An introduction — change: where do we start?

“We have assigned ourselves, alone among the million animal species, the status of “legal persons”. Other animals’ most basic and fundamental interests — their pains, their lives, their freedoms — are intentionally ignored, often maliciously trampled, and routinely abused” by humans — Steven Wise, President of the Non-Human Rights Project.

Seal clubbing in Canada, whaling in the Faroe Islands, the Yulin dog meat festival in China, dancing bears in India, poaching in Africa, dog fighting, trophy hunting, vivisection, animals forced to perform in circuses, the doping of big cats for photo-tourism, and abuse in abattoirs the world over. Every day when I log into my social media accounts there is another petition to sign and, just when I think I have seen it all, a petition being circulated brings a new animal welfare issue into the spotlight.

For those who want change, it is easy to become overwhelmed and give up trying before you even begin. There is simply too much to do, where do you begin?

In my opinion, the first thing to be done is raise public awareness of these animal welfare issues.

In 2014, petitions to stop the Yulin dog meat festival made their way around Facebook and the shocking pictures displayed with the petitions galvanised the public into action. That year, the petitions generated enough media to force the Chinese government to distance itself and formally withdraw its backing of Yulin. A year later, the campaign to end Yulin gained high-profile political backing. Again, the petitions made their rounds and due to considerable opposition, that year, approximately 20% fewer dogs were killed at the event. This year one group of animal rights supporters handed the Chinese Government a petition with 11 million signatures on it calling for the end of the Yulin festival and support for the event grew ever weaker. The battle is by no means over but change has begun thanks to social media shedding light on atrocities happening on the other side of the world.