Frequently Asked Questions
Thank you for your concern for animals around the world!
We’ve provided answers to our most frequently asked questions below, so please check to see if we’ve responded to your query. If we haven’t already addressed your concern, you’re welcome to contact us at email@example.com or (from North America) by calling 866-614-4371. (See contact information for Media here and global office contact information here.) See donation-related FAQs here.
Q. What types of programs do you run internationally?
HSI works on a variety of animal welfare issues in more than 50 countries. Our offices around the world cover topics such as the illegal wildlife trade, dog and cat welfare, farm animal welfare and disaster response.
In the countries in which we have a presence, HSI works closely with local organizations and governments to pass on our knowledge and expertise.
Q. What’s the breakdown of your spending/where do my donations go?
We are very careful in spending donations from our generous donors. Eighty-five percent of our funds go toward animal protection programs, from ending the cruel dog meat trade to fighting egregious forms of wildlife abuse. Through our rescue efforts, disaster response, veterinary clinics, and our work empowering local organizations, we serve a critical and expanding role in reducing animal suffering around the world. Only 10 percent goes toward fundraising and 5 percent for administrative costs. You can get a full breakdown of our finances here. See donation-related FAQs here.
Q. What is being done about the dog and cat meat trade in China, South Korea and other parts of Asia?
HSI is one of the leading global organizations working in countries across Asia to end the cruel dog and cat meat trade. We provide funding to train officials for improved enforcement of laws; help local partner groups on the ground with veterinary and shelter care for confiscated animals; raise global awareness of the suffering involved in illegal dog theft, transport and slaughter of the dogs victimized in the trade, including at China’s annual Dog Meat Festival in Yulin; and work with dog meat farmers in South Korea to close down dog meat farms and transition them to more humane livelihoods, creating a model for the government to adopt. We also helped form the Asia Canine Protection Alliance in Viet Nam and the Dog Meat-Free Indonesia campaign to stop this cruel trade in both countries.
Please visit hsi.org/dogmeat to learn more about this campaign.
Q. How can I adopt a dog rescued from a South Korean dog meat farm?
Thank you for offering a home to a dog in need! As part of our dog meat farm closures, HSI has transported dogs to the U.S., the U.K., Canada, and the Netherlands where they are placed with shelter and rescue organizations for care, medical and behavioral evaluation and eventual adoption. We post links to lists of the organizations at which HSI has placed dogs here. HSI does not facilitate adoption. Please contact the organizations directly to find out how to meet the dogs and apply to adopt.
Q. I just visited [country] and dogs and cats suffering on the streets. What are you doing/what can I do? Can HSI come to my country and help?
Over the past 25 years, HSI has been developing culturally sensitive approaches to manage street animals humanely and effectively, partnering with governments and local organizations so that our programs will be sustainable in the long term. These programs include veterinary training in high-quality, high-volume spay/neuter surgery; mass sterilization; vaccination; and strong public engagement to change human behavior in relation to community and owned animals. HSI also partners with veterinarians who understand the need for low-cost services. Learn more about our approach and programs.
At this time, HSI is focused on specific areas in Asia, Africa, and Latin America and regret that we do not have the capacity to initiate programs in every region in great need. Once we pass programs on to our local partners, we can start new programs in other locations. We have compiled a list of resources for organizations and individuals who would like to help dogs and cats in their own country at hsi.org/resources. For further inquiries, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Although animal welfare is ultimately the responsibility of government, many do not have the knowledge or motivation to use humane methods of population management. Tourists can write to their home country’s embassy and to the office of tourism for the country of their concern. Letter-writing, especially mentioning tourism, will sometimes prompt the government or local officials to act. Letter writers should emphasize that they wish the government to work with experienced local and international animal welfare organizations to ensure a humane and effective response.
Q. I saw/heard about working horses/donkeys/camels being abused/neglected. What are you doing/what can I do?
The abuse/neglect of equines and working animals is a common complaint from travelers. While HSI does not have the capacity to help with these issues, The Society for the Protection of Animals Abroad, World Horse Welfare and The Brooke all have global programs that address the issue of equine and/or working animal welfare, and we recommend contacting these organizations with your concern.
Q. Can you investigate a case of animal cruelty/neglect I saw online/read about?
We appreciate your concern, but HSI does not have the resources to investigate individual cruelty cases around the world. We do try to address the bigger picture, and in countries in which HSI does have a presence, we help local organizations strengthen and enforce animal protection laws so that they can deal with issues as they arise in their communities.
Unfortunately, it is very difficult to obtain animal cruelty prosecutions in cases where alleged animal abuse is posted online, because of the difficulty in identifying the date and location of the abuse, as well as the identity of the abuser. In addition, the alleged abuse may have taken place in a country that does not have animal protection laws or enforcement of existing laws.
Q. Can you help an injured animal I found/saw while traveling? Can you help me transport an animal I met while traveling to my home country?
We hear from many individuals who, on their travels, encounter dogs and cats in poor physical condition, for example, with skin diseases or untreated injuries. Concerned individuals should be mindful that these animals may, in fact,have someone who looks after them. Veterinary services are often not affordable or accessible, and animals continue to reproduce without solution. Those wishing to help an individual animal in need of veterinary care should be encouraged to contact a local animal welfare/protection organization (you can search for organizations by location here) or a local veterinarian.
Sometimes adoption of a dog or cat encountered during travel is considered but the costs associated with international adoption and bringing a dog or cat out of a country are often cost prohibitive and logistically challenging. HSI is unable to provide individualized information or assistance in response to the many requests we receive regarding international transport and adoption. Regarding logistics, we have put together information here.
The HSUS also provides tips for traveling safely with your pet.
A preferred approach to helping animals is to support local and international efforts to improve animal welfare in a region; the cost of international transport for one animal could instead be used to provide spay/neuter services for a number of animals and/or offer humane education to help foster a culture of compassion.
Q. Can you take in an animal I found/pet I do not want?
HSI doesn’t have a facility to take in animals, nor do we facilitate surrenders or adoptions. We recommend reaching out to your local humane society and/or rescue organization to see if they can help. You can search for organizations by location here.
Q. I know of someone involved in dogfighting/saw a website or social media post about dogfighting. Can you help?
It is a sad fact that, in approximately 60% of countries in the world, dogfighting is not illegal. In many other countries, there is often a lack of enforcement of laws. HSI does work on this issue in a number of countries, but it is a complex issue, and addressing it is a long process requiring various approaches; it generally requires a combination of seeking legislative change, training law enforcement agencies, and building capacity to support seizures of these dogs. We do appreciate receiving information regarding the presence of dogfighting because this can help us to determine strategically where we should be working in the future. Please contact us at email@example.com.
Q: Can you help these animals at a zoo/captive facility/etc.?
Unfortunately, HSI does not always have the capacity to rescue animals in the field. HSI focuses on animal issues where we have the right expertise and in-country support or infrastructure to make a difference for animals. In the case of rescues, on those occasions where we are best placed to assist because we have a team of experts on the ground, and a suitable location and lifetime care plan for the animal, HSI can and does intervene.
For cases of zoo or captive animal abuse, please contact the Born Free Foundation. This organization collects eye-witness reports about wild animals in zoos, circuses, and shows across the globe. Additionally, Wild Welfare‘s sole purpose is to work with zoos to promote animal welfare. We recommend reaching out to them as well.
Q: I saw a wild animal attraction I want to visit on my vacation. Is it humane?
The desire to view wild animals is understandable and while there are many humane ecotourism opportunities, there are also many exploitive attractions. We encourage all travelers to thoroughly research attractions before visiting. Some facilities may state they rescue injured and orphaned animals or they may label themselves as a sanctuary but they actually breed animals for use as tourist props, smuggle them from the wild, subject them to substandard conditions and/or treat them inhumanely. One of the biggest red flags to look for is an attraction that has many baby animals and/or allows you to touch wild animals. Wild animals are inherently unpredictable and dangerous. They do not enjoy being handled by people and attractions that feature such opportunities employ cruel methods to train and control the animals who are used.
A good resource to use is HSI’s Don’t Buy Wild guide, which educates tourists on inhumane wild animal attractions and products.
If you are unsure whether an attraction is humane, do not risk it and forgo the attraction. You can learn about identifying pseudo-sanctuaries on this blog.
Q. What is wrong with keeping marine mammals in captivity? Doesn’t it serve conservation goals?
Aquariums claim that they exist for education and conservation, but there is nothing to learn from watching depressed marine mammals swim in endless circles in tanks that are tiny compared to the animals’ natural home and simply exhibiting wildlife is not conservation. Very few zoos and aquaria are involved in substantial conservation programs and the amount spent on conservation initiatives by these facilities is usually a mere fraction of the income they generate.
Contrary to popular belief, captive whales and dolphins do not live longer in captivity than they do in the wild; many die from infections that in the wild would not occur or would not prove fatal, perhaps due to stress, which is known to weaken the immune system.
Additionally, many captive whales and dolphins, especially outside the U.S. and Europe, have been captured from the wild using methods that are inherently cruel. For example, in Japan’s drive fisheries, dozens of dolphins are annually herded into shallow coves by fishermen and then are brutally killed with lances and knives. A few are kept alive to be sold to zoos and aquariums, including swim-with-the-dolphins attractions. It is the profits from selling the dolphins into captivity that allow these hunts to prosper.
Q. Is it true that some countries are still whaling? If so, which ones?
Astonishingly, many people are unaware of the fact that whaling is whaling is still occurring. The three main offenders are Iceland, Norway, and Japan. In addition, the United States, Greenland, St Vincent and the Grenadines, and Russia allow aboriginal hunting of whales for subsistence purposes. In the United States, Alaska’s indigenous peoples are given annual quotas for whales that they are permitted to hunt, and the food products from these whales must not be sold commercially.
Until recently, Norway and Iceland have been the only countries that openly hunt whales for commercial purposes. Both countries ignore the International Whaling Commission (IWC) ban on commercial whaling and undermine international conservation efforts. Japan after many decades of claiming to hunt whales for scientific purposes, but selling the whale meat on the commercial market, announced in late 2018 that it will overtly resume commercial whaling in the North Pacific. HSI is deeply concerned by this development and is calling on the world’s pro-whale nations to persuade Japan to change its mind. Please look to our take action pages to see how you can help.
Q. I would like to start a humane society/animal shelter in my city/country. How can I do this? Can you provide funding and advice?
HSI applauds those that would like to start their own humane organizations, but we strongly discourage the establishment of shelters for several reasons.
Building and running a shelter takes a vast amount of time and money, and efforts could be better used to establish programs that will have a larger impact such as spay/neuter clinics and educational programs. We understand that the first reaction to homeless and sick animals is to want to house and care for them, but if you are not prepared to run a shelter or clinic, it is easy to become overwhelmed and underfunded very quickly.
Please refer to our “Online Resources for Animal Protectionists” for information on how to establish an animal protection organization, develop a humane dog/cat population management program, and more.
If there is an established animal protection organization in your area and you share their mission, we suggest that you join their efforts instead of starting your own group, especially if you do not have funding or staff. To find animal welfare organizations in your country, search the World Animal Net directory, but please note that HSI is not affiliated with the organizations listed and is not familiar with many of them.
Q. Can HSI provide funding for my organization?
HSI is inundated with requests for assistance from organizations and individuals who wish to pursue animal protection programs around the world. We do not have a formal grant making program, however we have compiled a list of potential funding opportunities available to registered nonprofit organizations working effectively and sustainably to deal with animal welfare issues in their communities. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q. Can I report a complaint about my local shelter/humane society/rescue group?
HSI and our U.S. affiliate, The Humane Society of the United States are not parent organizations or investigative agencies for local animal organizations, including those with the words “humane society” in their names. We cannot investigate or intervene in the operations of these independent organizations governed by their own boards of directors or by city or county officials. Please contact the management of the organization about which you are concerned as they are in the best position to understand the issue and make change.
Q. What can I do to help in international disasters?
We never know when disasters will strike around the world and some have a massive impact with long periods of recovery. Donations from our supporters are essential as they allow our disaster responders to put all of our resources into the lengthy recovery process, when support is critical for rebuilding.
While supplies are often needed in large-scale disasters, HSI does not solicit supplies from our supporters as it can become cumbersome for our Animal Rescue Team to focus their energy on intake of supplies that may end up spoiled, expired or otherwise unused. Donating to our International Disaster Fund is the best way to help.
Q. How can I apply to work/volunteer with HSI?
For those living in Canada, please check here for volunteer opportunities. Additionally, HSI/Canada accepts volunteers at our temporary, emergency shelter in Montreal. You can fill out an application linked to at here.
We do have occasional volunteer positions in our United Kingdom office. Volunteers must be based in or around the London office. If you are interested in volunteering with HSI/UK please contact email@example.com with your CV and we will be in touch with any relevant opportunities.
HSI/India seeks volunteers for outreach, fostering, and community engagement. Please contact our India office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
HSI does not deploy volunteers to assist with dog meat farm closures or disaster aid. If you’re looking for hands-on volunteering opportunities and live in the United States or Canada, you may wish to learn about volunteer opportunities with the Animal Rescue Team of our affiliate, The Humane Society of the United States.
Our affiliate, The Fund for Animals accepts applications from veterinary professionals and individuals with experience in the animal care field for its Rural Veterinary Services (RAVS) program. Please see their website for current opportunities.
We ask our supporters to participate in our collective effort to achieve change for animals. Visit “25 Actions to Help Animals and HSI” to learn how you can get involved in your community, help animals in your everyday life, participate in training and events, and volunteer for animals.
If you are U.S.-based, learn more about volunteering with The Humane Society of the United States here.
Q. Does my signing the action alerts have any actual effect?
Yes! Our petitions and online action alerts not only give our supporters and members a way to help when they may not be able to assist other ways; they have also succeeded in changing laws and making positive strides for animal welfare. Please keep signing our action alerts and spreading the word to let others know how they can help, too!
Q. How can I help besides donating?
Thank you so much for your support! The best way you can help other than donating is by signing our action alerts, sharing our social media posts and spreading the word to raise awareness about our various campaigns. We truly appreciate your standing by our side and wanting to help animals worldwide.