The World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) oversees large projects to help those animals suffering from abuse, used for entertainment, slaughtered, neglected, electrocuted and other such atrocities. Their campaign is to encourage the public not to feign ignorance or turn away, but to take a stand and bring justice to these animals.
The Beginning of the WSPA
The WSPA’s campaigns first began in 1981 through the merger of the World Federation for the Protection of Animals (WFPA), and the International Society for the Protection of Animals (ISPA).
The WFPA and the ISPA were the first organisations to stand up for the welfare of animals. Highlighting welfare issues such as the Canadian seal hunt, in which 275,000 seals are killed in spring alone. This commercial hunt causes the largest slaughter of marine mammals on the planet. Also bringing to the forefront the hunting and killing of whales for scientific purposes, the debate still continuing to this day.
The WSPA has extended the work of the other organisations, starting in the UK and increasing their field offices over Europe. Now not only containing the largest network of animal protection specialists, but being the only organisation to have status at the United Nations and the Council of Europe.
The Aims of the WSPA
The WSPA’s main focus is on introducing animal welfare issues into countries that don’t have laws to protect animals. The WSPA has introduced humane methods of slaughtering stock in developing countries, and to improve the conditions of stray animals by volunteer vets giving exams, vaccinations, tending wounds, providing basic care and finding loving homes.
In some countries like Mexico, there are millions of stray dogs wandering the streets because of the thoughtless actions of some buying dogs for guarding the property, then not caring for their basic needs; either dumping them at shelters or leaving them to wander the streets where they can be injured or killed by people or cars.
The WSPA works alongside local volunteers to stop the practice of killing stray animals by electrocution, setting up seminars to explain how to humanely euthanize a stray, if need be, and neutering dogs and cats to prevent further increases of strays.
The WSPA is also involved in rescuing animals that have been abandoned or hurt when a natural disaster hits. They have established themselves as the world leader of animal rescues and bringing aid by advising on appropriate veterinary disaster care, supporting local vets, and providing shelter, food, blankets and basic care for the animals.
Some of the most significant events they have participated in are the Gulf War, the Kosovo conflict, earthquakes in Gujarat, India and El Salvador; in addition to mass floods and the Tsunamis that occurred in New Orleans and Japan.
Prohibiting Bull Fighting
The WSPA is involved in campaigning against cruelty against animals for entertainment. In 1985 they led a worldwide opposition to the brutal custom of bull-fighting.
The Spanish, along with other countries still argue that bullfighting is only a form of entertainment and Spanish tradition; it’s not a cruel sport. This is obviously not the case, as bullfights last for around 15 minutes. In this time the bulls are taunted and stabbed with spears, barbed spikes and daggers. This act of cruelty is used to weaken the bull, by making it bleed to death. In some cases they drown in their own blood. In other cases the bull is stabbed with a short dagger to sever its spinal cord, and is dragged out of the arena, sometimes still alive.
Finally, after all their hard work, it has paid off. With 180,000 people signing a petition, the Spanish parliament conceded. On the 28 July 2010 they passed the vote to ban bull fighting. With waning interest in this barbaric sport, other countries are following lead. Outlawed in other parts of Spain, France, Portugal and Columbia; support for this sport is decreasing. But there’s still a way to go.
Banning the inhumane treatment of Bears
In 1991, the world was appalled when the WSPA discovered the barbaric treatment bears suffered in the name of entertainment in Turkey, Thailand, Pakistan and India.
There are 12,000 bears kept on bear farms in China, Korea and Vietnam, in order for their bile to be extracted. The WSPA is campaigning against this practice, and they have worked with practitioners of Asian medicine to offer alternatives to the bear bile. They are also campaigning for tougher legislation to be passed in order to make it more difficult for bear bile to be shipped to other countries, or sold on the black market.
They have established sanctuaries for the rescued bears, and are still fighting to end the practice of bear dancing and bear baiting.
The WSPA endeavours to save cubs from bear baiting, demonstrate the importance of animal welfare all over the world, attempt to stop the live export of sheep in Australia, and have succeeded in stopping the transporting of horses in Spain, also used for entertainment.
How can we help save the animals?
Keep animals wild. Millions of exotic animals are held as pets, because these wild animals do not have the proper care, ninety per cent of them die in the first two years of captivity.
Be considerate of your companion animal.
Don’t think of them as objects, but look at how you would want to be treated, and what you need to stay healthy. They need exactly the same. You wouldn’t leave your baby alone in the house or car for a long period of time, so don’t do the same to your animal. Contrary to popular belief, they are just as helpless and feel loneliness like we do. Especially your canine companion, they crave social interactions like us.
Support your local animal shelter or animal rescue organisation.
Most of these organisations rely solely of public funding. The Government does not supply funds for them. If you are unable to give a certain amount of money each month, donating food, blankets and toys goes a long way. Volunteers offer to walk the animals, feed and clean them. While foster volunteers give them temporary homes until they are found new ones.
Leave animals out of the classroom.
Every year, there are millions of animals dissected in schools for science. Ironically, many students comment that they hate this part of biology, and don’t learn much more than if they had an interactive presentation.
Teachers bring animals to school to teach the children how to care for animals, but unless that teacher takes complete responsibility for that animal, there is a high chance it will be neglected and left in unsanitary conditions. This is not only unhealthy for the animal, but any one that comes into contact with that animal.
Other ways to support the efforts
Promote animal welfare by avoiding any entertainment that involves animals. Some may think this is extreme, but people do not realise how trainers treat the animals. In some, but not all, circuses and even movies, trainers shock and beat the animals in submission. While not entertaining for the crowds, they are forced in confined spaces for hours.
If you decide to have a pet, make sure it’s from a reputable breeder, not a pet shop. Not only are they more expensive, but many of the pups come from puppy mills, where the bitches are breed constantly, and the pups forced to live in unhygienic conditions.
Some people may be intimidated to report someone when they see an act of cruelty. But don’t plead ignorance. Abuse and neglect is becoming common place, so make sure to report it to your local animal control, RSPCA, local law enforcement or local humane society. The police can either investigate the case themselves, or pass it on to the appropriate authorities.
Give presents at Christmas time
The WSPA appeals to the public throughout the entire year to support their on-going efforts in foreign countries. But at Christmas time a special fund is set up to enable you to give a present or presents to the animals.
Give a gift to the bears, horses, stray dogs, dolphins and other animal efforts this year. You can fund their food, vaccinations, board and other special treats for one or all of the animals.
Don’t ignore the on-going cycle of abuse, help fix it.
WSPA, Accessed 19/09/11, www.wspa.org.nz, www.wspa.usa.org, www.wspa.org.au
SPCA, Accessed 19/09/11, www.spca.co.nz