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Jessica Bridgers

Jessica Bridgers

Jessica is the Executive Director at World Animal Net. Having received a B.S. in biology with minors in chemistry and anthropology from the University of New Mexico, she combines a scientific background with a passion for animal protection. She completed her M.S. in Animals and Public Policy from Tufts University and internships with Humane Society International, Animal Protection of New Mexico, and the New England Anti-Vivisection Society before arriving at World Animal Net. In her free time she volunteers with horse and wildlife rescues and makes delicious vegan food.

 

Veterinarians are thought of by many as protectors of animals, and indeed, when it comes to our cats, dogs, and other companion animals, few others have our animals’ interests in mind more than the family veterinarian. Veterinarians are able to help us correct behavioral problems, choose successful treatments, and advise us during difficult end of life decisions. They are a trusted resource on how to give our companion animals the best lives we can.

As many readers are more than well aware, a few weeks ago the death of Cecil the lion sparked outrage across the world. Cecil’s death also put conservation and hunting groups which support trophy hunting as a means to raise funds for conservation on the defensive, with numerous editorials bemoaning the outrage appearing in the days following Cecil’s death.

The last few years have seen the scope and variety of documentaries about humans’ relationship with animals grow and mature, moving beyond cliché diatribes filled to the brim with shocking images and nauseating footage which many people, myself included, avoid at all costs. More recent documentaries have focused on compelling narratives which engage, enlighten, and empower their viewers to learn about the issues and take action. These documentaries have reached millions of viewers through theatrical releases and repeated screenings on major television networks.

Chimpanzees. Elephants. Dolphins. Perhaps dogs. These are the animals that many people, including animal advocates, envision when thinking of the “smartest” animals. However, this list, accurate as it may be, is by no means inclusive. There are in fact other animals who can hold their own in scientists’ tests for intelligence and emotion, but who are all too often overlooked simply because of the role they play in human society.

“This book is so desperately needed in our movement. We need to blend passion with professionalism, and this book is going to help get us there.”

“It’s the practical handbook every activist should read.”

“This book is the definitive ‘how to’ for all animal advocates.”

These are just some of the things that have been said about Animal Impact: Secrets Proven to Achieve Results and Move the World by Caryn Ginsberg, and after reading the book, I have to agree with them!

At World Animal Net, we define sentience in our forthcoming Model Animal Welfare Act as the capacity to perceive or feel things--more specifically, sentient beings share with us consciousness, feelings, emotions, perceptions – and the ability to experience pain, suffering, fear, distress and states of well-being. Animal sentience is a major underpinning for nearly all the philosophies that explain why animals and their interests deserve consideration and flies in the face of traditional Western views of animals as “automatons” who feel no pain and do not suffer, and consequently are “things” that humans can do with as they like. While animal advocates have long been criticized for their views as being based in passion and not rationality, science is now confirming what advocates have always known.

As animal advocates faced with difficult and heart-wrenching problems on a daily basis, it can become all too easy to think that the people whose behavior we seek to change operate using the same type of reasoning that we do. When we begin thinking that everyone is operating using the same basic rationale it becomes increasingly difficult to understand why most people, when confronted with the same information, do not adopt the same behaviors that we ourselves have adopted.

Several years ago, while working on my undergraduate degree in biology, I took a course in vertebrate zoology. This course required the rote memorization of hundreds of traits about both extinct and extant (still living today) families of vertebrates, from the solemnly repulsive hagfish to our familiar and celebrated mammals. One of the traits that was listed for our memorization was that birds do not possess facial expressions.

Working in animal protection, we all have important issues we are focused on and which we want to raise awareness about. Without raising awareness, many of our issues would see little improvement. However, the fact of the matter is that simply shouting the loudest about our cause won’t necessarily lead to the desired changes. We must work smarter, not harder.

When many people hear the term “social marketing” they imagine Facebook, Twitter, and the ever-growing world of social networks, which are increasingly used for targeted and effective marketing. However, “social media marketing” and “social marketing” are actually two different things. While “social marketing” might include social media as an outreach tool, social marketing can also utilize traditional communications channels. So, what is social marketing exactly and how does it apply to animals?

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About the WAN Blog

The WAN blog allows us to share our expertise in the fields of policy, science, communications, management, and more in a manner that animal protection organizations can easily incorporate into their everyday work for animals. The blog also provides the opportunity to highlight important work of individual organizations and campaigns, and allows researchers, experts, and others outside of WAN to provide useful information to the animal protection community. 

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