Humane Society International / Canada


Give dogs from around the world a second chance at life in Canada

Humane Society International / Global


Show world leaders there is support for a transition toward a more resilient plant-centric food system.

Humane Society International / Global


HSI

HO CHI MINH CITY, Viet Nam—Yesterday, Humane Society International and the National Agriculture Extension Center of Vietnam hosted “Animal welfare in food supply chains: from commitment to implementation.” The corporate roundtable highlighted the need for improving farm animal welfare policy and practices and how the collaboration between stakeholders throughout the supply chain can help with implementation of corporate animal welfare policy. This in-person event follows a series of virtual webinars hosted over the past two years.

Nearly 60 attendees, including experts from the hospitality sector, food processors and retailers, egg and pork producers, government officials and academics, gathered in Ho Chi Minh City. Participants discussed the importance of obtaining animal welfare expertise to help educate and align acrosss teams, the value of direct engagement with suppliers and how government can support the transition from cages and crates to more humane, higher-welfare housing systems and other topics.

Speakers from multinational corporations including Marriott Hotels and Mondelez International shared their animal welfare commitments and why the commitments are so crucial to their companies, as well as their plan for implementing those commitments.

The Vietnamese producer V.Food showcased their cage-free egg facilities, which provide hens space to move, dustbathe, nest and forage. V.Food began their journey last year in response to the growing demand for cage-free eggs in Vietnam. Representatives of Nguyen Khoi Farm, a pork producer in the midst of transitioning to group-housing, spoke about their decision to stop using gestation crates and communicating that to consumers through their label.

Dr. Ha Thuy Hanh, deputy director of the National Agriculture Extension Center, said in the opening speech: “Farm animal welfare is one of the core programs that the Vietnam government has prioritized, as it is growing around the globe. As a representative from Vietnam government, I’m very delighted to see the level of commitment by the food industry to higher animal welfare, and the pioneering producers who are supporting them to address the welfare of farm animals. NAEC is committed to collaborate further with HSI to provide support to producers and other stakeholders.”

Hang Le, Southeast Asia manager for HSI’s farm animal welfare program, stated, “We are pleased with the positive feedback we received from this event and look forward to continuing to foster open dialogue and collaboration among stakeholders in the country to improve the welfare of animals on farms.”

HSI animal science and policy experts  covered animal welfare science and its importance, as well as the tools and assistance they can provide to support companies and producers as they transition. Dr. Saravanakumar Pillai, HSI’s senior advisor on animal welfare briefed attendees  on the  cage-free progress in Malaysia and how it could be applied to Viet Nam.

Around the world, every year, more than 6 billion hens and an estimated 75 million sows are confined in cages and crates so small that they are unable to engage in important natural behavior, including walking or stretching their limbs. These animals suffer tremendously as a result of spending nearly their entire lives in such physically and behaviorally restricted conditions.

Animal welfare is a corporate social responsibility issue for companies in Viet Nam resulting in a major shift in the country’s food industry towards more ethical sourcing of animal products. Dozens of food industry leaders in Viet Nam, including Mondelez International, Marriott International, Unilever, Fusion, 4P’s and Accor, have committed to sourcing exclusively cage-free eggs in their supply chains.

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Reference in this article to any specific commercial product or service, or the use of any brand, trade, firm or corporation name is for the information of the public only, and does not constitute or imply endorsement by HSI or any of its affiliates of the product or service, or its producer or provider, and should not be construed or relied upon, under any circumstances, by implication or otherwise, as investment advice.

ENDS

Media contacts:

 

 

Ricky Gervais, Joanna Lumley and Paul O’Grady support call for commitment to vital animal welfare improvements

Humane Society International / United Kingdom


Lion
Byrdyak/istock

London—In the month of the bicentenary of the UK’s first ever animal protection law—Martin’s Act of 22nd July 1822—some of the UK’s leading animal charities are joined by Larry the Downing Street cat (@Number10Cat) and celebrities including Ricky Gervais, Dame Joanna Lumley and Paul O’Grady to urge Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak to pass and strengthen more laws to protect animals from suffering if they become the country’s next Prime Minister.  

In an open letter to the Conservative leadership contenders, the CEOs of the RSPCA, Humane Society International/UK, FOUR PAWS UK and others, ask Truss and Sunak for their public commitment to deliver on the promises the Government made in its 2021 Action Plan for Animal Welfare, only four of which have so far been delivered. Thousands of members of the public have also emailed the leadership candidates over the last few days, calling on them to support animal welfare issues. 

Sunak and Truss have been asked to go public on three specific commitments: 

  • Pass the Kept Animals Bill, delivering on manifesto commitments to end live animal exports for fattening and slaughter; introduce new laws to tackle low welfare puppy imports and pet abduction; and restrict the keeping of primates as pets, amongst other measures—the Kept Animals Bill has not been given Parliamentary time since November last year.
  • Progress legislation to protect the welfare of animals abroad suffering for the UK market, including bans on imports of hunting trophies, fur and foie gras, and the advertising of low welfare tourism activities overseas. These bans were derailed by dissenters in Boris Johnson’s cabinet in recent months. 
  • Strengthen existing legislation to: introduce compulsory cat microchipping; phase out use of cages in farming; prevent inhumane trapping and killing of wildlife (e.g. banning snares and expediting an end to the badger cull); and strengthen and extend the current laws on hunting with dogs. 

The letter welcomes the Conservative Party’s 2019 manifesto statement that ‘high standards of animal welfare are one of the hallmarks of a civilised society’ and asks: “Animals need a Prime Minister whose government will give them the legal protections they need and deserve, as sentient beings. Will you pledge such protections as part of your leadership campaign?”

A spokesperson for the group of animal protection NGOs said: “In the year where the sentience of animals has finally been enshrined in law, we must not lose this dedication to better animal welfare in the UK. Animals matter to voters of all political persuasions, including the 72% of Conservative voters who want more and stronger laws to protect animals. Ministers are constantly claiming that the UK is a world leader on animal welfare, so we’re calling on Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss to set out exactly what they’ll deliver to justify that title. Showing compassion and ambition to protect vulnerable animals could tell us a lot about the sort of leader they might be.”

National polling carried out in April 2022 showed that British voters want to see the government follow through on its promise to protect animals, with 72% of respondents—and 71% of those who voted Conservative in the last general election—stating they would like the government to pass more laws designed to improve animal welfare and protect animals from cruelty.* 

Read the open letter and view the full list of signatories.

ENDS

Notes: 

*Polling was run on the Focaldata platform. Data was collected from a nationally representative sample of 10,018 adults between 11th and 20th April 2022. 

Media contact: Sally Ivens: sivens@hsi.org  

Animal protection & conservation NGOs unveil plaque in Brighton’s Hilton Metropole Hotel where historic whaling ban was agreed in 1982

Humane Society International / United Kingdom


Dwarf minke whale
Nature Picture Library/Alamy

United Kingdom—The 40th anniversary of the global ban on commercial whaling has been marked today, with a plaque unveiled to hail one of the most significant conservation victories of all time.

Almost three million whales were killed for their oil and meat in the 20th century, bringing many species and populations to the brink of extinction. In July 1982, member countries of the IWC held an historic meeting at the Metropole Hotel in Brighton and agreed a global ban on commercial whaling, which remains in place today.

A recent £300,000 funding award to the International Whaling Commission (IWC) from the UK Government is supporting its vital whale conservation and welfare work around the world, addressing significant threats such as bycatch and climate change. This funding is also supporting the participation of developing countries in IWC meetings, ensuring that decisions are representative of all members. This financial support will help to enable the IWC to continue with its excellent work providing an international framework for the conservation and management of cetaceans.  

To commemorate the anniversary a permanent memorial plaque was unveiled at the Hilton Metropole Hotel, at a reception attended by past and present members of the IWC, dignitaries and local Members of Parliament. Caroline Lucas MP opened speeches, pledging her ongoing commitment to vital conservation efforts. The event was co-hosted by leading animal protection charities working on the IWC, including the UK representatives of the Animal Welfare Institute, Born Free Foundation, Environmental Investigation Agency, Greenpeace, Humane Society International/UK, IFAW, OceanCare, ORCA, and Whale and Dolphin Conservation.

International Environment Minister Zac Goldsmith said: “The moratorium on commercial whaling led the way four decades ago and remains one of the clearest demonstrations that conservation action works, moving from a bleak outlook where nearly 3 million whales were killed in the 20th century, to one where whale populations are coming back from the brink of extinction. The work of the IWC has been instrumental, bringing together global partners to deliver the science, conservation and management to support these majestic marine mammals, and the UK is proud to lend our full support to this work, including to uphold this vital moratorium.”

Without doubt the ban on commercial whaling has spared the lives of hundreds of thousands of whales and been instrumental in pulling many species and populations back from the brink of extinction — although some have never recovered.

Beyond whaling, whales still face many threats caused by human activities including fisheries bycatch; chemical, plastic and noise pollution; ship strikes; habitat loss and the urgent climate crisis. Of the 90 species, 12 subspecies and 28 subpopulations of cetaceans that have been identified and assessed to date, 22 are listed as ‘Critically Endangered’, 22 as ‘Endangered’ and 16 as ‘Vulnerable’.

Originally established in 1946 to conserve whales in order to manage whaling, the IWC has since evolved to address myriad anthropogenic threats, such as fisheries bycatch, that are estimated to kill hundreds of thousands of cetaceans a year. The IWC is now central to global cetacean conservation and welfare efforts, including overseeing regional efforts to prevent entanglement and vessel strikes, and advancing the scientific understanding of cetacean sentience and suffering. The UK’s funding therefore comes as a huge boost to global efforts to protect these ocean giants for generations to come.

Sue Fisher, acting marine policy director for the Animal Welfare Institute, observed: “Forty years ago, members of the public protesting outside this hotel and around the world convinced their governments to ‘save the whales’. Today they face new perils from our degraded oceans. We commend the United Kingdom for its commitment to ensuring that the IWC can do its vital work to save the whales again.”

Claire Bass, executive director of Humane Society International/UK, said: “Whales face an uncertain future in our degraded oceans, but there can be no doubt that the global ban on commercial whaling has saved many species from the brink of extinction. The ban’s 40-year anniversary is therefore a timely reminder of what can be achieved and should serve to strengthen our resolve to strive for even greater action against threats such as entanglements and pollution. The UK government’s funding for and renewed commitment to the vital work of the International Whaling Commission is a very welcome boost that will support international efforts for years to come to ensure the recovery of cetacean populations and the welfare of these astonishing ocean giants.”

Lucy Babey, ORCA’s head of science & conservation, and marine mammal chair at Wildlife and Countryside Link, said: “The IWC moratorium on commercial whaling was one of the biggest single conservation measures ever introduced, and its legacy resonates even today. To celebrate this milestone is a privilege that I know everyone involved feels lucky to be a part of, and we are delighted that the UK Government has decided to reaffirm its commitment to the IWC to ensure the legacy of this momentous decision is safeguarded for years to come. Future generations can look back on this watershed moment and see a time when people who cared about the ocean came together and did something special, and in that spirit we are proud to have been a part of marking this occasion.”

Sharon Livermore, IFAW marine conservation director, commented: “To this day, the global commercial whaling ban remains one of the most iconic and important conservation achievements of all time. But there is still much work to do to protect whales and dolphins from the many other threats they face; the International Whaling Commission is central to that work, so this new UK government funding is very timely.”

Mark Simmonds OBE, director of science for OceanCare, said: “Historically, the whales had been viewed as huge swimming barrels of oil, blubber and meat, ripe for the plundering. By 1982, when the moratorium was agreed, they were much better known, the grace and grandeur of these social mammals had been revealed by ground-breaking underwater cinematography, and we were increasingly concerned about the cruelty of whaling.  And now, forty years on, we know so much more! New species and populations have been discovered and we also recognize cultural units with unique behaviours, and we are also busy exploring the contributions that the whales make to keeping our essential marine ecosystems healthy. Now is the time to make the moratorium complete and for all commercial whaling to end.”

Vanessa Tossenberger, Whale and Dolphin Conservation policy director, commented: “Working towards the recovery of whale populations is part of a nature-based solution to the climate and biodiversity crises. We appreciate that the IWC is leading efforts to better understand whales and their impact on ecosystem functioning. For this work to be successful, the IWC must urgently strengthen protections for cetaceans from the many risks they are facing and ensure the moratorium on commercial whaling stays firmly in place and is fully adhered to by all IWC members.”

Clare Perry, Environmental Investigation Agency UK senior advisor on ocean campaign said: “The ban on whaling has already saved the great whales from certain extinction and today it has an even more important role to play in securing the future of all whales, dolphins and porpoises from mounting threats including hunting, pollution, climate change and bycatch.”

Fast facts: 

  • In the 20th century, commercial whalers killed 2,894,094 whales, including 874,068 fin whales and 761,523 sperm whales. At the peak of their operations, commercial whalers were killing an average of 70,000 whales a year.  
  • The IWC’s commercial whaling ban was agreed in 1982 in a 25:7 vote, and came into effect worldwide in 1986. Catches fell to 6,361 that year. There are three countries that currently conduct commercial whaling: Norway, Iceland and Japan.  
  • The degradation of the ocean has accelerated rapidly in recent years, with ocean temperatures warming up to 40% faster on average than the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change previously estimated.  
  • Science estimates that the amount of plastic entering the ocean will increase three-fold between 2016—2040 if urgent action isn’t taken. 
  • Ocean acidification has increased by 26% since pre-industrial times, and global maritime traffic as well as underwater noise levels from shipping, seismic surveys, exploration and military activities, have also significantly intensified. 
  • An estimated 300,000 cetaceans are killed annually as bycatch in fisheries.    

ENDS 

Media contact: Sally Ivens, Humane Society International/UK: sivens@hsi.org

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Humane Society International / Global


conducting a dog population survey
HSI

Humane Society International has operated successful dog and cat welfare and population management programs around the world for more than a decade. Our Monitoring, Evaluation and Impact Assessment (MEIA) work helps us design and customize humane, effective and sustainable solutions to address companion animal welfare issues at a local or national level. Humanely reducing free-roaming dog and cat populations and improving their health and welfare requires locally tailored interventions supported by data and ongoing analysis. Over the years, HSI’s MEIA team has provided support to local animal welfare organizations and governments to integrate effective monitoring and evaluation practices into their programs.

 

What is MEIA?

Monitoring, Evaluation and Impact Assessment (MEIA) is a process of data collection, data analysis and the subsequent explanation of program results and recommendations. MEIA is essential in any dog or cat population management program to:

  • Design an evidence-based and effective program, ensuring sufficient budget planning and realistic goals, impacts and timelines.
  • Gain insight and understanding into the community’s knowledge of animal welfare, their attitude towards animals and their practices.
  • Monitor and evaluate the program with the latest scientific methods.
  • Determine whether the program achieves set objectives.
  • Enable program teams to adjust goals and focus based on data/evidence.
  • Share measurable progress and success data with stakeholders, donors and media.
  • Identify potential barriers and/or challenges ahead of program implementation.

Types of surveys

Prior to beginning any program to address dog and cat populations, two types of surveys are generally used.

A population survey helps us to understand the size and composition of the roaming dog and cat population and determine a baseline for several impact criteria used to measure progress, such as percentage of lactating female animals, percentage of puppies and health and population density. An accurate dog and cat population estimate helps to determine with more certainty what resources need to be allocated to a program. For example, in Quezon City (QC) in the Philippines, city officials believed there to be 10 dogs per 100 humans. Those figures guided the city’s rabies vaccination campaign, which was not being very effective. Following a collaboration, in which HSI led a dog population survey, HSI determined that there were 20.6 dogs per 100 humans. With the new accurate data, the rabies control program was revised, resulting in significant decline in dog-cat rabies cases and cases of canine mediated rabies in humans being brought down to zero in District 3, Quezon City.

A Knowledge, Attitude and Practice (KAP) survey facilitates a more accurate and unbiased understanding of what people in the targeted area know about animals and their welfare, and what they think and do in relation to their coexistence with owned and unowned dogs and cats in their community. It also helps us understand each community’s ability to properly care for their animals, given availability and access—including financial access—to services and information. For example, in La Paz, Bolivia, we recorded an important difference in the ability of households to keep their dogs confined based on the districts where they lived, with one district having most of the dogs, 91.9%, inside the house and another district with only 25.1% of dogs inside the house.

From outside sources, our MEIA team gathers information such as the veterinary capacity in a given area, number of dog bites and rabies cases in humans and number of street animal nuisance complaints to government authorities. In this way, we can determine what programmatic barriers or challenges may exist and what considerations need to be taken prior to and during program implementation.

Monitoring and impact assessment

Subsequent periodic surveys and information gathering provides accurate data to monitor progress, and adjust program needs and strategy, if necessary. In the long term, monitoring helps us to measure the impact of the program on animals and people.

Please visit here for HSI MEIA reports and published papers.

Mobile applications

Given our expertise in the implementation of field work and our need for tools that help us measure the impact and success of our interventions, HSI has developed mobile applications to gather and track data for spay/neuter, catch-neuter-vaccinate-return (CNVR) of dogs and mass vaccination programs.

Spay and neuter program mobile application

HSI currently uses this app to track the data and measure the progress of the catching and sterilizing of dogs (CNVR). It records each dog’s GPS location when caught and creates a map to assist with the release of street dogs to their original location. In addition, the app helps us track the steps between catching and release, such as pre- and post-op care, surgery data, as well as a photograph to identify each dog.

Mass vaccination mobile application

HSI currently uses this app in areas where mass vaccinations campaigns are implemented to monitor rabies vaccinations done in that area and calculate outputs. The app creates geo-fencing to guide vaccination teams, restricts vaccination effort to a desired area, records dog photos and welfare details, records GPS location and produces reports.

Humane Society International is the leading expert on data-driven dog and cat population management.

If you are conducting a spay/neuter or mass vaccination program and would like to know about HSI’s apps and how they might be useful for your program, please contact meia@hsi.org.

Please visit here for links to other useful mobile applications for monitoring, evaluation and impact assessment.

The dogs were due to be killed after local authorities closed the farm

Humane Society International / South Korea


Jean Chung for HSI

SEOUL—Twenty-one dogs left behind when authorities closed an illegal dog meat farm in Gyeonggi-do, South Korea, have been saved by animal groups just days before the start of Bok Nal—the three hottest days of summer during which most dogs on farms are sold and killed for dog meat soup, known as “bosintang.”

Humane Society International/Korea and Korean K9 Rescue saved the young dogs after Ansan city authorities shut down the facility for operating without a licence. The government officials removed 38 dogs to their shelter for rehoming but left 21 behind with a deadline for removal or they would be at risk of being euthanised or sold to a slaughterhouse.  The farmer had been breeding dogs for human consumption at the site for six years.

The dogs—Romeo, Henry, Tori, Juliette, Brown Bear, Christian and all the others—will now receive veterinary care, vaccinations and undergo quarantine, before eventually being flown by HSI to North America to seek adoptive homes.

The rescue comes just days before South Korea’s first of three “Bok” days when dog meat consumption is most popular and the country’s usually low consumer demand increases. It is also the first Bok Nal since President Yoon Seok-yeol took office and comes as the government’s task force deliberating a nationwide dog meat ban has, for the second time, delayed announcing its recommendations for a phase out. President Yoon and first lady Kim Keon-hee—both of whom have voiced support for an end to dog meat—share their home with four dogs including Tori a rescued Jindo, a breed typically found on dog meat farms. The 21 dogs left on this illegal farm are Jindo crosses.

Sangkyung Lee, HSI/Korea’s dog meat campaign manager, said: “This dog farm is typical of so many across South Korea where thousands of dogs are languishing in filthy, deprived conditions, enduring the unimaginable frustration of being confined in tiny cages their whole lives until they are brutally killed by electrocution. Thankfully, we are able to bring a happy ending for these young dogs who will receive all the medical care and attention they need before flying to North America later in the year to seek adoptive homes. We urge President Yoon to ensure the national government immediately takes action  to end the dog meat industry, so that no more dogs like these will have to endure this suffering for a food that most people in South Korea no longer wish to eat.”

The farmer, Mr Hwang, has signed a legally binding agreement never to farm dogs again. He said: “I make most of my money from doing handyman jobs, so that’s what I’ll continue to do now. When I took over the farm, the seller deceived me and my partner by telling us it would be a profitable business but it simply hasn’t been true.”

Gina Boehler, executive director of Korean K9 Rescue, said: “Korean K9 Rescue is happy to work in partnership with HSI in dismantling, and rescuing animals from, the Ansan dog meat farm. As the animals are suffering in the sweltering summer heat, we have moved quickly to remove them from an unbearable situation that no living being should endure. It’s important we keep pushing for reform and change to the agriculture laws within South Korea and effectively promote change from within. We are grateful for our collaboration with HSI and we know these dogs will go on to live a better life. We have seen and recognized the approval of most South Korean citizens who actively oppose the dog meat trade and lobby for change, which keeps our mission strong and alive.”

HSI/Korea, which has permanently closed down 17 dog meat farms in the country and assisted local groups and law enforcement in rescuing dogs from other farms and markets, campaigns for legislation in South Korea to end the dog meat industry. A recent opinion poll commissioned by HSI/Korea and conducted by Nielsen shows nearly 84% of South Koreans say they don’t or won’t eat dog, and almost 60% support a legislative ban.

Dog meat facts:

  • Although most people in South Korea don’t eat dog, the belief that dog meat soup will cool the body and build stamina during the hot summer, particularly during Bok Nal season, still holds with some, especially the older generation.
  • Since 2015, HSI/Korea’s Models for Change program has seen the organisation permanently close 17 dog meat farms, rescuing more than 2,500 dogs who find adoptive homes in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, with a small number rehomed in South Korea. The program also helps dog farmers transition to new, more humane, animal-free and profitable livelihoods such as chili plant and parsley growing or water truck delivery.
  • Dog meat is banned (with varying degrees of enforcement) in Hong Kong, Taiwan, the Philippines, India, Thailand and Singapore, as well as the cities of Shenzhen and Zhuhai in mainland China, Siem Reap province in Cambodia, and in 17 cities and regencies across Indonesia.
  • Despite these growing bans, an estimated 30 million dogs a year are still killed for meat across Asia.
  • This rescue was conducted under careful health and safety restrictions, and all the dogs will receive veterinary care including tests for the presence of the H3N2 virus (“canine influenza”) as well as receiving rabies, distemper, hepatitis, parvo virus, parainfluenza and Leptospira vaccines. The dogs will be quarantined and health certified prior to transport overseas, in accordance with international export and import requirements.

Download photos and video of the rescue.

ENDS

Media contacts:

Nielsen online research conducted August/September 2020. Total sample size 1,000 people across six major cities in South Korea (Busan, Daegu, Incheon, Gwangju, Daejeon, Ulsan) weighted and representative of South Korean adults (aged 18+).

Humane Society International / Global


bullfighting
Syldavia/istock

Every year, approximately 180,000 bulls are killed in bullfights around the world, with many more killed or injured in bull fiesta events. The bulls suffer from a protracted death in the bullfighting arena, weakened and tormented both physically and mentally including with spiked lances, before the matador enters the rings and stabs them to death with a sword. After the bullfighter, or matador, stabs the bull with banderillas (wooden sticks with spiked ends), his objective is to kill the bull with what is often claimed is “a swift clean kill” by driving a sword blade between the bull’s shoulders. In truth, most matadors miss the target, injuring the bull’s lungs and bronchial tubes, causing blood to flow and bubble through the animal’s mouth and nose.

Bans increasing

Bullfighting is already banned in many countries including Argentina, Canada, Cuba, Denmark, Italy and the United Kingdom. There are only a few countries throughout the world where this practice still takes place: Spain, France, Portugal, Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela, Peru and Ecuador. Although legal in Spain, some Spanish cities, such as Calonge, Tossa de Mar, Vilamacolum and La Vajol, have outlawed the practice of bullfighting. Spain’s Balearic Islands have made several attempts to ban bullfighting, but this has been overturned by Spain’s constitutional court.

Likewise, although legal in Colombia, bullfighting has been temporarily banned in the nation’s capital, Bogota and in the second largest city, Medellin, and in Mexico bullfighting is banned in the five states of Sinaloa, Sonora, Guerrero, Coahuila and Quintana Roo (but remains legal in 27 Mexican states). Mexico’s Supreme Court has declared that bullfighting is not cultural heritage, and in June 2022 a provisional suspension of bullfights at Mexico City’s Plaza México—the largest bullring in the world—became a definitive ban.

Bull fiestas

A number of cruel bull fiestas are also still practiced across Spain, from bull runs such as Pamplona where the bull is chased by groups of baying participants through the narrow streets and into a bullfighting area where he is fought by a matador; to fire bull events such as El Toro Jubilo where a device attached to a bull’s horns is set alight and he is tormented by spectators pulling at his tail and firecrackers exploding around him; to the Toro de la Vega, where the bull is chased out of town and into a meadow by spear-wielding participants on foot and on horseback who surround him, tormenting, goading and stabbing him.

After many years of campaigning by PACMA and HSI to end the Toro de la Vega fiesta, restrictions have now been placed on the annual event which limits the number of participants and ensures the bull can no longer be killed by them as part of the event. While this does not remove animal suffering from the event, it is nonetheless a significant step in the campaign to end such cruelty, one that also applies to other events in the region and which was upheld by Spain’s Supreme Court in 2019.

In India, the Jallikattu event is a cruel practice in which crowds of young men pursue and torment bulls, taunted by the crowds, their tails twisted and broken, hit, wrestled to the ground and beaten and prodded with nail studded sticks. Chili powder is often thrown into their eyes and they are forced to drink alcohol to anger them. In South Korea, bulls are made to fight each other in a bullring, a process that can lead to facial and head injuries from the sharp horns.

Declining support

In Spain, data collated by the Ministry of Culture and Sport continues to show a decline in the number of bullfights held annually: 1,425 events were held in 2019, compared to 2,684 events in 2009, an almost 50 percent decline in a decade. The same data also shows a continued decline in attendances at bullfights, with just 8 percent of the population attending such events in 2018-2019.

Opinion polls show that the Spanish public are opposed to these cruel spectacles: An Ipsos MORI poll for HSI in 2013, revealed that only 29 percent of Spanish citizens supported bullfighting while 76 percent were opposed the use of public funds to support the industry. On bull fiestas, 74 percent of the Spanish public were opposed to the Toro de la Vega bull fiesta (Ipsos MORI, 2014).

Bullfighting and bull fiestas rely on money from tourists. The Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) lists both types of events as “unacceptable practices” in its Animal Welfare Guidelines, which have been created to offer guidance to ABTA members and the wider tourism industry.

The COVID-19 pandemic stopped many bullfights and bull fiestas, including the annual Pamplona bull run, from taking place in recent years. With so many events dependent on income from tourists, it is to be hoped that financial pressures will cause even more events to end for good.

You can help:

  • Never attend a bullfight or a bull fiesta
  • Avoid any tour operators who support these types of events; take your custom elsewhere

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