Published by PETA.

The following article originally appeared on PETA Prime.

To make sure that our donations will do the most good for the most animals is a constant challenge for animal lovers. One key word that should always send up a red flag to all of us who care about animals is “conservation.”

Conservation is defined in the dictionary as the “preservation, protection, or restoration of the natural environment, natural ecosystems, vegetation and wildlife.” When I hear that word, I know for sure that there is some sort of hunting, fishing, trapping, etc., involved and that there’ll be no mention of animal rights (defined as, “rights believed to belong to animals to live free from use in medical research, hunting, and other services to humans”).

Recently, I received a catalog that sells all kinds of companion animal supplies. On the last page, they offered to send a donation to the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) with the purchase of any of four different stuffed animal toys. A red flag for me! If these people truly cared about animal companions, why would they want to contribute to an organization that advocates hunting and fishing?

I called the store to ask if they promoted hunting and fishing. As I suspected, the woman who answered denied that they did. While on the line, she looked up the NWF Web site and saw that all state hunting (conservation) organizations are affiliates of NWF. She was obviously shocked and said that no one had brought this to her attention. If you suspect that an organization is not truly in it for the animals, you should always look at their Web sites, which are wonderful sources of information, but beware that they need careful scrutiny.

There are lots of organizations and parties out there that are working for the environment. Because we animal lovers tend to care about nature as well, we might make false assumptions about some of those organizations and parties. The thing we should keep in mind is that many of them have very different perspectives on what it means to help conserve the environment. I think it is important to examine all organizations that we plan to interact with so that we do not end up doing more harm than good, despite our best intentions.

An example of an organization that seems to be in line with my own concerns about the environment and animals is Sea Shepherd. One valuable resource that I use to check on environmental organizations is PETA’s Mean Greenies Web site, which grades environmental groups on their stance against animal testing.

How about you? Do you have any resources to share to check up on organizations?

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