Raphael Minder of The New York Times reported this weekend on the final day of bullfighting in Catalonia in Spain. It was not a nominal or cosmetic change in policy, since bullfighting has been a tradition in this part of Spain.
Minder also reported that bullfighting is flagging nationwide because of the economic downturn in Europe, as well as an end to some industry subsidies long provided by the government of Spain. These are welcome developments, since bullfighting involves demonstrable cruelty for nothing but human entertainment. It’s no different morally from dogfighting or cockfighting, except that the human hand is more directly involved in the torment and the punishment of vulnerable creatures.
Learn about 11 ways you can help end bullfighting.
It’s also a reminder that our movement is not, and has never been, restricted to the United States. There are groups fighting for animals and rescuing them in all parts of the world. The HSUS, too, has an entire international division, Humane Society International, which works across the globe to extend the campaigns and activities of The HSUS and to build the capacity of animal welfare groups throughout the world. Especially in the era of global communications and transport, nearly all of the industries we spar with have far-flung operations–from factory farming to sealing to animal fighting to puppy mills.
Just two weeks ago, the USDA promulgated regulations restricting the import of dogs into the United States from foreign puppy mills. This was precipitated by the law we worked to pass on the Farm Bill in 2008 to achieve that purpose.
But so many issues remain. We are working hard against factory farming, particularly in Brazil, India, and Mexico. And we are mindful that cockfighting is a legal industry in many parts of the world–from Mexico to Thailand and the Philippines. In fact, there are more than 100 cockfighting arenas in Puerto Rico, even though U.S. law forbids the possession of fighting birds in any part of the United States, including the commonwealth. Essentially the staged fights between roosters there are entirely illegal under federal law, but they persist somehow because of the power of the cockfighting lobby and the support for the activity on the island.
The HSUS has been at the center of the domestic fight for animal protection since our founding in 1954, but more than ever we're also at the center of the global fight against cruelty and abuse. Opposition to cruelty is a universal value, and animals have the capacity to suffer in any part of the world. It’s our hope to continue to grow our operations, to gain more political influence, and to extend the mantle of protection to animals everywhere.
The provincial action in Spain is an encouraging sign, and we hope a harbinger of additional reforms to come on the international stage.