The cub-petting industry, which gained nationwide infamy with the sensational 2020 Netflix documentary, “Tiger King,” is now illegal in the United States.
President Biden on Tuesday signed the Big Cat Public Safety Act into law, which bans the private ownership of lions, tigers, leopards, cheetahs, jaguars, cougars, or any cross-species hybrids of those animals. It makes the practice of cub-petting illegal and prohibits the breeding of big cats for private possession. It also prohibits members of the public from having close contact with big cats, outlawing the practice of taking selfies next to cubs, for instance.
Federally licensed animal sanctuaries or zoos may still exhibit big cats. There is also a grandfather clause that permits individuals who currently possess a big cat to keep them as long as the animal is registered with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service within 180 days.
Violators could face a maximum $20,000 fine and/or up to five years in jail for each offense.
Carole Baskin, founder and chief executive officer of Big Cat Rescue, left, gestures while arriving for a meeting with Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., March 2, 2022. (Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
“Over four years of work have finally led to this moment. I am grateful to all those who have believed in the importance of this bill and who have been dedicated to seeing it become law,” said bill sponsor Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Ill. “This legislation will not only help end the cruel and inhumane cub petting industry, it will also make our communities safer.”
A press release from Quigley’s office credited “Tiger King” with raising public awareness of “the miserable conditions thousands of tigers, lions, leopards, and pumas are kept in by irresponsible owners,” which led to passage of his bill.
Former big cat zoo owner Joe Exotic and his nemesis big cat rescuer Carole Baskin. He is in prison for hiring a hit man to kill her.
Animal rights activists applauded the legislation, including Big Cat Rescue, the accredited non-profit animal sanctuary founded by “Tiger King” star Carole Baskin.
“This bill has been the number one goal of my 30 years of advocacy to stop the mistreatment of big cats. This has been particularly true in the last 20 years during which my husband Howard Baskin joined me and took over managing our legislative efforts,” Baskin said earlier this month after the bill unanimously passed the Senate.
“The passage of the bill is the successful culmination of many years of battling against narcissistic, abusive, dangerous men who dominated this cruel trade and did everything they could to stop its passage, including wanting to intimidate, discredit, and even kill me,” she added.
Hundreds of postcards, with visceral images of underfed golden retriever puppies living in filthy conditions, are flooding the governor’s office in New York. A huge email campaign has been launched by national animal rights groups.
The pet store industry and its lobbyists, however, have also mobilized. Zoom meetings have been held with the governor’s staff; a pet store employee has created an independent campaign of videos featuring well-treated puppies that have gone viral on TikTok.
Out of the hundreds of bills that Gov. Kathy Hochul must decide whether to sign before the end of the year, few appear to carry more emotional weight than the one affecting the welfare of a constituency that cannot even vote: puppies.
After years of debate, New York State lawmakers passed a bill in June with rare bipartisan support that would ban the sale of dogs, cats and rabbits in New York’s pet stores, leading to a fractious clash between animal welfare groups and the pet store industry.
Over the past few weeks, they have redirected their efforts toward lobbying Ms. Hochul, meeting with her office to plead their case as she decides whether to sign or veto the bill, with both sides trading accusations of lying and spreading misinformation.
If Ms. Hochul signs the bill, New York would follow the lead of California, Maryland, Illinois and other states that have passed similar bans meant to curb commercial breeders, sometimes called puppy mills or kitten factories.
The breeding facilities have for years been the source of intense controversy because, according to animal rights advocates, they operate with little oversight and raise dogs in cruel and inhumane conditions, often leading to the sale of sick puppies to consumers.
The bill seeks to close that pipeline by prohibiting the sale of the animals in New York’s 80 or so pet stores — ubiquitous for the window displays of puppies that can go for thousands of dollars — and encouraging New Yorkers to adopt pets from shelters instead. People would still be permitted to buy the animals directly from breeders, an attempt to allow prospective pet owners to visit and buy from responsible breeders.
“We know what it looks like when animals don’t get that care and certainly, from photos and documentation of what these facilities look like, that is not happening,” said Jennie Lintz, the puppy mill initiative director at the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. “New York remains one of the largest markets for these commercial facilities, so the bill could have not just an impact here, but across the country.”
Pet stores have fiercely pushed back against the legislation, arguing that the bill would put them out of business, lead to the unemployment of hundreds of workers, make it harder for people to obtain a pet in the state and potentially lead to an underground market of pet sales — arguments that supporters of the bill have dismissed as overblown.
One of the industry’s largest grievances is its contention that animal activists have demonized most of the breeding industry as abusive. It argues that the unsanitary puppy mills that have been the target of damning investigations are not representative of the entire industry.
“Let’s not pretend that there aren’t people out there who are doing this the wrong way, but they are few and far between,” said Mike Bober, the president and chief executive of the Pet Advocacy Network, a national pet trade association. “We’re deeply offended and frustrated by the fact that people willingly and intentionally misrepresent the state of breeding in the country.”
Ms. Hochul, a Democrat running for a full term in November, has not publicly shared her thoughts on the bill and her office said it was still reviewing the legislation.
In New York, the state attorney general’s office has filed lawsuits in recent years against a handful of pet stores, including those in Albany and New York City, accusing them of misleading consumers and selling puppies that were ill or abused and came from unauthorized breeders.
In 2021, Attorney General Letitia James sued Shake a Paw, which operates two stores on Long Island, for doctoring health certificates, saddling customers with unforeseen veterinary costs and selling at least nine dogs that died from serious diseases soon after they were sold. The store owners have vociferously denied the allegations.
The lawsuits have helped fuel support for a ban, despite the industry’s belief that prohibiting the retail sale of puppies will lead to a cascade of unintended consequences, including more online scams and fewer legal protections for consumers who adopt sick puppies.
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While New York is home to about 40 commercial breeders, according to the A.S.P.C.A., the majority of the puppies sold at pet stores in the state are imported from breeders elsewhere, mostly the Midwest.
Emilio Ortiz, a manager at Citipups, a pet store with two locations in Manhattan, said the company carefully sourced the hundreds of puppies it sells each year from about 30 different breeders across the country that he said exceeded federally mandated standards and provided “a great living situation for their dogs.”
Mr. Ortiz, who has met with state lawmakers and the governor’s office to lobby against the bill, argued that the largest obstacle for the industry is a “distorted view and public narrative” that all breeders and pet stores are bad actors. In response, he began creating videos that seek to show a behind-the-scenes look at how the stores treat the pets they sell. Mr. Ortiz has amassed over 300,000 followers on TikTok and his videos have garnered millions of views.
“It’s an uphill battle,” he said. “We’re just small businesses versus some of these big national organizations that raise millions of dollars and have this marketing machine behind them. Usually people hear only of these horror stories, so I wanted to show people like what actually goes on.”
He added: “We’d completely go out of business” if Ms. Hochul signed the bill, noting that about 90 percent of the store’s sales came from selling puppies.
The bill’s supporters have argued that stores that sell animals could adapt by shifting to selling pet supplies, though the industry contends that it would require stores to invest significantly to reconfigure floor plans originally designed to house live animals.
Pet stores would be allowed to collaborate with shelters and rescue organizations to host adoption events, though they would not receive any of the fees associated with the adoptions. Mr. Bober said that all but two of the 28 pet stores that sold puppies in California went out of business two years after the ban went into effect in 2019, according to data compiled by his trade association.
State Senator Michael Gianaris, a Democrat and self-described animal lover who introduced the bill in New York, brushed aside the industry’s business concerns, saying the ban had a more fundamental objective: to stop treating animals as commodities, or as “an item on a supermarket shelf.”
“I don’t think we should sanction the torturing of animals as a means to keep people in business,” said Mr. Gianaris, the deputy majority leader and owner of a rescue cat, Alley, and a Cavapoo mixed-breed puppy, Fred, that he said he purchased from a reputable breeder. “I hope it doesn’t take the governor as long as it took the entire Legislature to figure out the right thing to do.”
Though many Republican lawmakers voted for the bill, it didn’t gain serious traction in Albany until Democrats seized full control of the State Capitol four years ago. The legislation passed the State Senate in 2020 but stalled in the Assembly.
Some moderate Democrats in the Assembly opposed the bill and proposed more targeted alternatives to regulate the pet trade, while some animal activists loudly accused Carl Heastie, the chamber’s speaker, of holding up the legislation.
That changed on the last day of the legislative session this year, when the 150-seat Assembly passed the bill, which was introduced in the lower chamber by Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal, a Democrat from Manhattan, with only 15 votes against.
“The last bastion of nonpartisanship is puppies and kittens,” said Libby Post, the executive director of the New York State Animal Protection Federation, an organization representing animal shelters and rescue organizations, which support the bill.
The pet store industry has accused shelters and rescue organizations of hypocrisy, arguing that they operate with few regulations in New York, though a second bill on Ms. Hochul’s desk would aim to change that by implementing uniform standards for the veterinary care and housing of rescue animals.
Ms. Post said that banning the retail sale of the animals would ease the strain on New York’s more than 100 shelters and 400 rescue organizations, many of which she said are overflowing with dogs, including those that people obtained during the pandemic but may have abandoned after they were called back to their workplaces.
“What goes on in a puppy mill is absolutely inhumane,” Ms. Post said. “And New York is complicit in animal abuse as long as we allow the sale of milled animals.”
Year after year, after lives of trusting companionship and—in so many cases—loyal service, tens of thousands of horses are cast off and condemned to an arduous cross-border journey into Mexico or Canada that ends with their death. acceptfoto/iStock.com
It is a long way from the stable, paddock and winner’s circle at Churchill Downs to the dark, dank and bloody slaughterhouses in which tens of thousands of American horses meet their sad and pitiable end each year.
Yet some former racehorses do make that terrible journey, and it’s hard not to think of them on the eve of the Kentucky Derby, the most celebrated of races.
The most dispiriting story of all might be that of Ferdinand, the 1986 Kentucky Derby winner who retired as horse racing’s fifth-leading earner of all time and was sold to a stud farm in Japan in 1989. A few years later, with no notice to his former owners, Ferdinand was sent to slaughter, for use in pet food or for human consumption. More recently, in 2020, Private Vow, a 2006 Derby runner, met his end the same way in Korea.
The stories of these and other horses lead to one awful conclusion. Of all modern threats to the horse in the United States, horse slaughter stands out for its sheer callousness and deceitfulness. It’s a problem rooted in wrong and outdated views of horses and how we should treat them, and it’s a problem of our own making here in the United States. For that reason, we have to solve it here, too.
The international export trade that allows horse slaughter to continue can be summed up in a sentence. Year after year, after lives of trusting companionship and—in so many cases—loyal service, tens of thousands of American horses are cast off and condemned to an arduous cross-border journey into Mexico or Canada that ends with their death.
We’re trying to bring this horse slaughter pipeline to an end, and we’re getting closer to that goal than ever. The federal Save America’s Forgotten Equines (SAFE) Act has 216 cosponsors in the House of Representatives, and we’re pressing leaders in Congress to advance the measure for passage in the remaining months of the session.
Animal advocates have been fighting to end the slaughter of American horses since the 1990s and have made steady progress. In 2007, three federal courts upheld state legislation that effectively prohibited the sale of horsemeat for human consumption, which in turn effectively shut down the operation of horse slaughter plants on American soil. Since then, we have kept the industry here on ice by ensuring, year after year, that no federal funds can be used for USDA inspection of such plants.
This de facto ban on domestic horse slaughter did not end the trade, however, and stopping the export market has proven to be a difficult challenge. The killing shifted to Canada and Mexico, where there is an existing slaughter industry satisfying the appetite for horsemeat in Europe and Asia. Today, a network of bottom-feeding “kill buyers” in our own country continues to outbid potential caring owners and export American horses across our borders for slaughter. In 2021, 23,431 horses were exported for slaughter, down 13,454 from the previous year—a 36.5% decrease. Yet it’s still a shocking number, and a great betrayal of horses.
Passage of the SAFE Act would take the United States out of the circuit of cruelty as a supplier of horses to a grisly global trade in horse flesh. It’s a simple bill that permanently bans domestic horse slaughter as well as the export of American horses for slaughter elsewhere, something that 83% of citizens support. With the issue receiving a hearing in the Health Subcommittee in January 2020 and with nearly half the members of the House and six members of the Senate currently on as cosponsors, we are in the final stretch of getting this bill passed into law.
There are many in the racing industry who agree with us that horse slaughter is way out of step with American values. The Jockey Club, The Breeders’ Cup, the New York Racing Association and The Stronach Group (owner of five prominent racetracks) are all active in the campaign. Hall of Fame jockey and founding member of the HSUS National Horse Racing Advisory Council Chris McCarron has also stood tall in the fight, authoring editorials in two Kentucky newspapers, one in Lexington and one in Louisville, just days before this year’s Derby contestants line up at the starting gate.
Another one of the strongest voices in this struggle is that of Joe De Francis, onetime CEO of the Maryland Jockey Club and the chair of the HSUS National Horse Racing Advisory Council. De Francis has been a principled and consistent critic of horse slaughter and played a leadership role in spurring the industry to confront the problem directly. He has also been a stalwart in the broader campaign for horse racing reforms, testifying and advocating on behalf of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act (HISA, which we worked to enact in 2020) and playing a lead role in its implementation. As a Director of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority, the national oversight body created by the Act, De Francis strongly supports and endorses the Authority’s decision to select Drug Free Sport International to create the Horseracing Integrity and Welfare Unit that will serve as the enforcement agency for the drug and medication portion of HISA’s mandate.
There are no easy victories in the animal protection universe. They are all hard-won, and the fight to end horse slaughter has been one of the most demanding and difficult ones we have ever had to wage. Now, during this Triple Crown season, we urge you to join us in a critical push for passage of the SAFE Act. The slaughter pipeline is no place for our horses, and once the bill becomes law, they won’t ever have to face that horror.
The current Pennsylvania legislative session opened with great promise. A record number of animal protection, anti-cruelty bills were introduced, many with strong bi-partisan support. Bills with no down-side – other than for those special interests that exploit animals and profit off of cruelty to animals. Yet, despite the advocacy of animal supporters from every corner of the Commonwealth, and the championing of so many legislators in both our state House and Senate, these bills have stagnated: not one animal protection bill has received a vote. When animal protection, anti-cruelty bills stagnate, animals suffer – and that suffering should not and cannot be tolerated, especially when legislative action provides a meaningful solution. The stagnation of the current legislative session is why the 2022 election is so very important for Pennsylvania’s animals.
We – you and me and everyone else who cares so much about animals – have work to do…
In a major victory for bears and the animal rights organizers hoping to protect them, South Korea recently announced that it would phase out the horrific practice of farming bears for the purpose of extracting their bile! In a wave of similar bear bile bans across Asia, many countries are realizing that the horrors of bear bile extraction far outweigh any perceived “benefits” of the outdated practice.
Sign now to demand that the Chinese government follow suit and ban the practice of farming and imprisoning bears for bile extraction!
A 2016 survey showed that overwhelmingly, Chinese people oppose the bear bile industry – to be exact, 97% said they believe it is extremely cruel.
And they’re right. It should come as no surprise that an industry that promotes the consumption of an animal’s digestive fluid has a history of abuse and mistreatment. Confining bears to small cages, the animals are then forced to endure one of many different — and equally horrific – extraction techniques. On some farms, bears are hooked up to catheters and “milked” for their bile. On others, farmers put holes in a bear’s gall bladder — which is as painful as you imagine it may be — which is continuously reopened throughout the bear’s life to extract the bile it stores. Yet other farms use a four-inch needle for extraction. It is hard to say which technique is more vile than the next, but one thing is clear: all put the bears through needless, cruel, and unusual suffering.
Despite key victories in South Korea and Vietnam, the bear bile industry is still perfectly legal in China. While bear bile does have medicinal properties, research shows that all of its benefits have been discovered in other herbal alternatives which do not require rampant animal abuse. There are many ways to preserve herbal medicine and cultural traditions that do not require such invasive violence against innocent bears.
China must follow the trend of the international community, listen to its own public, and declare a commitment to animal rights and bear health by banning the bear bile industry within its borders. Sign the petition now if you agree!
Target: Mehmet Falakali, former head of the tourism ministry’s Selcuk office
Goal: Stop the festival of camel wrestling occurring in Turkey.
The 40th year of the Camel Wrestling Festival has taken place in Turkey last week. This event takes place annually and thousands of people attend. This year, 152 camels wore saddles and cloths on their humps. The camels wear muzzles to prevent them from using their teeth on each other but nonetheless they fight in sandy areas for everyone to watch. There are referees present as well. The audience sets up tables to barbecue and celebrate the event on the sidelines. This event draws criticism nearly every year from animal rights groups since the camels endure abuse and many injuries during the event. The festival is even being called a criminal act.
The camels are also paraded through the streets for a “pageant” before the festival. They are not only being abused by wrestling but also exploited for the entertainment of humans. Allegedly, the camels are separated if things get too intense. It is said the camels cannot actually injure each other but, why in the world are camels wrestling? It should not happen at all. The festival organizers excuse the acts by saying it is a tradition and because the event has successfully gone on for years, it should not be stopped. This is not an excuse to put the camels through such abuse for the 40th year in a row.
Dear Mehmet Falakali,
Your support of this inhumane camel wrestling festival is unacceptable. An animal rights activist group has clearly expressed their concerns and yet, no one has spoken to them about the festival. It is wrong and the camels are in extreme danger due to the actions of the people participating in this event. You have the responsibility to listen to the opposition and ultimately keep your animals safe, and we demand you try to understand the perspective of those who oppose the event. Although it is a tradition, that does not mean it is right. Camels are being exploited and used for entertainment and that is unfair, unsafe, and inhumane. You must listen to the people who disagree and see the wrongdoings of the event. Think about the camels and how they do not deserve this abuse year after year.
Goal: Seek maximum penalty for kennel owner who reportedly abused and neglected dogs.
Dozens of dogs were reportedly confined to small cages and left outside in the snow by kennel owner John Jones. The weather in Michigan dropped to below zero resulting in the water supply freezing, thus apparently leaving the dogs with no drinking water. The dogs reportedly exhibited extreme distress due to lack of exercise. One dog was apparently found dead with straw in his mouth. Jones allegedly did not know the dog had died. Forty dogs were removed from the kennel and Jones is charged with four counts of felony cruelty abuse to animals and three counts misdemeanor.
Multiple complaints were filed regarding the property for months. Several protests were held outside of the sheriff’s office. PETA also accused the property of being a puppy mill. They demanded an investigation against the property and Jones. The department had an open investigation since December. All the living dogs were thankfully rescued and are now safe. They are getting the warmth, care, and safety that they deserved all along.
Jones being charged for alleged abuse is a step in the right direction, but he must suffer consequences if found guilty. Animal abuse is a huge issue that occurs all over the world with many getting away with it. If Jones is convicted and harshly punished, others can see that animal abuse is a real crime that will come with legal consequences.
Sign below and demand that Jones is held legally responsible if he is convicted.
Dear David Den Houten,
We must make sure John Jones is held accountable for the extreme animal abuse he allegedly caused. Although it is a step in the right direction that he was charged, he must also be made to face real consequences if he is found guilty. Leaving dogs out in the freezing cold with no water supply is illegal and cruel. His apparent abuse resulted in the death of dog.
No animal should be subjected to such cruelty. Please make sure John Jones is harshly punished if convicted of these heinous crimes.
Eleanor Jones 16 January, 2022 20:06 3 – 4 minutes
A 10-year ban has been announced on the donkey skin trade in Tanzania, after fears were raised about the “alarming” decline in the country’s donkey population.
The news has been welcomed as a “strong step in the right direction” by those who have been campaigning against the trade.
H&H has reported on declining donkey populations in a number of countries owing to the demand for eijao, a substance found in the skin that is used in Chinese health and beauty products. Equine charity Brooke is among those calling for a worldwide ban on the trade of donkey skins, and a crackdown on smuggling of the animals across borders.
“This announcement is a fantastic step in the right direction for donkeys and their owners in east Africa,” a Brooke spokesman told H&H.
“We understand that Tanzania has initiated the ban because they are concerned about donkey numbers, which have been rapidly decreasing. Whilst we would like a more permanent ban based on the welfare of donkeys as well as population, we are still very pleased to have this ban in place. We will continue to work with the government to strengthen bans in Tanzania and other countries in Africa.”
There were an estimated 300,000 donkeys in Tanzania, but the number has been dropping rapidly. The country banned donkey slaughter in 2017 but this was overturned in February 2018, allowing slaughterhouses to reopen.
Hundreds of thousands of donkeys are being slaughtered for their skins and exported every year. In many cases, they are stolen from families who depend on them for their livelihood, driven long distances without food or water and killed in “horrific” circumstances.
Target: Yasonna Hamonangan Laoly, Minister of Law for Indonesia
Goal: Work for a national ban on the dog and cat meat trade.
Over four dozen dogs were rescued from an alleged dog butcher in Indonesia. They were the lucky ones. Around one million fellow canines become part of the country’s still-existing dog meat trade annually. The animals endure brutal captures and grueling trips crammed into cages, deprived of their ability to even open their mouths. These cruel incidents are just the beginning. Once the dogs reach their final destinations they await slaughter, spectators to the horrors that will soon befall them. Those horrors include bludgeoning and burning. Sometimes, the dogs are still alive for the last sick step in the ritual.
Indonesia has made weak attempts to curb the practice of butchering dogs, which mostly now exists in more rural regions of the country. They banned the consumption of dog meat and made stronger penalties for dog trafficking. A few areas have also made selling dog meat illegal. Yet a national ban on the dog meat trade (and cat meat trade) has not been pursued, despite repeated calls from animal rights activists.
Sign the petition below to urge Indonesian leaders to take this decisive step that could abolish a pervasive form of mass animal torture and cruelty once and for all.
Dear Minister Laoly,
Indonesian leadership must recognize the brutality of the dog and cat meat trade, as recent court rulings and bans on consumption and trafficking have indicated. Yet the practice still remains widespread due to lax enforcement of existing rules and a complete lack of prohibition of these trades at the national level. As a result, horrific videos depicting the sick realities of the industry continue to emerge and enrage individuals across the country and around the world.
Please listen to the calls from these concerned citizens for a national ban on industries that trade in unimaginable cruelty and slaughter.
Target: Li Xiaopeng, Minister of Transportation, People’s Republic of China
Goal: Improve and enforce animal transportation regulations.
China has some of the most lax animal welfare laws in the world. This insufficiency in animal rights has recently led to the death of thousands of animals that were left to die at transportation depots. Five thousand animals were shipped from a breeding farm in China in cardboard boxes where they were left without food or water for over a week until they starved to death in their cardboard coffins. Only 200 animals were saved and sent to a local animal shelter. Transporting animals in this manner is illegal, yet there is no enforceable penalty for perpetrators.
Sign this petition to urge the Chinese authorities to implement new animal transportation regulations and make sure they are enforced.
Dear Minister Li Xiaopeng,
Nearly 5,000 animals were left to starve to death at a shipping depot in China. The perpetrators of such a heinous act of animal cruelty will go unpunished as regulations in your country do not adequately protect animals. This is shameful and must not be allowed to continue. In this most recent tragedy, the thousands of animals that died were stuffed in cardboard boxes and left without food or water for a week. This intentional neglect and willful abuse must end.
I urge you to improve your current regulations governing the transportation of animals and ensure stiff penalties are enforced.
Reading Time: 2 minutes Italy is set to close down its remaining mink farms. Credit: Adobe Stock
In a monumental vote, Italy is set to implement a permanent ban on fur farming throughout the country. Its ten remaining mink fur farms are slated to close within six months.
Yesterday, the Budget Committee of the Italian Senate voted to approve a modified version of an amendment to the budget law.
The changes immediately outlaw the breeding of fur-bearing animals, including mink, foxes, chinchillas, and raccoon dogs.
Additionally, Italy’s remaining active fur farms must shut down by June 30, 2022.
Further, the Ministry of Agriculture will provide funds to farmers affected by the ban, putting a total of €3 million aside for this purpose.
According to animal protection organization Humane Society International/Europe (HSI), Parliament’s official approval of the ban is expected to go through by the end of the year.
Consequently, Italy will become the 16th country in Europe to end fur farming.
A myriad of Italian fashion designers have already made similar commitments, by removing fur from their designs, runways, and magazine covers. Armani, Gucci, Prada, Valentino, and Versace have all ditched fur from their lines.
Meanwhile, ELLE magazine in Italy pledged to never work with or advertise the animal product again; the fur-free policy applies to all of ELLE’s editions around the world.
Animal rights advocates have named the ban a ‘victory’. Credit: Adobe Stock
A victory for animals
Animal rights advocates have welcomed the news with open arms.
Hon. Michela Vittoria Brambilla is president of the Parliamentary Intergroup for Animal Rights and of the Italian League for the Defense of Animals and the Environment.
In a statement, they said: “In thirty years of animal rights battle this is the best victory. Finally, a parliamentary vote sanctions the end of unspeakable suffering inflicted on animals only in the name of profit and vanity … better late than never.
“Now we await the final approval of the budget law, but the political will has been clearly expressed. A dream comes true that animal protection associations have cultivated for decades in our country … It is a great achievement, which finally all those who love and respect animals rejoice!”
HSI’s director in Italy, Martina Pluda, shares Brambilla’s outlook.
“This is a historic victory for animal protection in Italy, and HSI/Europe is immensely proud that our fur farm conversion strategy has played a central role in dismantling this cruel and dangerous industry in our country,” Pluda said, referring to HSI/Europe’s recent report on mink breeding, which outlined the risks of the trade and pathways to phase it out.
As well as being rife with animal cruelty concerns, fur farming has been linked to multiple outbreaks of COVID-19. As of this month (December, 2021), such outbreaks have been confirmed on 465 mink farms in 12 countries, including Italy.
“There are very clear economic, environmental, public health and of course animal welfare reasons to close and ban fur farms,” Pluda continued. “[This] vote recognizes that allowing the mass breeding of wild animals for frivolous fur fashion represents a risk to both animals and people that can’t be justified by the limited economic benefits it offers to a small minority of people involved in this cruel industry,”
“With so many designers, retailers and consumers going fur-free, conversion of fur farms offers people a sustainable future that the fur trade simply cannot provide.”
Jemima is the News Writer for Plant Based News. She was previously Senior Editor for another vegan media outlet, and is currently studying a Bachelor of Psychological Science. Originally from Australia, Jemima now lives in Utrecht in the Netherlands with her dog Levi, and loves writing music in her free time. More by Jemima Webber
Angora fur is considered some of the softest wool around – but the way it’s produced is anything but soft and cuddly.
Luckily, more and more fashion brands are admitting the cruelty behind this “cozy” fabric and banning its use. Sign the petition to demand Louis Vuitton, Prada, and Chanel join the movement!
While in our minds, we might think of angora being harvested on happy farms where bunnies are politely groomed and buzzed down every so often to relieve them of excess fur, and as a happy consequence, provide wool for our coats, the truth is much more grim.
Angora fur comes from a type of rabbit, mostly kept locked up in dingy, feces-coated cages their entire lives to satisfy our fashion demands. Because longer fur fibers are considered the most desirable, for the most part, the rabbits aren’t gently shaved and sent off to continue leading their happy (albeit less fluffy) lives. Instead, workers are told to get the entire hairs out of the animals, right down to the follicles’ bulbs – leading to horrific scenes.
Videos document rabbits screaming in pain while garment workers rip their fur lengths of fur from their skin and even being strapped onto boards where staff stretch them out and hack off their fur. Then these poor creatures are sent right back into their filthy, tiny cages where they sit, trembling, trying to recover from the terror they just endured… until eventually, they are subjected to it all over again.
Fortunately, public pressure from animal lovers like you has been forcing fashion houses to cease their use of angora wool. In 2021, both Valentino and Armani banned angora in their products, and before them, dozens of other brands had already made similar pledges.
Yet Louis Vuitton, Chanel, and Prada have been disturbingly silent when it comes to these rabbit abuses. It’s time for these major money-making, high fashion brands to realize: animals’ pain isn’t fashionable. Sign the petition to demand these corporations end angora wool use now!
We’ve stopped Shake A Paw from mistreating dogs and cheating families.
A court order banned the Long Island pet stores from buying new puppies altogether, froze their bank accounts, and will require that dogs be examined by an independent vet to ensure their health and safety. https://t.co/DI9wNVDglx
Paris (AFP) – The French parliament voted Thursday to end wild animals being used in live circus shows and outlawed mink farming, in new animal-rights legislation hailed as a step forward by campaigners.
Performances of wild animals such as lions, tigers or bears will be prohibited in two years, and owning them outlawed in seven years, under the wide-ranging law that has been under debate since 2020.
The new regulations, once signed into law by President Emmanuel Macron, will also ban live dolphin shows and mink farming, meaning the country’s last mink producer will close.
Macron’s centrist Republic on the Move (LREM) party called the legislation “a historic step in the animal rights combat,” while former actress and animal rights activist Brigitte Bardot welcomed “a major advance”.
Circus owners denounced it, however, while some campaigners said it did not go far enough.
As well as the measures targeting circuses, the new law will raise the maximum penality for mistreating animals to up to five years in prison and a fine of 75,000 euros ($85,000), and will tighten restrictions on the sale of pets.
Loic Dombreval, the LREM co-sponsor of the law, conceded that other controversial issues had not been included within the scope of the legislation, which won cross-party support in both houses of parliament.
“There will inevitably come a day when… we will debate sensitive issues such as hunting, such as bull-fighting, or some animal-rearing practices,” said the lawmaker, who is also a veterinarian.
Polls show that a vast majority of French people support the ban on wild circus animals, and dozens of cities and towns around the country already bar them.
Public opinion in Europe has moved decisively against animal circuses, once a popular form of family entertainment, following revelations about cruel treatment and campaigning from rights groups.
Several events in France in recent years have added momentum for the ban, including the death of a sickly performing bear called Mischa in 2019 that had been rescued from animal trainers, as well as the shooting of an escaped tiger in Paris in 2017.
The tigress, named Mevy, escaped from her enclosure at the Cirque Bormann-Moreno and began roaming the streets of the French capital before being gunned down by her owner in the name of public safety.
France lags behind around 20 European countries that have either banned or heavily restricted the use of animals for entertainment already.
Environmentalists and more radical animal rights groups had wanted the new law to improve the conditions inside industrial animal farms.
The group L214, which had sought protections for the “more than a billion intensely farmed animals” in France, welcomed the legislation but said it “lacked courage”.
The group has made a name for itself in France by sending its activists undercover into abattoirs and then publishing videos of the often shocking scenes of animals being mistreated or cut up while still alive.
Farms that make foie gras pate in France — which force-feed birds such as geese and ducks to artificially bloat their livers — have also long been targeted by campaigners, but their operations will not be changed by the new law.
Hunting is staunchly defended by supporters as a traditional rural pastime that is essential to keep animal populations under control, while bull-fighting remains part of local culture in some southern French towns.
The 120 circus owners in France are likely to protest against the new restrictions and have warned that some animals might end up abandoned.
“It’s an arbitrary law because there are not mistreated animals in our circuses,” William Kerwich, head of the circus animal trainers’ union, told AFP.
He said there would be a reaction from his members on Monday, and a legal appeal.
The new legislation also bans the use of wild animals in television shows, nightclubs and private parties.
The French fur industry has fought a dogged rearguard action in recent years against the ban on mink farms and luxury fashion houses going fur-free.
Kangaroos are one of the world’s most iconic, loved and unique animals. Yet here in Australia, their home, they are either maligned and demonised as pests or viewed as a resource to be exploited.
Most Australians are unaware that our kangaroos are victims of the largest commercial slaughter of land based wildlife in the world. They have virtually no protections under the law, with tens of thousands of joeys being violently beaten or decapitated after watching their parents die a slow and painful death.
Recent changes to the NSW licensing regulations have led to a doubling in the number of kangaroos killed by the non-commercial industry, despite questions around the number of kangaroos remaining in the wild.
These threats coupled with the drought and mega fires killing and wounding thousands of kangaroos as their habitat is destroyed, are pushing Kangaroos to the brink.
“The mouth of a kangaroo can be blown off and the kangaroo can escape to die of shock and starvation. Forearms can be blown off, as can ears, eyes and noses. Stomachs can be hit expelling the contents with the kangaroo still alive.” – David Nicholls, former kangaroo shooter
This is a national disgrace and finally the rest of the world is watching. Europe, the world’s biggest importer of kangaroo products is considering a ban based on both welfare and health concerns, after Russia did so in 2014. We are confident that other states in the USA will follow California’s lead in enacting a full legislative ban on the cruel trade in kangaroo products.
It is time we forced our government to act and protect these gentle and unique animals who have every right to live their lives free from fear, cruelty and suffering.
Sign the petition calling on NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian to hold a Parliamentary Inquiry into the horrific slaughter of one of the world’s most iconic animals: the Kangaroo.
To: Gladys Berejiklian, NSW Premier From: [Your Name]
We the undersigned petitioners request that the Premier urgently hold an inquiry into the impact of farming practices and commercial and non-commercial hunting and slaughter on kangaroo welfare and sustainable populations.
This petition of citizens of New South Wales draws to the attention of the Premier that: • Kangaroos are facing species extinction in NSW due to a combination of hunting, slaughter and habitat loss through land clearing; • The current NSW Kangaroo Management Plan (KMP) 2017-2021 is based on an inaccurate formula which over-estimates kangaroo numbers; • Under the KMP, the commercial industry is allocated a ‘harvest’ quota. In recent years, hunters have only been able to slaughter less than twenty per cent of their quota; • The inherent cruelty – kangaroos are rarely killed with one shot to the head, as dictated by the code of practice. It is estimated 855,000 dependent young kangaroos are either clubbed to death or are left to starve after their mothers have been slaughtered. • Decapitation or bludgeoning to death of joeys is enshrined in the code of practice as being the most ‘humane’ way to deal with the joeys orphaned by this brutal industry; and • In 2018 the NSW Liberal National Government relaxed the licensing requirements which made it easier for farmers and others to shoot kangaroos on private property.
We urge you to BAN these Animal Cruelty Trades and Implement Enforceable laws to protect these Animals from harm.
The Dog and Cat Meat Trade
Live Animal Markets
The Dogs Cats and Animals of Ghana need protection from these ruthless criminal traders that torture abuse and murder these helpless animals for human consumption.
Dogs and Cats are Not food but are loyal companion animals that should be treated with kindness and respect and not brutalised and eaten. The World Health Organisations have CONFIRMED that these Global Live Animal Markets must be CLOSED as they are at the ROOT of COVID19 and are also a breeding ground for the spread of other FATAL DISEASES.
The brutal dog and cat meat trade are putting human health at risk from consumption of dogs and cats in form of Cholera Rabies and other DEADLY DISEASES and now COVID 19. We urge you to Ban the Demonic Dog and Animal Sacrifices and the Barbaric Dog and Cat Meat trade in Africa. Like many Harmful and Outdated practices in history these BARBARIC Animal Sacrifices must also be Abolished.
Please Join the countless CARING Ghana PEOPLE who have added their voices and support to the Global Millions in SPEAKING out AGAINST ANIMAL CRUELTY and are URGING the Guinean Government to PROTECT the Animals and People of Ghana from these Criminal and BARBARIC Animal Cruelty Trades by taking ACTION to
BAN Dog Racing
Ban the Dog and Cat Meat Trade
Ban Animal Sacrifices Shutdown the Live Animal Markets
Ban Dog Fighting
There is NO Place for Animal Cruelty in the 21 Century. #CrueltyFreeAfrica #CrueltyfreeTourism #ProtectAnimalsOfAfrica #CrueltyFreeTravel #crueltyfreeGuinea #banthedogandcatmeattrade
Kangaroos are one of Australia’s most iconic, loved and unique animals. They are also the victims of the largest commercial slaughter of land-based wildlife on the planet.
Last year alone 2 million kangaroos were slaughtered in the cruel commercial kangaroo trade; many were and turned into soccer boots.
“The mouth of a kangaroo can be blown off and the kangaroo can escape to die of shock and starvation. Forearms can be blown off, as can ears, eyes and noses. Stomachs can be hit expelling the contents with the kangaroo still alive.” – David Nicholls, former kangaroo shooter
Every year the State Governments of NSW, Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia and Queensland condemn millions of kangaroos to death. Scott Morrison and the Federal Government have the power to stop this horrific slaughter.
The World wept for our wildlife after the 2019 Black Summer bushfires, yet here in Australia it was business as usual for the commercial kangaroo industry.
State and Federal Governments saw no problem with the continued slaughter of kangaroos. Some states including NSW increased their commercial slaughter quotas.
It is time for the Prime Minister and the Federal Government to act and protect these gentle and unique animals who have every right to live their lives free from fear, cruelty and suffering.
To: Prime Minister Scott Morrison From: [Your Name]
I am calling on you as Prime Minister to stop the slaughter of kangaroos. Last year alone 2 million kangaroos were slaughtered in the cruel commercial kangaroo trade; many were and turned into soccer boots.
Every year the State Governments of NSW, Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia and Queensland condemn millions of kangaroos to death, you as Prime Minister have the power to stop the slaughter.
The World wept for our wildlife after the 2019 Black Summer bushfires, yet here in Australia it was business as usual for the commercial kangaroo industry. State and Federal Governments saw no problem with the continued slaughter of kangaroos. Some states including NSW increased their commercial slaughter quotas.
The kangaroo industry is unspeakably cruel. Every year, an estimated 855,000 dependent young kangaroos are killed or left to starve after their mothers are killed for the commercial kangaroo industry. Orphaned joeys are decapitated or bludgeoned to death, as dictated by the National Code of practice, and they do not get counted in total kill numbers.
The commercial kangaroo slaughter is a national disgrace and the rest of the world is watching. Many countries and companies are reconsidering their use of kangaroo products. Europe, the world’s biggest importer of kangaroo products is considering a ban based on both welfare and health concerns, after Russia did so in 2014. We are confident that other states in the USA will follow California’s lead in enacting a full legislative ban on the cruel trade in kangaroo products.
I implore you to stop the commercial slaughter and protect kangaroos.
Abusive barbaric CAMEL weight lifting competitions are being held in Pakistan on an annual basis. Camels are forced to lift tons and tons of heavy bricks and sacks so that their owners can win monetary cash prizes at the end of these atrocious so called competitions!
PETA director Elisa Allen said: ‘If anyone wishes to enter a weight-lifting contest, they should train and have to go at it, but leave the animals out of it.
‘Camels are intelligent, sensitive individuals, and treating them as living cranes for human amusement adds to the many types of abuse, including their eventual slaughter.
Sheezada ( camel) lifted 1.7tons to win the contest, the equivalent of a small car
we request Imran Khan and Government of Pakistan to ban such competitions and strictly enforce the law so that such merciless brutal events are not arranged illegally
Israel bans sale of fur to fashion industry, first country to do so
By AARON REICH
Israel has banned the sale of fur to the fashion industry on Wednesday, becoming the first country in the world to do so.
“The fur industry causes the deaths of hundreds of millions of animals worldwide, and inflicts indescribable cruelty and suffering,” Environmental Protection Minister Gila Gamliel said in a statement after signing the amendment, which goes into effect in six months.
“Using the skin and fur of wildlife for the fashion industry is immoral and is certainly unnecessary. Animal fur coats cannot cover the brutal murder industry that makes them. Signing these regulations will make the Israeli fashion market more environmentally friendly and far kinder to animals.” Environmental Protection Minister Gila Gamliel signs an amendment banning the sale of fur to the fashion industry. (Photo credit: Courtesy)
The decision was welcomed by the animal rights NGO Animals Now, who praised it as a “historic milestone” that will “save countless animals from the hell of the fur industry.”
In a statement, the NGO added: “We have been fighting for years to ban the sale of furs to the fashion industry, and from the start, 86% of the Israeli public supported this.
Gamliel: “Animal fur coats cannot cover the brutal murder industry that makes them.”
“We thank Minister Gamliel and Tal Gilboa, the prime minister’s adviser on animal rights, and our partners in the struggle over years, Let The Animals Live and the International Anti-Fur Coalition (IAFC).”
“The IAFC has promoted a bill to ban the sale of fur in Israel since 2009, and we applaud the Israeli government for finally taking the historic leap towards making fur for fashion history,” IAFC founder Jane Halevy said in a statement.
“All animals suffer horrifically at the hands of this cruel and backwards industry,” added Halevy, whose organization has been working towards this for over a decade. “Nothing is stronger than an idea whose time has come. Killing animals for fur should become illegal everywhere – it is high time that governments worldwide ban the sale of fur.”
The animal rights organization PETA also hailed the move as a “historic victory,” writing on Twitter that it “will protect countless foxes, minks, rabbits, and other animals from being violently killed for their skin.”
Taking to Twitter, Gamliel also wrote that she was proud for Israel to be the first country to ban the sale of fur.
The move to ban fur trade makes Israel the first country in the world to do so, though the US state of California had banned the sale of fur to the fashion industry in 2019.
Back in October, when the plans were first announced by Gamliel, it was made clear that future permits for the fur trade would still be given out, but only in certain cases. These permits are issued by the Nature and Parks Authority, but these new criteria would limit them to being given out only in cases of “scientific research, education, for instruction and religious purposes and tradition.”
The latter category has the potential to be particularly contentious due to the role fur plays in the traditions of haredi Jews, who often wear fur hats called shtreimels, though it is possible that they will get an exception.
Enforcement and funding will be crucial charity warns
The RSPCA has welcomed the Government’s Action Plan for Animal Welfare and urged them to ‘have courage’ in delivering it.
An unprecedented coalition of 50 animal welfare charities called for the UK Government to take a ‘once-in-a-generation opportunity’ to redefine our relationship with animals through a new animal health and welfare strategy and released a green paper – “Act Now For Animals” – setting out the sector’s priorities.
Animal loving personalities including wildlife presenter Chris Packham, DJ Sara Cox, TV personality Angela Rippon, choreographer and TV presenter Arlene Phillips, actress and wildlife campaigner Virginia McKenna and actress Carol Royle added their support in a video:
Chris Sherwood, Chief Executive of the RSPCA today applauded the Government’s plans to take action on more than a dozen animal issues which the public care passionately about, including pet issues: tackling puppy smuggling through changes to import rules, introducing compulsory microchipping for cats, cracking down on pet theft through a new government taskforce and banning remote controlled training e-collars.
Sam Gaines, head of the companion animals department at the RSPCA, said: “The past year has highlighted just how important pets are for so many people and so we are thrilled that the Government plans to take action on issues which offer our pets greater protections.
“We are delighted that the sale and use of equipment designed to cause pain and fear will be banned and puppy and kitten imports will be tackled. Throughout the pandemic we have seen many pet owners understandably concerned about pet theft and so we’re pleased to see a new taskforce being introduced to crackdown on pet thefts.
“We’re also pleased to see the Government introducing compulsory microchipping for cats – should a cat be lost, or become injured, they can easily be reunited with their owner.”
Chris Sherwood, Chief Executive of the RSPCA, said: “These announcements could make a real and lasting difference to animals’ welfare, so we’re pleased the Government is committed to improving animals’ lives in the UK and abroad.
“We can no longer ignore the inextricable link that exists between the way we treat animals, our own health and that of the planet – but to really achieve a step change, it will take courage from right across Government.
“We urge the Prime Minister to put animal welfare at the heart of policy making and make these announcements just the beginning of an evolving, holistic animal health and welfare strategy.”
Chris added that as well as needing courage, the Government needs to create an Animal Sentience Committee with real teeth to ensure animals are considered in relevant policy making.
He added: “An Animal Sentience Committee is crucial to the success of future legislation; it must be independent, made up of leading animal welfare experts and be able to meaningfully hold ministers to account. It must not be a token gesture.
“We are pleased the Government will be taking action on many of the top welfare issues that we know the public care passionately about and look forward to working with them to identify further opportunities to improve animal welfare.”
The badger cull policy has cost the lives of more than 140,000 badgers since 2013, in the largest destruction of a protected species in living memory. Badgers have been shot across a geographical area stretching from Cornwall to Cumbria at an estimated public cost of over £70m, when the costs of policing, training, monitoring, equipment, and legal defence are taken into account.
Despite the huge cruelty and cost of the badger cull policy, the government has provided no reliable scientific evidence to prove that badger culling is making any significant contribution to lowering bovine tuberculosis (TB) in cattle, in or around the cull zones. The government could kill every badger in England, but bovine TB will remain in cattle herds, since it’s primarily spread from cow to cow.
There are over 9.6m cattle in Britain and we move more cattle in this nation than anywhere else in Europe. The movement of cattle is a key driver for the spread of bovine TB in both cattle and badgers.
For too long, the government and the farming industry have wrongly blamed the badger for the spread of bovine TB in cattle, which has become a dangerous distraction from tackling the root cause of disease in the cattle industry.
However, could growing public recognition over infectious disease control issues, resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic, help to bring respite to the badgers?
Over the past 12 months, all of us have gained an insight into the danger of pandemics and the actions we need to take to stop the spread of Covid-19. R-numbers, testing efficiency, track and trace, biosecurity controls, vaccines, antibodies and herd immunity have all become subjects of discussion in households across the nation.
For those of us who have long opposed the cruel, expensive and ineffective badger cull policy, these discussions resonate for disease control in animals as well as humans.
Like the spread of Covid-19 in the human population, the spread of bovine TB in cattle is largely down to cows being kept inside buildings for extended periods or moved in large numbers across the country.
The Randomised Badger Culling Trial (RBCT), undertaken between 1998 to 2005, cost over £49m and resulted in the death of more than 11,000 badgers in the largest and most complex field research programme ever undertaken on the issue of badgers and the spread of bovine TB to cattle.
The Independent Scientific Group, which reviewed the results of the RBCT, found that the culling of badgers could make no meaningful contribution to lowering bovine TB in cattle, and that like Covid-19 in humans, bovine TB in cattle is most effectively controlled by cattle-focussed measures, including improved testing, track and trace systems, movement and biosecurity controls and vaccination against the disease.
One of the most outspoken critics of the government’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic is the former chief scientist Sir David King. Through his Independent Sage Committee, he has heavily criticised key aspects of the Covid-19 control strategy, from the timing of lockdowns and the failures in testing and track and trace systems, to movement and border controls.
To a large degree, Sir David has received strong public support for many of the concerns he has raised on the Covid-19 pandemic, but in my opinion there remains a huge inconsistency in his position on the control of disease in humans compared to animals.
As the government chief scientist under Prime Minister Tony Blair, Sir David King challenged the key findings of the Independent Scientific Group which oversaw the Randomised Badger Culling Trial. This helped pave the way for the incoming coalition government in 2010 to plan and implement a badger cull policy which remains in place to this day. I believe he was wrong to do so.
Like Covid-19, bovine TB is a disease spread primarily by aerosol droplet infection when cattle are held indoors for extended periods of time, without any prospect of “social distancing’’.
The most effective way to stop the spread of the disease is to put in place effective testing and track and trace systems for cattle. Biosecurity measures are crucial in stopping the spread of disease on farms, at cattle markets and when cattle are moved. A widespread cattle vaccination programme is the most effective way of building up herd immunity to stop the spread of the disease.
Badgers have been unfairly blamed for spreading bovine TB in cattle, and demonised and destroyed as a result. The government has laid out an exit strategy from badger culling, but tens of thousands of badgers remain under the threat of being shot before this is finally implemented.
The Covid-19 pandemic has caused great human suffering, but it could lead to significant scientific improvements in disease control for both humans and animals. It is now time that the government uses the lessons learned from the pandemic to bring the killing of badgers to an immediate and permanent end.
Let us hope by the time Covid-19 ends, it will also bring a close to the badger cull, one of the darkest chapters in the history of farming and wildlife conservation in Britain.
Show captionAnimal welfare protesters at a rally in front of the Al Kuwait live export ship as sheep are loaded in Fremantle harbour, 16 June 2020. Photograph: Richard Wainwright/AAPAnimal welfare
Set of government measures will include halting most live animal exports and a ban on hunting trophy imports
Animals are to be formally recognised as sentient beings in UK law for the first time, in a victory for animal welfare campaigners, as the government set out a suite of animal welfare measures including halting most live animal exports and banning the import of hunting trophies.
The reforms will be introduced through a series of bills, including an animal sentience bill, and will cover farm animals and pets in the UK, and include protections for animals abroad, through bans on ivory and shark fins, and a potential ban on foie gras.
Some of the measures – including microchipping cats and stopping people keeping primates as pets – have been several years in preparation, and others – such as the restriction of live animal exports – have been the subject of decades-long campaigns.
George Eustice, the environment secretary, said: “We are a nation of animal lovers and were the first country in the world to pass animal welfare laws. Our action plan for animal welfare will deliver on our manifesto commitment to ban the export of live animal exports for slaughter and fattening, prohibit keeping primates as pets, and bring in new laws to tackle puppy smuggling. As an independent nation, we are now able to go further than ever to build on our excellent track record.”
The action plan for animal welfare includes measures that will involve cracking down on pet theft, which has become a growing problem in the “puppy boom” sparked by the coronavirus lockdowns with a new taskforce. Controversial e-collars that deliver an electric shock to train pets will be banned, and import rules changed to try to stop puppy smuggling.
However, the use of cages for poultry and farrowing crates for pigs will not be subject to an outright ban, as campaigners had called for. Instead, their use will be examined, and farmers will be given incentives to improve animal health and welfare through the future farm subsidy regime.
The government also repeated its pledge to uphold UK animal welfare in future trade deals, but will not put this commitment into law as campaigners have urged.
James West, senior policy manager at Compassion in World Farming, a pressure group, said some of the measures were the subject of protracted campaigns: “We have long been calling for UK legislation that recognises animals as sentient beings and for sentience to be given due regard when formulating and implementing policy. We are also delighted the government has confirmed it will legislate for a long-overdue ban on live exports for slaughter and fattening. We have been campaigning for this for decades: it is high time this cruel and unnecessary trade is finally brought to an end.”
He called for the government to go further, and stop the import and sale of foie gras, and ban the use of cages for the UK’s 16 million sows and laying hens that are still kept in cages.
He added: “All of these positive announcements must be supported by a comprehensive method of production labelling, and it is essential that the government ensure these much-needed animal welfare improvements are not undermined by future trade agreements.”
The ban on the import and export of shark fins, the subject of a campaign by the chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and others, was also welcomed. Steve Backshall, the Wildlife TV presenter and patron of the Bite-Back campaign on shark finning, said: “[This] will be significant in helping restore the balance of the oceans [and] sends a clear message to the world that shark fin soup belongs in the history books, not on the menu.”
Claire Bass, executive director of Humane Society International/UK, said: “Delivering on the plan will require understanding and real commitment from across Whitehall. Respect for animal welfare is not only the right thing to do for animals, it will also play a critical role in tackling global environmental and public health challenges such as climate change, antibiotic resistance, and pandemic prevention.”
Christopher Hope, Charles Hymas 9 hrs ago 9 – 11 minutes
Animals with a backbone will have a legal right to feel happiness and suffering in a Government drive to raise welfare standards in Tuesday’s Queen’s Speech.
An Animal Sentience Bill will enshrine in law that animals are aware of their feelings and emotions, and can experience joy and pleasure, as well as pain and suffering.
“Sentience” will apply to “vertebrate animals – anything with a spinal cord”, Environment secretary George Eustice told The Telegraph in an exclusive interview below.
An existing committee of experts and civil servants in Defra will be tasked with ensuring Government’s policies take into account animal sentience.
Ministers were criticised in 2018 when the duty was not carried across into UK law from the European Union after Brexit.
The Government wants to make the UK a world leader in animal welfare and laws that protect animals form the centrepiece of this week’s Queen’s Speech.
As well as an Animal Sentience Bill, an Animals Abroad Bill will ban the import of trophies from animal hunting. A third measure – a Kept Animals Bill – will stop live animal exports and ban families from keeping primates as pets.
The Government will also publish an animal welfare strategy which will raise the prospect of banning fur imports, microchipping all domestic cats and calling time on the cruel killing of pigs by gassing them with carbon dioxide.
Animal welfare is not at odds with caring about our rural communities
The Conservative government has certainly come a long way since the party first won power in 2010 on a pledge to offer a free vote on legalising fox hunting, writes Christopher Hope.
This week’s Queen’s Speech will see the Tory government publish draft laws that enshrine in law the right of animals to feel pain, as well as bans on live animal exports, importing hunting trophies and keeping primates as pets.
A separate animal welfare strategy document will set the direction of travel, raising the prospect of banning fur imports, microchipping all cats and calling time on the cruel killing of pigs by gassing them with carbon dioxide.
It is some journey from “hoodie hugging” when David Cameron was leader in the 2000s to “bunny hugging” under Boris Johnson in the 2020s. And it has been witnessed at first hand by George Eustice, a party press officer in the 2000s and now the Environment secretary.
He says: “I don’t really see that there’s an inconsistency between caring about animal welfare, wanting to promote that and believing in rural communities, and the values of the countryside.
“I grew up on a family farm from a sixth generation farming family. I’m somebody who really understands the social capital that exists in our farming communities and rural communities.
“And by having higher standards of animal welfare, there’s nothing at all that is at odds with caring also about rural communities in the countryside.”
For Mr Eustice, who grew up on his family farm with Guinea pigs, rabbits and a rescued Border Collie called Mono, the difference between then and now is that Boris Johnson wants to prioritise animal welfare.
“There were always other priorities. Boris Johnson is the first Prime Minister, probably ever, to mention animal welfare on the steps of Downing Street. We’ve now got an occupant in Number 10 who really just wants to get some of these things done.”
Critics claim that Mr Johnson’s love for animals comes from his fiancee Carrie Symonds, a passionate environmentalist. Mr Eustice says he has not talked to Miss Symonds “directly” about the new animal welfare laws.
He says: “She [Miss Symonds] has long held views on this so there’s no doubt about that – she’s campaigned on animal welfare issues.
“And it’s not as though she’s unique and alone in this. She is a Conservative she’s passionate about animal welfare, as am I, as is the Prime Minister.”
The most eye-catching of this week’s slew of animal welfare laws is an Animal Sentience Bill which will enshrine in law that animals are aware of their feelings and emotions, and have the same capacity to feel joy and pleasure, as well as pain and suffering.
Mr Eustice says: “It would not make fishing illegal – people needn’t worry about that. It is much more than when we design policies, we have to have regard for animal sentience.”
Mr Eustice admits some of the measures – such as the ban on bringing back hunting trophies to the UK and possible restrictions on fur imports – will not affect large numbers.
The ban on keeping primates as pets, for example, is mainly targeted at the small number of people who have marmosets in homes (numbers grew after the Labour government removed restrictions in 2008 on the grounds that they are not dangerous).
But it is all about “sending a signal”. He says: “It sends an important signal around the world and this is something that we want to try and stop.” Many of these changes – such the ban on live animal exports – are made possible by the UK’s exit from the European Union.
“As a self governing country you gain some agility and also the self confidence to make these judgments for yourself.
“And it does show that outside the EU, we can address areas of policy that some might consider, small niche areas of policy, but where you can make laws better or stronger.
Mr Eustice admits that tackling the fall-out from the coronavirus pandemic is the Government’s number one priority.
But he says: “That doesn’t mean you have to stop work on every other front. How you treat animals, and the legislation you have to govern that, is a mark of a civilised society, and we should be constantly looking to improve and refine our legislation in this area.”
It has been a busy week for Mr Eustice who last week had to defuse the row between French fishermen and Jersey’s government over access to their waters which led to the Navy sending in gunboats to ensure no one came to any harm.
Mr Eustice is unrepentant.
“It was an entirely legitimate response to a situation that you couldn’t have predicted what might have come, and it’s better always to have your assets on standby ready to react should they be needed.”
And he is scathing of “disproportionate” threats to cut off Jersey’s power not least because France “would have to intervene in a commercial arrangement between EDF and Jersey”.
He blames the French government for not telling its fishermen that they had to agree to new licensing agreements based on their historic catches with Jersey’s government.
“It appears that some of the French industry hadn’t quite appreciated what the European Commission had agreed in the Trade and Cooperation agreement,” he says.
Jersey has now given the French fishermen until July 1 to ensure their paperwork is in order. Mr Eustice does not rule out sending in the Navy again.
He says: “If the intelligence model – and an algorithm they follow – suggested that there was illegal fishing activity in Jersey waters, then some of those assets would be redeployed into that area to address that.”
Mr Eustice is optimistic about the future of the Union – despite concern about buoyancy of support for the SNP – pointing out that “within Defra, we work very constructively with Scottish Government and with Welsh Government.
His hope is that over time, as Brexit beds in, the calls from independence parties in the devolved administrations will die away.
“They will accrue powers in everything from agriculture and environment to animal welfare policy powers that they never had before the devolved administrations will now again.
“What will happen is over time once the tensions over Brexit heal …, things will bed down the devolved administrations, all of them will realise that they can do things that they could never do as an EU member and the attraction of rejoining the EU will fade.”
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