When Charitable Giving Isn’t Charitable

When Charitable Giving Isn’t Charitable

During the holiday season, it is popular to give charitable gifts in someone else’s name, particularly if the recipient has made it clear they don’t want material presents. This is also the time when charities solicit year-end tax-deductible donations. Heifer International, MercyCorps, Oxfam, World Vision and similar charities are popular because they pitch that you can combat hunger in desperate areas, such as Afghanistan or Sudan, by donating money which they will use to ship live animals such as cows, goats, donkeys, or chickens to families living in those regions for them to raise for milk and meat.

But such programs aren’t charitable for the animals, and in many cases, for the families either; if a family is struggling to provide for themselves, how can they ensure adequate nutrition, conditions, and care for their animals? It is a near-sighted attempt to solve the vastly complex problem of global hunger that poses substantial risk for the animals, the environment, and the people for which these programs advertise that they help; the World Land Trust calls animal-donation programs “environmentally unsound and economically disastrous.”

First, the animals have to survive the initial transport. Animals are bred and raised in large-scale farms throughout the world operated by the charities, and then shipped out. Baby chicks and other young animals are shipped overseas as airmail or cargo. In addition to the long hours or days of flight, these animals may be in planes at various terminals for hours without food or water. Countless animals arrive sick and dead. Northwest Airlines reports that up to 30% of chicks arrive dead in just in domestic flights; one can only surmise the number is much higher after international flights. Chicks are characterized as “easy to transport,” because they are small, inhumanely packed in boxes, airmailed at the cheapest rate, and shipped in huge numbers.

Baby chicks being shipped by mail

Non-native animals introduced to fragile habitats, where the animals have larger or different appetites from indigenous species, will overtax the vegetation or simply starve. Grazing animals cause topsoil runoff and land degradation, which can contribute to drought conditions. Arid conditions cannot support animals like cows, descended from forest-dwelling species, who require large amounts of water. Increasing the reliance on animals raised as livestock for sustenance can have disastrous results, as the recent famine in the Horn of Africa has shown.

People living in impoverished communities hardly have enough food, water, and land for themselves, let alone for animals. Having another mouth to feed adds to a family’s burden, and the animals often suffer from horrible neglect, malnutrition, dehydration, and lack of shelter from the burning midday sun or night-time freezing temperatures. Animals already in impoverished areas are sick and dying for lack of veterinary care and treatment. There is a desperate need for more veterinary services, not for more animals to tend, feed and care for. Some recipients of animals never asked for one and complain about the economic and environmental havoc such an animal creates. Much of the grain intended for families end up having to support the animals. After a couple years on such a program, some families report back having been even poorer than when they started.

Goats, a popular animal for donation, tend to overgraze and destroy fragile native vegetation (Heifer International promo photo)

Animal-based agriculture taxes and misuses land and resources already stretched thin, promotes high-fat Western diets over indigenous diets heavy in grains and vegetables, and jeopardizes human and animal health by inviting diseases like Avian flu. Delivering animals used for dairy enterprises into rural areas that have no refrigeration, electricity, or passable roads to get milk to markets, to serve populations that are lactose-intolerant are misguided at best. Taking animals from their mothers, shipping them thousands of miles into inhospitable regions with no animal-welfare standards, restricting and exploiting them for dairy products, forcing extended suffering due to illness and injury, and ultimately slaughtering them (often times with rusty or dull knives) does not fit in the spirit of compassion and charity of the holiday season.

Dairy cow in a region where up to 90% of the population are lactose intolerant (Heifer International promo photo)

Global hunger is a problem that cannot be solved by well-intentioned donations of animals which often end up doing more harm than good. This holiday season, if you truly want to help the people in countries suffering from drought, natural disasters, poverty, and war, please instead consider supporting sustainable, animal-friendly relief organizations that work to end hunger, help communities set up local sustainable food projects, re-establish arable land, and provide direct aid. Food For Life Global provides food distribution of plant-based meals all across the world, The Fruit Tree Planting Foundation strategically plants orchards where the harvest will best serve communities for generations, VEGFAM funds self-supporting, sustainable food projects and the provision of safe drinking water as well as emergency relief, Sustainable Harvest International addresses the tropical deforestation crisis in Central America by providing farmers with sustainable alternatives to slash-and-burn agriculture, and Feed My Starving Children ships out hand-packed meals developed specifically for malnourished children. Also Kiva creates entrepreneurial opportunities through micro-lending to help people world-wide work their way out of poverty.

This year, make the gift of giving charitable for people, the environment, and the animals.

This post was originally published in I ♥ AR on December 21, 2011 and is reproduced with permission.

Action Alerts

Tell Filmmakers that Hurting and Killing Animals for a Film is Unacceptable
Whistleblowers have exposed the facts that during the film of The Hobbit, in all, 5 horses, 12 chickens, 1 pony, and several goats and sheep were allegedly maimed or killed. Send a message to filmmakers that hurting and killing animals for a film is unacceptable and refuse to support any movies that use live animals. Urge Peter Jackson to hold himself and his production staff responsible when it comes to animal safety in movies.


Peter Jackson’s production company:
WingNut Films P.O. Box 15-208
Wellington 6003
New Zealand
phone (011) 6443889939
fax (011) 6443889449


Ask Nordstroms to stop carrying fur

Believe it or not, Nordstrom’s carries fur.  The Nordstrom’s family claims to support animals and that they only carry fur due to customer demand.  Let them know how you feel about Nordstrom’s purchasing the skins of animals that were killed by such methods as drowning, poisoning, strangulation, genital electrocution, and being trapped or beaten to death. Send them an email, or call them and let them know you will not shop at Nordstrom’s until they pledge to stop carrying fur.

email:  contact@nordstrom.com
phone:  1.888.282.6060


sign the petition to ask Nordstorm to stop carrying fur! https://www.change.org/petitions/nordstrom-stop-selling-all-animal-fur-3

Link of the Week


Living Humane

News of Note

Horrific animal cruelty exposed at UCSF
PETA is demanding that the University of California San Francisco return a $2.1 million research grant after chilling reports of gruesome animal cruelty were uncovered.  The animal rights organization’s demand relates to one of countless tales of animals suffering in horrific conditions at UCSF, which has one of the largest medical research programs in the country.


Animal rights organization blasts Santa Cruz company for continued animal welfare violations
Santa Cruz Biotechnology continued to violate animal welfare regulations even after a federal complaint was lodged against the company, records show. An animal rights organization has written a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack prevailing upon him to take immediate action and to remove all of the animals at the Delaware Avenue facility in Santa Cruz.


No prison time for man in sled dog slaughter
A man who pleaded guilty in the slaughter of dozens of sled dogs in British Columbia will not spend time in prison, a judge has ruled.  Provincial Court Judge Steve Merrick concluded Thursday that Robert Fawcett had the “best interests” of the dogs at heart when he culled the pack near Whistler after a slump in business following the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.


Police make arrest in death of monkey at zoo
Police arrested a 22-year-old man Monday after a monkey at the Boise zoo was found dead over the weekend, shortly after a zoo security guard frightened away two intruders.


Vegan-Curious? Here’s an Easy 30-Day Guide From a Noted Vegan Chef and Author
For all who would like to go vegan but who don’t know where to begin, there’s now a comprehensive multimedia guide that breaks it down day by day. The 30-Day Vegan Challenge, created by vegan chef and author Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, is a guide that includes audio, video, and written resources in bite-sized chunks, delivered daily to your email inbox so you can take your vegan experiment one day at a time.


A Place for Healing Broken Wings
Such life-or-death dramas are commonplace at the center, which opened on Columbus Avenue in the spring after the Wild Bird Fund was based for years inside the apartment of a co-founder, Rita McMahon. It is on track to treat 1,500 birds this year, from the three-gram hummingbird to a turkey more than 1,000 times its size.


This Guru Nanak Jayanti, safeguard animal rights
It is a happy coincidence that the 543rd birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Devji falls on the same day, November 28, as World Compassion Day, which will be incepted this year with focus on animal rights.

Action Alerts

Ask Nordstroms to stop carrying fur

Believe it or not, Nordstrom’s carries fur.  The Nordstrom’s family claims to support animals and that they only carry fur due to customer demand.  Let them know how you feel about Nordstrom’s purchasing the skins of animals that were killed by such methods as drowning, poisoning, strangulation, genital electrocution, and being trapped or beaten to death. Send them an email, or call them and let them know you will not shop at Nordstrom’s until they pledge to stop carrying fur.

email:  contact@nordstrom.com
phone:  1.888.282.6060



Ask the West Seattle Junction Merchants to stop mule rides
West Seattle is having a family holiday festival with many lovely activities, but on December 2nd and 16th they are hosting mule carriage rides. Please take a minute to email info@westseattlejunction.org and ask them to leave the mule carriage rides out this year. They are cruel and inhumane.


Tell L.L. Bean to Go Fur-Free
L.L. Bean still sells fur-lined hats and gloves. A company that has been around for 100 years should know better than to support the incredibly cruel fur industry. Refuse to shop at L.L. Bean until they make the compassionate decision to go fur-free.


L.L. Bean

customer service (800) 441-5713
online contact form:


Stop South Korea from killing whales before it’s too late
On December 3, the South Korean government will consider a proposal to establish its own ‘scientific’ whaling program. The first harpoons could be fired in less than six months. It’s up to us to make sure that doesn’t happen.
Backed by what remains of its old whaling industry and countries like Japan, South Korea’s fisheries ministry is pushing hard to resume whaling. But this is the Prime Minister’s decision and government sources have indicated that “other issues” will be considered. That means political pressure.
Last summer, when South Korea announced to the International Whaling Commission (IWC) that it would begin ‘scientific’ whaling, there was an uproar around the world with governments voicing concern and thousands of articles appearing in the press. This is because ‘scientific’ whaling, which never produces data needed for management of whales, is widely seen as a fraud and an excuse to prolong the dying industry of commercial whaling.
Tell the Prime Minister of South Korea that there is no place for the needless slaughter of whales in the 21st century and to block his country’s plans to establish a ‘scientific’ whaling program.


Embassy: The Republic of Korea
2450 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington DC 20008
phone (202) 939-5600
fax (202) 797-0595

Link of the Week


Vegan Thanksgiving

News of Note

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’ runs into animal-rights issues

Wranglers in New Zealand have complained that as many as 27 animals have died as a result of conditions on the set of “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” according to the Associated Press.  A spokesman for director Peter Jackson has confirmed an unspecified number of deaths related to conditions on a Wellington farm. Horses, goats and sheep were among the casualties, he told the AP.


Monkey Killed At Zoo Boise During Break-In
A break-in at Zoo Boise early Saturday left a Patas monkey dead from blunt force trauma to the head and neck and police were analyzing blood found at the scene to determine if it came from the monkey or one of two human intruders.


Bill and Lou and Shifting the Paradigm: Now Is the Time to Go Vegan
I never would have guessed that the fate of two old oxen on a Vermont college campus would inspire tens of thousands of people around the world to raise their voices. But it did. Bill and Lou, scheduled for slaughter after a lifetime of service to the college, were featured in the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, the Boston Globe and many other major media outlets, and inspired action and dialogue around the world. But now that Lou has been euthanized due to an injury and the college has decided to keep Bill, an even more urgent dialogue needs to happen. It is a dialogue about sustainability.
Los Angeles City Council Declares Mondays “Meatless”
For one day a week, citizens in the city of Los Angeles are encouraged to be ‘veg heads.’  On Friday, the LA city council unanimously passed a resolution that declares every Monday a “Meatless Monday,” becoming the largest city to endorse the movement to curb meat consumption.


Beyond animal rights, the search for a sustainable and ethical vegan diet
It seemed so simple at first; I was an empathetic person, so I became vegetarian. Little did I know that my journey to ethical and socially just eating was only beginning – and it was a much more paradoxical road to get there than I thought. – if we all made one or two changes to our diets regularly, we could begin to refine the system.


To Birds, Storm Survival Is Only Natural
Yet biologists studying the hurricane’s aftermath say there is remarkably little evidence that birds, or any other countable, charismatic fauna for that matter, have suffered the sort of mass casualties seen in environmental disasters like the BP oil spill of 2010, when thousands of oil-slicked seabirds washed ashore, unable to fly, feed or stay warm.


Hunters join animal rights’ groups in lawsuit to ban use of dogs in wolf hunt
Over a dozen Wisconsin hunters have joined animal rights’ groups in a lawsuit that seeks to permanently ban the use of dogs by wolf hunters.  Dane County Circuit Judge Peter Anderson has temporarily banned dogs that help hunters track down wolves. And he’ll hold a hearing next month to consider a permanent ban – as well as an opposing effort by the state DNR to drop the lawsuit altogether.
Singapore animal rights activists continue protests over pandas
A number of local media reports in Singapore highlighting the “up close and personal” interactions with two Giant Pandas who arrived in the city-state this fall have angered animal rights activists, who continue to call for the animals to be returned to their natural habitat.


Vegan Former NBA Star John Salley Explains How Athletes Get Enough Protein Without Meat
The Los Angeles Times just interviewed John Salley, the former NBA player (who played with the Lakers) about his vegan diet. They asked some obvious questions about his transition from vegetarianism to becoming a vegan athlete, but one of their questions was one that’s common for non-meat-eaters, whether you’re a basketball player or a first-grader: “How do you get enough protein?” Salley’s perfect answer blew us away.


Combined Pesticide Exposure Severely Affects Individual- and Colony-Level Traits in Bees
Bee colonies have increasingly been failing. It is suspected it is as a result of exposure to pesticides used in agriculture. To test this link bee colonies were exposed to two common types of pesticides. The study found that exposure negatively effected the performance of individual bees and increased the likelihood of colony failure. Furthermore, these effects were more likely if bees were exposed to both pesticides.

Action Alerts


Urge NPR and Its Member Stations to Promote a Compassionate Holiday Season

Contact NPR and urge them to ENCOURAGE and PROMOTE compassionate holiday dining AND respectful attitudes toward turkeys!

Gary E. Knell, President & CEO
National Public Radio
635 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20001


National Public Radio is excellently positioned to encourage compassionate holiday dining and respectful attitudes toward turkeys if its corporate staff hears from listeners. In addition to contacting NPR’s President & CEO Gary E. Knell, please send an email to your local NPR station with your request for compassionate holiday programming. You can find your local station by entering in your zip code on this website:

Click here to see a sample letter to NPR



Ask Congress to Investigate Wildlife Services Now!

Wildlife Services’ agent Jamie P. Olson sic’d his dogs on live coyotes that were captured in steel-jawed traps. Wildlife belong to all Americans; they must not be brutalized by federal employees. Tell Congress to investigate Wildlife Services and rogue agents like Jamie P. Olson who photographed himself siccing his dogs on live coyotes that were captured in steel-jawed traps.

Sign an online petition (copy/paste URL into your browser):

And/or better yet, make direct contact:

Find and contact your U.S. Representative


Wildlife Services is a costly, outdated, rogue agency that has no purpose in modern times. This week revealed more heinous acts committed by a Wildlife Services’ agent upon our wildlife. Wildlife Services’ agent Jamie P. Olson photographed himself siccing his dogs on live coyotes that were captured in steel-jawed traps.

The news exposed the horrible, unethical behavior by Mr. Olson on November 2, 2012. But this is not an isolated incident. As former Wildlife Services’ agent Gary Strader told the Sacramento Bee, killing trapped animals with dogs “‘is very common . . . It has never been addressed by the higher-ups. They know it happens on a regular basis.'”

As the Bee also documented earlier this year, Wildlife Services kills tens of thousands of animals annually without accountability or oversight. The agency’s war on wildlife endangers the public, their pets, and even its own agents. The death toll on our wildlife populations is unconscionable.

The agency’s killing programs are inhumane, unscientific, expensive, ineffective and occasionally illegal. They are certainly unnecessarily cruel. Congress must immediately investigate this rogue agency. No federal agency needs oversight more than Wildlife Services.

Link of the Week

Compassionate Holidays

News of Note


Vt. college’s ox meat will not be used for food
In the end, Lou met his end in neither a slaughterhouse nor a sanctuary. The Green Mountain College-owned ox, which became the cause célèbre of animal rights advocates across the globe, was euthanized yesterday.  Green Mountain College called off plans to butcher the ox and serve the meat in the school’s dining hall after advocates started pressuring local slaughterhouses.


Being Vegan – Make Every Vote On Your Plate Count
We had an election this past week.  As far as the White House goes it seems like about half the country is very pleased right now and another little less than half not so pleased.  It is my hope that we can find some middle ground to work on and start to get some things done.  Goodness knows we have a lot to work on.  I was disappointed with the outcome of Prop 37 in California to require mandatory labeling of GMO’s and bring at least one of our states into modern times with most of the rest of the world.  This was a proposition that was leading in the polls until corporate giants like Monsanto put almost $50 million into a campaign to defeat the proposition.  Money might not be able to buy you love but it can buy you lies.


The Food Movement Takes a Beating
Money, lies and mistakes crushed the forward-thinking votes in California, but these are battles lost in a war that will be won. The notions that we need to know what’s in our food and that food should not be harmful have not been defeated. It’s a question of finding the right strategy.


Mainstream crusade – how the animal rights movement boomed
In “Another Bloody Business”, Four Corners graphically revealed the slaughter and once again exposed the political fault lines.  These reports have reignited the ethical and economic questions around the trade of transporting live animals to be slaughtered in a foreign marketplace. There are renewed calls for a ban to be placed on the industry, with increasing pressure from Labor backbenchers, the Greens, and Independent MP Andrew Wilkie.


Group brings suit over animal testing
Animal rights activists want to take the University of Minnesota to court over its alleged secrecy in animal testing.  The Animal Legal Defense Fund and Minneapolis resident Isaac Peter filed a lawsuit against the University of Minnesota on Thursday, accusing its Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee of violating the state’s open records and open meetings laws.


A Vegetarian Thanksgiving Table
Every year, Well goes vegetarian for Thanksgiving to celebrate the fall harvest and the delicious vegetable dishes that take up most of the space on holiday tables.  This year, we have another terrific lineup of vegan and vegetarian recipes from some of your favorite food writers and chefs.


Strays Amid Rome Ruins Set Off a Culture Clash
The shelter, in an underground space abutting a cherished archaeological site, consists of several bright, cage-lined rooms that hold dozens of strays at a time and has gained fame — and donations — as a popular tourist draw.  But after a couple of decades of tolerated, if not quite authorized, occupancy, Italy’s state archaeologists have told the association that it has to go, saying the illegal occupation risks damaging a fragile ancient monument.


The Case Against Big Cat Ownership
More tigers live in private captivity in Texas than in the wild, where conservationists estimate that around 3,000 of the endangered animals remain. No one knows for sure how many big cats — including tigers, lions, panthers, cheetahs, leopards and others — are kept today in backyards and apartments across the United States, but estimates run as high as 20,000. (The Endangered Species Act does not prohibit domestic trade in captive-bred wildlife.)