6 min read

6 Major Animal Issues Worth Fighting For This Year

<p> Flickr/Winky </p>

In 2014, huge strides were made on behalf of animals, from several bans on cosmetics testing, to retirement plans for carriage horses, to the introduction of an entirely novel way of thinking about animals' legal rights. But 2015 is set to have even more in store for animals - and even bigger battles to fight. Here are six of the most important ones, and how you can help fight them:

1. Goal: Ban exotic animal circuses.

(Flickr/Forsakenfotos)

Exotic animals don't belong in circuses, and the rash of health problems, psychosis and public safety incidents involving them in the past year is evidence of that fact. While countries like Bolivia, Greece, Peru, Cyprus, Paraguay, Colombia, Slovenia and the Netherlands have all passed laws to ban animals from performing in circuses, others are lagging behind. Help end the practice by pledging never to buy a ticket to a circus with exotic animals, and by supporting legislation to ban the practice.

2. Goal: End cosmetics testing.

(Flickr/DavidO)

Most countries, including the U.S., still frequently test cosmetics on animals - a practice considered unnecessary and inhumane. You can help end cosmetic testing by buying cruelty-free products and by telling your U.S. representative to support H.R. 4148, which prohibits animal testing for cosmetics manufactured or sold in the U.S.

3. Goal: Phase out gestation crates.

(Flickr/Jeremy van Bedijk)

Several companies, including McDonald's, Burger King, Sysco and Aramark, have all said they would phase out gestation crates, or cages that prevent pregnant sows from turning around. But others are still holding out, and only Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Maine, Michigan, Ohio, Oregon and Rhode Island have passed laws to ban them. Write to representatives in the other 41 states calling for legislation to ban gestation crates this year.

4. Goal: Prevent this year's dolphin slaughter in Taiji, Japan.

(Facebook/Sea Shepherd Cove Guardians)

While this season's dolphin slaughter in Taiji is still going on, yet another one is set to begin again next September - unless, perhaps, enough pressure is applied on the industry. You can take action against the hunt by contacting stakeholders and politicians in Taiji, as well as the Japanese Embassy in each country, the U.S. Embassy in Japan and U.S. and Japanese ambassadors.

5. Goal: Shut down puppy mills.

(Flickr/Cortney Martin)

Most puppy mills, or large-scale breeding facilities for dogs, keep animals in some of the worst conditions possible. While federal regulation through laws like the Animal Welfare Act do apply to the mills, states can enact their own legislation to require stricter standards and more transparency when it comes to dog breeders. Find a map showing states with little or no regulations on breeding facilities here. You can also pledge to support animal shelters or adopt a pet rather than buy one from a pet store, the main driver of puppy mills.

6. Goal: Retire SeaWorld's orcas.

(Flickr/JaimeW)

2014 was a terrible year for SeaWorld, and, unless something changes, 2015 is likely to be the same. A bill that could ban captive orca performances in the state of California may make its way back to court after a period of interim study late in 2015. If passed, it would be a huge blow to SeaWorld, which holds the only 10 captive orcas in the state. You can tell SeaWorld directly to retire its orca whales to seaside sanctuaries, or tell your representative to support legislation to ban orca whale captivity in your state.