Today, The HSUS announced the April release of my forthcoming book, The Humane Economy: How Innovators and Enlightened Consumers Are Transforming the Lives of Animals. I’m excited about embarking on a national tour to speak about the themes of the book, and in many cities I’ll conduct book events in conversation with luminaries in politics, journalism, business, and other key domains in our world. It’s my hope to draw these and other thought leaders into a discussion about our society fully embracing animal protection ideals.
As you can tell from the title, I offer a special focus on a new economic analysis of animal protection issues, arguing that companies that cause harm to animals are going to face fierce headwinds in the years ahead. It’s just not a sustainable business model to disregard the interests of animals; on the other hand, it’s an enormous advantage for companies to show they are attending to the needs of animals, or shifting entirely away from harming animals as innovation and alternative methods allow them to do their work humanely and more efficiently.
What’s more, I argue that so many companies, governments, and individuals who do harmful things to animals just transfer costs to the rest of society. Take, for example, the case of the Canadian government and the upside-down economics of the commercial seal hunt. The fisheries department is spending millions of dollars each year monitoring a slaughter with a landed value of just a fraction of that amount. The federal Department of Fisheries has concealed data on the commercial seal hunt in various ways, and today, many people are unaware that the value of the slaughter has declined from more than $20 million in 2006 to less than $1 million last year. How did this turn around? Through a campaign of awareness that exposed the cruelty of the enterprise. The consuming public, once it knows about the exploitation of animals, wants no part of the bloody business.
It’s astonishing that the government of Canada is still defending the seal hunt when it’s a money loser for the nation and taxpayers foot the bill for something that generates almost no revenue whatsoever.
On a different front of action, The Columbus Dispatch reported that the number of exotic animal owners has declined dramatically in the state, just three years after Governor Kasich signed a bill banning private owners of wild animals after a mass release and killing of privately held animals in Zanesville.
The state has had to pay for the care of relinquished exotic animals, and animal welfare groups have long taken in the discards from the exotic animal trade – our affiliated sanctuaries have provided care for many over the years, suffering from various ailments. The costs run into tens of millions of dollars every year, for government and for our movement. So why would any state allow people to have these animals, almost assuredly guaranteeing bad outcomes for the animals and immense costs that taxpayers and animal welfare groups endure when people give up the animals because they are in over their heads.
Finally, I also want to note today an editorial in USA Today about the Westminster Dog Show, which picks its champion tonight at the celebrated New York show. The editorial laments the genetic and hereditary problems that plague so many purebred dogs who are not bred responsibly — in particular, the English Bulldog. So many enthusiastic dog people acquire these purebreds because of their mystique and beauty and temperament, but many of them develop major health issues, dealing the animals and the owners emotional hardships and costing caretakers thousands of dollars in often complicated, unending veterinary procedures. Responsible breeders don’t breed animals just for exterior characteristics and saddle the animals with health problems at the expense of the future owner.
The Humane Economy touches on so many big ideas, but one of them is that cruelty just doesn’t pay in a world when we are increasingly alert to the needs of animals. I hope you’ll check out the book, and join the conversation about advancing a more #HumaneEconomy on Twitter.