This past year has certainly been a momentous one for us and, more importantly, for the animals! We at Animals' Angels are happy to announce that because of the incredible support of our donors, 2014 was one of our most successful years ever!
Our achievements both in the field as well as in the conference room have led to great progress for farm animals and horses nationwide. We would like to take this opportunity to share with you some of the successes we had in 2014 and let you in on some of the exciting projects we have planned for the coming year.
In 2014, Animals' Angels conducted 171 investigations throughout the US, Canada, Mexico, Argentina, and Europe. We have committed ourselves to always having boots on the ground and performing as much field work as possible because, as our mission statement reads, "we are there with the animals." We take our responsibility to the animals very seriously. Not only have we exposed the cruel truth behind a myriad of livestock auctions and feedlots, but our documentation has also been instrumental in holding animal abusers accountable for their actions.
Equally important, we continued to promote actual, long term change at the auctions themselves through our outreach program for auction management to implement better conditions for the animals sold at auction. The program gives useful guidelines for dealing with key issues such as providing adequate water and food, maintaining clean pens, separating animals prone to fighting, stopping the overcrowding of pens, not accepting sick or injured animals, giving veterinary care to the injured or dying, and training employees on proper ways to handle the animals. A project of this sort naturally remains a work in progress, however, we're happy to say that it has been very well received and many improvements for the animals have been accomplished.
This past year also saw the start of our Dairy Cow Initiative. Animals' Angels began a series of in-depth investigations concentrating on auctions nationwide that deal with "spent" dairy cows. The outcome of these investigations is still confidential, but our team documented horrific abuse and inhumane treatment. The initiative will really take off in 2015 when we expose the illegalities found by our investigators and hold these vile abusers accountable for their atrocious acts to these helpless animals.
Major win with our EU campaign
While investigators were busy in the field nationwide, AA's Director and head investigator, Sonja Meadows, was working tirelessly nonstop to ensure the protection of our beloved horses through AA's EU Campaign which saw amazing success in 2014:
Grocers pull horsemeat from shelves
In 2014, Animals' Angels formed a transatlantic alliance with EU partners to fight horse slaughter on a much larger scale than ever possible before. Being a part of this powerful animal welfare coalition greatly increased our visibility and vastly expanded our audience of horsemeat consumers. As an almost immediate result of the release of our investigation footage in Europe, numerous grocers from a variety of countries pulled horsemeat products from their shelves and refused to carry additional horsemeat items. In fact, Swiss retailers have stopped selling American horse meat altogether.This is excellent news for our horses indeed! (For more information, please read our newsletter.)
Canadian slaughterhouse loses its largest customer
Bouvry Exports in Canada lost many vendors this past year due to the diligence of our EU Campaign, but the one that surely hurt their bottom line the most was the Migros grocery chain. Until this critical decision, Migros was a significant customer of Bouvry holding a considerable contract for horsemeat products. The decision to end their contract was made after Migros was once again confronted with horrific images from the Bouvry feedlots provided by Animals' Angels. (You can read more about Migros here.)
Animals' Angels meets with the EU Commission
Animals' Angels had the prestigious honor to discuss the American horse slaughter trade with the EU Commission. AA Director Sonja Meadows met with the EU Commission in Brussels on July 4, 2014 to present documentation and footage from our extensive investigations into this predatory industry in Mexico, Argentina, and Canada. Key points of our presentation were the rampant, severe cruelty found during transport & at collecting stations, the grave risk of the meat itself due to the pharmaceuticals US horses are given throughout their lives and the complete lack of traceability of the required health paperwork. The EU Commission members appeared quite receptive to the reports presented at the July 4th meeting. AA's animal welfare coalition called upon the Commission to take the strongest and most efficient measure at hand which is to ban the import of horsemeat completely from North and South America. ( More information about the meeting can be found here.)
EU Commission halts imports from Mexico
On December 8th, 2014, the EU Commission announced they would indeed halt all imports of horsemeat from Mexico effective January 15, 2015! We applauded this decision and were elated to be a part of this tremendous success that will benefit innumerable US horses. While this ban will not shut down the Mexican slaughterhouses, Europe was by far Mexico's largest buyer of horsemeat which means this will decrease the number of US horses exported to Mexico for slaughter significantly. Michael Scannell, Director of the Food and Veterinary Office, admitted that the transport conditions were completely unacceptable and that animal welfare concerns had certainly influenced the Commission's decision. We're gratified that our years of effort and diligence in the field investigating the horse slaughter industry helped the EU Commission's to make this ground-breaking decision. Please read more about this decision here.
Raising awareness for our wild horses
Animals' Angels was thrilled to once again be invited to speak at the Thundering Hooves event in New Mexico, a family friendly event celebrating America's horses and raising awareness about horse slaughter & the round-ups of our wild horses & burros.
We were very excited to have the opportunity to reach out to a new audience to increase awareness about the cruel and unnecessary round ups of the nation's wild horses. These icons of the west are losing their homes to cattle ranchers who seek to control every inch of land to which they can possibly lay claim. Sadly, this is another topic that rarely makes mainstream media. When it does, the facts and numbers tend to be skewed to favor the ranchers. Thundering Hooves is an ideal venue to put a spotlight on these roundups so that the public can learn what is truly happening to some of our greatest national treasures and we were thankful to be a part of it.
What's next for 2015?
At Animals' Angels we are always pursuing new and progressive avenues to truly help the animals we all love. Now that 2014 has come to a close, we turn our eyes and our efforts to the coming year and the work at hand -- as well as innovative projects that will promote the positive change and safe conditions the animals so desperately need and deserve.
While we will continue to pressure the EU Commission, now working the Canadian angle, to end all horse meat imports from the Americas, we will be increasing our focus once again on in-depth projects here in the US. Among other things, we will be concentrating on legal avenues, cooperation with some of the best known attorneys in the country, and investigations into the most notorious auctions and kill buyers.
Some of our more urgent projects for 2015 include the dairy cow initiative and our one-of-a-kind law enforcement training which has garnered a lot of interest from officials nationwide. We're very excited about the prospect of the law enforcement training reaching additional jurisdictions because this means greater protection for the animals in more locations than ever before.
Sadly, much more awareness is needed about roadside exotic animal and dog auctions - we plan to devote more manpower to the investigation of conditions for these often overlooked victims of abuse. We hope we can count on you to help us be there for the poor animals trapped in these appalling environments. We know our goals are ambitious but nothing is impossible with your help. In 2015, we will continue to fight for those who cannot fight for themselves. We are there with the animals. You can be too. By donating, you are taking a stand to say that cruelty to animals must stop. While animals cannot speak for themselves, their eyes say more than a thousand words. These sensitive animals cry out for help and working together we will answer that call. Help us save lives and prevent animal cruelty in 2015. Together we can make a difference!
For more information, visit our website at animalsangels.org.