Blogging About Critters Since 2007

Monday, November 12, 2007

Heifer International: A Tough Decision on Animal Rights

Every year, I get the catalog from Heifer International, asking for donations, selling products, and explaining their programs. I see the celebrity endorsements and read the success stories. But I just can't bring myself to support them, as much as I would like to do so.

This is what they do, per the Special 2007 Holiday Edition.

Heifer provides long-term solutions to hunger and poverty. Since 1944, Heifer International ha helped 8.5 million families or the equivalent of 45 million women, men, boys and girls in more than 125 countries through the gift of LIVESTOCK and training in environmentally sound agriculture. The impact of each initial gift is multiplied as recipients agree to "pass on the gifts" by giving one or more of their animal's offspring, or the equivalent to another in need.

Here are some examples of their successes....

**One family in Honduras receives a dairy cow from which they can drink the milk and sell the excess on the market for money.

**Goats received by an orphanage in Poland are used for milk and cheese.

**A Bolivian boy receives sheep whose wool is used for making ponchos and for selling at the market. The lambs are sold.

**Pigs are given to a South Pacific family to raised for food, fertilizer and sales at market.

**Angora rabbits in Nepal provide fur for cottage industries.

Every recipient receives training in animal husbandry and environmentally sound agriculture.

Where should an animal rights activist stand on this use of animals for the alleviation of poverty? Is there any alternative?

Photo by phil1983.


VegArd said...

I have the same problem with Heifer, and have even written them a letter about it. They never responded and still send their literature. The problem with their program is that having animals to take care of is a cause of the poverty to begin with. There are also problems with the animals dying or being killed once they get to the people, or being sold or stolen, or not being cared for properly because the owners are poor and can't afford to. I saw an expose of Heifer that talked about these things. It's better to send seeds and plants, not animals.

Sue said...

Thanks for this blurb. I can relate, and have been looking for alternatives

My decision not to support animal exploitation is not tough. But I do have difficulty talking about my attitudes about this kind of thing with well-meaning people who are trying to do a good thing for others.

(A few of these -- maybe 3 -- have maybe one animal project hidden away among the rest of what they do. I think they are Sustainable Harvest International, Floresta & Ripple Africa. But if you like what they do, or even if you like the general concept behind HPI, you can always designate your donation to go specifically toward a non-animal project.)

Just passing through, while checking my stats, and stopping to leave a comment.

Visit me sometime at

Sue said...

I'll try that link again, the fancy way, to see if it's clickable:

cruelty-free humanitarian alternatives


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