A NEW study has revealed the countries where animal rights are best – and worst – in 2021.
The Animal Rights Index, which ranked 67 countries based on different factors, found that Luxembourg was the best, followed by the UK in second place – and that China was bottom of the table.
Countries were given a score based on metrics including the recognition of animals as sentient creatures, meat consumption rates and fur bans.
Among the worst offenders were Vietnam, Belarus and Iran.
Matthew Nash, 42, who conducted the study for insurance company The Swiftest, told The Sun that the nations who “scored poorly” had an “overall lack of any protections for animal rights”.
He added: “Just the basic recognition of animal suffering and creating laws against animal cruelty would be a huge step in the right direction.
“These countries had very limited protected areas for animals leaving the wilderness areas open for mass exploitation which naturally displaces and harms wildlife.”
In the wake of this new index, we look at shocking stories of animal abuse that have emerged from the worst 10 nations.
’10 million dogs killed for meat’
Animal Rights Index score: 12.46 out of 600
Despite implementing new legislation that meant pets could not be raised as livestock in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, it appeared some abuses are still going on in China.
Back in June, we exclusively revealed that the annual Yulin Dog Meat Festival returned where visitors can buy a whole dead dog for as little as £100.
The animals, often stray or stolen pets, were rounded up and taken to “secret slaughterhouses and farms” where they were drowned, burned to death with a blowtorch or bludgeoned.
Say No To Dog Meat told The Sun that up to 1,000 dogs – including puppies – had been killed each day for the event in plots not far from the festival.
PETA believed between 10 and 20 million dogs were killed for their meat each year in China.
And it’s not just dogs that are suffering – tigers have been raised in captivity by criminal gangs who charge rich people tens of thousands of pounds for products made out of their bones.
The big cats were kept in tiny cages and often injected with water to increase their size before being butchered and stewed in giant urns.
Traders peddle lies including that tiger bone products cure coronavirus and help men’s sexual performance – but others buy it to showcase their wealth.
China has no animal rights protections whatsoever…
Matthew Nash, The Swiftest
An adult tiger can be turned into 12 blocks of tiger bone glue – which sells for £500 per 100gram piece – meaning criminals make around £60,000 per slaughter.
Other animal products such as rhino horn and pangolin scales can be bought from wet markets to be used as part of traditional Chinese medicine.
However, not everyone agrees with the trade in China and a new wave of young protesters are opposing the sales of these types of products.
Matthew told The Sun: “China has no animal rights protections whatsoever and they have excessive pesticide usage… the highest per hectare of any country… on our list of 67.
“They also scored poorly with the percentage of protected areas and on their environmental performance index.”
‘Supermarket for wildlife’
Animals Rights Index score: 45.24 out of 600
The southeast Asian country was also implicated in the illegal trade of tiger products – but it seems more has been done to combat it in recent years.
In 2017, the nation was described as a “supermarket for wildlife” by the Wildlife Justice Commission and since then there has been a large crackdown.
Interventions at the border were increased resulting in the burning of 2,253 seized ivory and rhino horns.
Last year, Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc pledged to tackle wildlife-based crime.
Fines between £95 to £1,650 have been introduced for anyone who beats or tortures animals or pets or refuses to sedate an animal before slaughter or injects them with foreign substances.
Prior to the new laws, a shocking video showed a boar being chased and then torn apart by a pack of dogs while locals watched for fun.
In 2017, government pressure also led to a festival in Nem Thuong ending its age-old tradition of chopping a pig in half so that locals could dip money into its blood for ‘good luck’.
Animal Rights Index score: 71.4 out of 600
For several years, protesters have taken to the streets to voice their frustration over the brutal killing of stray dogs in Iran.
One incendiary video from 2016, showed a dog’s head being repeatedly bashed against the side of a pick-up truck.
Another clip from two years ago showed adult dogs and puppies howling in agony after being injected with a fatal liquid before they died in pain.
Many have opposed the acts of animal cruelty and called for better laws to protect creatures in the country.
They included an unnamed mum-of-two who told Radio Free Europe (RFE): “This cruelty is unbearable.
“Why do we have to witness such behaviour? It’s against humanity and it shows that we need a law to protect the poor animals.”
‘Mass dog culling’
Animal Rights Index score: 73.07 out of 600
Ahead of hosting the European Games in 2015, the country came under fire for culling stray dogs in their capital Baku.
RFE obtained footage of older canines being shot and smaller ones whacked with a shovel, allegedly to “save the bullets”.
“What the world is seeing are piles of burning dog bones and fur spewing black smoke into the air,” said PETA director Mimi Bekhechi.
Azerbaijan’s Presidential Office rejected the claims and suggested it was an effort to discredit the nation.
However, similar footage had previously been recorded in Baku in 2013 showing authorities dragging dogs into a van and killing others in front of children.
In 2011, strays were allegedly killed in a bid to smarten up the city ahead of the nation hosting the Eurovision Song Contest.
Stray pet ‘death camps’
Animal Rights Index score: 105.65 out of 600
The Animal Protection Index states there is a “lack of… overall animal legislation” in Belarus but other issues affected The Swiftest ranking the country the fifth-worst for animal rights.
For every one person in the country, 37.7 land animals are killed each year, which is four times more than the global average of 10.1, the Voiceless Animal Cruelty Index (VACI) reported.
Chickens make up around 86 per cent of Belarus’ animal population and most of them are factory farmed for their meat.
The VACI described Belarus as being a “very poor performer” for animal protections and scored them one mark higher the lowest level due to their introduction of animal health legislation in 2014.
Animal rights group Goodness claimed stray pets in the city of Babruysk were being put down in “death camps” back in 2018.
They complained that animals were being killed with the euthanasia drug T61, which causes immense pain, without any form of anaesthesia.
At the time, Belarusian legislation did not penalise animal abuse and private organisations were tasked with clearing the streets of stray pets – rather than enforcing sterilisation programmes to prevent them from breeding.
Goodness also claimed up to 80,000 homeless cats and dogs vanished from animal shelters each year.
‘Poisoned, beaten, shot & left to die’
Animal Rights Index score: 124.13 out of 600
A lack of protection laws has led to Algeria being criticised by animal rights charities a number of times over the years.
In 2018, Fight Dog Meat claimed “rampant abuse against dogs” occurred in the country after seeing a number of heartbreaking videos and photographs.
They claimed dogs were “poisoned, beaten, shot and left to die” and “nursing mothers” were being shot, which left “starving puppies to starve to death”.
“Algerians do ‘not’ eat dog meat but foreign workers in Algeria are documented capturing dogs and slaughtering them for meat,” wrote Fight Dog Meat.
Dogs stolen & killed with sticks
Animal Rights Index score: 165.88 out of 600
While there are laws against cruelty to animals in Mali, there is still some room for improvement according to The Swiftest’s report.
They listed room for improvement including more protected areas to allow animals to thrive uninhibited and better environmental protection laws.
Previously, a charity reported that dogs had been rounded up from villages or stolen from the streets to be sold as meat.
They claimed up to 300 dogs were killed in the Ségou region alone and often the animals were beaten to death with sticks.
However, the charity and other partners have intervened by offering individuals farming equipment to leave the dog meat trade.
‘Sick donkeys abandoned to be eaten by hyenas’
Animal Rights Index score: 176.02 out of 600
For decades, donkeys have borne the brunt of a lack of animal rights protections in Ethiopia.
The creatures play a pivotal role in everyday life there – helping to transport goods, food and water – but are not treated with respect, according to The Donkey Sanctuary.
When donkeys are unable to work due to being too old, injured or suffering an infection the majority are abandoned and often eaten by hyenas, NPR reported.
They claimed that between 1995 and 2015 only 185,000 donkeys were treated by vets as many professionals were not taught how to nurse the creatures back to health.
This compared with two million treated by The Donkey Sanctuary. And according to the charity that’s not the only threat they face.
Last year, they warned many of the animals risked being killed for their skin to be used in traditional Chinese medicine, known as ejiao.
‘Bear circuses & slapped whales’
Animal Rights Index score: 207.96 out of 600
Russia is one of the very few nations left in the world where animals still perform in circuses and a number of shocking tales about abuse regularly emerge.
Animal rights campaigners told the Moscow Times that allowing animals to live in an “unnatural environment” was cruel and they often suffer abuse.
Other causes for concern have been witnessed at oceanariums including footage of a trainer slapping and kicking two beluga whales that didn’t perform a stunt.
A source from the venue told PrimaMedia that the creatures were known for being aggressive and the trainer’s actions were an attempt to calm them down.
Others denounced the “abnormal and barbaric methods” and claimed it amounted to “cruelty to animals”.
‘Systematic campaign to eradicate strays’
Animal Rights Index score: 219.39 out of 600
In January, animal rights campaigners tried to pressure the government into ending abuse towards stray cats and dogs through legislation.
The groups claimed previously there was a “systematic campaign” that sought to “eradicate the stray cats and dogs in Egypt illegally”.
They opposed methods used to kill the pets including allegedly poisoning and shooting them as well as exporting animal meat to some Asian countries.
While killing domesticated animals in Egypt is a criminal offence this law does not extend to stray pets, The Times reported.
In September, a local animal rights activist filed a complaint about a festival offering camel rides and branded it illegal under Egypt’s law.
“Any activity that uses an animal in what’s called an exhibition classifies as illegal activity, animal abusive activity,” Penimah Tehilah told Fox 46.
She reported it to animal control, who had received a number of complaints and visited the business before it was ruled ok by authorities.
Best countries and US shame
In The Swiftest’s study, Luxembourg was voted the best country for animal rights with 519.68 out of 600 points.
It was followed closely by the UK with 506.36 and then Austria with 501.73, Czechia with 498.66 and Belgium with 488.86.
Matthew praised the UK for having “some of the lowest meat consumption levels per capita out of all wealthy western countries” as well as animal protection and anti-fur farming laws.
Surprisingly, the United States was ranked the 27th worst country despite having a strong record on animal rights and anti-cruelty laws.
Their position was attributed to the nation’s excessive meat consumption and other issues including no fur-farm bans, limited protected areas and animal sentience not being recognised at a federal level.
The Swiftest also estimated that around 1,000 dogs and cats are put down every day because their owners do not have pet insurance.
Matthew added: “As an American, I was surprised… I was under the assumption we care greatly about animals as a country.
“Overall I think Americans have the misconception we are doing well in all areas of society, but we have a long way to go in terms of animal rights.
“While no country was perfect, we found some like the UK and the EU, in general, tended to have more progressive laws and more favourable environments for animal welfare.”
Worst countries for animal rights in 2021
THE rights of animals in 67 countries were analysed and scored based on a number of metrics – including fur farming, protection laws and recognition of animal sentience – below we reveal the lot:
17. South Africa
18. Saudi Arabia
28. United States
50. New Zealand
60. The Netherlands
66. United Kingdom