It’s been a banner year for our global arm, Humane Society International with new offices and representatives, coverage in an increasing number of countries, and countless animals rescued, helped, and saved.


Nepal disaster response


When earthquakes struck Nepal, our Animal Rescue Team worked with local partners to provide lifesaving veterinary medicines, vaccinations, surgical equipment and other supplies, along with shelter and food for sick, injured, lost and abandoned animals.  This was an unusual disaster because most of the animals needing help were livestock and in most disasters the main issue is companion animals.  When the teams arrived they were desperate for large animal vets so we put the call out to Australian vets and were flooded with offers of help.   Once the most urgent disaster-related needs were met, we remained committed to aid, partnering with the Government and the Jane Goodall Institute to plan a street dog population management program for Kathmandu.  We would like to thank all the Australian vets who dropped everything to help.  We could not have coped without them.


A HSI vet attending to local animals in Nepal post earthquake


Bringing relief to working animals


In Bamako, Mali’s capital city, young men and woman – often just children – survive on the meagre income they earn bringing the city’s rubbish to these towering, stinking piles of burning refuse.  But of course it is the donkeys that do the really hard work, hauling the rubbish up precipitous slopes, often surviving only by eating whatever they find on the dumps.


Under a relentless sun, their lives are as hard as any working animal on the planet.    Their daily routine is unremitting, working long hours in constant pain.  And there is no retirement to look forward to for these animals.  Life is short, and because of the conditions many become infected with tetanus, an agonising fate.


Rubbish dump donkeys of Bamako, Mali


Some years ago we provided SPANA (Society for the protection of Animals Abroad) grant money to initiate a mobile vet clinic for these suffering overworked animals and through their work we have witnessed a dramatic improvement in the lives of not only these animals, but also the people who rely on them.  The mobile vet clinic visits the Bamako dump and although the resources aren’t available to reach all the dumps, the difference here is remarkable.


For these rubbish dump donkeys although life remains tough, each day they finish work in the early afternoon, and retire to a purpose built shelter that keeps them out of the intense sun.  Here they receive food and water and SPANA vets are on hand to treat any injuries and vaccinate against tetanus and other deadly diseases.  Old, worn saddle pads that hurt the donkeys can be exchanged and the owners receive instruction on humane handling of their animals.


Life will always be hard for these animals – and for the people who work them.  But free veterinary care, owner education, feed, rest, water, shelter and padded harnessing have transformed the lives of these hard working animals and alleviated their suffering.


Saving India’s working elephants one by one 


In 2010 we had a call from an Indian NGO, Wildlife SOS,  asking if we could help them rescue an elephant that had been tugging at their heartstrings for some years.  Wildlife SOS are an outstanding organisation in India and we had already worked with them on wildlife trade issues and bears so when they came to us about Champa, the elephant they saw on the side of the road every time they went to the bear sanctuary, we could not say no. At the time I compared this story to the one of the starfish, when 1000’s were washed up on the shore and a man threw one back only to be asked what difference that would make.  His response was to pick up another one and throw it in saying “It made a difference to that one”.


Elephants Mia and Sita after rescue at Wildlife SOS’s Elephant Conservation and Care Center, Mathura.


Working with the Government they now have 22 elephants and could bring them in faster but these are very expensive rescues, with many costs associated.  And then of course there is the upkeep of the elephants.  The cost is around $10,000 per year for each elephant and although the Government has given permission to rescue the elephants, they provide no funding.


So although we would like to bring them all in today it will be have to be done over a few years and they will be focussing on the ones who need help the most.


Making gains for farm animal welfare around the world


In 2016, our movement to end cruel cage confinement around the world gained extraordinary ground, with some of the world’s largest food corporations joining in. After working with HSI, Burger King agreed to phase out gestation crates and battery cages throughout Latin America, and Arcos Dorados, which operates McDonald’s in 20 countries in the region, committed to switch to 100 percent cage-free eggs, as did other leading restaurant operators, totalling thousands of restaurants in Latin America alone. In Canada, every major grocery chain representing thousands of stores, Tim Horton’s, the country’s largest restaurant chain, fast food chains Burger King and A&W, and food service company Aramark all committed to transitioning to 100 percent cage-free eggs. McDonald’s South Africa announced plans to switch to 100 percent cage-free eggs. Compass Group and Sodexo, both leading food service providers, announced a global cage-free policy in partnership with HSI. Alsea, the largest restaurant operator in Latin America and Spain, announced a cage-free egg policy after several years of talks with HSI specialists. HSI also pushed successfully for banning the sale and production of foie gras in Goiania, Brazil. We’ve also partnered with major institutions, including governments, food service providers, and culinary schools around the globe, to promote and implement meat reduction programs.

Taking on the dog meat trade in China and South Korea


Above, one of the dogs rescued from slaughter in South Korea. Photo by CAPP


Our work to end the cruel dog meat trade continued full force in 2016. We rescued and cared for 175 dogs and cats bound for slaughter at the annual Yulin festival in China, and next week we are flying 111 of these amazing survivors back to Canada to be placed in forever homes. We also assisted our local Chinese partners in the rescue of more than 3,000 dogs and 3,000 cats from the dog and cat meat trade. Our work to end this gruesome spectacle is moving forward as we continue talking to officials in China and keep the global media’s eye focused sharply on this event. We permanently closed down our largest dog meat farm to date in South Korea, rescuing and rehoming 250 dogs, and helped five farmers transition out of the trade into humane livelihoods. Significant evidence that positive change is happening in South Korea came this month, when the officials of the city housing the largest dog meat market in the country announced that it would close down and assist the dog meat vendors with creating new businesses.


Ending animal testing


More than 100 million animals suffer and die each year in laboratories around the world. HSI’s team of scientists and policy experts work with countries everywhere to replace outdated animal tests with cutting-edge non-animal techniques. This year, we successfully pushed in Europe for the adoption of an animal-free testing strategy for skin allergy based on the “Tox21” paradigm — a step-by-step plan to modernize toxicity testing and better predict human responses to chemicals without involving animals. HSI also helped enact a ban on cruel and obsolete rabbit eye and skin testing for drugs in India, and bans on animal testing for cosmetic products and ingredients in Taiwan and the State of Para in Brazil. We received a commitment from the Australian government to follow suit in the coming year. HSI’s extensive efforts in China to provide training in animal testing alternatives to companies and government authorities has borne fruit through the country’s adoption of two alternative tests for cosmetics—an important step forward for a system that until now has only accepted animal test results.


More than 100 million animals suffer and die each year in laboratories around the world. HSI’s team of scientists and policy experts work with countries everywhere to replace outdated animal tests with cutting-edge non-animal techniques. Photo by iStockphoto


Rescuing animals in disaster-struck Haiti


We provided emergency animal rescue and treatment for animals in Haiti, following the devastation left by Hurricane Matthew. The HSI team set up emergency clinics and provided treatment for approximately 1,500 animals, including horses, cows, donkeys, cats, dogs, goats, sheep, pigs, mules, calves, and chickens.


Striking at dogfighting in Latin America


Last week, Mexico’s Chamber of Deputies approved national anti-dogfighting legislation by an overwhelming vote of 291 to 1, taking the country a major step closer to a countrywide ban on the barbaric practice. The outcome is a direct result of HSI Mexico’s anti-dogfighting campaign launched in 2016 with the support of legislators, celebrities, and high-level Mexico City officials. The campaign collected over 200,000 signatures against this cruel spectacle. HSI also helped enact animal cruelty legislation in El Salvador, including a dogfighting ban and the requirement that animal welfare be included within public school curricula. Similar legislation was also enacted in Honduras that included a dogfighting ban and protection for all species of all animals, including wildlife and farm animals.


Gains for companion animals


We helped achieve a temporary ban on dog culling and animal fighting in Bangladesh. We helped implement a ban on imports of foreign dogs for breeding and commercial use in India. We helped spay or neuter approximately 52,000 animals in Asia, and approximately 225,000 dogs were vaccinated in Asia as part of HSI’s street dog program. We spayed or neutered an additional 15,000 dogs and cats in Latin American countries, including Guyana, Bolivia, Chile, Puerto Rico, and Ecuador.


In Liberia, our work to protect chimpanzees abandoned by the New York Blood Center will continue in 2017 and it will include the establishment of an office in that country by HSI.


Striking at animal cruelty worldwide


India’s Supreme Court upheld a prohibition on Jallikattu, where bulls are subdued by young men, often resulting in injury to the bulls and people. We persuaded the state of Goa in India against legalizing bullfighting. In Assam, also in India, we succeeded in getting a court order to ban bulbul fights, where tiny songbirds are starved and forced to fight each other, and buffalo fights, where hundreds of bulls bleed profusely and are severely injured. We helped end the Kots Kaal Pato fiesta in Mexico — a 100-year-old festival in which animals were hung-up like piñatas and beaten to death, and have committed to collaborate on humane alternatives to celebrate the fiesta. We rescued 199 animals from cruelty situations in Mexico, and 300 animals from cruelty situations in Costa Rica. Our work to close global markets for seal products kept seal fur prices depressed in Canada and another 330,000 baby seals survived the annual slaughter, as a result. The global outrage we helped generate in response to the gruesome spearing of a bear by a U.S. trophy hunter compelled the government of Alberta to ban spear hunting.


Protecting chimps abandoned in Liberia by the New York Blood Center

In Liberia, our work to protect chimpanzees abandoned by the New York Blood Center will continue in 2017 and it will include the establishment of an office in that country by HSI. Photo by Carol Guzy/For The HSUS


Since 2015, The HSUS and HSI have been taking care of a group of more than 60 chimpanzees who were abandoned on a series of islands in Liberia without food and water, by the New York Blood Center. This work is being carried out at great expense and a number of corporations and celebrities – from Citigroup to Kate and Rooney Mara — have stepped up to support us. The chimps are thriving under our care, even as NYBC has refused to take responsibility for their upkeep. The work to protect the chimps will continue in 2017 and it will include the establishment of an office in Liberia by HSI, even as we attempt to get the NYBC to fulfil its duties to support the chimps.

Shark nets – death traps for marine animals HSI warns Japanese whalers of prosecution with the whaling season well underway