One year on since historic United Nations animal welfare resolution
3 March 2023
The World Federation for Animals (WFA) has published a report one year on from the historic United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) where Member States passed the first-ever resolution with explicit reference to animal welfare.
The Animal Welfare – Environment – Sustainable Development Nexus recognised that animal welfare can contribute to addressing environmental challenges, promoting the One Health approach, and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is expected to explore these links in a report that draws on the expertise of other stakeholders.
The latest WFA report, “Unveiling the Nexus: The Interdependence of Animal Welfare, Environment & Sustainable Development” is being shared to help policymakers, provide a synthesis of scientific evidence, and stimulate public and open dialogue among stakeholders. It highlights the value of an animal welfare perspective to help tackle the planetary crises and accelerate sustainable development.
There is a critical scientific evidence base demonstrating how improving animal welfare can help people and the environment, including reversing biodiversity loss, mitigating climate change, and ensuring public health. This report is aimed to help decision-makers understand those connections, so they can make sustainable and effective decisions to reverse our current crises.”
Dr. James Yeates, World Federation for Animals’ CEO
We hope that by Unveiling the Nexus, we can help others see the potential for animal welfare as a cross-cutting lever for sustainable development. The facts are there. It is time to implement the solutions the Nexus lays out and enable a generational shift in international policy to protect the people, the planet, and the animals.”
Brita Riis, World Federation for Animals’ President
European citizens made it clear: it’s time for a Fur Free Europe
1 March 2023
The European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) Fur Free Europe closes earlier than its official deadline thanks to a record number of signatures collected. In less than ten months more than 1.7 million citizens signed to end this cruel practice, sending a strong message to the European Commission (EC).
Fur Free Europe was launched in May 2022 by Eurogroup for Animals and received the support of more than eighty organisations from all around Europe. The ECI calls for a ban on fur farming and on the placement of farmed fur products on the European market.
Successful from the get go, Fur Free Europe collected 50,000 signatures on its launch day and now, 2,5 months before its official closing deadline, 1,701,892 signatures have been collected, offering a safe margin for the achievement of 1 million validated signatures. The ECI also successfully reached the signatures threshold in twenty one Member States, three times the minimum requirement of seven Member States.
The decision to close the ECI earlier has been taken due to the potential impact that it could have on the upcoming revision of the EU animal welfare legislation, as part of the EC’s Farm to Fork Strategy.
By the end of 2023, the EC will publish a proposal aimed at improving the EU’s animal welfare legislation to align it with the latest scientific evidence. While it’s possible to improve welfare standards for domesticated animals, science has clearly shown that this is not possible for wild animals on fur farms. Consequently, a ban on fur farming should be included in the proposal.
Moreover, since imports of animal products should follow EU standards, the ECI also calls for a ban on placing farmed fur products on the European market. Indeed, the organisers didn’t want to export cruelty to third countries but aimed to definitively end the suffering created by the fur industry in Europe.
I could not be prouder of our joint efforts. This citizens initiative gained momentum from day one and proves that European citizens, represented by all the organisations involved, are sending a crystal clear message to the European Commission: it’s high time for a Fur Free Europe. Fur farming represents a massive moral blind spot and, with the new animal welfare legislation coming up, the EC has the opportunity to end this unnecessary suffering once and for all.
Reineke Hameleers, CEO, Eurogroup for Animals
It’s exciting to see that Fur Free Europe didn’t need the full available year to collect the required signatures, proving that the issue is clearly a priority for European citizens. After the validation process is over, the Parliamentary one will start. As chair of the Fur Free Europe working group at the European Parliament, I am honoured to lead the process and make sure that citizens demands are heard and we can finally put an end to fur in Europe.
Anja Hazekamp MEP (Party for the Animals, NL) chairwoman of the Fur Free Europe working group, Intergroup on the Welfare and Conservation of Animals
Puerto Rico’s government announced the permanent closure of the 45-acre zoo Monday as federal authorities investigate allegations of mistreatment of animals.
“Animal welfare comes first,” Gov. Pedro Pierluisi told reporters. “Questions have been raised for a long time.”
Earlier this month, U.S. Attorney Stephen Muldrow announced that experts from The Wild Animal Sanctuary in Colorado would inspect and evaluate the animals, saying that “the safe and humane care for all zoo animals is a top priority of the Justice Department.”
Sanctuary officials visited the zoo on Sunday – a visit that was supposed to have occurred in 2017 before the hurricanes hit, sanctuary executive director Pat Craig told The Associated Press, noting that people already were concerned about the animals at that point.
“The zoo definitely has been degraded,” he said. “You can imagine the facilities were overgrown and dilapidated to some degree.”
He said the animals were healthy enough to travel for the most part, although he noted that a mountain lion has a growth on one arm that veterinarians are still inspecting.
Craig also said he was concerned about the zoo’s lone chimpanzee because apes require socialization.
He declined to provide further details, saying he was limited about what he could share given the involvement of the U.S. Justice Department. However, he added that the team didn’t find anything that required immediate attention.
In February 2018, the U.S. Department of Agriculture cancelled the zoo’s exhibitor’s license after citing dozens of violations in previous years, including a thin tiger that was euthanized and a distressed cougar living in a cramped space.
Previously, a government-appointed committee had raised concerns about two pumas that died, an underweight chimpanzee and a rhinoceros named Felipe that was limping. It also noted that dozens of animals needed vaccines or physical tests, and that a kangaroo and a porcupine were among animals that didn’t have shelter.
In January, officials announced that an American black bear named Nina who was more than 20 years old died from unspecified health complications after she stopped eating. The results of a necropsy have not been released. Black bears can live up to 35 years in captivity.
Craig, with The Wildlife Sanctuary, said he estimates his group would transfer up to 50% of the zoo’s animals at no cost to Puerto Rico’s government. However, they would not take in primates or unique birds given Colorado’s weather.
Puerto Rico’s Department of Natural Resources has said it is cooperating in plans for transfers and with the continuing investigation in the zoo, which opened in 1954.
“We have not skimped on the search for alternatives so that…the best possible care and safety of all the species that inhabit there are guaranteed,” said the department’s secretary, Anaís Rodríguez, who noted that it wasn’t until four years ago that the agency assumed responsibility for the zoo.
Activists celebrated the zoo’s impending closure, including Christian Ríos, who is also president of an animal rights commission at Puerto Rico’s Association of Attorneys. He called for full transparency as officials prepare for the transfer of certain animals.
“We are not letting our guard down,” Ríos said, adding that those responsible should face the consequences. “We are sorry that all these complaints have taken a long time to be heard.”
Above – Animal activists in pyjamas protest the Veterinary Division’s lack of action in stopping a circus act
Malta – Animal liberation activists turn up in onesies to protest Monte Kristo circus
Horse show at Monte Kristo estates should be banned under animal circus rules, say activists protesting VRD inaction
Animal activists in pyjamas and pillows pulled up at the Marsa offices of the Veterinary and Phytosanitary Regulation Division (VRD) to protest the lack of action in stopping another circus act called Cleopatra’s Horse Show that is scheduled to take place at Monte Kristo estates.
Activists from Animal Liberation Malta, Real Animal Rights Foundation, Association for Abandoned Animals AAA and Vuċi Għall-Annimali held up placards saying “VRD wake up! Enforce the Law”, “VRD whilst you are snoozing animals are suffering”, “Żomm kwiet – hawn in-nies reqdin hawnhekk.”
The activists said the Cleopatra’s Horse Show clearly falls under the definition of a circus and cannot be allowed under the current legislation.
“This circus act will have horses performing for three days in a row. We contacted VRD and informed them of this circus act just in case they were not aware. Apart for not answering our communication, it seems no action has been taken to stop this from happening as the show is still being promoted to date,” an ALM spokesperson said.
“The fact that the show will happen clearly demonstrates what animal NGOs and activists have long been saying about the regulator and the law itself. The regulator has repeatedly closed its eyes to breaches in the Animal Welfare Act and the recent changes in the act have been done to regularise this.”
The Animal Welfare Act itself only inflicts a €2,000 administrative fine for breaking the law, meaning the organisers stand to be fined €666 per day for each of the three days that the show will take place.
The ALM said the Animal Welfare Act had been further degraded through recent changes in the law to give powers to the VRD to issue a “special permit” to hold such events.
“In fact, if the event were held just a few days after this, the Director of VRD would have had the authority to issue a permit for this circus act. Are we going to allow big business continue uncontrolled to the detriment of Animal Welfare as well?”
According to a new study conducted by AAP Animal Advocacy and Protection, no less than 89% of the exotic animals they rescued from European circuses suffered from mental or physical trauma. Nearly 8 out of 10 animals even suffered from multiple veterinary or behavioural problems.
The results of their new study are clear: forcing wild animals to live and perform in circuses is unacceptable for their welfare and should be banned.
For their new report ‘The Darkness Behind the Spotlight’, our member organisation AAP Animal Advocacy and Protection analysed the health of 73 former circus animals rescued between 2015 and 2021. The animals rescued from circuses in France, Spain and Germany among others, had been performing for at least a year. Almost half of the cases had external injuries. For example, lions, tigers and pumas were injured or had been forcefully declawed. Twenty animals had severe veterinary and behavioural problems, often requiring multiple veterinary treatments. Three of them had to be euthanised shortly after their arrival at an AAP Animal Advocacy and Protection rescue centre due to their irreversible suffering from severe trauma. However, the trauma is not only physical. More than a quarter of the animals exhibited abnormal behaviour detrimental to their welfare, including self-injury.
Animals in circuses are prone to malnutrition, behavioural and physical problems due to the frequent travel of circuses, the cramped and unsuitable conditions in which they are kept, and the forced interaction between humans and animals. Most EU Member States recognise the threat to animals in circuses and have therefore implemented some form of regulation or ban. The notable exception: Germany still has no regulations to end the use and suffering of exotic animals in circuses. According to a survey we conducted in 2021, more than 150 wild animals still perform in some 75 circuses in Germany. Most of them (45%) are big cats, such as lions and tigers. They will continue to suffer without a ban on exotic animals in circuses.
While AAP Animal Advocacy and Protection has been able to save many exotic animals from circuses over the years, hundreds are still suffering. Without stricter regulations, these animals will continue to endure trauma on a daily basis. This is why AAP Animal Advocacy and Protection wants to use its 50 years of expertise in animal rescue to work with decision-makers in Germany and the EU for better animal welfare legislation.
Incidents of public demonstrations and protests from animal rights activist groups are climbing. In 2022, extremist groups glued themselves to Starbucks countertops and chained their wrists to basketball hoops during televised games in hopes of channeling public attention to their campaigns.
While these radical tactics may seem like the primary danger is out in the open, a greater looming threat to animal agriculture is emerging from the courtroom: the rise of animal law.
Horizon Europe: unlocking the full potential of non-animal technologies to tackle human diseases
24 February 2023
In response to the public consultation on the past, present and future of the European research and innovation framework programmes, Eurogroup for Animals highlighted the need for further focus on human-based approaches to better manage health and disease, and for more transparency regarding animal-based research funded by EU public funds.
The European Commission recently closed the largest public consultation ever held on the past, present and future of the EU’s Horizon research and innovation programmes 2014-2027. Under the current Framework Programme, Horizon Europe, the cluster health aims to advance new knowledge, improve our understanding of health and disease, and develop innovative solutions to prevent, diagnose, monitor, treat and cure diseases. However, it is not clear that these objectives are being pursued in line with the best scientific evidence, the EU’s commitment to move away from animal testing, and the repeated calls from EU citizens to transition to non-animal science.
“What we do not understand, we cannot address effectively”.
The report on Horizon Europe’s Mission on Cancer stresses that understanding the human biological processes is crucial for developing effective treatments. Preclinical animal studies, which are costly and time-consuming, are of questionable relevance to study human cancers and rarely lead to successful treatments due to physiological, anatomical, and psychological differences between animals and humans. Conversely, advanced human-based approaches can improve our understanding of disease mechanisms, including cancer, provide new insights into drug discovery, and deliver more effective personalised treatments. However, their validation, standardisation and implementation remain slow, partly because these processes are expensive, laborious and often inadequately funded. In its reply to the EP Resolution to accelerate the transition to innovation without the use of animals in science, the European Commission stated that it has been a strong supporter of the development of non-animal methods over the past two decades. Yet, as the Commission pointed out, the annual budget for non-animal approaches has remained unchanged over the last 14 years at a figure of about 48 million euro per year.
In our response to the public consultation, Eurogroup for Animals emphasised that:
Non-animal approaches are game-changing technologies that have the potential to significantly improve our understanding of human diseases by producing data based on human biology, leading to considerable benefits for public health in terms of preventing and curing diseases.
The Mission on Cancer provides a great opportunity to support and promote innovative non-animal technologies to better understand cancer, and deliver new treatments to address the alarming growth of cancer cases.
Strong national and international collaborations across all sectors and with different stakeholders (e.g. regulators, academia, industry) are key to unlocking the full potential of advanced non-animal solutions, and allow for a continuous interaction and exchange of experience and best practices.
Sharing and disseminating the latest human-relevant scientific knowledge through education and training activities is an effective way to inspire the next generation of scientists and encourage a change in attitudes and priorities.
Horizon Europe should strive to collect and share information in a simple way to understand where animals continue to be used, and where investment in non-animal approaches is most needed.
Significant funding must be made available for the validation and implementation of advanced human-based methods in order to fully unlock and exploit new tools, technologies and digital solutions to tackle and manage human diseases.
The EU has now the opportunity to become a world leader in advancing non-animal science, but this can only be achieved by replacing animal-based methods with next-generation non-animal technologies. Joining forces across Europe to better promote and fund these technologies will help achieve the objectives of Horizon Europe and the Commission’s commitment to fully replace animals in scientific procedures, but also to improve the successful translational outcomes to humans.
One year of war in Ukraine: what has been done for animals?
24 February 2023
Written by Valentyna Vozna
Please click on any of the words in Purple to get more information – WAV.
A year ago we were counting at first the hours, then the days that it would take the Russian army to take over Kyiv. Today, we are still counting, and sadly it is already the one year anniversary of the war. Even though protracted war means more suffering for both people and animals, we would like to showcase the successes of our collective work to help the animals of Ukraine.
Today, we celebrate one year of tireless work of the international community, who did not hesitate to come to the rescue of animals a year ago; people from all over the world showed an unprecedented unity and willingness to make a contribution to someone else’s fight for freedom.
We also celebrate the hard work of all the animal volunteers who chose to stay in the country in order to take care of the animals, risking and often giving up their lives to help animals over the past year.
In the early days of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Eurogroup for Animals and its members convened a Taskforce to help address the plight of Ukrainian companion animals. The members are still determined to help the animals in Ukraine, regardless of the effort and resources it requires.
Over the past year, the Taskforce members have had numerous meetings to share information and decide on their strategy. They developed a network of trusted partners, and implemented varied projects such as providing pet food to animals, including in the most dangerous zones. They have supported local veterinarians, animal shelters and clinics, sterilisation and vaccination projects, and sent generators and mobile clinics in order to help animals in Ukraine, as well as receiving refugees with pets in the EU, providing them with all the necessary assistance.
Djurskyddet Sverige launched a sterilisation project in Zhytomyr with the support of Animal Help ZT, sterilising and vaccinating animals of refugees and even animals brought by soldiers from front lines;
FOUR PAWS launched Kishka project – a sterilisation project aimed to sterilise 10,000 cats all over Ukraine; prepared a Shelter Adoption Program in the Ukrainian language; cooperated with USAVA in order to provide veterinary care for pets and strays; conducted sterilisation and vaccination against rabies project in 20 municipalities with a mobile clinic and a catching team; helped launch UPAW platform; helped rescue several bears and admitted them to their sanctuary Domazhyr, including from front lines such as Bakhmut;
IFAW partnered with Mykolaiv Red Cross and Nova Ukraine in order to provide food and veterinary care to animals; launched free vaccination, sterilisation and microchipping project called Protect your pet with USAVA; cooperated with Save Pets of Ukraine initiative, founded by the Ukrainian manufacturer of food for cats and dogs Kormotech, in order to provide food to shelters in Kyiv, Kharkiv, Dnipro, Lviv, Zhytomyr and Odesa regions; brought five big cat cubs rescued from the exotic pet trade in war-torn Ukraine to a permanent home;
Save the Dogs and Other Animals cooperated with 400 volunteers in Ukraine channelling food to abandoned animals; created an animal aid camp at Isaccea border point in Romania to assist refugees with pets;
Worldwide Vets carried out frontline animal sterilisations and treatments, provided horse food grants, rescued 9 lions from Odesa who now reside in America, and fundraised for a mobile clinic equipped to sterilise, vaccinate and treat cats and dogs;
The members have collectively supported UPAW by sending pet food and making financial donations.
The needs of animals in Ukraine today?
Veterinary care, including rabies vaccinations
The foremost need of animals today is access to food, which is especially acute in times of cold winter conditions in Ukraine. The Ukraine Taskforce members have been providing food to their partners in Ukraine, who then redistribute it to those most in need. The situation is the most challenging at the front lines: there are many abandoned animals left to fend for themselves. Increased numbers of free-roaming animals are driven by abandoned unsterilised animals, since sterilisation of owned animals has never been widely practised in Ukraine even before the war. It is impossible to count these animals, but we are talking about hundreds of thousands if not millions of animals in need of food.
We realise that, unfortunately, the provision of food to animals in Ukraine will be a never ending need, which is why the Taskforce also focuses on a more systemic approach: the sterilisation of both owned and free-roaming animals. This is the only way to humanely manage the population and reduce their suffering. The Taskforce members partner with local veterinarians, some of whom have mobile clinics on the ground, while others have their teams in Ukraine who sterilise animals.
We coordinate our efforts in order to cover as many regions as possible. Last, but not least, animals are in constant need of veterinary care. Many are injured on front lines during military activity, but also in car accidents in more peaceful areas.
What lessons can we draw from this year?
Animals are part of the family or have economic value for people. We saw thousands of pictures of Ukrainians evacuating with their animals. We know about thousands of stories of people who left their animals locked in their homes, expecting that the war would be over in just a few days and they would come back home; instead they found themselves having to re-enter dangerous zones days later in order to evacuate their pets. Meanwhile, people such as managers of animal shelters, animal guardians in zoos and farmers refused to evacuate even from the front lines if the animals could not be evacuated with them. Humans are bonded to their animals and this influences human evacuation behaviour.
Local communities were the first responders to the plight of animals in Ukraine. Whilst this will be the case in any disaster, the direct involvement of private persons is not always safe. Ideally volunteer activity on the ground should be coordinated by the government and the NGOs who have special procedures for animal rescue, evacuation or first aid. It can be dangerous for untrained people to try and manage animals under stress, as not all free-roaming animals are social. Volunteer activity by private individuals could be encouraged since they are the first responders on the ground, but they need to comply with the minimum safety procedures and they should not operate in silos.
There is a lack of coordination among international and local animal welfare NGOs involved in Ukraine. Everyone chooses their own way to support: directly helping individuals financially, investing into the reconstruction of veterinary clinics and shelters, or sending in-kind donations. Unfortunately, there is a lack of communication among all the stakeholders, which may lead to duplication of efforts and hamper the ability to reach those most in need. Eurogroup for Animals’ Ukraine Taskforce urges everyone involved in Ukraine to join us. We are happy to share information about our projects and our expertise.
The faster we reach our goal, the more dogs and cats we can save. With your help, the animals have a chance. They need you now.
It’s very important. Animals are dying without the X-ray machine.
If you help today, we can reach our goal and send an X-ray machine to our friends at Lucky Paws in Mongolia.
Fleur Dawes Communications Director In Defense of Animals
P.S. There’s no time to waste — we must reach our X-ray goal a.s.a.p.! It takes just a moment to donate, and your gift will have a huge impact where these animals need it most. Thank you for acting fast and giving whatever you can right now.
There is an animal overpopulation and neglect crisis happening in Mongolia. Animals are dumped in dumpsters and abandoned. Homeless animals are abused in the streets or hit by cars.
Each year around 750 dogs and cats die or live on with agonizing long-term effects after suffering injuries that require an X-ray to deliver a critical diagnosis. Mongolia is a primarily a rural developing country and there is only 1 veterinary X-ray machine available for 3 million people!
In the capital city of Ulaanbaatar, where over 500,000 cats and dogs live, there are only 15 veterinary clinics specialized in treating animal companions. But only one clinic in the entire city has an X-ray machine that can diagnose injuries and diseases!
Please do not let animals continue to die simply because they cannot be diagnosed for lack of equipment. We urgently need to raise $30,000 to buy an X-ray machine so that no more innocent dogs and cats die without diagnosis!
Every animal unlucky enough to suffer a painful broken bone deserves use of this simple yet life-giving apparatus. Please make this a reality today.
With your help today we can reach our goal to supply an X-ray to our partner, Lucky Paws in Mongolia.