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Give Trees, Not Animals

Written by Heather Faraid Drennan | November 29, 2011
pmarkham | cc by 2.0

The goats at the Heifer International farm that I went to as a kid were particularly feisty; I remember the struggle that my mother had to get them into the milking pens, always wary of being kicked. Luckily, my mom’s milking gig was only once a week, but now that I’ve learned more about animal-donation programs, I can only imagine how women in the drought-prone areas that Heifer shipped the goats to must have tussled daily with the animals, in addition to the headache of trying to provide them with enough food and water.

Animal-donation programs like those run by Heifer International and Oxfam do not provide a sustainable solution for global hunger. Grazing animals often cause topsoil runoff and land degradation, which can contribute to drought, leading the environmental group World Land Trust to call these programs “environmentally unsound and economically disastrous.”

An exposé about a program in India that gave cows to impoverished farmers noted that the “beneficiaries” have a difficult time providing even the most basic care to the animals who have been forced upon them. Having another mouth to feed often adds to a family’s burden, and the animals often suffer from horrible neglect, including malnutrition, dehydration, lack of veterinary care, and lack of shelter from the burning midday sun or freezing nighttime temperatures. On a recent trip to India, PETA President Ingrid E. Newkirk saw the distinctive black-and-white Holsteins and Holstein-crosses from America roaming the streets and eating plastic bags out of trash cans, which will clog their intestines and kill them. Many donated animals will end up in filthy, unregulated slaughterhouses and have their throats cut with a dull knife.

Tell your friends and family to avoid animal-donation programs and instead consider supporting sustainable, animal-friendly organizations that work to end hunger, such as The Fruit Tree Planting Foundation, Food for Life Global, VEGFAM, and Feed My Starving Children. Another way to aid poor families is to donate to the PETA-supported program Animal Rahat, which provides free veterinary care to working animals in India who are lame, sick, or injured. 

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  • wholesale men clothing says:

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  • Rev. Meg Schramm says:

    I never donated an animal to to a family throgh one of those programs, but I have donated plenty of trees, seeds, and school supplies over the years. You don’t have to donate an animal; you can help send a child to school, help finance sewing machines for family businesses, you can donate to help build a school or a hospital or you can donate to help buid a deep well or water pump so an entire village can have access to clean water.

  • sholloway96 says:

    Very informative article. Thank you for providing these alternatives because I’ve only heard of donating animals not trees.