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November 13, 2012

More Work Ahead for China and Animal Welfare

Animal protection is a global cause, and the needs are urgent everywhere.  But we have a longer, tougher road to travel in China than perhaps anywhere else, as Peter J. Li, Ph.D., and Michael Tobias make plain in their exchange posted recently on Forbes.com.

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Peter J. Li, Ph.D., is the China policy consultant
for Humane Society International.

The China policy consultant for Humane Society International, Peter Li, along with other members of the HSI team, have put together a startling string of successes in recent years, through their field work, investigations, and coalition building. They've made inroads into bringing about an end to trafficking in rhino horns, foie gras, shark finning, zoo animal abuse, dog round-ups for rabies control, Canadian promotion of seal meat to Chinese consumers, the dog meat trade, animal testing, and even attempts to introduce American rodeos to the Chinese.

China lacks a humane slaughter standard for animals raised for food, and worse, even as many nations abandon the intensive husbandry practices of factory farming, China is embracing them. It is the home of the largest number of fur farms in the world, and also has a substantial bear farming industry. There is regular consumption of wild animals and a strong demand for their parts, which drives poaching of elephants, rhinos, and countless other species. The nation does not have an anti-cruelty law, and its current laws related to animal protection are weak or poorly enforced. 

These negative trends notwithstanding, as Peter points out in the interview, China’s cultural legacy includes a strong tradition of compassionate concern for animals, one that people can celebrate and amplify in their efforts to improve animal welfare there. China has a surging pet-keeping class, and activists have recently begun to challenge the dog meat trade in a highly visible and successful public campaign. There is a growing animal welfare movement in the country, and it is one of our tasks to fortify it.

Peter’s insights and guidance have made our work there meaningful, and this conversation provides a good primer on the challenges and opportunities we face in the most populous nation in the world, and its second largest economy.

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