We are often asked why groups do not join together and it brought to mind an article from many years ago. The following is adapted from that article by the Animals’ Agenda.
We and most other groups support the view that, in terms of speedy progress in accomplishing goals of eliminating animal cruelty, a cooperative effort among ALL groups would be in the best interest of animals. However, the following are just some of the problems that make such ‘united action’ extremely difficult to achieve:
DISAGREEMENT AS TO WHAT CONSTITUTES CRUELTY ~ There are probably thousands of groups around the world…all undoubtedly seeking to help animals, but there are vastly different opinions about what constitutes cruelty. Some groups might agree with ‘wildlife management’ and say that it is in the best interests of free-roaming (wild) animals to trap, hunt and even poison them – others couldn’t imagine how killing any wild animals would be in their best interest, unless the animal is in mortal pain or their future is utterly hopeless. Another question might be whether or not it is cruel to eat meat. Some might argue that this is not important if the animals are killed humanely while others might feel there’s no justification for taking the life of an animal to eat, when other ample sources of protein are available. Some might feel it’s cruel to imprison animals in zoos or circuses, while others maintain if they are fed and housed adequately, this practice is not an issue. So, you see a lack of agreement as to what constitutes cruelty is a reason for non-unity between organizations.
DIFFERENCES IN DEFINING PRIORITIES ~ People have different opinions as to which animals should be helped first. Some sense an urgency to help endangered species, whereas others feel the need to concentrate on ending trapping. Who is to decide on which issue to pool efforts or focus first. Emotions about the various cruelty issues run high, and even with the best intentions, it is difficult to agree on priorities. Geographical factors may also influence priorities – issues that are local may seem more urgent and immediate.
DIFFERENT IDEAS ON MEANS OF ACCOMPLISHING GOALS ~ Even when groups DO agree on the necessity of acting together, disagreements over strategy can prevent unity. Some groups may prefer to inform and mobilize the public through direct mailing or with their own newsletters, while others want face-to-face communications with the public through demonstrations, public meetings, school humane education programs, etc. Still others feel the best way to attack any problem is through the courts and legislative processes. All of the above are vital in attacking an agreed-upon issue and even if resources were pooled then questions might arise as to which course of action gets what share of the time & money? How much time & money goes to fund raising? Public consciousness-raising? Legislative action? And who is to decide? And even if all means of action were given an equal share of available funds, problems might still arise. Should abolition of the practice be the way forward or should compromises be made? Some might be more compromising than others and some might refuse to compromise altogether.
PERSONALITY CLASHES ~ As in any other walk of life, individuals in the animal protection community differ in many ways. Some are more sensitive than others and more sensitive to threats to their ideals. When convictions are strong, it is easier to criticize those thought to be less committed. Likewise, one tends to take criticism more personally when one believes his or her motives to be the best. For example if one group who were deeply concerned over saving the lives of burros or goats is publicly criticized or ridiculed by another group as merely publicity seeking or castigated for wasting funds that might have been directed into a more worthy cause, it is difficult for the first group to shrug it off in good humour.
And so the best advice I can give is to spend your time, money and energies with those whose philosophies most closely resemble your own! Be kind to each other and keep fighting the good fight!