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Tuesday, 11 August 2015 22:06

Young Leaders Add Strength to the Animal Protection Movement

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Lots of great things have happened for animals this summer. In Nepal, half a million animals will now be spared from slaughter in what has been deemed the "world's bloodiest animal-sacrifice," and replaced with new and peaceful alternatives. In the U.S., groundbreaking new restrictions have been proposed to eliminate the market for illegal ivory. In the wake of the death of Cecil the lion, a growing list of airlines including Delta, Air Canada, American and U.S. Airlines are refusing to ship big game trophies. And Costa Rica became the first nation to ban sport hunting.

image 3While all of these victories happened in a short timeframe, they occurred as a result of a culmination of years of behind the scenes efforts of tireless advocates from various corners of the world, backgrounds, and even ages. Young people are increasingly on the forefront of the animal protection movement, lobbying for new and stronger animal protection laws, forming their own clubs, organizations, and on some occasions making a lifetime commitment to animal advocacy. It is for these reasons that I was honored and very excited to be invited to speak to a group of young animal advocates who are committed to changing the world for the better today and in the future.

Visiting the U.S. from Taiwan, Province of China for a three-week training at Youth Service America, 16 youth ranging in age from 16-21, arrived to immerse themselves in an experience focusing on language, culture, service and leadership abroad. One of the primary objectives of their stay was to learn more about an issue that was personally significant to them and to find a way to implement a service project around that issue upon returning home. The students were divided into four subgroups based on their interests: human rights, hunger, environmental protection and animal protection.

During my visit to the Youth Service America office to meet with the young leaders, I was very inspired to see how committed they were to helping animals in their communities. I spoke about my own career journey, and challenges that I myself faced as a youth interested in animal protection issues. Many of them had questions about finding humane ways to address the stray dog problem in their country. But we talked about everything from humane education to helping wildlife in captivity. At the end of their visit, they created a presentation on helping stray animals in their country, which they delivered at the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office. With their passion and enthusiasm, the animal protection community has certainly gained a leg up.

Photo credit: Akisha Townsend Eaton

Akisha Townsend Eaton

Akisha is World Animal Net’s senior policy and legal resource advisor. Prior to joining the organization, she served as assistant legislative counsel at the Humane Society of the United States. In addition to her role at World Animal Net, Akisha is a legislative consultant, Associate Fellow at the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics, and a member of the American Bar Association’s Animal Law Committee. She received her B.A. from Stanford University, and her law degree from Georgetown University.


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