Through its campaign to end the horrific dog and cat meat trades in Southeast Asia, FOUR PAWS wants to protect millions of animals, local communities and tourists from the dangers the trade presents. The campaign, #ProtectMillions, brings together animal welfare, the tourism industry and the current health crisis, with the specific objective of eliminating animal suffering and reducing the spread of zoonotic diseases.
As part of #ProtectMillions, FOUR PAWS is entreating travel agencies worldwide to support our campaign by taking a pledge to help the animals who suffer because of the animal trade, and their clients and communities in destination countries. We are also asking travel agencies to share the signing of the pledge on their channels, and inform their clientele and operators; and to convey to the relevant travel associations and government departments why they have taken a stand against the trade.
FOUR PAWS is delighted to have leading travel group, Global Work & Travel, join #ProtectMillions and take this important pledge. We sat down with Jürgen Himmelmann, Chief Executive Officer at Global Work & Travel, to discuss how the travel industry can be a force for good for animal welfare all over the world.
"We try to help animals as much as we possibly can, so it was completely natural to us to want to put forward our name to helping end the dog and cat meat trade through #ProtectMillions."
Jürgen Himmelmann, Chief Executive Officer at Global Work & Travel
Can you tell us about Global Work & Travel, and what makes you different from other travel agencies?
We are a travel company that focuses on long-term travel, such as working holidays, teaching English overseas, internships, au pairing, volunteering, etc. We want to make travel affordable to anyone that wants to experience it, so we assist with job placement to help travellers earn money to further fund their adventures. What also sets us aside is we use the latest technology to make the process more seamless for our customers and we use innovative marketing. We're also very motivated to make a positive impact, especially for animals.
What appealed to you about the FOUR PAWS campaign and contributing to ending the dog and cat meat trade?
We try to help animals as much as we possibly can, so it was completely natural to us to want to put forward our name to helping end the dog and cat meat trade. Having travelled to a variety of developing countries, I have seen many unpleasant conditions for animals, especially ones that are soon to be slaughtered. As humans, we should try to give our voices as much as we can to the animals who cannot speak.
Can you tell us about the animals that the Global Work & Travel team have?
Our team has many rescue animals. Over the years, we've often paid the adoption fee for our staff that want to adopt a dog or cat from our local AWLQ shelter, which Global has donated over $15,000 to in the past few years. I myself have two Australian Silky Terriers who were given up because they apparently weren't good 'show dogs' (and if you know their cheeky personality, this wouldn't surprise you). I bring them into the office most days. My parents also have a poodle-cross from the local shelter, Charlie. They adopted him after the RSPCA did a raid on a puppy mill in northern Queensland and although he's timid, he enjoys coming to the office every day. My brother at our Vancouver office has a rescued black schnauzer-cross called Kenzo and a German Shepherd called Jack that my mother rescued and brought over from Nepal. We also have a team member Katy that works remotely from Ibiza, and has recently adopted a cute dog called Pablo. The list goes on!
Whilst I've never met him, I also like to think the pig I sponsor in Nepal (aptly named Mr. Piggles) is one of Global's animals. An amazing shelter in Nepal called Sneha's Care that we support let me know that there was a large pig that was tied up outside a farmer's house about 6 hours from Kathmandu. His whole life he was tied to a pole, just going around in small circles in the mud, barely able to move as the farmer was fattening him up for slaughter. With the money I gave her, Sneha bought him from the farmer and he now lives in Kathmandu and we also paid for Piggles' Palace, the shelter for the various pigs at the sanctuary. It's definitely on my list to get over there and meet Mr Piggles himself.
Do you think action can only happen in countries where the trade is widespread, such as Southeast Asia? Or do you think steps can be taken outside those regions?
No, I definitely think action can be made in Western countries to discourage Southeast Asian countries from continuing this barbaric practice. A lot of change is made by Western people coming together to encourage the international community. Think of all the aid the West sent to help the Southeast Asian countries after the Boxing Day tsunami and the amount of tourism the West provides to these economies. Things like this have strengthened our ties with those countries and we can utilise that to take a stance against eating cat and dog meat. With a combination of international pressure and educating locals about the negative effects of consuming cats and dogs, we will see the cruel practice end.
Tourism accounts for a sizeable sector of the GDP in countries in Southeast Asia - do you think the tourism industry will be able to influence an end to this trade?
Yes, we need to educate tourists about the trade of dog and cat meat as often it is unintentional consuming of it. If tourists take a stance against it and also refuse to go to restaurants that have it on their menu (even if they don't eat it themselves), this will encourage the practice to dwindle. We also always recommend tourists visit the local sanctuaries and animal non-profits whilst on holiday. It's both a nice activity to do to counteract the indulgence of a vacation, and it's a great way to be educated on the animal problems of that local area. Plus, a bit of Western money goes a long way in countries in Southeast Asia, so it's a selfless thing to do whilst being a visitor in that country.
Can you tell us about some of the steps you are taking at Global Work & Travel to help support the FOUR PAWS campaign?
We have signed the pledge and we are soon to post further about the issue on our blog and social media. We also have a street dog rescue near Hua Hin, Thailand that my mother co-founded and Global supports. We make sure that we do a lot of community outreach in Thailand and hopefully soon in Burma, to educate the locals about animal welfare and why consuming dogs can be dangerous for their health and bad for tourism.
We also think it's important that people feeling sympathy for the dog and cat meat trade also look introspectively and ask themselves why dog and cat meat is so horrendous to them but pig, chicken and cow meat is so acceptable. So, another way Global tries to support this campaign is by being consistent with our values. My family and I are all vegetarian or vegan and we only provide vegetarian food at staff events and travellers' parties and we only provide plant-based milk in our offices for our staff. Keeping a consistent message that animal abuse and slaughter is wrong, no matter the animal, brings attention to both the dogs and cats and the farm animals around the world suffering in dire conditions.
What would be your key message to people wanting to help end this cruel trade?
Educate, educate, educate. Educate yourself, educate your friends, and if you're a business owner of any kind, don't shy away from using your platform to educate others.
Are you in travel and want to #ProtectMillions?
Tour operators & travel agencies: If you would like more information on our work or how best to collaborate, please contact us at: email@example.com
By engaging with our campaign and signing our pledge, travel agencies are adding their names to the movement for change!