fact is that we KNOW people have memory, we know that we suffer. So why give to pet charities when you know humans are suffering? In my darker moments I think that it’s because some people do see their shar-pei as more human than the dark guy in the alley. But no, nobody would ever think that, how misanthropic of me.

Sure, in a perfect world, we’d be able to save both the puppy and the little boy. But we live in reality, where oftentimes you can only save one. And yeah, if someone picks the puppy, I do look down on them, even if they’re saving a life. Because it’s not the right choice to me. I love animals, I have a cat, but I can’t ever see giving to one of these charities, because it just seems like so much fluff to me. A way to warm your heart without getting your hands dirty with methadone clinics or HIV-infected Africans. Because a homeless cat is a lot cuter than a homeless human, and to many people, it’s important that the object of your charity isn’t scary-looking. I’m not saying everyone, just SOME. Enough that charities like this one make a decent killing.

I love animals. They’re delicious!

Seriously, I do adore pets. However. I’d much rather someone give to other humans that are suffering. It’s not so bad if they give to both causes, but one of my aunts gives solely to animal charities, and it bothers somewhat. This woman also paid $6,000 for surgery for her 12 year-old blind, tube-fed cat who died two months later, while some members of my family were in financial crisis. Then she had the nerve to say, when the cat died, that it was just like losing a human child. So obviously, there’s a reason I call her “my crazy aunt”.

Animals live and die by the billions for our exclusive benefit - most of them pretty cruelly. So I don’t see anything wrong with tossing 50 bucks their way every now and then.

Anyway you guys are operating on the fallacy of the excluded middle - you can give to animals or humans, but not both. By that logic spending any money on anything other than human charity is immoral.

Most of the animals and pets in need of charity are in that situation because of human stupidity. People abandoning animals, not having their pets fixed, letting them run wild to get injured or killed… these animals would not exist or need help if it wasn’t for stupid people not caring for them properly in the first place. Personally I feel donations made to organizations like the Humane Society or SPCA is my small apology on behalf of a humanity that let these animals down to begin with. Maybe one day people will stop being idiots and we won’t need animal shelters any more. Until then I’m not willing to say we should let innocent animals suffer even further because maybe it would mean more money going to people charities.

They’re not mutually exclusive, anyway. I give to wildlife charities because I believe the environment is important, humanitarian charities because I believe people are important, and pet charities because I think these animals are important. I also spend the extra $1 to buy cage-free eggs. Do you think it morally wrong; should I buy the cheaper eggs then give that $1 to feed a hungry person because chickens don’t matter? What about when I buy myself some useless trinket that I really don’t need, but I want it? What if I decide to not buy the trinket and give money to the SPCA instead? Am I then morally wrong for not donating any and all money I decide to give to charity to human causes? After all I could’ve just purchased the trinket and donated nothing.

I think you would find the majority of people who are likely to donate to pet charities also donate to other charitable causes as well (crazy aunts excluded.) In defense of animal charities, animals live short lives and often the money to board or feed them another month or two can make the difference between placing them in a home or euthanasia. The problems that humanitarian charities seek to address (social, economic, problems like drug abuse) are often more complicated than just tossing them $20 now and then can fix. So even if you did see a dramatic increase in charity to humanitarian causes, you might not see all that much improve beyond some short-term immediate relief. I can’t speak for anyone but myself, but personally I try to be active in ways that I think will help social problems for the less fortunate beyond just throwing money at them.

I am also disturbed by pet charity.

Charity isn’t bullshit. A twenty dollar bill, well placed, can save a life. It can pull a person- just like you and me, with hopes etc.- out of misery. But instead, we spend that money on crap like no-kill shelter. Maybe…maybe…I’d support a charity that worked to spay and neuter animals so that these problems get prevented. But when the choice is helping to feed a cat or helping to feed a human, the vote goes to the human.

I found it absolutely disgusting how many people donated to pet-related charities during hurricane Katrina. I trust you can see where the offence lies.

I think you really get into some messy areas when you start prioritizing charitable causes or phrasing it like it’s a competition. What about the Make a Wish foundation? It does things for terminally ill people. They’re going to die anyway- why not spend that money and effort on people who can be saved, or on fighting those diseases worrying about the feelings of people who are already certain to die from them? Why give money to help earthquake victims in Pakistan when there are homeless people in the USA? And so on and so on.
If that’s too indirect and weird, let’s suppose I regularly give to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Can I say that kids and adults with diabetes deserve charity over cancer and AIDS patients? The answer, from my perspective, is no. (I wouldn’t be able to argue the opposite either.) But you can’t give to everybody. Choosing one, or some, because the cause has a personal meaning to you doesn’t mean you find the others undeserving and are neglecting them.

I’ve never given money to a pet charity, but I think it’s a legit cause. The list of charities I would like to give to, or will give to when I’m making more money, is much longer than the list of charities I’ve donated to. And anyway, it’s closed-minded to say that because you give to pet charities, you don’t care about humans in need.

Remember that next time you blow $20 on a DVD. You just killed somebody. Nice job. :rolleyes:

Don’t worry too much. Humanity is in no danger of treating animals too well.

I really don’t know. If we take the reasonable position of not supporting animal charities until all the people are taken care of, would we ever give to animal charities?

If we wait until there is no more starvation and then build opera houses, would the world have any opera houses?

I dunno.

Everyone posting to this thread could have given the money they spent on their SDMB membership, Internet connection, and computer to some charity instead.

How can you watch cable TV when there are earthquake victims in Kashmir freezing to death?



There is a difference between saying “Human issues are more important” and “Human issues are the only issues”. Pet issues do matter, if less than human issues. These are companion animals, they exist entirely for our benefit, they have been part of human society for thousands of years. They provide comfort and companionship, they work for us, for nothing more than food and a place to sleep.

It is more than a bit unseemly to take ownerless dogs and cats and treat them like garbage to be thrown away as cheaply as possible. Charities like this help to ensure that they get treated with some level of respect, and get the chance for a better life through adoption. They also promote low cost/free spaying and neutering to keep the ownerless population down.

I gave to both human and animal charites after Katrina.

There are, of course, good and bad charities that help people as well as good/bad charities for animals.

The one thing that has always bothered me about human charities is the utter hopelessness that I sometimes see in helping humans. How many times do we see, over and over again, people who have been helped and then returning to self-destructive ways? Helping the abused wife who then ends right back up with the same abuser husband or finds another?

The animal, however, will not do such a thing. Animals aren’t going to return to abusing drugs. Animals aren’t going to use their debit cards on diamonds.

Anyway, I just continue to check out the charities I support and hope that it has made a difference for both humans and animals.

Also, I believe helping animals is the right thing to do. Animals are God’s creation as well as people. Also, I believe that it is part of what Jesus said in Matthew 25:40-45

'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.

We aren’t talking about money that isn’t given to charity. That is another debate.
We are talking about money that is already earmarked to make the world better.

Save a cat or a kid? Save a puppy or save a person? What I’m trying to say is that with some little bit of research, you really can find a charity that has a direct and measurable impact on lives. You arn’t just giving in to the void.

No it isn’t.

Sorry, but if you want to criticize someone who gives $20 to help homeless animals on the ground that he could have given it to help homeless humans, you open yourself to the exact same criticism every time you spend $20 on anything that is not absolutely essential.

I’m afraid I don’t see that at all, now that we’ve swiss-cheesed the argument that it’s immoral to spend any money on a lower priority unless and until the higher priority is completely satisfied.

(Admittedly, an absolute ascetic could stand one one of the remaining bits of cheese in between the holes, but the word “Member” instead of “Guest” under your handle demonstrates that you aren’t one of those.)

The typical response I hear from animal lovers asked this question is, “Yes, those other charities are important, but so is this.” I don’t agree that their particular charity is all that important but what about Toys for Tots? I agree that it’s important that kids get nice things once in a while but is it more worthy than donating to AIDs relief or other causes?


If you want to redefine the debate so that it has no relationship to reality, go ahead, but the rest of us are talking about money: legal tender valid regardless of what you spend it on. Nobody is forced to spend a certain percentage on self-gratification and a certain percentage on charity.

Your ethical system defines buying a Britney Spears album, or pissing it away on porn as more ethical than donating to prevent animal cruelty - or to a library for that matter, and therefore is (practically by definition) warped. It makes my splurging of $20.00 to see Batman Begins with nachos and a diet coke more moral than my donations to NPR, the ACLU and the ASPCA.

For some reason people insist on pitting animal welfare and human welfare against each other. Helping animals is giving aid and comfort to the enemy, I guess. Pet a dog, and slap a person.

You’re making the false assumption that I (or anyone necessarily) earmarks $X to be donated to charity. There’s no earmarking for me; I would imagine that’s the case for most people. When I see a cause which I would like to donate to, I come up with whatever amount I am able to/feel appropriate at the time of the donation. If I see a pet charity advertised on TV, I may on a whim send them $10. It doesn’t follow that if I don’t give them $10, that money will go to people charity. It more likely follows that I will buy myself a nice pizza rather than making the hot dog I was going to eat for lunch had I given them the donation.

If I have $20, I can spend it on a DVD, send to the SPCA, send to the Red Cross, use it to light my cigar, whatever. Are you honestly saying if I decide to send that money to the SPCA, then it’s worse than if I just buy the DVD and serve my own interests? Because I really can’t grok that logic.

I hope you live in a cardboard box and donate all your extra money to help the less fortunate and don’t waste it on frivolous things you don’t really need. I hope you’ve never had a pet that you spent money at the vet to care for, because that could’ve gone to saving a human life instead of a relatively worthless animal. Because if you are telling me that I’m morally reprehensible for donating to help animals, but you waste money on restaurant food or DVDs or anything you don’t really need, that would be incredibly hypocritical. How much money do you have in the bank right now that could be helping to save lives at this very moment?

You were watching TV. You were doing nothing to help anyone or anything. Yet you begrudge someone else’s efforts to help animals.

That’s odd, to me.

I donate to pet causes (pun intended) because that’s where I want my money to go. I donate to shelters, and I donate to reading programs. That’s pretty much it.

I think it’s great when anyone makes an effort to improve the world.

(Okay, I’ll admit I roll my eyes a little at the historical preservationists, but that’s just because I know so many of them and they drive me insane!)