Animal Law Week | A Global Vision of Animal Protection in the 21st Century

Animal Law Week | A Global Vision of Animal Protection in the 21st Century

Hello, everybody. Hi. For those of you still getting
food, please go ahead and– no rush or anything, but
we’re going to get started. My name is Gabriel Wildgen. I’m
the co-president of the Harvard Animal Law Society, and
on behalf of our board and on behalf of
our co-sponsors, the Animal on Policy Society
and the Women’s Law Society, thank you so much
for coming today. This is really great attendance. We’ve had great
attendance all week and it’s always so
gratifying to see so many people interested in
protecting animals and animal law. So I wanted, before we get to
introducing our speaker today, Kitty Block, I’d
like to just let you know that tomorrow
is our last day of our successful
Animal Law Week. We’re going to be having a
panel discussion on accelerating alternatives to animal
testing in science. I think it would be a really
fascinating and important discussion, so I hope
you can all make it out. There will always be free
food, as all of our talks have. So please do come by. And now it’s really
an honor to introduce to you our speaker for today. Kitty Block, who is
the president and CEO of Humane Society United
States and Humane Society International, an organization
I worked for for several years before coming to law school. And I just put in
a plug for them. If any of you are interested
in interning with HSUS or HSI, I highly recommend it. If you’re interested in
volunteering, donating– it’s an excellent organization
doing amazing work for animals across the
world and here in the US. A bit about Kitty. She joined HSUS in 1992
as a legal investigator. Her efforts there led to
many different victories for animals. Some real landmark
ones where a– European Union bans
and United States bans on cosmetic– sorry,
not cosmetic testing. On the import of
dog and cat fur. KITTY BLOCK: We’ll get
there on the cosmetics. GABRIEL WILDGEN: Well yeah. KITTY BLOCK: This close. GABRIEL WILDGEN:
She’s done a lot– a lot of things for animals. But the import of dog
and cat fur into the EU and to the United States. And the ban of slaughtering
horses for human consumption. For a lot of her career,
she’s focused especially on protecting whales and
dolphins and other wildlife. She led litigation efforts
that were successful to protect dolphins and for tuna– for dolphin-safe
tuna legislation. Block has also testified
before the US Congress– sorry. Kitty has testified
before US Congress, worked with international
governments, and other agencies for a wide range of
animal protection laws and conservation laws that have
impacted millions of animals across the world, and she’s
built coalitions with NGOs in industry. And she’s also served as an
advisor to the White House on trade and environment. So I know we’re all
very excited to hear what she has to say,
so without further ado, please welcome Kitty Block. KITTY BLOCK: Thank you. [APPLAUSE] Well thank you for
having me today, and please leave some food. I’m getting it afterwards. It’s really great to be here. I’m actually from this area. I grew up in Nahant, which is
just about 30 minutes north of here. So I’ve always
walked by this area and just been in awe of what was
happening inside these walls. And I couldn’t be more
thrilled about the growing commitment to animal
protection work in this school, and it’s just– it’s so important. When I went to law school–
so I went to law school– dear god, how long ago now? So I graduated in 1990 and
there really wasn’t anything like this. Nothing. And I tried to take a few
environmental law classes, thinking there may just
be something in there. But nothing, really. So this is so incredibly
exciting for me, just getting this word out,
bringing young, new minds to it, working in
the communities, and just becoming the next
leaders in the movement. So I couldn’t be more pleased. OK. There’s my love of my life. Where’s Chasen? Do you miss Lily? Chasen used to run our
global farm animal work. So it’s great that
you’re here, Chasen. And Lily was– she
adopted Chasen. She came in her office almost
every morning for treats. So Lily is an international dog. She is from the
island of Trinidad and Tobago– street dog,
which is another huge program that we work on globally. So as you heard, I became the– was appointed, officially,
the president and CEO of Humane Society of the
US about three weeks ago. I’d been acting CEO
for about a year, and with the organization
for 27 years now. So I started around
seven years old, maybe. Just getting used to the work. But before I get into
some of the topics, I just wanted to
just raise briefly that Humane Society
of the US has gone through a lot of
changes this year– some quite public–
and I think some of you who may have attended Carol’s
talk may have mentioned it. And so for me, getting
our culture right, making sure things like
that never happen again are key and fundamental to who
I am and the work I want to do. The Humane Society of the
US and the HSI, I think, are together, most effective
global animal protection organization in the
world, and people come to it because they want
to be involved in the work. But I also want them to
come to our organization because it’s the best
place to work for animals. And so for me,
that has been key. I’ve done a lot of
work with our culture, bringing in outside experts,
embedding themselves in our organization for
almost a year now, governance work at our board, and a
reconciliation process– truth and reconciliation process
for the women who came forward. So a lot of work that
happened this year. Work I’m really proud of. Work that has not been
easy, but it was necessary, and I’m happy to say
we did all of that while we continued to have
great victories for animals. We are an incredibly
mission driven organization. It is what we do, why we do,
and sort of brought everything together this year. So OK. Just briefly,
because I always have to have a picture
of my mom, I had the good fortune of being
raised by an animal advocate. She really taught me not just
to love animals, but to advocate for them. And so she used to drag me
to anti-fur demos in New York and in town. Out in front of Wonderland
Dog Track many years ago, before it closed,
thank goodness. But it really was great to
have such a strong role model, and we always had a
pack of rescue dogs and some injured birds that we
would always nurse and bring back to health and release. That’s my daughter there. It’s a little
self-promotion of my family. So that’s next
generation advocate. She’s actually– this
is many years ago. This is when we were in
front of the Chinese embassy, and she’s actually looking
at universities now. But I just show that picture
of my mom and my daughter because for me, animal
protection is a way of life. It has been in my family– three generations of women
working for this cause, and I’m proud of that. So as was mentioned–
horse slaughter. When I started in the Legal
Investigations Division, my role was really to
make sure we were doing the investigations legally. I wanted to do the basic work– eavesdropping, trespass,
all these things. And the work that we
did, looking first at horse slaughter
and other issues, I realized that this really is
something you can’t focus on just in one country, and
it really brought it home because the work we did– part of this investigation
was we got the US slaughter plant shut down through
the appropriations, which means there wasn’t any
money for the inspections. So they couldn’t operate. That didn’t shut
it down, though. So US horses were then loaded
up in basically cattle cars, and they went to Mexico and
Canada to be slaughtered. And so for me, it really
was a wake-up call that you don’t want to
shift to the problem. I mean, you certainly need
to do important work wherever you are, but you have
to be mindful of what it means on a global perspective. Are you really ending it? Are you moving it? Are you not really tackling
the root causes of it? So about– I guess
it was 1995, I started moving into the
international space, and HSI had– HSUS had incorporated Humane
Society International. And so in the beginning,
we weren’t really sure what we were doing with it. We didn’t have any
operations in any countries. What we really did with it
was look at– oh, I’m sorry. And I’ll get back to
dogfighting, but– SPEAKER 1: [INAUDIBLE]
Microphone level a little bit. [INAUDIBLE] It’s
for the recording. Cool. Great. KITTY BLOCK: Nothing
about my shirt. Just the recording you’re
worried about messing up? And so what we did
at HSI is we looked at the global
international agreements, and so we thought that would be
a place where we could really get to as many animals
to protect in the varying countries around the world. So the first global
agreement I worked on was the International Whaling
Commission, and in that body, there was about– when I
started, about 40 countries. I think there’s about
80 plus in there now. But it really looked at measures
that, if the body decided to protect an animal, then
all the countries supposedly had to abide by it. So as a young
lawyer, it was pretty heady to be negotiating with
New Zealand or– well, Japan. No, I never
negotiated with Japan. But some of the other
countries, and really getting strong measures. And that’s when I started
working with colleagues from around the globe and seeing
them lobby their governments. And I realized that
I had influence with these other countries
because they got to know us and they knew we couldn’t
provide the work. But you really had to
be from the country to really move your government
in the right direction. So that really started
us thinking about, well, how do we expand? How do we really affect animal
protection in countries? You can’t just come in. You can’t swoop in. It really has to be
homegrown and there are so many great people doing
this work around the world. So it really started us thinking
about how do we build capacity with other groups? And CITES I don’t
know if, Nathan– if you’ve ever been to
CITES but I know IFAW is really active in it. CITES again, is one of these
international global bodies where a lot of lawyers
and scientists, NGOs from around the
world come together to really focus on
protecting certain species from a whole host of
wildlife trade ills. And just to see the power
when NGOs come together, we formed something called the
Species Survival Network, which again, is really harnessing
the power of NGOs working around the globe and
getting them to focus on issues and lobbying their
own governments. And so that’s been
an incredible effort, and that covers basically
all the wildlife species that are traded internationally. So it’s an incredible
opportunity, especially for lawyers. This kind of work– I mean, it’s not
something I thought about when I was in law
school, but this kind of international treaty
work is really exciting. It’s sort of groundbreaking
because you’re making these arguments
at a global level and working with countries
equivalent to their state departments in those. And the other nice
thing about it is a lot of these
delegations– like for CITES it has 190 plus countries. Some of them are really small
and they have one or two people in the delegation. So they can’t do the work. So if you start working
with these countries, you’re doing incredible
legal work for animals from a position of
another country. It’s really exciting
and it’s something that if people have an
opportunity ever to go to, it’s really worth it. Chasen, I think you helped
me put this map together. So we decided we really
needed to expand– that more and more, there
were hardly any issues– the big fights, the big issues
that were wholly solvable in any one country. And so rather than act like the
US is the center of the world, really see where else
other great organizations were doing work. How could we build
capacity with them? How can we find out what are the
gaps where they don’t have some of the expertise that we have? And so we really started
a hard look at the globe, and you can see
where we are now. It’s really incredible,
the expansion that we’ve had in really–
in the last, I’d say, 12 years is when we’ve started. And we’re part of a– I think we have about 10 more
countries in the next two years. It was an ambitious
program and ambitious plan working with some
philanthropy and donors who want to see the work expanded. And when I say that, we
don’t really hire any expats. It’s really working with
the people in the country. And as I said, there are
incredible people working on animal issues, and one
of the things that I just really appreciate is that in
some countries where we work, there isn’t an
organization where they’d be paid for doing animal work. That doesn’t mean
they’re not doing it. It means they’re just doing it
in the morning in the wee hours before they go to work
and after they come home. And the idea that we
start working with them in some of these countries– they can’t believe
you can actually make a profession out of this. And this is what we
want to help and this is how we want to build capacity. We had so many offices that
have just done incredible work. I mean, India, I think, is one
of our most successful offices, where they have incredible
legislative victories through the courts
on all the issues. On factory farming, on
cosmetic testing, on so many of these issues. So it’s really been fantastic to
see this growth and expand it. And if you’ve got people
working around the globe on these issues, that’s
when you start really, really making the lasting
and meaningful headway. So farm animals. Obviously incredibly important
issue, and great organizations, including my own, working
on it in this country. Confinement, meat reduction,
all of these issues. Clean meats. But the majority of farm
animals are outside the US and the majority of
suffering is outside the US. And so really, under
Chasen’s leadership when she worked with us,
she built that program out in a number of countries
and really getting people to focus on what are the most
extreme issues facing farm animals, and having some real
great corporate victories and legislative victories. Sorry. Cosmetic testing is another
really big global issue for us, and here’s a case where the US
is lagging pretty far behind. There are now, I think–
if you include the EU, it’s about 38 nations
that have banned cosmetic testing on animals. And so we’re just
hanging out there. This is something that we should
have done a long time ago, and legislatively in the US,
it’s a big priority for us. For all of you, know there’s
no reason to be doing it. There are alternatives that
are more efficient and not as expensive as animals, and no
reason to do this anymore. But I like this issue because
we’re going nation by nation and really trying to
build a groundswell for– we hope to get there for
across the world, anyone who’s doing it. So this campaign– it’s one
that’s really near and dear to my heart, and
one that I’ve been working on for quite some time. This is our dog meat work. There are about
five Asian countries that either raise dogs
for food or they’re taken off the streets. Street dogs, community
dogs, and some dogs that are with collars. And so it’s something we
started about three years ago and it’s gruesome, as
many of these issues are. But it’s one that I like
how we’ve approached it. We work in country
with partners, though the country I think
we’re closest to getting a legislative ban on it–
probably be three years out– is South Korea. South Korea is the only Asian
nation that actually raises them– farms them– for food. And so what we started
doing was looking at what consumption
patterns were, health issues surrounding it. A lot of the work we
do in nations is also, we try to tie it to human
health because if you’ve got street dog issues,
all of these things, rabies is a big issue. And so we try to
come in that way. And that’s been really helpful. So we started a
program in South Korea to work with the dog
farmers, and what we found, and you could barely– initially, not even have
a conversation with one. It was pretty challenging. But then you talk
to them and you hear that their kids
are mortified by what their parents are doing. They don’t want to
inherit the business– the last thing they want. And it’s not a prestigious
thing to be doing. But they don’t have
any alternative. So what we started
was a program, providing them almost
literally seed money to get into another line of business. So the first farmer closed it
out, destroyed all the cages. We took the dogs and
he grew blueberries and became a blueberry farmer. Next one was a chili farmer. One got into water resource. And these farmers then
became our spokespeople. I mean, they had the most
traction with the industry. They have the most traction
with the government. It’s challenging for
us to come in and say, this is what you should do. They’re saying it and we
have farmers lining up for– to get out of the business. Now we can’t shut
down every farm. There’s about– well now,
there’s about 16,000. So what we try to do was shut
down enough to start this to get the people in Korea–
so the first farm we shut down, there was no press. I mean, we were taking pictures
of each other and the dogs. The next one, a few more. The last one– so I think
we’re on the 16th farm– there was so much press. Not just international press,
but Korean press, which is what we are looking for. We want the Korean
press because they see that all the
interest in these dogs– a lot of Koreans
that we spoke to– South Koreans– they
hadn’t been to a dog farm. They didn’t really understand. They thought dog meat
dogs were different than the pet dogs they
have in their home, and there is a growing
pet population– ownership population– in South Korea. So they somehow just
put it to the side. So when they actually
saw these dogs and the conditions
they were raised in, it’s breaking it open. And we’ve just
done another poll. The consumption is going down. The idea of ending
it is increasing. We’ve done the economic
studies to show that it is not in the
interest of these farmers. It’s literally a dying industry. It is not making money for them,
and the government should help transition them out eventually. So that was a program,
and it continues and it will continue, as I said. We also work on it in China,
Vietnam, and Thailand. And again, in these countries,
having a lot of progress. We have an office now in Vietnam
to continue this work, and not just on the dog meat trade,
but on farm animal issues. We also have an office in
South Korea working on this. China. Yeah, I don’t think anyone’s
getting an office in China. But there is such an incredibly
impressive fledgling growing movement of folks
there, and so for one of our programs on
the dog meat issue, we provide assistance
and funding and training so they spot– when they see a dog
meat truck go by, they can call the
police, stop it. Now it’s not illegal to
consume dogs for dog meat. What is illegal is if they’re
transported without papers. And so there’s never been one
truck that’s packed with dogs– has ever had the
appropriate paperwork. They’re just grabbing
them off the streets. So it’s really empowered
the local activists to have a role– to be able
to do something about it. And so that’s been
really exciting. And as I said, these issues
take off when they’re homegrown and they have
traction in countries. Sometimes it’s just
getting them started and giving them some tools and
resources to get the work done. We also work on it in
Indonesia, as well. The other area that is a growing
area of work that we do is– HSUS has been very strong
on disasters, as far as coming in and helping with
the animals, the transport of the animals, the rescue. But we have a global
HSI team, and so what I’m looking at going
forward is really sort of uniting
the work that we do so we are a global
force for disaster work, and what that looks
like for the animals. And again, these types
of things that we do– hands on work like disasters
and the dog meat trade, saving the animals– it’s
always tied to a policy goal– a legislative goal. So because you can’t
just work on these issues without doing that, as well. Working on these issues,
showing the animals, helping them get out of crisis
is what sort of shocks people into moving and raises
the awareness more than anything else we could do. Plus you get to save
some great animals, which is incredibly important. So it’s really the way of
working on our hands on work to support the corporate work we
do and the legislative work we, and it seems to be a
really successful model. Moving forward a slide. So as I said at the outset, in
my new role as– having been the HSI president actually for
only four months before I got pegged to be the
acting CEO of HSUS is really to unite the work. Again, I do not
believe that you can affect any of these big issues
without looking at it globally. We are a global community. Commerce is nearly
instantaneous. Communications– people
are communicating all over the world all the time,
and these animals– the industry is in all
these other countries and we need to be. And we need to be as
coordinated and as collaborative as we can because again, these
issues are intense and severe, and we need everybody operating
together and working on them. So that’s how I plan
to move HSUS forward, and as I said at the outset,
also doing a lot of good work to really build and
support our culture so we are a safe, great
place to work for animals. So thank you. SPEAKER 1: Thank you. [APPLAUSE] So we’ve got the
room for a while, so we’ll maybe take 10
minutes of questions, then take a break for anyone
who needs to leave for class, and then continue with
questions after that. So if you have a question,
please raise your hand until I come to you with the microphone
because we are recording. AUDIENCE: I’m really interested
in greyhound adoption, and since greyhound racing
is ending in this country and in first world
countries, lots of greyhounds are being sent to second
or third world countries like Argentina or Asia. I know that the HSUS has
been helpful with dogs in Macau who are being
adopted out from there. Could you talk a little bit
about what HSUS is doing for greyhounds these days? KITTY BLOCK: Sure. As you know, the ballot
measure in Florida, which just passed
the amendment, which was so important– it banned
greyhound racing in Florida, which was key because 11 out of
the 18 tracks were in Florida. So you shut down
Florida, then it makes no sense for the rest
of the states to do it. There’s just a handful of
states that are doing it. And so as far as
Florida goes, it was an incredibly
successful measure. It’s funny. We won that faster than
I thought we would. We were in a
coalition of groups. We had just left the
final polling station. It was around 8:30
PM and we were heading over to do the watch– you know, watch the
results come in. And we were going to a bar
that let greyhounds in, which was really cool. We had all these greyhounds. But as we were driving
over, they said, we’re going to make the call
because the numbers were coming in so high. It was so great to see. A state that is so
steeped in dog racing. So that was the US. And we’re also working
with helping place them. We’re starting a fund to help
with placement for these dogs. And then we’re also looking
at just the remaining states– what we can do in
the remaining states. Globally, we have
an HSI Australia, and working with them
on this issue, as well. We’re looking at where
our country offices are that have greyhound
racing and seeing what we can do to sort of
transfer some of the knowledge and how we work to
phase it out and end it. So it’s an important issue. It’s one we’re going to
see end in soon time. AUDIENCE: But even
now, there are lots of greyhounds ending up
in the meat market in China and in Asia. KITTY BLOCK: There are. There are dogs that
end up in the meat markets in a lot of places. So you work on the
issue so they’re not– they’re not
breeding them anymore in Florida, so there’s
not going to be a surplus to be dumped in other places. The breeding has stopped
since the measure went in. That’s why you have to do both. You have to do the
education, yeah. SPEAKER 1: You have
a question back here. KITTY BLOCK: OK. AUDIENCE: Thanks so much
for your presentation. I’m really excited to hear about
the focus that you’re going to have on farm animals, and my
question is whether there was any concern when deciding to
focus on issues like dog meat or horse meat or
dolphin-free tuna– whether that sort of
perpetuates the idea that there are
certain animals that are OK to have as meat,
like cows and tuna, and there are other
animals that are worthy of our protection, like
horses and dolphins and dogs? And I’d love to know, also,
more about your vision for doing more farm animal
work, going forward. KITTY BLOCK: Sure. If you look at
straight suffering and the numbers of animals
involved, it’s farm animals. There’s no question. And so that’s why
it’s been probably one of the biggest pushes in HSUS. When we started
looking at, globally, the issues we take on, that
was one of the main ones that we led with. I don’t think it
sends a message– if you work on these issues
and you work on trying to keep animals from becoming food– if it hasn’t happened
yet– if it’s on the cusp, if you can keep certain animals
out while you’re still working on the animals that are part– they have been part of the
food chain– to get that out. I see these as complementary. I don’t ever want to, by saying
you’re working on one animal to save one, it doesn’t mean
that the other ones shouldn’t be or that it’s right to. And the dog meat
farming in South Korea has raised lots of issues for
people about farmed animals because these dogs
in South Korea are farmed under
horrendous conditions and slaughtered under
even worse conditions. People who are
outraged about that– starting to make the connection. So where we can show that
animals are animals and it’s important to address it. I don’t think working
on these other issues sort of legitimizes the others. I think it actually gets to it
in a way that brings people in and then just keeps
exposing them to what else they need to do. AUDIENCE: So thank you
on your presentation about presenting a global
strategy for coupling the action you’re doing
in protecting animals on the ground to corporate
and policy strategy. It made me very curious
what Humane Society US and International, if
anything, are planning to do, moving forward, about addressing
climate change, which truly is a global issue affecting
domestic animals in disaster areas, farm animals
prone to heat exhaustion in extreme weather, and all
wildlife, from the tropics to the poles. KITTY BLOCK: Yeah,
don’t stop there. Keep going. You can take the mic and– so many of you
know John LaVerne. I’m sure you do. He has been an incredible
advocate and outspoken person on this issue. Yes, it is– it
looms so large and it is going to impact all the
animals we work to protect, and ourselves. We have worked on
it– been involved in the [INAUDIBLE] trying to
get other environmental groups to look at meat reduction
as one of the key things you can do now. I mean, there’s so
much we can’t reverse. There’s so much that
takes– but there are things you could do right now. It’s not an easy space for
animal groups to enter. They’re seen as having
an agenda, but so what? Because it’s
actually legitimate. It’s something we’ve
worked on, and actually, it was Chasen’s department that
really started that work. And we’ve certainly
tied it to one of the ills of factory farming. I mean, not only is it
incredibly inhumane– it’s pollution and water
quality and contributes to climate change. So we use it as a factor in it. It needs a bigger platform
and it’s something, certainly, we’ve talked about. But we’ve got to get the other
environmental groups really involved in this because
this is something that they do lead with, and
if they can bring that animal component in, it’ll help. And we’re certainly standing
available to do that. AUDIENCE: Can you talk– right here. KITTY BLOCK: I’m sorry. AUDIENCE: That’s all right. Can you talk a little bit
about some of your farm animal protection work? Like I was really blown away by
your success in Massachusetts, and then the same evening
you won greyhound racing, you also won the just watershed
California ballot initiative. Like what is– like
how are you thinking about farm animal protection
in the overall context of HSUS? What’s next? And then on South
Korea, you said you have a farm animal program
in South Korea beyond the dogs. Like how do you think about
that issue internationally? So it’s sort of three part. KITTY BLOCK: Sure. Well first off, I
mean, confinement– getting animals
out of constraint– farm animals out
of confinement– was one of the first
things that we worked on, and getting them out of
gestation crates and hens out of battery cages and so on. And then we expanded
that globally. And so sort of going country by
country, working on that issue. And in India, working on
it through the courts– actually getting it banned
through the courts– the battery cage issue. And then also, meat
reduction here in the US. That work, and
then also globally. I think that Chasen
started one even in Africa, and we have one program in the
UK and we have one in Canada. They’ve really taken off. So it’s looking at reduction. It’s looking at ending
extreme confinement and also looking at– broiler chickens is
another area that we’ve started moving into and
really trying to just hit that as hard as we can. So we tend to do
these programs– the similar type of
program globally. And South Korea– when
we open an office, there’s always something
that we came in on. So in South Korea, we came
in on the dog meat issue. So that’s the biggest issue. But we’re also
looking at what we can do for wildlife
because we just got our office incorporated
and who else we can bring on. And then what are the
farm animal issues there that we could have traction on? The work that we’ve
done for farm animals and internationally is
really looking at the banks. So the world banks–
they fund a lot of this, and so really getting in,
trying to work with them, trying to show why this is
really not sustainable, viable, and it doesn’t really help
the people in those places where they talk
about how great this is going to be if they
get a huge factory farm in and they get funding. So it’s really looking at a lot
of different components of that and continuing that work. So the ballot measure
in California– that was phenomenal. It really is one of the
strongest measures everywhere, and so we’re looking to see
how we can reproduce that in other states, maybe
without a ballot measure because those are
tough and expensive. But get enough momentum,
now look at more of it just legislatively, if
we can do it that way. AUDIENCE: Could you
flip back to your globe? Your map of the world. Would that be difficult? If it is, I apologize. KITTY BLOCK: No,
I’m getting there. AUDIENCE: It’ll help. KITTY BLOCK: There you go. AUDIENCE: So– yeah,
go back one more. So I wonder if you could
comment a little bit about the strategy for
being really the biggest global organization. Looking around at
where the offices are and where the reach
is, you have offices with tremendous amounts of
additional regional coverage. Gaps in the Middle
East is the gap that stands out the most to me. You have Australia, which has a
strong local animal protection movement. So I’m wondering, are you
going for an overarching theme, or is it more about targeted
opportunities, whether or not it’s a well established country
or a country with no one else? Where in India, you are
the biggest organization and the most effective one,
as far as I can tell in India. What’s the strategy,
and is it something that can be articulated? Or it’s still in the works. Because I know you
realize that you had just taken over HSI not long before
you took over HSUS, as well. KITTY BLOCK: Right. No, I was working
in HSI, so I was part of the problem
of where we ended up. AUDIENCE: Yeah. No, I didn’t say
it was a problem, but you are the
international organization. So how you choose to deploy
your resources has effects. You know, trickle
down effects, effects to other smaller organizations. So I was curious what the
philosophy or strategy is. KITTY BLOCK: So it’s
an evolving one. I’d say in the early days, when
I first started and moved over to the HSI side, we
had Canada and the UK, and they really were just
more fundraising offices than any program. And then being young
and scrappy and not sure what made the most
sense, we started working with a lot
of different people, building capacity through
these international meetings. And it really was
sort of finding these people in country– that was a lot of
it because if you knew you had someone
really good that you’ve met and if you just invested
in them and helped them, they could really take off. And so it was a
little bit of that. It was a little bit
of the country itself. Like is there just a huge gap? Nobody’s there? Is it one of the areas that
has the most factory farms? Whatever it is. So we started really
honing in on what made the most sense for us. And now what we’re
doing, which I think makes the most
strategic sense, is we have offices
that we’ve incorporated in certain regions, and
then do work around it. So that a country
office like India could be the hub for Sri
Lanka and the street dog work we’re doing in
Nepal and Bangladesh and all of these other things. So trying to build areas where
they can support each other. It’s not perfect. There are a lot of gaps, and
you mentioned the Middle East. That’s an issue. That is a hard place
to do work for animals. China is one of those, but
we found our footing in China through our partners. We will not incorporate there. It doesn’t make any sense. But it makes sense to support
the fledgling animal protection movement. We’re looking for openings in
that area in the Middle East, but it’s hard to say, but
sometimes, if it’s just not right, you could
spend all your time just trying to open the office
and not really advancing the animal issue. So when we look at
a country, we also look at what are their
human rights laws? What are the other–
because animals– animal protection is sort
of caught up in that. And so if they don’t
recognize even the most basic, it’s very hard to get work done. But that doesn’t
mean we don’t have some partners that we do try
to support from time to time. But we have not moved
into the Middle East yet. AUDIENCE: Do you do any
work with ocean animals besides dolphins and whales? Because overfishing
is a huge problem in some areas and it’s something
I feel very strong about. KITTY BLOCK: I’m glad you do. Can’t wait to see you
later when you want to sign up for a job with us. Yes. Overfishing– it’s
extreme in so many areas. I mean, they fished out the
oceans in so much of the world. So we have worked
more on the species– turtles, whales,
dolphins, sharks– as sort of the way to
galvanize people around it. But we’ve also
worked on the fishing mess that the long
liners, the trawlers– and the pathetic thing is
a lot of these countries, because of the strength of
their fishing industry– they are blaming
the marine mammals for wiping out the
fish– the fish that they compete with for food. So we have a double problem
that we have to work on, and we do work on that issue. But you’re absolutely right. Overfishing is just
a huge problem. People have to wake up
to it and understand it, and the health of our oceans
and the fish– in the end, it’s so vital to the
survival of all of us. SPEAKER 1: OK. We’ll take a quick break. If anyone needs to
leave for a class, we’ll give you a minute or
two to do so while I walk over to our next questioner. GABRIEL WILDGEN: It’s not done. We’re just giving folks time
to go to [INAUDIBLE] for class. Oh yes. SPEAKER 1: OK. OK, we’re going to keep
going on with the questions if folks are filing out. GABRIEL WILDGEN: We
have four questions. You should be right afterwards. SPEAKER 1: All right, so we’ve
got our next question here. AUDIENCE: So thank you for
the noble work you’ve done. I don’t know if I heard
wrong, but talking about animal
agriculture, I thought you might have said that we
have some of the better systems, compared to other
places in the world. And I am aware of
the ag gag laws. My thought– I thought
that Europe and the EU had better, more
progressive systems, so I was wondering if you could
speak to that a little bit. And just on the side, your
philosophy about stores like Whole Foods kind
of lulling people into thinking that this
is humane, happy meat. And might that be
counterproductive? Because then people
kind of think less with their conscience. KITTY BLOCK: So thank you
for pointing that out, and I hope that
wasn’t what I meant. No, our systems are
not more humane. I was saying the
majority of farm animals that need help are
outside the US, and there are many
countries that have much more humane systems– the EU, for instance, and
some of the other countries we work in. The US is– there’s a strong
agriculture lobby here, and so there is so much work
that continues to be done. It actually is
the corporations– the corporate work that is
leading it, not the legislators here. State by state, we have
more of an ability. Federally, it’s really hard. And your question about Whole
Foods and their gap standards. I do think it’s
important for there always to be an effort to move– to protect farm animals and
alleviate their suffering. I think that is just an
incredibly important thing to do and never stop
trying to do that. I also think it’s
incredibly important to do the work of
reducing meat consumption, and I don’t think
we’ll get to the day where the world will
be free of meat. So what do we do
for the animals that are caught up in these systems? And that’s why I’m really
comfortable working on the issues of getting
them out of confinement and doing these things. And so corporations– I don’t know if it– I think it’s a good
thing when corporations try to do the right thing. Greenwashing obviously
is a different issue, but if they have put some
serious work into it, and I think originally,
the gap standards did. I’m not sure how
effective it is now. I think it’s still working
on that, as there’s been changes at Whole Foods. But I think it’s
important to keep moving in the direction
of alleviating the suffering of these animals. AUDIENCE: Hi. Thank you for the talk. You mentioned cosmetic
testing and I’m wondering if you can expand on
your vision and any strategies that you may have going forward
on tackling other issues in animal experimentation. So beyond cosmetic testing. KITTY BLOCK: Sure. Well cosmetic testing is
the low hanging fruit. It’s very hard for
people other than the US legislature and
corporations to defend that. Pesticides– and keep moving. You’re not going to get it all
at once, so just keep moving it as far along as you can. And hearing some of the
work that you all are doing, I guess, upstairs and the
focus of the roundtable that you had– I think that’s
fascinating and I don’t know if you want to mention
that, but it is a really– AUDIENCE: Tomorrow at 12:00. KITTY BLOCK: Tomorrow at 12:00. It’s a really exciting idea
about how to really tackle this, and I’m really
pleased to hear you guys are working
on that because it takes a lot of great minds and
good strategies to do this. AUDIENCE: Thank you very
much for the presentation. My question is back to talking
about the species specific meat bans. The question is whether
there is any evidence for or against like a sort
of substitution effect, where if you say today,
this country, say, can’t eat dog meat. Does that just lead to more
consumption of other species to fill the gap, for example? Or is that just not the case? I’m just curious what you may
or may not know about that. Thank you. KITTY BLOCK: Thank you. Thank you for the question. So in that case, we do know. And when we transition
dog farmers out of raising dogs for
food, they don’t go into any kind of
animal agriculture. That is absolutely a
non-starter for us. It has to be something humane– crop growing or something else. In the case of– in South Korea and
in most countries that we’ve looked at for dog
meat, it’s not a main staple. In South Korea, it’s Bok Nal. It’s during a
couple summer months because they think
it helps people not be so hot in the summer. It’s like some crazy
myths around this stuff. So it’s not shifting it. Again, you don’t want
to compound a problem. You want to try to
address them, so we do try to look at these
things holistically. It’s not a mainstay. It’s something that’s
ripe for movement. If we can continue to try to get
these animals out of the food chain, that’s great. I don’t want to put
burdens on other animals, but so far, the work we’ve
done– we don’t see that. And I wouldn’t want that
to ever be an argument to not work on any of them. I think you just have to keep
looking at it holistically, and how much can you continue to
do to keep moving it and moving the issues. When people start looking
at what they’re eating, and if they think
about it at all, they start thinking
about it more broadly. And so for me, I
think that’s really the way to get to
a lot of people who would never have gotten
there on the farm animal issue before, maybe. AUDIENCE: And my understanding
on the sort of crossover is that with California’s first
ballot initiative, Prop 2, the exit polling showed
that the single biggest correlative factor whether
someone would vote yes on Prop 2 was pet ownership. So that shows that
there is some crossover. KITTY BLOCK: Dogs are
the gateway drug animal. They really are. They get us in. AUDIENCE: Hi, Kitty. I have two questions, if I may. The first one goes
back to that map, and I’m just wondering, being
a US incorporated organization, how much is that a barrier
in working globally with other countries that
have issues going on? Because specifically
in the Middle East, and I think I’ve
talked to you before– I don’t know if you remember– I’m from Iran. And it’s ready to go. The movement’s starting. But there are no relationships
between US and Iran. So the Humane Society clearly
can’t have a presence there. But the US has a great
relationship with Saudi Arabia, but culturally, they
may not be where they– so I mean, that’s
just the Middle East. But around the globe, in the
issues that you work with, do you necessarily have to
look at, do we have an embassy there? Do we have good relationships
with their government? And if not, how do you
get across that barrier? KITTY BLOCK: Sure. It’s a good question. So when I say we expanded, we
incorporate in these countries and we don’t have expats
running these offices. They’re people from the country
working on these issues. So we are HSI India. We are HSI South Korea. It’s not Humane
Society of the US. This was something that was
incredibly important to me. This is not the US
going in and dictating. So we do incorporate under
the laws of the country. And so to go into a
country where there are not good relations– it’s really
hard as a US-based NGO because I’m the one,
in the past, who had done all the legal
work, hired the firms. If I can’t even fly over there
legally, it’s challenging. So whether or not the US
has relations is one factor. The way the offices are
set up, HSUS is still– and HSI– it’s incorporated. That is incorporated
in the US– really are still the mother ships. But the goal is really
to have these country offices become the national
organizations of their country. And then once that
sort of takes off more, then there may be
more cross work. And I’m really trying to unite
these countries because again, everything so US
focused, as we’ve said, doesn’t always help, and a
lot of times, it can hurt, depending on our administration
or depending on the issues. It might be a barrier sometimes,
so you’re absolutely right. AUDIENCE: And my
second question is, how do you tackle the cultural
sensitivities of issues like– look, for example, in China. Now the demand for
donkey skin is so high or the bullfighting
in Mexico or Spain or even the rodeo in Texas. Things that are so
ingrained in the culture. KITTY BLOCK: Sure. So I don’t take that for an
answer because if we did, we could never advance
any of the issues. I mean, everything
has a history. The US was the biggest whaling
nation in their heyday. And so traditions– it changes. And it is something that– and Gus Kenworthy, who
is an Olympic skier who is with us in
South Korea, said he got asked that question. And I love his line. He was in the dog meat
farm and he looked around. He said, this is cruelty. This is cruelty. You can call it culture,
but it’s cruelty. And so we don’t go in
and name and shame. We don’t come in and say,
you’re evil for doing this. We just show that this is,
in fact, incredibly cruel. It’s not necessary. It’s not how you want to
be seen or be a part of. And it changes. I mean, Mexico–
bullfighting in Mexico. We’re getting close to
getting that– moving along through– in Mexico
City, it’s banned. I mean, we’re making
these incredible strides. So it’s evolving
and I think as long as you don’t come in
and attack and say, you’re evil for doing
it, because there’s so many things in the US
that are pretty damned bad. Work with them and I really
don’t see it as a barrier. I really see it as sort of an
evolving ethos towards animals. AUDIENCE: We’ve talked a
lot about companion animals and farm animals. I’m wondering what HSUS’s
plans are for wild animals, both nationally and
internationally, especially as more species are going
extinct and here in the US, as a lot of these
populations for big cats, especially, are not regulated. KITTY BLOCK: Sure. We’re working on that. Got introduced yesterday– the
Big Cat Public Protection Act– Public Safety Act. So HSUS and HSI have
vibrant wildlife programs. And so the big issue they work
on are wildlife trafficking, and that’s a lot through the
Convention on International Trade and Endangered Species
in the individual countries. We work on that in the US. We have a wildlife department in
the US on a lot of the species. Our litigation– APLM
protection, litigation has just been on the defense
for the last couple years in this administration,
just holding the line on one rollback
after another on wildlife. We’re in there on the
trophy hunting issue, in there and fighting
on any try to rollback on the Endangered Species Act. It’s really an area that I
think legislated– sorry, litigation wise, we’ve done
exceedingly well this year because we don’t have a
favorable administration. I mean, wildlife is such a
target in this administration, and trophy hunters– the
Safari Club International– they really have a
seat at the table. And so it’s really been tough. But we’ve held the line on this
and we’ll continue to do that. Wildlife trafficking is an
incredibly pervasive issue. The elephants, the rhinos,
and all of these issues. And so we tackle it at the
global level, in the US, and of course, through our
country offices supporting and working together on that. And climate change
obviously is a huge issue. So people have to
make that connection more strongly, as well. AUDIENCE: It is so wonderful
to hear about the changes that you’ve been making at HSUS. This makes a huge difference. But what you’ve
been talking about– there are so many things. One– anything about habitat? Because even if it’s benign,
the loss of their homes is affecting
gorillas, orangutan. Jane Goodall talks about how
the Gombe is just shrinking. And there’s now becoming
a lot of negative chimp, human interaction, which
gets a lot of headlines. But it’s inevitable. And so I’d like to
ask about habitat. I’d like to ask about the
trade in exotic birds. And also just to say
how eye opening it is that the fishermen
are actually targeting marine mammals, saying
that they are the problem. 90% of all of the
fish in the sea, we learned a couple of
weeks ago, is now gone. Again, thank you so much. KITTY BLOCK: Thank you. Boy, that was depressing. So habitat protection
is incredibly important. It’s something HSUS has done. We have a Humane
Society Wildlife Land Trust where we have
several hundred properties. And what’s unique, compared to
the Nature Conservancy, say, is that we don’t
allow any hunting or trapping on the land. So it’s a program that we have. It’s been going on
for about 20 years. I think what makes– we have all those
properties and we’ll continue to care take
all those properties. But I think what would be
more effective is really trying to work with the
existing habitat protection organizations and really work
with them on trying to protect the animals on the land. And so that’s something that
we’re talking a lot about, is does it make sense
for us to continue to be land holders as an animal
protection organization working on the big issues? Can we be an advocate with
the other land preservationist organizations? And it’s starting. There’s more and
more organizations at the state level that are not
allowing hunting or trapping to be part of having
an easement in that. So it is important and we
really need the organizations to do this to step up. Sorry. I don’t know why this is so– so your next question was birds. The traffic. So we work on this if it’s
sort of the global trade in these animals. That’s something
that we have been working on, along with any
of the other species that are traded. And we try to get
them protections through the Convention
on International Trade and Endangered Species,
which will put these animals on different protection lists. And so birds are
highly migratory. If you’re talking
about the work, it has to be really
national and global. And so that’s what– mainly, we try to do it through
that international body. SPEAKER 1: One
more question here. AUDIENCE: What do you call it. I assume that a lot of the
foreign factory farm meat winds up in the fast food
industry in places like Costco. Is that true? And also, I was wondering,
does the United States actually have more factory farms
than foreign people do, but you just aren’t
able to prosecute them? And the other thing
was I just found out that India is expelling
its indigenous people to save its forests. So I was wondering
whether the whole farm– the whole animal issue was– you had mentioned that you were
working with indigenous people and people. But India is working against
the human population. In some places,
fascist governments– like I expect
Bolsonaro to cut down the rainforest and the palm oil
and cocoa and stuff like that– cuts down the rainforest. And I’m just wondering
on both ends, whether you’re
looking at this in– I’m sure you’re trying
to do a holistic thing, but you’re aware that
all of these things are impacting habitat. KITTY BLOCK: Sure. Just a lot of these
issues are all connected. That’s why I think it’s
key that animal protection issues try to work as
closely as they can with environmental issues. And human rights issues
do directly impact on animal protection issues. And so for me, it’s not
just about uniting our work and making us a
global organization. The more we can have alliances
with these other groups and not be at odds
with each other or– then that’s really the only
way to tackle all the things that you’re talking about,
which are absolutely right. SPEAKER 1: And last
question over here. AUDIENCE: Hi. Thank you so much for your
presentation and your work. I’m wondering about youth
education as a strategy. It’s been really successful
with wildlife trafficking and poaching and the
dog meat industry. Wondering if that could
be applied to the US and farmed animals and– KITTY BLOCK: Sure. It’s a good question. We have been involved in humane
education and some of the laws that we work on in
other countries. For instance, in
Guatemala, we got the first animal protection
law– federal animal protection law. In that, we also got
mandated humane education for elementary schools. And so to us, that’s
a really exciting way to start just getting at the
children, which obviously, it just keeps
gaining in benefits. We haven’t really focused
on humane education, as far as farm
animals in the US. The work has been really
more corporate driven. But it’s an interesting
concept, and I think that it’s more and more in the media. More and more in the press,
and especially as you have these big ballot measures. So it’s an interesting idea. AUDIENCE: Thank you. SPEAKER 1: So it’s
super impressive. I mean obviously, it’s
a whole big world, but it’s also a very
big organization. And it’s remarkable
of your ability to keep tabs and know and
speak so cogently on all these different issues. So again, on behalf of Harvard
Law School the rest of us, please join me in
thanking Kitty. [APPLAUSE]

2 thoughts on “Animal Law Week | A Global Vision of Animal Protection in the 21st Century

  1. The pinnacle of white privilege… imposing the white man's culture around the globe because the white man is better than everyone else!

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