Reformists and Abolitionists: Organizations and Their Leaders
Whether reformist or abolitionist, the organizations working to improve how humans treat animals vary in their philosophies, activities, and financial resources.1 Some groups have characteristics of both abolitionists and reformists. Their future success lies with coalitions they can form to achieve their program goals.
In the 1990s, most animal activist organizations have had specific program goals. The reformists identify with the strategies of animal welfare, advocating humane treatment of animals. The abolitionists, sometimes portrayed as radicals, advocate eliminating use of animals for food, apparel, and pleasure purposes. As an intermediate step, they select specific targets to achieve their long-range goals.
The focus of the animal rights and animal welfare groups include advocacy; education; litigation on behalf of animals; stopping vivisection; promoting shelter and sanctuary maintenance; and advocating wildlife preservation and protection. The groups take reformist or abolitionist approaches, and some have activities and programs that relate to both. Some enroll regular members and, in addition, solicit contributions to specific campaigns.
Some groups have over 100,000 members and operate with multimillion-dollar annual budgets. The nineteen major organizations, each with more than $500,000 in total revenue, had total membership or contributors of more than 3,000,000 and total revenues of $243.6 million in the latest years that reports were available. Some individuals may hold membership in more than one group.
When ASPCA was chartered by a special act of the New York legislature as the first private humane society in the United States, its major objective was to provide effective means