Innovating Ways to Save Animals
In summer 2002, I was a speaker at the National Animal Rights Conference hosted by FARM. The topic: “how to market animal rights.” I was introducing people to Faunalytics and talking about why we exist: because of the crucial need for research and data to identify the best approaches to persuading people and helping animals.
It may seem obvious to most readers today, but in 2002 it was an idea ahead of its time. My talk about research was received politely, but not enthusiastically. With one exception: a young man sitting near the front of the audience had been following the talk very closely. When the session was over, he beelined for the podium to introduce himself. Two months later, Anthony Bellotti was the newest member of the Faunalytics board of directors.
It’s difficult to overstate the influence that Anthony had in the early years of Faunalytics. The organization was then called the Humane Research Council, a name Anthony helped choose. Along with two other early board members — Sharie Lesniak and Joe Haptas — Anthony was instrumental in establishing a clear vision for Faunalytics and building the first organization devoted to effective animal advocacy.
In following years, Anthony rolled up his sleeves and helped with everything from running focus groups to pulling an all-nighter to help finish a research report. He spoke at conferences, introduced us to new supporters, and championed both Faunalytics and the notion of effective animal advocacy at every opportunity. Anthony graciously describes Faunalytics as “the most innovative thing I’ve ever been a part of.”
It seems that Anthony has a knack for being ahead of his time. In 2002 it was his recognition of the need for research in the animal protection movement and his affiliation with Faunalytics. Today it is his work with the White Coat Waste Project, which brings an innovative and exciting approach to ending animal testing by stopping wasteful government spending on research involving nonhuman animals. You can learn more at whitecoatwaste.org.
As Anthony tells it, Faunalytics was instrumental in identifying a new approach to fighting vivisection and animal testing. In 2009, Anthony was working a full-time job as a political consultant. In his spare time, he was simultaneously figuring out how to have the biggest impact for animals. He spent the better part of a year combing through the Faunalytics research library, reading everything we had related to animal testing. What he found led to an entirely new approach for anti-vivisection advocacy.
In the Faunalytics library, Anthony discovered a variety of useful research studies about animal testing, but eventually two studies really stood out and informed his thinking. One (by Gallup) showed a clear downward trend in public support for animal research, which has continued in recent years. The second (by Pew) indicated that the partisan divide (the split in opinion between Democrats and Republicans) was smaller for animal testing than for many other social issues.
To Anthony’s politically-trained mind, this spelled opportunity. Using the research he found, he was able to predict the success of a fiscally-motivated push against animal testing that would resonate with people on both the left and the right. That’s how the White Coat Waste Project began its unique journey to stop taxpayer-funded experiments on dogs, monkeys, cats and other animals by focusing on government spending.
Here’s how Anthony describes it:
“After I devoured Faunalytics’ treasure trove of research, something became crystal clear to me: the establishment anti-vivisection movement’s approach needed to be overhauled. On the one hand, public support for animal testing was falling. But on the other hand, the number of animals dying in labs was moving in the opposite direction: up. That’s not such an effective track record, especially given the historic opportunity with shifting public opinion. My insight — this tale of two trends — was hugely influential in shaping the White Coat Waste Project’s strategy as a taxpayer watchdog, our early traction, and subsequent public policy victories.”
It appears to be working, especially when it comes to getting support from conservatives and Republicans. Pew’s 2018 survey noted, “GOP opposition to animal testing, likewise, has skyrocketed from just 33 percent in 2009 to a whopping 48 percent now.” That’s an increase of nearly 50% in just the last decade, a critical shift spearheaded by the White Coat Waste Project that helped push overall public opposition to animal testing past 50%.
Throughout his time building an innovative approach to ending animal testing, Anthony was a committed and active Faunalytics board member. As he steps down from the board after more than 17 years of service, I’m eternally grateful for all that he has done for Faunalytics and for animals. On behalf of our board, advisors, staff, and supporters, Anthony has our sincere appreciation for his many contributions over the years.
Please join us in thanking Anthony and wishing him well!