Which animals need the most help from the animal advocacy movement?


Authors of the research: Joey Savoie, Karolina Sarek, David Moss

When recommending different charities to found in the field of animal advocacy, a unique question to consider is what animals should be prioritized. For some interventions, this question is not necessary. For example, when “stunning before slaughter laws” were passed in the EU it affected a great variety of animals. On the other hand, though, recent cage-free campaigns targeted battery cage chickens’ welfare concerns, instead of cows’, pigs’ or fish welfare. This leaves us with the question of which animals should be our top priority for new charities. A perfect general prioritization does not seem possible, as some interventions will work better for certain (for example, cute) animals than others. Broadly speaking, however, it does still seem like some animals will end up being a higher priority across many interventions. There are a few different factors we considered when prioritizing between animals, including:

  • Number of animals
    For example, there are many more farmed fish than turkeys in the world.
  • Amount of suffering per animal
    For example, factory farmed hens have a much worse life than factory farmed cows. This was calculated by using our welfare points system.
  • Amount of suffering caused by a smaller number of specific reasons
    For example, factory-farmed fish seem to have relatively few changes that could greatly change their welfare, whereas wild bugs have a more diverse set of challenges.
  • Neglectedness
    For example, pet dogs get far more attention than factory farmed pigs.
  • Animal’s probability of sentience  
    For example, it's more likely that cows are sentient than insects.

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​There are many other factors that could be considered but these factors end up covering a lot of ground. They can be combined to create a promisingness ranking for a given animal. This promisingness ranking could direct future resources and efforts (for example, the next target of a corporate campaign). Overall, when considering all of these factors, we end up thinking the above list roughly represents the order of priority within animals.

Based off of this system, we think fish (both wild and factory farmed), turkeys, wild bugs, broiler chickens, and wild rats are the top priority animals for new charities to focus on.

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