Within the animal welfare movement, reasons for hope

Within the animal welfare movement, reasons for hopeAs with many people, I find the end of the year a time of reflection. It’s a good time to look back over the year, remember the goals and vision that give us a sense of purpose and see what progress we have made towards those goals.

When you care about animals it can be disheartening on daily basis to read news reports. Record-breaking ivory seizures represent hundreds of elephants killed for ivory nobody needs. Dogs and cats are discovered in appalling conditions, not just in disadvantaged communities but in affluent communities in the US and Europe as well. Whales, seals, tigers and other wildlife continue to be hunted for products nobody needs.

But there is reason for hope for when we take a longer-term perspective. The animal welfare movement is just that, a movement. We are working toward a cultural and political shift in the ways in which people view animals and consider our impact on them. Progress is not measured in days, weeks, months, or even years. It is measured in decades.

We know we can do better in terms of our treatment of animals. This year, there were some significant victories that give us reason to believe the change we are working for can happen.

  • The European Court dismissed a sealing industry challenge to the EU seal product ban. This is just one of many challenges that the ban will face. But passage and implementation of the ban demonstrates that trade will not always trump animal welfare. We will keep defending this ban and the right of citizens to demand their governments consider animal welfare when making trade agreements.

  • Manas National Park in India has been taken off the World Heritage Sites “red list.” This, in part, is thanks to the efforts of IFAW and our partners in India to re-introduce elephants, rhinos and other wildlife into the park, which had been decimated by poaching and violence. By working with local communities and governments to ensure security, we can bring wildlife back to some of the world’s “empty” landscapes.

  • Near IFAW headquarters on Cape Cod, one of the world’s hotspots for mass strandings of whales and dolphins, thanks to our constantly improving response equipment and techniques, we have seen the survival rate for stranded marine mammals go from just 15% in 1999 to 57% last year. By committing to a scientific approach and analysis of all our interventions, we can save more and more animals that otherwise would perish.

None of these achievements would be possible without the ongoing, steadfast commitment of our supporters around the world.

I am so grateful for the many, many people who have stood by us year-after-year as we worked to make this world a better place for animals and people. It’s a long road, but we are making progress and the road gets easier as more and more people join us along the way.

My best wishes go out to all of you for health, happiness, and hope in the New Year.

-- Fred

PS: To listen to Fred's recent interview on Animals Today Radio, click the 12/18/11 show DOWNLOAD link here. The interview starts about 3:10 in. (Also available as Windows Media Audio stream - WMA).

Comments: 8

6 years ago

the human race wont be happy untill all animals on land and sea are wiped out completely. where is the sense in that all animals should be given rights to survive in peace. dolphins are the humans of the sea but the human race (Japan) see fit to kill them for WOT ? there meat which is not safe to eat any way then you have people who see fit to cut off shark fins to make soup ? ( Japan again ) and we have those poor seals (Canada) who really never come in to contact with any human apart from to be killed some just for fun who like every one else on the planet just wants to survive. if theres any one out there who aint upset and moved by wot they see and hear about wots going on to all animals in this cruel world well only one thing to say the animals are more human than them.

this must STOP lets look after them all.

6 years ago

Growing up my sister and I were raised to have nothing but the upmost respect for any and
all animals. Now that we have grown we do what we can to in stall that same respect in our
nephew and his two sisters. Which is why my sister and I have always had such a hard time
trying to figure out how anybody could just one day decided to go out and try to wipe out
the lives of a bunch of animals that have never done anything to anyone like they dont have the right to live. And all in the name of money, well guess what if these losers dont think that animals cant feel anything or that they dont have the right to live in peace, they
can guess again. Belive it or not they do have the right to live just like everyone else. And truth be known you dont see any animal go into some persons house just to kill them, so
why go out to where they live just to kill them for a few lousy dollars? In short let them poor animals live their life in peace,they have done nothing wrong to anyone else.
Janine L Estabrooks

6 years ago

How SAD poor litle dolphan, that is so sad hopfully he/she recovers safly and he/she will be okay. GET BETTER SOON!

6 years ago

I am sure that there are other people out there who will agree with me when I say that I wil never understand the thrill and enjoyment that some people get out of causing an innoscent animal pain and suffering and for what no real reason other than seeing them suffer and hearing them crying out in pain, and these kinds of people are sick and make me sick because they need to realize that animals feel pain and fear just like everyone else and when they do only then wil the animals be safe ,

Jeanette Estabrooks

6 years ago

when we harvest a seal last year there were some kind of bugs

6 years ago

Hi Fred,
I'm just browsing IFAW website and you are all doing wonderful work saving wildlife!! I'd like to know if IFAW is involved in saving the dolphins or protesting against dolphin slaughter in Japan?


6 years ago

It's totally true. At the end of the year, it's a time of reflection, a time to measure all the goals fulfilled. It's a time, to give courage, for all the good work done and for all the actions in favour of the animals, the natural environment and the next generations, who will come. It's the strenght to evaluate all that we will have to work, in the future, and in unity, for the magnificent wildlife.

It's the moment of the year to give thank you and to demonstrate your admiration too.
Fred O'Reagan, I appreciate very much your labour, it's more than a decade that I followed the IFAW's defense of the animals and it's an honour for me to thank you personnally for the efforts you give, it was, and it is, an encouragement and a joy for me.

I whish you and yours, all the best, a very Happy New Year 2012, and more to come, with health and happiness, and the world we live, become the most better place.


Natalia Albalate.

6 years ago

Well done all of you.

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Céline Sissler-Bienvenu, Director, France and Francophone Africa
Director, France and Francophone Africa
Sheryl Fink, Campaign Director, Canadian Wildlife
Campaign Director, Canadian Wildlife
Sonja Van Tichelen, Vice President of International Operations
Vice President of International Operations