This year has been a great year for animals. Thanks to all those out there who made phone calls, wrote letters, donated to charities or even done something as simple as adopt a new cat or dog from a shelter, millions of animals were saved this year. 2014 has played host to some historic animal rights events that spell a brighter future for a number of species. However, just what important victories have animals won in 2014?
Retailers Around the World Pull Angora Wool Products - Having problems finding angora wool this year? Well after PETA Asia's exposing video on angora farms in China - where live rabbits have their fur violently ripped off - retailers including ASOS, H&M, Calvin Klein, Ted Baker, French Connection, All Saints, Tommy Hilfiger and many more have dropped the products from their shelves.
Norway Cancels Seal Subsidiaries - In an effort to combat sealing, the Norwegian government has officially cut all subsidiaries to commercial sealers. Up to 80% of income earned by Norwegian sealers come from government subsidiaries and the cut is sure to send the industry spiralling. Norway officially joins the rest of the European Union, the United States, Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Mexico and Taiwan in cutting some or all trade in products from commercial seal hunts.
Southern White Rhino Listed Under Endangered Species Act - Although not technically a win, the Southern White Rhino has officially been listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. This will effectively give the animal greater protections from poaching and provide for a better future for them.
Humane Society Combats Ebola - 2014 faced the worst Ebola outbreak in some time with thousands suffering from it in Africa and abroad. However, while most focused on the people, what about the animals that were affected by the Ebola outbreak? Humane Society International took it upon themselves to help aid these oft-forgotten victims by sending monetary donations to Sierra Leone and West Africa animal groups.
International Court of Justice Rules Japan Stop Whaling - In March, the International Court of Justice ruled to hold whaling for scientific and research purposes to a higher standard in order to thwart Japan's thinly veiled guise of using it to cover their commercial whaling industry.
India Bans Cosmetic Animal Testing - 2014 has been a good year for test animals in cosmetics. India has become South Asia's first country to place a ban on cosmetic cruelty thanks to the hard work of Humane Society International's Be Cruelty-Free campaign that helped convince the Drug Controller General and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. Sao Paulo, Brazil also celebrated a cosmetic ban on animal testing and China has made their first steps with rule changes towards a similar end.
Jet Airways Joins the Ban on the Shipment of Shark Fins - Indian airline company Jet Airways has updated its policies to ban the shipment of shark fins. They join other airlines such as Emirates, Philippines Airlines, Korean Airlines, Asiana Airlines, Qantas, Air New Zealand and Etihad Airways who also host such bans. This is another good step towards the vicious process against sharks. Countries like China who use the shark fin in cooking have seen a dramatic drop in demand and consumption as public awareness campaigns bring to light how the fins are harvested.
Moscow International Circus Ends Use of Wild Animals - Twenty years after Tyke the elephant was gunned down after killing her trainer and going on a rampage, the Moscow International Circus has agreed to cut out the use of wild animals from its acts. They are joined by the governments of Mexico City, Bolivia, Colombia, Paraguay and Peru who also ban the use of wild animals in circuses as well as Ireland that has cut grants to circuses that still use them.
FBI Elevates Animal Cruelty to Felony Status - For those who have called for a tougher punishment on animal cruelty, in the United States, it has been done. Previously the crime was a Class A Misdemeanor that netted a lofty fine and minimal jail time, but now upon it's elevation to felony status, animal cruelty is worth fifteen long and well-deserved years in prison.
Chinese Activists Fight Against Dog Meat - In 2014, Chinese activists pulled over trucks transporting dogs for consumption and rescued a total of 3,280 dogs from being butchered. While China still advocates the practice, those dogs were quickly transferred to animal rescue groups and adopted out by Chinese pet owners that were moved by their harrowing and highly public stories.
Supreme Court of India Saves Thousands of Animals from Nepal's Brutal Gadhimai Festival Sacrifice - Every five years, Nepal holds their cruel Gadhimai Festival in which 500,000 animals including water buffalo, sheep, pigs, rats, pigeons, cows and chickens are killed in a two-day period with blunt knives and swords in order to please Gadhimai, the Goddess of power. It was found that 70% of these animals are transported in from India, flouting the law that states that those transporting livestock must have a valid license. The Supreme Court of India resolidified the law's power, effectively saving thousands of animals from a pointless death.
Canada Says 'No' to Gestation Crates - Canada's National Farm Animal Care Council has officially updated it's Codes of Practice to phase out the cruel confinement of "gestation crates," in which pigs for slaughter remain in their whole lives. Some major U.S. retailers have also stepped away from the practice, but the U.S. still considers it valid.
Mississauga, Ontario Passes Revolutionary Law for Outside Pet Care - While animal advocate groups have urged for years about the care of outside dogs, particularly during winter, Mississauga in southern Ontario is one of the first (but hopefully not the last) to pass a law specifically detailing how long cats and dogs may be left outside or in cars.
U.S. Military Ends War on Animals - In a victory three decades in the making, the United States military has finally agreed to replace the use of pigs in the training exercises for their medical personnel. Previously, they used to shoot pigs and have their trainees practice sewing up the bullet wounds. This year, they have agreed to replace the pigs with modern human patient simulators that effectively better prepare their medical personnel and save thousands of pigs.