With significant operations in 20 countries, and a presence in three dozen more, HSI has made a difference on a wide range of issues: working to combat the dog meat trade, pressing for 21st-century methods in animal testing, persuading corporate giants to adopt humane food procurement policies, ending the commercial slaughter of marine mammals, aiding animals in disaster, fighting trophy hunting and the wildlife trade, and eliminating spectacles of cruelty — from bullfighting to animal sacrifice to dogfighting and cockfighting. Since January, we’ve had a torrent of accomplishments, demonstrating that HSI has become a dominant and powerful force for animals on the international stage.
1. Taking on the dog meat trade
We are exposing the dog meat trade in southeast Asian nations, where the practice is often conducted in open-air markets and where tens of millions of dogs, who look just like the ones in our homes, are butchered for human consumption. In South Korea, HSI shut down several dog meat farms and rescued hundreds of dogs — treating them as ambassadors for the millions still at risk. In China, we set up a new China Animal Protection Power task force and command center, and supported partner groups as they pulled over dog meat traders’ trucks (leading to more rescues and delivering the animals from purgatory to safety). We’ve also been instrumental with partner groups in exposing the barbarism at the Yulin dog meat festival, holding it up as a symbol to the world that this trade must end.
2. Seal trade ban
Last year, the World Trade Organization once again upheld the European Union’s right to ban seal product trade, a ban we helped to achieve and defend against all challenges. In 2015, the EU strengthened its ban even further and the EU market will remain closed to the products of cruel commercial seal slaughter — a vindication of the right of nations to restrict trade on animal welfare grounds. This has been perhaps the signature victory in our relentless 10-year campaign to keep the sealing boats in Canada at the docks. In 2015, the number of baby seals killed was the lowest it has been for more than two decades, continuing a rapid downward trend that started when the EU closed its market to seal products in 2009.
3. Ending animal testing
Strong campaigns by our #BeCrueltyFree team led New Zealand to ban cosmetics testing on animals, South Korea to make government-approved non-animal alternatives a legal requirement for cosmetics testing, and both Canada and Taiwan to propose legislation to end cosmetics cruelty. Brazil and India heeded our call to remove a year-long dog-poisoning test protocol and other cruel studies from its safety testing requirements for pesticides, while the EU has taken up a number of animal testing alternatives championed by HSI that could spare millions of animals from suffering and death in chemical poisoning tests over the coming years.
4. China steps up to combat wildlife trafficking
In a surprise but very welcome move, aided by Prince William’s appeal to President Xi Jinping and a host of organizations around the world working against wildlife trafficking, China pledged to ban the ivory trade. China has the largest ivory market in the world and is a substantial driver of the poaching of elephants. With a similar U.S. pledge, the potential shrinking of the world’s top two ivory markets offers the prospect of diminishing the incentive for poaching to kill elephants in Africa.
5. Airlines join the campaign against trophy hunting
After the killing of Cecil the lion set off a worldwide campaign against trophy hunting, HSI pressed for action on the part of major carriers and airlines. Some airlines had already prohibited shipment of certain animal trophies before the killing of Cecil, but many more took this step immediately after. So far, 45 airlines, including nearly all the major airlines like Delta, United, and American Airlines, have stopped shipping hunting trophies of the Africa Big Five — African lions, elephants, rhinos, leopards, and Cape buffalo.
6. Taking our anti-confinement campaigns for farm animals global
We are pressing globally for an end to gestation-crate and battery-cage confinement, and we’ve had tremendous success in Brazil, one of the world’s biggest agricultural nations. There, following discussions with HSI, JBS – the world’s largest animal processing company and owner of SEARA, Brazil’s second largest pork producer — announced its commitment to a complete phase-out of the use of sow gestation crates. JBS will transition to group housing systems for breeding sows in its entire supply chain by 2025. We also convinced Grupo Bimbo, the world’s largest baking company, to announce a commitment to go 100 percent cage-free globally. Our campaigns led to a ban on the production of foie gras in the Brazilian cities of Blumenau and Sorocaba. Sorocaba also banned foie gras sales.
7. Ending the world’s largest animal sacrifice
In cooperation with Animal Welfare Network Nepal and People For Animals in India, HSI helped secure a pledge to end, once and for all, the Gadhimai festival, the world’s largest animal sacrifice, where hundreds of thousands of large and small animals were butchered. This barbaric spectacle has occurred every five years starting in the 18th century. At the most recent festival in 2015, thanks to volunteers at the Indo-Nepal border and appeals to the courts and administrative authorities, the number of animals reaching Gadhimai to be butchered was greatly reduced, lowering financial returns for the temple and merchants involved. The Gadhimai Temple Trust decided that they would make the festival a celebration of life moving forward. Nepal was also the site of our largest international disaster deployment in 2015, as team members provided emergency veterinary aid and care for animal survivors after a massive earthquake rocked the nation.
8. Passing and using animal cruelty laws throughout the world
In a strong test of our commitment to expanding legal protection for animals in other nations, Honduran lawmakers approved a new animal welfare law that criminalizes the intentional mistreatment of animals, among other provisions. In Costa Rica, where we’re highly active, The National Animal Health Department (SENASA) attended nearly 2,000 complaints about animal welfare issues, including animal hoarding, puppy mills, and dogfighting in 2015. The Court of La Unión de Tres Ríos for the first time convicted a person for breeding dogs in a puppy mill. In India, HSI sought and won judicial intervention to stop cockfighting in Maharashtra, a large western state.
9. Putting street dog programs in place to help tens of thousands of dogs
In India, where we’ve long been active on the ground, the Supreme Court ordered the implementation of an Animal Birth Control program (spay/neuter) — rather than culls — to control street dog population in all states of the country. We have several major street dog projects in India and, at the beginning of the year, we signed an MoU with the State of Haryana to vaccinate 350,000 street dogs against rabies and to sterilize at least 65,000 in the next two years. That program is now underway. In Bhutan, we are working with government officials to draft an omnibus animal cruelty bill following our six-year partnership with the Royal Government which has resulted in the sterilization of 63,000 street dogs. We also are supporting active street dog programs across the globe, including in the Philippines, American Samoa, Guam and Saipan, Bolivia, Chile, Puerto Rico, Panama, and Malawi. Our Canadian affiliate is also providing care to the dogs of aboriginal communities in northern Quebec.
10. The UK sticks it to glue traps
In the United Kingdom, the Booker Group (202 stores), British Garden Centres (nine stores) and leading online wholesaler MX Wholesale stopped selling glue traps as HSI’s campaign against cruel glue traps, mostly targeting small rodents, got underway in October.
We are winning the biggest of battles, making real change happen for animals. With your support, in 2016, we will continue the fight to help them around the world. Please donate now to help.