Animal liberation in the Buddhist tradition is a practice to save an animal from impending death, such as an animal soon to be killed for human consumption, and doing prayers and practices to help that being. It is also a practice that benefits those who do the liberating. It brings them much merit (good karma) and it can be helpful in removing life obstacles due to such things as serious illness. It is also a way to generate compassion.
What animals need is a get-out-of-jail card not just for this life, but also for the lower realms and ultimately from cyclic existence altogether. The Buddha explained how difficult it is to get out of the lower realms, where beings continually create more negative karma and the causes for more and more animal and lower realm rebirths. To really help our animal brothers and sisters, we need to help them create the causes for higher rebirth and enlightenment.
It is also very important to ensure that the animals have the best possible care after they have been ‘saved’ from death. Good animal liberation practice combines compassion (the wish to free beings from suffering) with wisdom (a recognition of cause and effect and the interconnectedness of things). Releasing animals where they will immediately be under threat is not ideal, nor is releasing animals where they will cause harm to others, such as animals from a different ecological niche that become an environmental problem. It is therefore an important part of the animal liberation practice to look carefully at the suitability of liberating animals in your area.
Why do animal liberation
Where there is a mind, there are feelings such as pain, pleasure, and joy. No sentient being wants pain; instead all want happiness. Since we all share these feelings at some basic level, we as rational human beings have an obligation to contribute in whatever way we can to the happiness of other species and try our best to relieve their fears and sufferings.
—Tibeten Buddhism Master
No sentient being wants to experience pain and suffering. Unfortunately, billions of animals are killed for human consumption, used as live bait or food for other animals, and killed for their skins and fur, among many other terrible fates. Liberating animals from death or harm, and then blessing them with holy objects and prayers, is a way to help alleviate their suffering, extend their precious life, and create the cause for their good rebirth.