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Dr Gus Thornton, a former WSPA president, has died following a long illness
Dr Thornton and his granddaughter Rose © Courtesy of the MSPCA-Angell He grew up and went to veterinary school in Oklahoma, USA. Through his work for the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (MSPCA), he helped WSPA set up its first office and later served two years as WSPA President. Mike Baker, Director General of WSPA, said: “He was a great veterinarian and humanitarian, and he was a true leader in both fields, nationally and internationally. He cared so very deeply about animals and people, was a kind and generous person, and he spent his life helping others….he will be greatly missed.”

WSPA and partners get animal welfare onto Earth Summit agenda
With the focus of world leaders and the world’s public on the event, WSPA is working to ensure that animal welfare is firmly on the agenda. WSPA succeeded in having animals and sustainable agriculture inserted into the Rio Conference declaration – the so-called “Bonn Declaration” – which will feed into the planning process for the Earth Summit and the texts used to prepare it. WSPA also co-organized and chaired an event at the conference with other organizations and academics to discuss the importance of animal welfare to sustainable agriculture and food consumption. The Bonn Declaration states that animal welfare should be safeguarded and notes that, “sustainable development can only be ensured if humanity, directed and led by government policies, embraces humane, sustainable, low-carbon lifestyles and adopts sustainable livelihoods”.

WSPA denounces latest proposal to 'trade whale quotas'
In the latest issue of Nature, through a feature entitled "Conversation Science: A market approach to saving the whales," three researchers proposed a system that would give countries permits to catch a certain number of whales. WSPA criticizes this proposal on grounds that it ignores a fundamental reality: that whales are conscious, intelligent animals who suffer slow, agonizing deaths when hit by the whalers’ exploding harpoons. The researchers estimate that whaling generates about $31 million a year in profits, while environmental groups spend about $25 million campaigning against whaling. Read more about whale watching, including how to distinguish a responsible tour operator from one that puts whales at risk.

WSPA Report Reveals Plight of Captive Dolphins in Holiday Hotspots
Throughout Mexico and the Dominican Republic, holiday meccas for North American and European tourists, a bleak picture of life for the dolphins in captivity has been uncovered by a new WSPA report. The report describes in detail the state of the two countries’ captive dolphin facilities which are largely found in or near resorts frequented by international tourists. The report also documents the acts of cruelty suffered by captive dolphins as well as the consequences of this cruelty to the animals’ welfare. The report details the generic layout of captive dolphin facilities, in existence in Mexico since 1970 and in the Dominican Republic since 1995.

Disney artist and WSPA celebrate the Caribbean’s whales
The completed, colourful wall will support the Caribbean anti-whaling movement and celebrate the successful whale watching industry as a more humane and profitable alternative to whaling. Recent studies reveal that whale watching activities generate up to US$23 million each year in the Eastern Caribbean islands alone. WSPA firmly believes that whale watching is more economically significant and sustainable for communities and people worldwide than whaling. For WSPA, this means more than a profitable business that benefits many communities in the region – it represents a future in which humans and whales can coexist without the unnecessary and inhumane killing demanded by the whaling industry.

WSPA urges G8 leaders to start serving humane and sustainable farming
Industrial leaders meeting at the G8 summit this week again failed the millions of people around the world who are hardest hit by the current food crisis, failing to recognize the damage done to livelihoods by factory farming. As outlined in our recent report – Industrial Animal Agriculture – Part of the poverty problem –industrial agriculture is not only responsible for the suffering of billions of animals around the world, is also a key part of the poverty problem. Significant environmental and health costs are also created by the countries involved, rather than by the foreign-owned corporations profiting from the goods.

In Recognition of World Animal Week - Stars Sign WSPA’s Animals Matter to Me Petition
Whether providing comfort and companionship in our homes or supplying crucial labor to support families in need, animals matter to each one of us. People are urged to take action by fundraising for animal welfare, making a donation, volunteering their time, or simply giving their pets some extra attention. If adopted, it will be the first international agreement recognizing that animals are capable of experiencing pain and suffering and that their welfare should be respected. Kristin and the other celebrity supporters are joining the world’s largest animal welfare network – WSPA works with over 1,000 animal welfare groups in more than150 countries to protect animals and alleviate their suffering.

Help Protect Captive Tigers Living in the U.S.
The good news is that Tony will likely be free of his roadside cage and placed in a sanctuary very soon. The bad news is that Tony is not the only captive tiger in the U.S. who needs our help. According to a 2008 report, there are an estimated 5,000 additional captive tigers in the U.S. used in roadside attractions and zoos, bred for profit and owned as exotic “pets” – that’s more tigers than are even left in the wild, worldwide! The proposed action would close loopholes that currently hinder federal oversight and enforcement of captive tigers in the U.S. For instance, owners of “generic” tigers are not required to report annually to FWS about activities conducted with the tigers or provide a year-end inventory.

WSPA champions life saving work of vets in Bali on World Vet Day 2011
Every year, rabies kills more than 55,000 people across the world – the vast majority is children who suffer untreated bites from infected dogs. The human health implications of rabies remain so grave that the World Veterinary Association has chosen to highlight the disease as its chosen theme for 2011. Attempts to bring the outbreak under control had largely failed, relying on the inhumane culling of the island’s dogs – regarded as an ineffective and cruel measure by the World Health Organization and WSPA. Bali’s new rabies control campaign enjoys mass support locally, with top regency officials and village leaders facilitating the program. They listen carefully to information and love to get involved in interactive segments where they can answer questions.

WSPA takes welfare message to vets from across the world
WSPA encourages veterinarians to teach animal welfare and consider disaster operations as part of students’ training. He described how, since 2005, WSPA has recruited and trained teams of veterinarians from around the world to respond effectively to disasters to meet the current gap in Animal Welfare provision during emergencies. Another essential element in WSPA’s capacity to respond to disasters are trainee vets working in teams, coordinated (though not directly employed) by WSPA. These Veterinary Emergency Response Units (VERUs) are made up of volunteer students based in a veterinary faculty and led by a professor, who receives annual training with WSPA’s disaster teams and support in terms of equipment and training.

New facility offers special care for baited bears
An up-to-date clinic made possible by a generous supporter is now enabling staff at a WSPA-funded sanctuary in Pakistan to give rescued bears the very best care and treatment. It currently provides veterinary care and a safe haven for 22 bears formerly used for baiting. Bear baiting is a savage blood sport in which dogs are set upon a tethered and defenseless bear. Mellun had been rescued from a landlord who had used him in baiting events for six years. Thousands of key religious leaders have denounced baiting as un-Islamic and so far 235 landlords – who run the events – have given it up.

Namibian seals wanted: alive, not dead
A comprehensive study on ‘The economics of seal hunting and seal watching in Namibia’ commissioned by international animal welfare organizations, including WSPA, demonstrates that seals are worth far more alive than dead. Comparing the most recent figures available for both industries, the report concludes that even though the Namibian seal watching tourism industry is increasing in popularity and bringing in large profits, it is being threatened by the annual Namibian seal slaughter, which nets Namibia far less in real profit. When analyzing seal slaughter, the economists considered the monetary benefits attached to each part of the trade. Seal watching also allows a far wider range of Namibian society to benefit from the trade, as the growth of seal watching helps boost tourism support services such as hotels and restaurants.

A boost for black bear rescue in Tennessee
Over the past couple of years, WSPA has been carrying out in depth organizational development for some of our partner organizations around the world to help them become more effective and sustainable. Each year, black bears from our national parks and surrounding areas are orphaned, injured or in need of medical care. Thanks to ABR, these bears are given a second chance of life in the wild. This collaborative work couldn’t have come at a better time for ABR, as 2009 was a bumper year with a record number of 23 bears being admitted to the facility for rehabilitation – a lot of hungry mouths to feed!

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A stray dog that has survived flooding, Colombia