Just like not all Tea Party members are bad spellers – and not all democrats are socialists – contrary to popular belief: not all animal activists are "from PETA."
Believe it or not – there is a myriad of credible animal welfare orgs out there. Aside from the more widely known ones such as Humane Society of the United States, ASPCA and Best Friends Animal Society – there is Last Chance for Animals, In Defense of Animals, Mercy for Animals, Companion Animal Protection Society, Animal Rescue Corps – the list goes on. Then there are thousands of "indie" animal activists who aren't affiliated with an organization at all.
And what may come as an another shocker: There are many in the animal rights movement who are intelligent, rational, functioning members of society – yes, many even have jobs – in spite of being told to "get a job" more times than they can count.
They come from all walks of life, backgrounds and personalities – just like with any other cause that people are impassioned about. Many don't even like each other, yet share a common desire: to speak up for the voiceless.
To put an end to the needless suffering of sentient beings in the name of entertainment, vanity, obsolete research, selfishness and greed.
For the most part, the common approach is to catch flies with honey and convert the non-converted. Most activists would prefer to stay within the law, i.e. not pour flour on someone for wearing fur.
Don't get me wrong; I support PETA and commend them for their important accomplishments thus far – and for being the most well-known animal rights organization in the world. It's just that I, like many other activists, would prefer not to be known as an "animal rights nut" whose number one goal is to make headlines.
I would rather not give those who might otherwise be inclined to speak out for animals or help in some other way, an easy way out. I don't want to give them a reason to shrug off the movement because it's "all a bunch of crazies" (just so they can brush it under the rug and not have to face the harsh reality of the unthinkable number of animals that suffer at the hands of humans).
"Whatever it takes to win them over" is what I say. Even if it's coddling the woman that approached us at a puppy mill/pet store demonstration, asking where she could "buy" a rescue dog, since rescue is "the new chic." Rather than say to her, "you should want to adopt a dog simply out of compassion and the fact that so many are needlessly destroyed" – we gratefully pointed her in the direction of the nearest rescue pet store.
What continues to baffle me, though, is how so many seemingly intelligent, politically aware people are incapable of applying simple logic: helping animals and helping people are not mutually exclusive. You can demonstrate at a pet store two hours out of the week and promote awareness – yet hold down a regular job, have other interests – and yes, even help children!
Not to mention that those who point fingers and assume we don't help people – are normally the last to help people.
I'm equally puzzled by those who cast judgement or get annoyed when we bring attention to animal issues, specifically on Facebook (those who are more passionate about the animals in Farmville).
After all, we don't judge them. What if we said ... oh, um ..."suck it, you selfish twits?"
OK, helping animals isn't their "cup of tea" – but shouldn't they at least respect that we're doing it? Especially if they have animals of their own – how could they be so indifferent to the rest?
And to the woman I encountered recently at the anti-fur demonstration at the Kardashian joint (who instructed us to "get a life" as she proudly clutched what she "bagged" on her shopping expedition) – I didn't even bother to explain – what would be the point?
But I didn't pour flour on her either.