2017 started out with fantastic wins for animals worldwide with the biggest standouts being China’s pledge to ban the ivory trade and Ringling Brothers Circus to finally draw it’s curtain for good. 2016 saw many wonderful changes for animals and I’m optimistic that this is indeed a trend towards ending the barbaric treatment of animals in all areas of human interactions and ‘use’. That being said, on this ominous day where a malignant narcissist, who seems to not care about animals nor the environment, is sworn in as president I wonder if the US will keep on the path of making life better for animals.
Lab animals won another battle in the cosmetic industry as Switzerland joined 28 EU countries as well as India, New Zealand, Taiwan and South Korea in banning sales of cosmetics containing ingredients tested on animals.
Fur animals: India banned the import of reptile, chinchilla, mink and fox fur and Croatia banned fur farms all together. In 2016 fashion house Armani pledged to go fur free in all their collections but we have yet to see if any of the others follow suit.
Animals in the entertainment industry also saw some wins with Barcelona banning dolphinariums and seeking to send their remaining 6 dolphins to sanctuaries. In the US the USDA banned the torture of ‘walking horses’ with new rules to crack down on the practice of horse soring in which horses are tortured to achieve the ‘big lick’ unnatural gait. The bill received overwhelming support by over 300 members of congress.
Farm animals received further protection in the form of France passing a bill requiring mandatory cameras to be placed in all slaughter houses starting this year. Further, many huge companies (including Burger King) have wowed to move away from battery cages and only use cage free eggs.
2016 saw major new laws protecting domestic pets in particular from puppy mills. Over 200 local jurisdictions including Boston, Philadelphia, Las Vegas, Sarasota and Portland enacted ordinances to ban or restrict the sale of puppy mill dogs. Many pet shops around the country only sell animals obtained from rescue organizations in an effort to stamp out puppy mills all together.
Wild animals were spared as the annual Florida bear hunt was cancelled last year after enormous outcry in 2015 from animal groups as well as civilians. Also, in a surprise move China banned the transport of shark fin products on Air China.
In my personal fight against the horrific dog meat trade in Asia (I volunteer with Marc Ching’s Animal Hope and Wellness Foundation and have adopted my very own Yulin survivor last year) I can report that the infamous Moran market in South Korea will no longer have live dogs nor slaughter dogs on site. The market will eventually close completely as the area will be developed into apartment buildings. The other meat vendors will move to a new location and have voted to not let the dog meat vendors in. Marc is currently in Korea and reported a few days ago that he managed to reach an agreement with the owners of the 300 year old Gupo dog meat market to transition into other non meat related ventures. Further, there’s great hope that the new and stricter laws proposed by Democratic Party member Pyo Chang Won, who chairs the Animal Welfare Committee, will be a nail in the coffin of the already dwindling dog meat business.
Here in the US we are working to get House Resolution 30 (formerly 752) condemning the Yulin (China) dog meat festival passed and have gotten upward of 165 co sponsors at last count in 2016.
It feels to me like we as a species are indeed becoming more compassionate towards animals around the world and that more people are awakening to the suffering and taking part in the change by protesting and eating less meat en masse. Are we on the cusp of a massive worldwide change? Will the death of beloved orca Tilikum finally take down SeaWorld, a relic of antiquated forced animal entertainment, once and for all? If so how will the new president, who’s ok with his sons murdering endangered animals for ‘fun’ and who was sad to see the elephants leave the circus, affect this trend here in the US? I sincerely hope that people will rebel against his new proposals to increase hunting and encroachment by oil companies on park land by making their voices heard.
In the end it’s always the people who decide what’s ok and what’s not. We make choices every day by buying tickets to animal shows or eating vegetarian, by choosing a ‘pure breed’ over a shelter dog or by using cruelty free cosmetics. These choices are ours to make and they all have consequences for animals. Think about that and make your choices accordingly.
Written by Ines Romero of Cecil’s Angels, cecilsangels.com