Humane Society International


Trevor Mogg/Alamy Stock photo

WASHINGTION—Earlier this week, the World Health Organization (WHO), World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) released a guidance urging governments around the world to take immediate action to reduce the risk of zoonotic disease spread in traditional markets.

Humane Society International urges governments to adopt the recommendations by WHO, OIE and UNEP to place emergency regulations suspending trade in live caught wild mammals and shutting down food markets selling these animals. Over a year ago, HSI pleaded to governments and released a science-based white paper calling for this type of action against wildlife markets and trade in wildlife. We congratulate WHO, OIE, and UNEP for taking this step towards ensuring safety for public and animal health. Concurrently, we urge the U.S. Congress to swiftly pass the Preventing Future Pandemics Act of 2021 as the most effective step toward ending the exploitation of wild animals and protecting global communities from future zoonotic diseases.

The guidance calls on governments to take the following six actions: (1) suspend trade in live caught wild mammals for food or breeding purposes and close food markets that sell live caught wild mammals (until effective regulations and risk assessments are in place); (2) improve standards of hygiene and sanitation in these markets; (3) develop regulations to control the risk of transmission of zoonotic diseases from wild animals in these markets; (4) train food and veterinary inspectors and enforce new regulations; (5) strengthen animal health surveillance systems to catch the emergence of a pathogen early on; and (6) develop and implement campaigns to communicate risk of consuming and trading wildlife.

“It’s imperative that all countries heed this call from the world’s health authority in order to prevent the emergence or spread of future pandemics,” said Teresa Telecky, vice president of Wildlife for Humane Society International. “If this had been done after SARS, we may have been spared the COVID pandemic and all the suffering it has caused.”

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Media contact: Wendy Higgins, director of international media: whiggins@hsi.org

Rodrigo Santoro, Pom Klementieff, Maggie Q and other celebrities support Humane Society International’s campaign

Humane Society International


HSI Ralph, spokes-bunny for HSI’s global campaign to ban cosmetic testing on animals

WASHINGTON—Hollywood filmmakers and movie stars have joined forces with Humane Society International to produce a powerful stop-motion animated short film, Save Ralph, calling for an end to cosmetic testing on animals around the world. Although banned in 40 countries, the practice is still perfectly legal in most of the world, and even making a comeback in some regions, subjecting untold thousands of animals to needless suffering and death.

Taika Waititi, Ricky Gervais, Zac Efron, Olivia Munn, Pom Klementieff, Tricia Helfer and others have come together to help HSI change that by providing the voices for the Save Ralph film, which aims to shine a light on the suffering animals endure and engage consumers and policy makers in HSI’s mission to ban it. Writer and director Spencer Susser (Hesher, The Greatest Showman), producer Jeff Vespa (Voices of Parkland) and production company AllDayEveryDay teamed up with the Arch Model studio of puppet maker supreme Andy Gent on the production to bring Ralph to life. The film is also being launched in Portuguese, Spanish, French and Vietnamese with Rodrigo Santoro, Denis Villeneuve and others voicing the characters in those languages, and Maggie Q providing a video message of support.

Find the short film and educational materials on the current status of animal testing and how you can help at hsi.org/ralph

Jeffrey Flocken, Humane Society International’s president, says: “Save Ralph is a wake-up call that animals are still suffering for cosmetics, and now is the time for us to come together to ban it globally. Today we have an abundance of reliable, animal-free approaches for product safety assurance, so there’s no excuse for making animals like Ralph suffer to test cosmetics or their ingredients.”

The film features HSI’s campaign spokesbunny Ralph, voiced by Taika Waititi, being interviewed as he goes through his daily routine as a “tester” in a toxicology lab. HSI’s #SaveRalph campaign tackles the disturbing issue of animal testing in an original and unexpected way—using the story of one bunny to shine a light on the plight of countless rabbits and other animals suffering at this very moment in laboratories around the world. It engages viewers to help ban animal testing of cosmetics once and for all.

Save Ralph director, Spencer Susser says: “Animals in cosmetic testing labs don’t have a choice and it’s our responsibility to do something about it. When the opportunity came up to create a new campaign for Humane Society International, I felt that stop motion was the perfect way to deliver the message. When you see the horrifying reality of the way animals are treated, you can’t help but look away. What I was hoping to do with this film was create something that delivers a message without being too heavy handed. I hope that audiences fall in love with Ralph and want to fight for him and other animals like him, so we can ban animal testing once and for all.” 

Puppet master and set designer, Andy Gent says:I think the beauty of animation is that you can tell very complex stories and bring them to life in a non-threatening and educational way. In our miniature world of models and puppets using stop motion filmmaking we hope to bring attention to this mission to stop animal testing for cosmetics. We’re all very passionate about what we do, and it’d be very nice to think that this project to Save Ralph will have a greater, wider effect.” 

Taika Waititi tweeted ahead of the launch: “This is a cool thing that is coming soon. If you don’t watch it and love it then you hate animals and we can’t be friends anymore. #SaveRalph.”

Ricky Gervais says: “Animal testing just makes me angry. There’s no justification for dripping chemicals in rabbits’ eyes or force-feeding them to rats just to make lipsticks and shampoo. Science has evolved enough to give us non-animal solutions to end this terrible cruelty—it’s time for our humanity to catch up.”

Tricia Helfer says: “I have been an animal lover for many years so I am honoured to lend my voice to this important, moving HSI campaign to end the cruelty of animal testing for cosmetics. Although we have made progress in some countries, globally there are still thousands of innocent animals just like Ralph who are made to suffer every day. Now is the time to change that.”

Troy Seidle, HSI’s vice president for research and toxicology, says: “It’s easy to assume that companies are the problem, but the truth is they are a vital part of the solution. It’s laws that need to be changed, and industry leaders like Lush, Unilever, P&G, L’Oréal and Avon are working with us to secure meaningful animal testing bans in many of the world’s most influential beauty markets. We’ve recruited Ralph as our spokesbunny to help get these laws over the finish line.

The campaign is focused on 16 countries including Brazil, Canada, Chile, Mexico, South Africa, and 10 Southeast Asian nations, with partner organizations, the Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society Legislative Fund, focused on legislation in the U.S. HSI is also standing up for bans that are already in place, like in Europe where authorities are attempting to exploit a legal loophole by demanding new animal testing of cosmetic ingredients under chemical law. Save Ralph will shine a spotlight on all these countries, driving them toward the cruelty-free future that the public and consumers expect.

Fast facts about animal testing of cosmetics:

  • In some parts of the world, rabbits like Ralph are locked in neck restraints and have cosmetic products and ingredients dripped in their eye and on to the shaved skin on their back. Guinea pigs and mice have the chemicals spread on their shaved skin or on their ears. None of these animals are given pain relief, and all of them will be killed at the end.
  • Animal testing for cosmetics is officially already banned in 40 countries. HSI and partners were instrumental in securing bans in India, Taiwan, New Zealand, South Korea, Guatemala, Australia and 10 states in Brazil. Such testing is also banned in Turkey, Israel, Norway, Iceland, Switzerland, and in the U.S. states of California, Illinois, Nevada and Virginia. Five other U.S. states – New Jersey, Maryland, Rhode Island, Hawaii and New York – are now considering similar bills to end animal testing for cosmetics, and a federal bill called the Humane Cosmetics Act is anticipated to be reintroduced in the Congress this year.
  • The European Union banned all animal testing for cosmetics in 2013, yet today this celebrated precedent is being undermined by European Chemicals Agency demands that companies perform new animal tests on chemicals used exclusively in cosmetics. Read more here.
  • More than 2,000 “cruelty-free” beauty brands are available worldwide, including Lush, Garnier, Dove, Herbal Essences and H&M. These companies produce safe products by using ingredients with a history of safe use together with modern animal-free safety assessment tools. No single global shopping guide yet exists, but HSI recognizes LeapingBunny.org, BeautyWithoutBunnies, Logical Harmony, ChooseCrueltyFree and Te Protejo as useful resources.
  • HSI warns that even cruelty-free cosmetics are in jeopardy if chemical safety legislation continues to demand new animal tests for chemical ingredients used exclusively in cosmetics. That’s why the #SaveRalph campaign prioritizes getting test bans in place and robustly defended.
  • In addition to pursuing legislative bans, HSI and our partners are collaborating to develop a training program in animal-free safety assessment to support smaller companies and government authorities transition from animal testing to state-of-the-art non-animal methods, which are readily available and better at assuring human safety than the animal tests they replace.

Learn more at hsi.org/ralph.

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Humane Society International wins major FOIA case

Humane Society International / United States


Giraffe
GomezDavid Getty Images

WASHINGTON—After five years, a federal judge in the District of Columbia ruled last night that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service can no longer withhold valuable wildlife trade data—such as tracking the imports of at-risk species killed by trophy hunters—into the U.S. The ruling to make that information available resulted from a lawsuit filed by Humane Society International in 2016.

LEMIS data, which stands for “Law Enforcement Management Information System,” is a source that tracks every import and export of wildlife into and out of the United States. This includes hunting trophies like those of imperiled giraffes and leopards; live animals like birds and reptiles imported for the exotic pet trade; monkeys used for experiments at research facilities; and animal skins such as those from snakes and lions. Organizations like the Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society International use this data to track trends in wildlife trade, petition the government for increased domestic and international protections for species threatened by international trade, and hold the government accountable for its actions.

“The Fish and Wildlife Service should have never removed access to this information and has been unlawfully withholding imperative data that impacts wildlife, conservation and global health. Transparency and justice prevailed this week,” said Laura Smythe, a staff attorney for the Humane Society of the United States, representing Humane Society International. “The United States is the world’s largest importer of both legal and illegal wildlife parts and products, and it is critical that the public has access to the full picture of the role our country plays in this destructive industry.”

Transparency is critical as scientists and the public are acknowledging the link between the wildlife trade and the threat of future global pandemics. The full extent to which the wildlife trade contributes to the spread of diseases is still unknown—but this information is crucial to solving those missing links and preventing future outbreaks.

Humane Society International has used LEMIS data to petition the Fish and Wildlife Service for Endangered Species Act protections of species such as African elephants and giraffes, which are at extreme risk of extinction from trophy hunting and trade in their parts. Humane Society International also used the data to petition for Endangered Species Act protections for pangolins. Access to this data allows Humane Society International to measure the United States’ demand for imperiled wildlife products such as pangolin scales and identify where increased protections are urgently needed.

Humane Society International also needs this information to work towards increased global protections for these and many more animals through CITES—an international agreement that regulates trade in imperiled species. The data is critical to knowing the role the United States plays in the destructive trophy hunting industry.

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Media contact: Wendy Higgins, Humane Society International: 07989 972423; Whiggins@hsi.org

Campaigners report multiple violations to Chinese authorities including lack of COVID-19 biosecurity measures despite transmission risks

Humane Society International


Raccoon dogs and foxes intensively farmed for fur in Asia, filmed November-December 2020.

WASHINGTON— Disturbing video evidence of extreme animal suffering on multiple fur farms in China has been released by Humane Society International as part of its global campaign to end the fur trade and expose the suffering of animals on fur farms around the world. Every year in the United States, millions of animals are bred on fur factory farms or caught in cruel traps in the wild. China is the top producer of fur in the world and the number one exporter of fur apparel into the U.S.

The investigations took place at 13 fur farms between November and December last year. They reveal breaches of many of China’s fur farming regulations on animal housing, welfare, slaughter and epidemic control, with a disturbing admission from one farmer that the meat from slaughtered fur animals is being sold to local restaurants for human consumption by unsuspecting diners. On another farm, raccoon dogs were filmed being so ineptly electrocuted that experts say they will have been rendered paralyzed but still conscious while experiencing slow, agonizing deaths from cardiac arrest. Foxes in rows of cages were also filmed repetitively spinning and pacing in their tiny, barren, wire cages, the classic symptoms of mental decline from environmental deprivation.

“Animals on fur farms live in a world of constant fear and suffering, and this latest investigation is further evidence of that,” said Kitty Block, CEO and president of the Humane Society of the United States and president of Humane Society International. “It’s hard to imagine that anyone still stands by this cruelty in the name of fashion. There is nothing glamorous about electrocuting animals to death. Fur farms have no place in a modern society, and it is essential that we end the fur trade for good.”                                                                                                          

On several fur farms, raccoon dogs were seen being electrocuted using a double-spiked lance attached to a high voltage battery. One by one the animals are seen being stabbed with the lance in random parts of the body, delivering an agonizing electric shock that paralyzes but doesn’t instantly kill them because this incorrect method doesn’t pass electricity through the brain.

“The animals in this video are being subjected to violent and chaotic electrocution in the body and not in the brain, which means they are highly likely to have experienced several minutes of extreme physical pain and suffering, like heart attack symptoms,” said Professor Alastair MacMillan, HSI’s veterinary adviser. “Instead of instant death, they are likely to have been immobilized by the electric shocks but remain conscious and feel the intense pain of electrocution.”

Despite HSI’s investigation taking place during the global pandemic, none of the fur farms followed basic biosecurity measures, with disease control regulations routinely ignored. Contrary to Chinese regulations, none of the farms had disinfecting stations at entry and exit points, and visitors were allowed to come and go without being asked to observe any COVID-19 safety precautions. In light of outbreaks of COVID-19 on at least 422 mink fur farms in 11 different countries in Europe and North America, and raccoon dogs and foxes also being capable of contracting coronaviruses, the lack of adherence to safety measures is extremely concerning. HSI has provided its investigation evidence to the Chinese authorities, both in Beijing and in London.

China is home to the largest fur producing industry in the world, rearing 14 million foxes, 13.5 million raccoon dogs and 11.6 million mink in 2019. In 2020, the U.S. imported $89 million worth of fur apparel, including $16 million from China – a significant drop from 2019 when the U.S. imported $145 million of fur apparel, including $33 million from China.

Despite the horrific cruelty found at these particular farms, ample evidence demonstrates that animal suffering is an inherent consequence of the global fur industry regardless of the country.

“Sadly, fur farms in the United States are just as unregulated as the ones found in this investigation with many of the same standards like barren cages and death by electrocution,” said PJ Smith, fashion policy director for the Humane Society of the United States. “The fur industry has done everything possible to shield public eyes from the harsh realities behind a fur-trimmed coat, and in the age of transparency, it’s no wonder the industry is on steady decline. Now is the time to end the trade for good.”

Humane Society International is calling on governments around the world to ban fur farming and end the fur trade. A 2020 Research Co. poll shows that 71% of Americans oppose killing animals for fur.

Download photos and video from the investigation

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Humane Society International


The HSUS Trophy on display at Humane Society of the United States/Humane Society International undercover investigation at Safari Club International’s annual hunter’s convention in Las Vegas.

WASHINGTON—Conservation and animal protection groups filed a lawsuit today challenging decisions by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that authorize leopard trophy imports from Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Mozambique and Zambia into the United States. The Center for Biological Diversity, Humane Society International, the Humane Society of the United States, and a South Africa-based photographic safari operator filed the suit.

The U.S. is a major global consumer of leopard trophies. On average the U.S. imports nearly 300 leopard trophies per year, which is 52% of all leopard trophies in trade each year. During the most recent five-year period for which data are available, the U.S. imported 1,037 leopard trophies from Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Mozambique and Zambia alone.

“Federal officials are dishing out leopard import permits right and left despite lacking the data to know how trophy hunting harms this highly imperiled species,” said Tanya Sanerib, international legal director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Regulations clearly require our government not to OK imports without adequate info about these splendid cats and all the ways humans are harming them. That info is key because even the stealthiest leopards can’t escape hunters’ bullets, especially when they’re hunted with baited prey.”

Leopards are vulnerable to extinction. Scientists believe that African leopard populations are plummeting due to habitat loss, prey depletion, persecution by people, poaching for the illegal skin trade and unsustainable trophy hunting. The actual rate of leopard decline remains largely unknown, and most nations lack population estimates.

“It seems inconceivable that the Fish and Wildlife Service allows U.S. trophy hunters to import hundreds of dead leopards every year, yet the agency does not even have basic information about number of animals left in the countries where they are being killed,” said Laura Smythe, staff attorney at the Humane Society of the United States. “Despite this glaring lack of data, and without even considering many of the other threats to the species, the agency is arbitrarily deciding that allowing these imports will not harm the species—it simply cannot scientifically or legally make those findings.”

Under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), leopard trade is permissible only under exceptional circumstances. Nevertheless, bowing to politics and diplomatic negotiations, parties to the international treaty recently sustained unjustifiably high quotas or caps on the number of leopards that can be traded annually as trophies. The U.S. has an independent obligation to ensure that leopard imports are not detrimental to the survival of the species based on the best biological—not political—information.

The lawsuit challenges the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s failure to meet this obligation by authorizing U.S. trophy hunters to import leopard trophies from Africa. The hunters rely on these decisions in deciding to travel to Africa to kill these animals. Due to travel restrictions and COVID-19 risks, fewer hunters are traveling to Africa, meaning the leopards covered by the challenged import authorizations are likely still alive and could still be saved from import.

Today the organizations also gave the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service notice of their intent to sue over the agency’s failure to make a 12-month finding on their 2016 petition to list all leopards as “endangered” under the Endangered Species Act.

“It is high time that the Fish and Wildlife Service acted on our petition to extend full protections to these unique and beautiful creatures,” said Teresa Telecky, vice president of Humane Society International’s wildlife programs. “Its decision is far overdue, and every day the agency does not act is another day that this species tumbles further down the path toward extinction.”

Most leopard populations in Africa are currently listed as “threatened” and are not given the law’s full range of protections. Furthermore, an endangered listing would increase transparency and give the public the ability to comment on trophy import applications. That petition also asked the agency to take immediate action to apply a stricter standard to the import of leopards as hunted trophies.

“Scientists have highlighted time and again instances where trophy hunting imperils local leopard populations, and up-listing leopards from threatened to endangered would ensure the public can weigh in on the critical analysis of whether trophy hunting could somehow enhance these cats’ survival,” said Sanerib.

Download photo of leopard trophy.

Media Contacts:

  • Rodi Rosensweig, HSUS/ HSI: 203-270-8929; RRosensweig@humanesociety.org
  • Tanya Sanerib, Center for Biological Diversity: 206-379-7363; tsanerib@biologicaldiversity.org

Shelters in D.C., Ohio, Maryland and Pennsylvania take dogs for adoption

Humane Society International


Jean Chung for HSI The HSI Animal Rescue Team rescues Baker at a dog meat farm in Haemi, South Korea, on Thursday, October 22, 2020. The operation is part of HSIs efforts to fight the dog meat trade throughout Asia. 

CHANTILLY, Va.—Some 196 dogs saved from South Korea’s brutal dog meat trade touched down in the United States to start their search for loving homes, thanks to a rescue mission by Humane Society International. Due to COVID-19 safety precautions, the rescue effort saw HSI’s U.S. team quarantine for two weeks at a government-sanctioned hotel in Seoul before being allowed to head to a dog meat farm in Haemi to rescue the dogs, which include golden retrievers, a poodle, Korean jindos and mastiffs, Pomeranians, terriers and a Labrador.

Most of the dogs will be provided shelter in the DC area, either directly with local DC-area animal shelters or at a temporary shelter run by HSI and the Animal Rescue Team of the Humane Society of the United States, with assistance from RedRover. The remaining dogs will be taken to our HSI/ Canada temporary shelter in Montreal before placement with local shelter partners there. All the dogs will be evaluated, receive the veterinary treatment needed, and be in warm beds with nutritious food for the first time in their lives. The dogs staying in the HSI/HSUS temporary shelter will gradually move to shelter partners across the US over the coming month.

Organizations taking in the rescued dogs are:

  • SPCA Cincinnati (Cincinnati, Ohio)
  • Delaware Valley Golden Retriever Rescue (Reinholds, Pennsylvania)
  • Humane Society of Calvert County (Sunderland, Maryland)
  • Homeward Trails Animal Rescue (Fairfax Station, Virginia)
  • Petey and Furends (Rockville, Maryland)

Of the 196 dogs, 170 were rescued by HSI from a single dog meat farm closed down by the charity in partnership with the farmer. The other 26 dogs had been rescued by HSI from previous dog meat market and farm rescue operations but had not been able to leave their South Korean temporary shelter until now due to COVID-19 travel restrictions. Dog adoption is not yet widely accepted in South Korea, however HSI hopes that its work to raise awareness about the benefits of adoption and promotion of its adoption success stories overseas, will gradually lead to more dogs finding forever families within the country.

This marks the 17th dog meat farm that HSI has permanently closed down, and coincides with the publication of a new opinion poll showing growing support in South Korea for a ban on dog meat consumption. The poll, conducted by Nielsen and commission by Humane Society International/Korea, shows that 84% of the population say they don’t or won’t eat dog, and almost 60% support a legislative ban on the trade.

Key poll findings

  • 84% of South Koreans haven’t consumed dog meat or say they are not willing to consume it in the future.
  • 59% of South Koreans support banning dog meat, an increase of 24% from 2017, with opposition to a ban at an all-time low (fewer than half (41%) of the population.
  • 57% of South Koreans believe dog meat consumption reflects poorly on Korea, increasing from 37% in 2017.

Kelly O’Meara, HSI’s vice president of companion animal campaigns, says: “Although most people in South Korea don’t regularly eat dog meat, and support for a ban is growing, there remain thousands of farms of all sizes across the country where dogs of all breeds endure a harsh existence. With fewer people wanting to eat dog, farmers can see the writing is on the wall for this dying industry and so they work with HSI to find a solution that gives both them and their remaining dogs a chance of a new life. With such interest from dog farmers, and public support, we hope the Korean government will adopt this type of approach to phase out the dog meat industry for good.”

Once a taboo subject, the suffering of dogs and the unsanitary conditions on meat farms has received far greater visibility on South Korean media in recent times, contributing to rising support for a dog meat ban. The efforts of local Korean animal welfare groups and Humane Society International’s campaign, including dog farm closures which have been featured on prime time Korean TV and national news, have been instrumental in shining a spotlight on this cruel industry.

South Korea is the only country that intensively farms dogs for human consumption on a large scale. An estimated 2 million dogs a year are reared on thousands of dog meat farms across the country. The conditions on these farms are horrific – most dogs live their entire lives in barren wire cages or tethered on short chains, deprived of veterinary care or adequate protection from the punishing heat of summer and biting cold of winter, until they are brutally slaughtered, usually by electrocution or hanging.

Most South Koreans do not consume dog meat, and many citizens increasingly see dogs only as companion animals. The increase in companionship with dogs, particularly among younger Koreans, has at the same time fostered a greater interest in animal welfare and a decline in acceptance of eating dog meat. With reduced dog meat sales, HSI’s pioneering program works with dog farmers eager to exit this dying industry. HSI permanently closes down their farms, rescues their dogs and transitions the farmers to more humane and profitable livelihoods. The farmers sign a 20-year contract, stipulating they will not breed dogs or any animals, and the cages are demolished to ensure that no animals will suffer on the property in future.

Nara Kim, HSI/Korea’s dog meat campaign manager, says: “Every dog meat farm I’ve visited has a horrible stench of faeces and rotting food, but there was something different about this dog farm, it had a smell of death. The conditions were truly pitiful, and when we found these dogs they had looks of utter despair on their faces that will haunt us forever. Many of them are covered in painful sores and wounds from neglect, some have inflamed eyes and peer out blindly from their cage. I feel grateful they can no longer see this horrible place they live in, and when they finally receive veterinary care and can open their eyes, they will never have to endure this hopelessness again.”

Facts: 

  • Recent crackdowns by authorities to curb the dog meat industry include the shutting down of Taepyeong dog slaughterhouse (the country’s largest) by Seongnam City Council in November 2018, followed in July 2019 by the closure of Gupo dog meat market in Busan (South Korea’s second largest dog meat market after Moran market, which has also closed), and a declaration in October last year by the mayor of Seoul that the city is “dog slaughter free”. In November 2019 a court found that a dog farmer who electrocuted dogs was in violation of the Animal Protection Act, a judgement that could have huge implications for an industry that relies almost entirely on electrocution as a killing method.
  • At each dog meat farm closure, HSI has a veterinarian test for the presence of the H3N2 virus (“canine influenza”), at the time the dogs receive their rabies, DHPP and coronavirus vaccines. HSI also vaccinates the dogs for distemper and parvo. HSI then quarantines the dogs on the farm or at a shelter for at least 30 days, and the dogs are health certified again prior to transport overseas.

Download b-roll video and photos of the rescue

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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


Donna Gadomski/HSI 

WASHINGTON— Conservation and animal protection groups today filed a notice of intent to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for failing to consider Endangered Species Act protections for Africa’s rapidly dwindling giraffe population.

The groups Center for Biological Diversity, the Humane Society of the United States, Humane Society International and several others petitioned for giraffe protections in April 2017, but the species still has not received the legally required finding that was due in April 2018, nor any protection under the Act.

Last year, after a lawsuit filed by the groups, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service determined that giraffes may qualify for protections under the Act — but the agency has failed to make a decision or implement any protective measures.

“Giraffes are loved by people around the world, so it’s shocking and sad that the U.S. government is ignoring their tragic plight,” said Tanya Sanerib, international legal director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “As giraffe populations plummet, these extraordinary creatures desperately need the Endangered Species Act’s sturdy shield. But three years after we petitioned for protections, federal officials are still stalling on safeguards for everyone’s favorite longnecked mammal.”

With fewer than 69,000 mature individuals remaining in the wild, giraffes have been undergoing what has been called a silent extinction. Giraffe populations have dropped nearly 40% due to habitat loss, civil unrest and poaching and the international trade in bone carvings, skins and trophies puts additional pressure on these iconic animals.

“The United States has an important role to play in preventing extinction of these magnificent creatures, as the top importer of giraffe trophies, and as many Americans import giraffe parts — including bones and skins — to sell them for commercial purposes in the U.S.,” said Adam Peyman, wildlife programs director for Humane Society International, speaking on behalf of Humane Society International and the Humane Society of the United States. “The time has long passed for the Fish and Wildlife Service to take action and put in place desperately needed protections.”

Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) decided in 2019 to regulate international trade in giraffes — including trophies and other body parts — by placing the species on the Appendix II of the Convention. But several key exporting countries in Africa have expressed that they do not intend to implement or enforce CITES requirements with respect to giraffes even though the listing only requires export permits and reporting of international trade in giraffes. Protection under the Endangered Species Act is desperately needed to help curb imports of giraffe bones, trophies and other parts to the U.S. and increase funding for conservation efforts for the species.

On average, the U.S. imports more than one giraffe hunting trophy a day and imported more than 21,400 giraffe bone carvings between 2006 to 2015. Many of the imported giraffe parts are turned into frivolous decorative items such as pillows, boots, bible covers or jackets. 

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature assessed giraffes as “vulnerable” to extinction in 2016 and classified two giraffe subspecies as “endangered” and two more as “critically endangered” in 2018.

Humane Society International identifies five pandemic risks with animal agriculture

Humane Society International / United States


Alamy Stock Photo Broiler chickens on the brooding area of a commercial poultry farm.

WASHINGTON—The world’s addiction to intensive animal farming, in which thousands of stressed animals are kept in close proximity, is the perfect breeding ground for future pandemics, and world leaders must accelerate action to shift global diets towards more plant-based foods, says a white paper authored by global animal protection organisation Humane Society International. HSI identifies five primary pandemic risks associated with animal agriculture, creating a “petri dish” for pathogens to erupt, mutate and spread:

1. virus ‘spillover’: when expansion of farms into previously wild areas brings wild and domestic species together.
2. viral amplification: where novel viral strains are created through confining vast numbers of stressed animals indoors.
3. farm concentration: where dense geographic concentration of farms increases the risk of pathogens spreading.
4. global live animal trade: where huge numbers of live animals are transported between countries and continents, allowing pathogens to spread even further.
5. live animal markets, agricultural fairs and auctions: where “hubs” are created such that animals from many different places are brought into proximity with the public, where viruses can proliferate.

Farm animals have been at the heart of multiple zoonotic disease outbreaks over the past two centuries, including H5N1 avian influenza transmitted from poultry to humans, and Nipah virus and HINI swine flu transmitted from pigs to humans. While the coronavirus pandemic prompted the world to acknowledge the need to shut down unsanitary wildlife markets implicated as a probable origin of the novel coronavirus, factory farms and slaughterhouses also have grave consequences for human health, and often far closer to home.

Julie Janovsky, Humane Society International’s vice president of farm animal campaigns, says: “Since news broke that COVID-19 likely originated in a live animal market where stressed animals crowded in cages, in unsanitary conditions, we began examining what other human exploitation of animals could create a similar petri dish of disease. It’s clear looking at the data that the unprecedented increase and expansion of intensive animal agriculture, mostly on factory farms, in which we raise and slaughter more than 80 billion animals around the world every year, is a clear front-runner. The message is simple, if we want to stop future pandemics, we have to significantly kick the meat habit, and global leaders need to actively assist in shifting global diets towards more plant-based eating.”    

Like wildlife markets, intensive confinement systems used in animal agriculture crowd large numbers of animals together into small spaces, except at a much larger scale. In industrial chicken and egg production facilities, animals are raised by the tens- or even hundreds-of thousands, breathing in the same dusty, ammonia-laden air in dim enclosures. Breeding pigs in the pork industry are commonly confined to metal stalls (gestation crates) so narrow they cannot even turn around, and hens kept for egg production are confined in cages so small they cannot stretch their wings. The more animals a virus has in which to replicate and mutate, the greater the chances that a new and deadly pathogen could arise from an infected production site.

To prevent another outbreak of zoonotic viruses like the one causing COVID-19, HSI urges and is campaigning for:

  • A substantial reduction in our global reliance on animal-based protein.
  • Public policies favouring the production of plant-based options in place of expanding animal agriculture.
  • A reduction in the number of animals raised for human food, to reduce animal population density both within farms and geographically.
  • A phase-out of the use of cages and crates used to overcrowd animals in intensive systems.
  • A phase-out of the long-distance transport of live animals.
  • Policies to protect natural ecosystems from agricultural expansion and other sources of degradation and fragmentation.
  • A ban on the sale of poultry at all live bird markets and restrictions on live animal exhibitions.

Sara Shields, Humane Society International’s farm animal senior scientist, says: “If we study past outbreaks of animal to human disease, we can see a pattern emerge that clearly identifies intensive animal farming as a key culprit. The outbreak of Nipah in Malaysia in 1997 was an example of wild to domestic species virus spillover, and meta-analysis has shown that highly pathogenic avian influenza is enabled by the confinement of thousands of birds together where mutating viruses are easily exchanged between hosts. We can make our world less vulnerable to future pandemics, but only by reevaluating animal agriculture and shifting more to plant-based sources of protein. To do this requires governments to actively engage in rebalancing our food system, but as consumers we are also directly responsible for the impacts of our food choices. The plant-based food market is booming, making it easy to switch animal products for more plant-based alternatives. There is no better time than now to make conscientious decisions with the animals and the health of our planet in mind.”

Read the white paper here.

ENDS

Media contact: Wendy Higgins, UK: whiggins@hsi.org

Humane Society International / United States


Donna Gadomski/HSI Daniel and Juliette meet for the first time.

WASHINGTON—Korean-American actor Daniel Henney just became the proud pup parent of Juliette, a young golden retriever rescued from a dog meat farm in Hongseong, South Korea by Humane Society International. The international film and television actor is best known in the U.S. for his role in the series Criminal Minds and is a passionate dog advocate. He has worked with HSI for several years to raise awareness in South Korea on the benefits of dog adoption, which is relatively uncommon there. Henney also has a nine-year-old golden retriever rescue named Roscoe.

Henney said, “When I first met Juliette, it was love at first sight. She completely and totally melted my heart and she has become such an amazing member of our family. Considering what she’s had to live through, she’s so gentle and sweet, so patient. But there are thousands of other dogs just like Juliette living in cages on dog meat farms who need our help and that’s why I’m supporting HSI’s mission to end the suffering.

I consider myself very lucky to have gotten Juliette; she is an angel; an absolutely wonderful dog and she’s fit into the family like a Lego. Not only has it helped her but it’s helped us so much. Roscoe is so full of life now because he has this new sister and they are absolutely inseparable! They go everywhere together – they play together, they eat together, they sleep on top of each other. It’s been a wonderful experience.”

Henney, a passionate dog lover, is teaming up with HSI to increase awareness and acceptance in South Korea of dog adoption. Although dog ownership has increased rapidly in South Korea in recent years, with one in five households in Seoul now owning a pet, many people buy pet store puppies who are sourced from puppy mills where dogs are intensively bred in deprived conditions, and even from dog meat farms that breed pups for both food and family.

“We couldn’t have wished for a happier ending for Juliette, who is such a sweet-natured and loving dog,” said Jeffrey Flocken, HSI president. Flocken is also a proud adopter of a dog HSI rescued from a dog meat farm in South Korea.

“She’s had a rough start in life; a dog meat farm is a grim place to live with absolutely no love or comfort, so we were thrilled to be able to save Juliette and all the other dogs there from such a fate,” said Flocken. ”So many dogs in South Korea need to find homes, so we’re excited to be working with Daniel to increase awareness of dog adoption. Juliette is a perfect ‘ambassadog’ for our work, and her story will hopefully help other dogs find their happily ever after.”

Henney continued, “Juliette deserves so much love. I want to give her the chance to be a dog, to run and enjoy life. Once she’s fully settled, I want her to be an example for how great these dogs are, and I want her to help encourage people to adopt these wonderful dogs from these dog meat farms.”

Humane Society International has rescued more than 2,000 dogs from dog meat farms in South Korea, working in cooperation with farmers who wish to exit the industry in search of new beginnings. The farmer in Juliette’s case intends to switch to growing vegetables for a more profitable and humane future.

Nara Kim, HSI/Korea’s dog meat campaigner, said, “Daniel’s passion and personal experience will help us make a significant impact to increase interest and acceptance of dog adoptions in South Korea. Our goal for the future is to see more of the dogs HSI rescues from dog meat farms find forever families within South Korea. We usually fly the dogs to the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom to seek adoptive homes, but we hope to help more South Koreans open their hearts and homes to these wonderful dogs in time.”

A Michigan native, Henney became a household name in Korea after starring in the television drama My Lovely Sam-soon and starring in such series as Hello FranceskaSpring Waltz and The Fugitive: Plan B. In the U.S. his television credits include Three Rivers, Criminal Minds: Beyond BordersHawaii Five-0NCIS: Los Angeles and Revolution. He voiced the role of Tadashi Hamada in the Academy Award-winning film Big Hero 6 and appeared in the films X-Men Origins: WolverineThe Last StandSeducing Mr. PerfectMy FatherThe Spy: Undercover Operation and Shanghai Calling.

He will next star in the Amazon epic fantasy drama Wheel of Time. He spends his time between his homes in California and Michigan with Roscoe and Juliette.

View the YouTube video of Daniel and Juliette.

Download photos and videos of Daniel and Juliette .

Download photos and videos of the South Korea Dog Meat Farm.

ENDS

Media Contact: Rodi Rosensweig: RRosensweig@humanesociety.org; +1 203-270-8929,

Decision should ban U.S. sales of world’s most trafficked mammal

Humane Society International / United States


Tikki Hywood Trust Pangolin in the wild

WASHINGTON—Under a new legal agreement, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will decide whether pangolins, the world’s most trafficked mammals, should be protected under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.

The agreement, approved today by a federal judge, requires the agency to decide by June 2021. It responds to a petition and subsequent lawsuit filed by conservation groups to force the government to make a decision on pangolins and ultimately ensure the United States fully bans pangolin trade.

Pangolins, the world’s only scaly mammal, inhabit Asia and Africa. Pangolins are in grave danger of extinction. Their scales are in high demand in traditional Chinese medicine, and their meat is consumed as a delicacy in some Asian countries.

“It’s a relief to see the U.S. stepping up to protect these unique creatures from the international wildlife trade,” said Sarah Uhlemann, international program director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Pangolins are on the razor’s edge of extinction, and we have to do our part to save these odd but charming animals. Listing pangolins as endangered would zero-out the U.S. market.”

Between 2004 and 2014, more than a million pangolins were illegally traded—an average of nearly 300 animals killed per day. Despite a 2017 ban on international commercial trade in pangolins, illegal trade has continued and likely increased: the largest seizure ever occurred in Singapore in 2019, representing tens of thousands of dead pangolins.

“We are pleased that the U.S. has committed to taking these long-overdue steps to protect pangolins, which remain mostly unprotected under the Endangered Species Act despite being pushed to the brink of extinction by poachers,” said Adam Peyman, wildlife programs and operations manager for Humane Society International. “Listing will strengthen the nation’s capacity to combat the domestic market for pangolin products, which contributes to poaching and trafficking worldwide.”

While most illegally sourced pangolins are destined for markets in China and Vietnam, a U.S. market remains. Authorities seized least 26,000 imports of pangolin products in the United States between 2004 and 2013, and a 2015 report by Humane Society International found “medicinal” products containing or likely to contain pangolin parts openly for sale online and at U.S. stores.

“For the last half decade, we have been fighting for increased protections for pangolins and urging the U.S. government to take action and responsibility. We’re pleased to see the light at the end of this tunnel. The Endangered Species Act is the strongest tool we have to stave off extinction of our most imperiled species. As the world’s most trafficked mammal, it’s past time pangolins were protected by this bedrock law,” said Angela Grimes, CEO of Born Free USA.

One pangolin species, the Temminck’s ground pangolin, is already protected under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. Under today’s agreement, the Fish and Wildlife Service commits to decide whether the other seven pangolin species should be treated as endangered by June 2021.

“The United States must not be complicit in the brazen trade of these innocent animals,” said Zak Smith, director of international wildlife conservation at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “As pangolins face extinction in the midst of a global biodiversity crisis, this is an important step. But to increase the pangolins’ chance of survival, the agency must follow the science and law, and ultimately grant pangolins protection under the Endangered Species Act.”

If pangolins are protected as endangered, the law bans import and interstate sale of pangolin parts in the United States, except for scientific or other conservation purposes. Listing would also heighten global awareness about pangolins and the threats they face and make funding available for anti-trafficking and habitat conservation efforts.

ENDS

Media contacts:

Nancy Hwa, Humane Society International and the Humane Society of the United States, (202) 596-0808, nhwa@hsi.org
Sarah Uhlemann, Center for Biological Diversity, (206) 327-2344, suhlemann@biologicaldiversity.org
Karen Lauria, Born Free USA, (917) 783-3480, karen@bornfreeusa.org
Daniela Arellano, NRDC, (310) 434-2304, darellano@nrdc.org