A mainstream and conventional thought regarding the popularity and virility of news media is based upon an "iron law" in marketing that if it bleeds, it leads.
True or not, because of this it's easy to consume the news or watch television and become instantly jaded at all of the wrongs in the world. Maybe R.E.M was right all along or perhaps what we're experiencing is outright propaganda akin to the Matrix. Crazy half-baked theories aside, we believe there's an altogether different path that we can choose. A purposeful and positive one.
The only way forward is a positive one. To lead by example we've put together a list of the Top 10 Positive Animal Stories of 2016. Like a Taoist Yin and Yang Symbol, you can keep this list near and dear to your heart with a full understanding that there is just as much good in the world as there is bad.
1. Governments Continue To Ban Cosmetics Animal Testing
Since the turn of the decade, cosmetics animal testing bans have really become en vogue and with their horrific track record of cruelty these commercial lab tests rightly should be. The crusade continued in 2016, with the respective governments of Australia and Taiwan each passing nationwide legislation to ban the practice of cosmetics animal testing. While the laws won't be 100% perfect in the aims of eliminating all of the cruel practices in the cosmetics industry, they are an animal welfare milestone that will continue the growing worldwide movement to end cosmetics cruelty.
In respect to both movements in each country, The Humane Society International and #BeCrueltyFree campaigns were sensational in their advocacy and educational efforts to grow organic support for the banning of the cruel practices. A huge shout out and a big thank you for your efforts, we can't wait to see what you will accomplish in 2017!
2. Two Famous Animal Species Are On The Road To Recovery
2016 marked a turning point for two majestic species, as both the Giant Panda and the West Indian Manatee were declared species no longer meeting the definition of “endangered”. The successes of governments, organizations, communities and individuals coming together to save these species is a remarkable demonstration of how an integrated approach can help save our planet’s vanishing biodiversity. While the Giant Panda and West Indian Manatee are still vulnerable and on the road to recovery, we can only hope the lessons learned from these successful conservation efforts will be applied to all of mother earth's endangered species.
3. The FBI Begins Work On "Class A" Felony Animal Abuse
A little bit of old news here as the FBI announced this change back in 2014, but not until January 1, 2016 did the FBI begin tracking cases of "Class A" Felony Animal Abuse. As of this year, the animal cruelty and abuse cases are being tracked into four categories including: (1) Simple or Gross Neglect, (2) Intentional Abuse & Torture, (3) Organized Abuse (Cock and Dog Fighting), and (4) Sexual Abuse of Animals. Needless to say the move is a just step forward for ending animal cruelty and abusive practices to the fullest extent possible. Without a doubt we think that society will immediately see some very positive effects of the FBI's work in this area.
4. Increased Pet Adoptions & Decreased Euthanasia Rates In Canadian Animal Shelters
According to a report released by Canadian Federation of Humane Societies, adoption rates in Canadian Animal Shelters are up 48% for dogs and 57% for cats from data collected in 2015. The statistic for cats is especially significant as it's the highest cat adoption rate ever observed by the organization since it began collecting data two decades ago.
While the report's data doesn't capture private shelters, rescue, foster groups and municipal animal shelters, it's still a positive sign of a growing trend. Barbara Cartwright, the CEO of the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies, attributed it's more proactive approach to reducing numbers of homeless cats and dogs. As more information is released, Modern Pet Living will continue the needed discussion and conversation on homeless pets. In the meantime, let's give a big shoutout to Canada and all of our Canadian readers! Great work!
5. 53,000 Different Shelter Pets Found Homes In Just One Day
Put forth by a massive conglomerate of stakeholders including ASPCA, 400 U.S animal shelters, 11 NBC-owned television stations, 17 Telemundo-owned stations, and Overstock.com, the "Clear the Shelters" nationwide adoption drive helped 53,000 different shelter pets find new homes on July 23, 2016. The effort was originally organized in 2014 to combat the growing issue of homeless pets and crowded animal shelters in the United States. Since then the drive has blown up from 2,200 pet adoptions during the 2014 drive to 53,000 pet adoptions in 2016's drive. The sky's the limit and we're hoping for a six-figure pet adoption total in 2017!
6. Newly Created Tech Innovations Are Helping End Animal Testing
In the Fall of 2016, a team of researchers from Harvard announced that they've created the first 3D-printed organ-on-a-chip, which is connected to integrated sensing for data collection. The 3D-printed heart-on-a-chip can be quickly created and customized, allowing researchers to easily collect reliable data for short-term and long-term studies. Among dozens of other implications, this breakthrough has serious potential to revolutionize and remove the cruel animal testing practices from clinical and laboratory trials.
At the end of the day, we think this could finally be the win-win the world is looking for. No more animals needlessly killed in cruel lab experiments, and more accurate trial results to further scientific knowledge.
7. Dog Slaughter Was Banned In South Korea's Largest Market
Those familiar with worldwide animal welfare and animal cruelty issues will surely understand the long dark history of Dog Meat consumption in Asia, South Korea specifically. Faced with growing pressure, the move was made in an effort to improve animal welfare and the reputation of the market and South Korea as a whole. The Korean Animal Welfare Association is concerned that the ban might not be fully implemented or enforced. Time will tell, but surely this is a sign of the times and hopefully we will be reporting back in 2017 about a nationwide ban in South Korea!
8. SeaWorld Ends Killer Whale Breeding Program
Following years of backlash after the release of the documentary "Blackfish", SeaWorld announced in March 2016 that they would finally end it's captive Killer Whale (Orca) Breeding Program. The program was always highly charged, never having credible scientific backing and because of the program's exposed practices, SeaWorld lost over 80% of it's sales between 2011 and 2015. To help save it's public image, the company also announced a new partnership with the Humane Society, where SeaWorld has committed to donate $50m over the next five years to fight illegal fishing of whales and seals and end shark finning.
9. American Puppy Mills Are Still Being Discovered & Destroyed
While not completely positive, this news is good in that the complete destruction of the American network of puppy mills is continuing.
For those who aren't already aware, the Humane Society estimates that there are at least 10,000 individual "puppy mills" in the United States, and these puppy mills are "producing" more than 2.4 million dogs a year. And of those 10,000 puppy mills, less than 3,000 of them are certifiably regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This means that more than 7,000 puppy mills are left unchecked and often lead to cruel and inhumane conditions, as well as rampant dog abuse. Around the turn of the decade, these practices were outright exposed and brought to the forefront of public discourse, leading to the numerous laws and regulations being created.
In 2016, a HSUS investigation connected New Jersey pet stores to a notorious network of Midwest U.S puppy mills. The investigation revealed that many of these stores sourced animals from puppy mills with Animal Welfare Act violations. Federal inspectors, in some cases, found bleeding or injured dogs and even dead puppies in the worst cases. At some of the New Jersey pet stores, investigators found puppies living in dismal, crowded conditions that caused all sorts of problems. Other stores failed to disclose any breeder information to potential buyers, in apparent violation of state law.
It's good to know there are forces at work still going after the wrongdoers. Great work HSUS!
10. UK Government Agrees To Keep Funding It's National Wildlife Crime Unit
The UK's specialist task force was set to close at the end of March 2016, but under significant pressure from the public the task force was awarded four years’ worth of department funding. The specialist unit tackles wildlife crime from the killing of birds of prey and poaching of deer in the UK to the smuggling of endangered reptiles, birds and elephant ivory across the globe. The injection of funds delivered an edge of stability to the task force to continue the fight against wildlife crime in the United Kingdom. Glad to see cooler heads prevail, great work!