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Photojournalist Jo-Anne McArthur Discusses Her Fight for Animals

Photographer and activist Jo-Anne McArthur was recently interviewed by Psychology Today to discuss her fight for animals through her photography.
February 15, 2016 Updated: February 29, 2024

Jo-Anne McArthur – a Toronto-based photojournalist – is internationally recognized for her work as an animal investigator. She recently sat down with Psychology Today to discuss the nature of her work and her fight for those who do not have a voice.

Photography is a strong form of art that can greatly affect a person’s perception on certain issues. McArthur stated, “Photography as journalism is an explicit medium of dialogue between the subject and the viewer. This is key in the case of animals. They are denied voice, both literally and legally. Chimpanzees talk, Chicken talk, Rabbits talk – they just don’t use words like we do and humans are the ones in power to decide who can talk and who can’t.”

Her goal is to provide a way to inform humans about the cruelty these animals face on a daily basis through her photographs. Her images document the actual feelings of animals and display the truth that has been left unseen for years. She explained, “Images get into the mind, the psyche of people, and when that happens, they are hard to un-see. That is one reason I love working with images – it’s a way to bring an open honest dialogue.”

Source: Jo-Anne McArthur / Animal Equality

McArthur began as a street photographer that documented the cruelty and inhumane treatment of animals on the streets, on factory farms, and in the dairy industry. This shed light on what is hidden behind closed doors which is an absolute terror. Her powerful images “are both a window and a mirror; a window into our treatment of animals, which mirrors society and the human psyche.” The photos say it all – it depicts the suffering and fears the animals have endured.

It certainly isn’t easy being an animal advocate. McArthur has dealt with depression and a diagnosis of PTSD – the fight for animals took a toll on her health. The horrific visuals of pigs in gestation crates and the poor treatment of chickens and rabbits filled her head and ultimately, made her depressed. To productively help animals, she needed to be happy. “Animals need me to have longevity in my work and that requires me to be happy and healthy in order to function well,” she said, “I think that accepting my own limits has made me have greater compassion for those of others.”

McArthur continues to be a voice for the animals to start an honest dialogue amongst her viewers. Though her photographs may upset people, she hopes to provide opportunities for people to make changes that will help animals.

At Animal Equality, we are honored to have worked with Jo-Anne McArthur a number of times. Jo-Anne has accompanied Animal Equality on several investigations and documented pig farms, chicken farms, rabbit farms and slaughterhouses and other animal facilities. Her powerful images have helped expose the truth to the public. All her work can be seen at We Animals.


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