How Common is Animal-Friendly Behavior? HRC’s New Data Might Surprise You
Every year, Faunalytics conducts an annual survey of U.S. adults that we call the “Animal Tracker.” The survey enables advocates to track and understand how public opinion and behavior is changing over time, with respect to a wide variety of critically important animal protection issues. HRC has just completed year four of the Animal Tracker and the report is now available (for free) on HumaneSpot.org.
In summary, the year four results show strong support for humane education and many other advocacy tactics. However, support for all tactics listed in the survey is lower than it was in 2008 and there appear to be fewer people engaging in animal-friendly behaviors, perhaps in part due to the economic downturn.
We hope you find the results interesting and — more importantly — valuable in your work to protect animals from cruelty and suffering. If you do, please consider a donation. No other group is organizing collaborative research for the benefit of ALL animal advocates. Please show your support for this kind of research with a donation to the Faunalytics. You can choose where your donation goes, including to the Animal Tracker.
Year Four Animal Tracker Results
Following is a brief summary of the year four Animal Tracker results.
- Of the listed activities, U.S. adults were most likely to have watched wildlife or consumed a meat/dairy substitute during the past year. The least common activities during the past year were volunteering for animal organizations and going to circuses.
- Regarding actions that they have ever taken out of concern for animals, U.S. adults are most likely to report spaying and neutering their companion animals (about half of respondents have done so). One fourth also report adopting animals, while one fifth of U.S. adults voted for an animal-friendly law and one fifth have signed petitions for animals.
- Nearly three quarters of U.S. adults believe that humane education for K-12 and college levels is “very” or “somewhat” important.
- A strong plurality of U.S. adults supports each of the advocacy tactics described in the survey, with most support for anti-cruelty investigations and using the media for outreach. There was least support for demonstrations/protests, boycotts, and state ballot initiatives.
Implications for Advocates
1) Pro-Animal Behavior Was Less Common in 2011 than 2008
As indicated, all animal-related behaviors (or activities) covered in the Animal Tracker survey were less common in 2011 than in 2008, including anti-animal behaviors. The fact that fewer people are engaging in pro-animal activities is a concern, however, and warrants further discussion. HRC believes the most likely reason for the apparently decreasing frequency of pro-animal behavior is the downturn in the U.S. economy. This has likely led to restricted spending including fewer animal adoptions, fewer outings to watch wildlife, fewer donations, etc. It is worth noting that having fewer people engage in these behaviors does not necessarily indicate any erosion of ideological support for animal protection.
2) Some Behaviors Are Still Surprisingly Common
Despite the significantly fewer people engaging in pro-animal behavior from 2008 to 2011, sizable minorities participate in some specific behaviors when asked in the context of concern for animals. For instance:
- 48% have spayed or neutered their animals
- 32% have purchased products labeled “not tested on animals”
- 25% have adopted an animal from a shelter
- 22% have voted for an animal friendly law or initiative
- 21% have signed a petition for an animal cause
3) Some Support for Tactics Has Shifted to Ambivalence
Regarding advocacy tactics, the apparent erosion of support for all tactics does not indicate a substantial increase in opposition to these tactics. Rather, it reflects more people having “no opinion.” In 2008, the average “no opinion” response for all eight tactics was 12%, while in 2011 it was 21%. Taken at face value, this suggests that people are becoming increasingly ambivalent about these tactics. In additional to ambivalence, “no opinion” can represent simply not caring about the issue, or not being sufficiently engaged in it to answer the question.
Download the full report
More About the Animal Tracker
The Animal Tracker is generously sponsored through a collaboration of animal advocacy organizations. HRC initiated the study and provides all services related to project planning, survey design, research, and analysis. Year five of the Animal Tracker will be fielded in the first quarter of 2012 and will repeat the questions asked in 2009 covering opinions and credibility of animal advocates, amount of discussion of animal protection topics, the perceived importance of protecting animals in specific situations, and the perceived adequacy of laws protecting different animals.
The cost of sponsorship for Wave 5 is expected to be in the range of $500 to $1,000 per sponsor. The benefits of sponsorship are significant, including access to more detailed survey results (including “cross-tab” data for all key demographic segments) and permission to use the results publicly with the media, in reports, etc. New sponsors for Wave 5 will be considered through January 15, 2012. Please contact the Faunalytics at (206) 905-9887 or [email protected] if you and/or your organization are interested in sponsoring the upcoming Wave 5 of the Animal Tracker.
The Animal Tracker results are also available through HRC’s interactive visualization tool. We will be adding the year four results to the graphing tool within the next few weeks and will announce the update on our blog.