Animal Rights

LUSH have joined forces with Animal Aid and are launching a nationwide campaign against the badger cull from tomorrow. Customers can sign postcards in store that will be sent to Oliver Letwin, Minister for Government Policy to let him know that “Badgers have friends, and those friends have votes”. The campaign hopes to highlight the fact that voters will take the Government’s stance on the cull into consideration during local council elections on May 2nd.

Badgers are again under threat as the planned cull is set to get underway this summer in Somerset and Gloucestershire. This is despite huge public and scientific outcry about the ineffectiveness of culling versus that of humane alternatives. Wildlife experts say that it is impossible to know the how many badgers there are which makes it very difficult to measure the impact of the cull. Badgers are a protected species and many believe it unethical to cull them on mass.

Badgers have been linked with the spread of Bovine Tuberculosis amongst cattle, although many eminent scientists have said that cow to cow infection is still the key problem and therefore a cull is not the answer, they call instead for more humane means like vaccination and better testing of cattle.

The cull has also met opposition from MPs and the public; an official government E-poll with 150,000 signatures demanded a debate to be held in Parliament regarding the cull.  After a four-hour debate in October 2012, MPs voted 147 to 28 in favour of scrapping the cull completely, which unfortunately only led to it be being postponed.

Now is the time to make your voice heard by coming into store and signing a postcard, signing the e-petition and supporting local badger groups – helping to Stop The Cull for good.

For further reading have a look at:

Animal Aid

Farmers against the cull


P4P Logopony image one

We are People4ponies, a charity based in Devon dedicated to helping wild and traumatised ponies.  As well as being home to ponies that are too traumatised by their experiences of people to find “normal homes”, we are very pro-active and successful with our campaigning work to improve the welfare of wild ponies.

Last year, we were lucky enough to be awarded a grant from Lush.  Our grant money has already helped us to attend all the 2012 wild pony markets in our region to ensure that welfare standards were being upheld.  We are currently updating our website ( so that people can learn more about the work we do.  Our new projector has also enabled us to give talks to community groups about our work, and the issues surrounding the welfare of wild ponies in our region, and it has helped us deliver training to the Animal Rescue division of the Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service.

One of the most important aspects of people4ponies is our campaigning work.  Most people aren’t aware that wild ponies in the South West of England (on Dartmoor, Exmoor and Bodmin) have been routinely subjected to mutilating identification procedures.  This has meant that their owners (all “wild” ponies in the UK are owned) used the traditional methods of cutting pieces out of the ears of their ponies (ear notching and ear cutting – see photo the at the top of the blog post) or burning them with hot irons (a process known as hot branding) as means of identification marking.  These are painful procedures carried out without any anaesthetic or painkiller and are usually accompanied with forced restraint – a very scary and traumatic experience for a wild pony.  For many, this has been their first ever experience of humans.

branding image two  branding image one

In 2010 we were able to stop the practices of ear notching, ear cutting and ear tagging equines – owners can be prosecuted under the Animal Welfare Act if they carry out these procedures.  Hot branding was banned in Scotland in 2010 and in Northern Ireland in 2012.

Now we are working for a ban on hot branding in the UK.

Our local MP fully supports our campaign, and the BBC recently covered the story.  A ban on hot branding is also supported by the British Veterinary Association, the British Equine Veterinary Association, the RSPCA, the British Horse Society, and The Blue Cross.  We all believe that microchipping is the most effective means of identification.  Not only is hot branding painful, it is a highly ineffective means of identification – many of the brands are unreadable, particularly in the winter when the ponies have their thick woolly coats.

A good example of the failure of hot branding to ensure the welfare of wild ponies is the story of these two ponies.  Tufty and Topsy have recently come to us from a national welfare organisation.  They were seized as welfare cases from Bodmin Moor 13 years ago.  They both have ear notches and brands but their owner couldn’t be prosecuted.  Even though the ponies displayed his identification marks, these marks are not legally considered as proof of his ownership.  Knowing this, their owner denied ownership and escaped prosecution.

Tufty and Topsy

Furthermore, the trauma of going through the identification procedures had made Topsy and Tufty  extremely frightened of people. They have now found a permanent home with us.  They are safe in our care, and for the first time in their lives have been receiving the special handling they need to allow them to overcome the trauma they experienced as foals and they are learning to trust people.

Please support our campaign to ban hot branding of horses and ponies in the UK!

You can follow our work with our resident ponies and our campaigning work on our website and blog.

APA Logo

Elaine here from APA, checking in to update you on our latest campaign news.  But before I do that, I’d like to entice you into your local pet shop! Because seeing first hand the problems associated with exotic pet shops gives you a taste of the issues that APA tackles on a daily basis….

If it’s a shop that sells animals then the chances are that exotic species (fish, frogs, reptiles, meerkats, unusual hedgehogs etc) will be on sale. The industry has boomed in recent years, particularly the sale of reptiles, although the range of exotic mammals has also increased and indications are that the primate pet trade has grown in popularity too.

Before we begin our pet shop tour, it’s important to bear in mind that the ‘exotic pets’ inside the glass vivariums, cages and aquariums are essentially wild animals. Unlike domesticated animals like cats and dogs, which have been bred over thousands of years to live alongside people, most exotic species are not  – and could not be – domesticated. This is because they lack certain genetic traits that would allow them to easily adapt to new environments, and as a result they often die prematurely as pets.

The first, and most obvious, problem is lack of space. Snakes are often unable to stretch out (which they need to do for their well-being). Finches and budgerigars rarely have space to fly and large parrots in standard cages cannot even fully spread their wings.

Captivity-stress in wild animals manifests in a myriad of behavioural problems – a few of which are easily spotted. Notice the lizard climbing and digging around the glass walls of its tank.  This sign of stress results from the reptile’s inability to recognise the invisible barrier (as they would never encounter glass walls in the wild!) Feather-plucking in parrots can be a sign of ‘boredom’, and bar-chewing by rodents is a sure sign they want out!

– APA has been working behind the scenes, alongside leading authorities in exotic animal biology and welfare, to help to modernise pet shop regulation in Britain improve animal welfare.

– Following the launch of our jointly-funded report on European reptile and amphibian markets, APA was instrumental in halving the number of UK reptile markets last year and we’re keeping up the pressure this year!
– Our research has shown that most pet reptiles, with natural potential lifespans from 8 to 120 years depending on species, die within just one year.
– Brussels, along with other European animal protection groups, we recently launched the report: ‘Wild Pets in the European Union’, detailing the animal welfare, environmental and public health problems caused by the exotic pet trade. We’re calling for immediate action to ban wild-caught imports and to ultimately introduce a ban on all trade in wild animals as pets.

For more information, visit: 

Please join our communities on on Facebook and Twitter for news and campaign updates.

Shree devi in ambulance March 2, 2010  Shree devi's first meal

Animal Nepal’s Working Equine Outreach Programme supports some 1500 equines working in Kathmandu brick factories. Surveys show that thanks to various interventions the conditions of equines have greatly improved. Nowadays the loads are smaller, beating has decreased, and the general health conditions of the animals are far better than before.

To some extent this is true – inputs such as regular workshops for owners and  handlers, regular de-worming and vaccinations, first aid boxes, improved harnesses, hoof cleaners, health camps and educational workshops have had a visible impact.

But we still have much work to do. We recently went on a rescue mission to a local open air factory that employs some fifty donkeys, mules and horses to carry unfired mud bricks from a hilltop down to the kiln where they are baked. We had to walk up a hill to find what we came for. Today we brought a first aid box and planned to teach the donkey owners (four in total) how to use the medicines.

However, when we parked the car inside the factory a very different picture emerged. Children dressed in rags, carrying younger siblings on their back, surrounded the ambulance. Their faces were covered in dust; some of the toddlers’ heads were shaven to prevent lice. There were no adults around; while the parents worked the children had to take of themselves and each other. None of the children had any toys. A boy wearing a dirty Nepali topi pulled a wooden brick mould behind him through the dust.

The owners of this particular factory are cooperative, and often call us when a donkey is sick. Still, we were shocked by the conditions of the animals. They were overloaded and continuously beaten by wiry handlers, boys from poor families, as young as eleven.

The vets immediately started treating the animals. Apart from saddle wounds the donkeys and mules suffered from hoof problems and eye infections. There was one severely malnourished mule stood alone, too weak to move. A mule suffering from laminitis, a very painful condition caused by inflammation of the hoof, was given two weeks rest.

We were asked to have a look at one of the newer donkeys over at the night shelter and found a pathetic looking donkey, lying on the path. The creature was dehydrated and malnourished, and seemed unable to walk. Her name is Shree Devi.  After a long, bumpy ride, we had to literally pull her to her retirement home, supporting her back legs.

When she arrived the twelve other resident donkeys left the night shelter to sniff at Shree Devi. She easily passed the test. Shree Devi then enjoyed the first of many nourishing meals in her new home.

Recently four new staff have been recruited to intensify our support services. The new team is awesome; they work from dusk till dawn to improve the lives of Kathmandu’s ‘beasts of burden’.

However, occasionally we still come across abused and injured donkeys such as Shree Devi. We pray that next time when we visit a brick factory we will be able to leave empty handed…

Lucia de Vries

Volunteer Director Animal Nepal