Solidarity without distinction of "species"

An ethical commitment to other living beings that is constant and passionate.

This is the effort made every day by LAV - the Anti-vivisection League, an animal-rights, anti-speciesist association that aims to build a world in which every single animal has freedom, dignity and life.

Through its projects, LAV practises and promotes cultural change in our relationship with other animals and the environment, with the aim of encouraging lifestyles and political choices based on respect and solidarity towards all living beings, without any distinction of species. Some initiatives are particularly emblematic of its ethical attitude, uniting the protection of animal rights with care and attention for people, especially the most vulnerable, demonstrating that helping animals often also contributes to the overall wellbeing of society.

This is what is being carried out in Rome and other Italian cities with the programme "Long Live the Elderly!", developed by LAV together with the Community of Sant'Egidio with the goal of protecting and supporting elderly people in a fragile condition who live with animals, improving their quality of life and preventing isolation. The two organisations guarantee home care and assistance: More specifically, LAV takes care of pets, taking on vet bills and the delivery of food, and guaranteeing walks outside, with the aim of keeping families in difficulty together and protecting bonds of affection, which are a unique source of energy; without leaving anyone behind.

We have all felt at least once the feeling of calm and contentment that we get from stroking the soft ears of a dog, or hearing a cat purring or a bird singing.
Pet therapy with the elderly is a practice with great value that brings peace and wellbeing. Animals give affection without judgement, and offer many benefits, such as reducing stress levels and increasing the wellbeing hormone. Pet therapy can lower cholesterol levels, prevent heart attacks and strokes, and support treatment for depression. It stimulates the senses, and improves mood and relationship skills in older people. This is why animals are being used more and more for therapeutic purposes in retirement homes.

The same passionate dedication to others is shown in the activities carried out on Gorgona, an island-prison in the Tuscan archipelago, where LAV, in agreement with La Casa Circondariale and the Collecoop Social Cooperative, offers the opportunity for rehabilitation and a new start for inmates through the protection of animal rights. Indeed, on Gorgona, there also used to be a slaughterhouse and a dairy as well as the prison: hundreds of animals were raised and slaughtered every year on the island, including calves, pigs, rabbits, chickens, sheep, horses and goats. Until, after years of battles, petitions and protests carried out by some idealistic warriors and LAV, the slaughterhouse was decommissioned, the dairy was closed, and all the 588 animals on the island were saved from certain death.

In order to avoid a situation of overcrowding of the animals on the island, LAV performed sterilisation campaigns and transferred some of the animals to rescue centres and sanctuaries in Italy. The animals remaining on the island are involved in activities with the inmates, who therefore have the opportunity to experience working to care for them, appropriately paid, which they have never done before. Gradually, over time, the memory of the slaughterhouse has vanished and the inmates have developed a relationship of mutual understanding with the animals, who they would otherwise have simply seen as products.

Animals and humans engaged in a different kind of coexistence end up growing fond of each other, creating bonds that were unthinkable before.

Another tangible example of LAV's solidarity with living beings is the operations carried out by the Emergency Unit, rescuing animals that are victims of natural disasters and emergency situations, such as floods, fires, pandemics and wars. Among the rescue operations - the most recent of which, caused by the wildfires that dramatically affected Sicily this summer, has just finished - was the recent one in May, due to the flooding in Emilia-Romagna.

From the moment at which news of the disastrous flood began to spread, the LAV Emergency Unit started to receive reports and requests for help. They immediately sprang into action, defying landslides, road closures, floods and bad weather, and for 15 days they stayed active in the area to rescue animals in danger and their families. They contributed to the evacuation of 58 dogs from a flooded rescue centre in Imola, saved 2 puppies trapped in the water on the ground floor of a house in the province of Ravenna, and then another 10 dogs and a cat, and still more in a similar situation. They took a rooster to safety, which had been stuck for days on a floating plank of wood, and as many rabbits as possible in a park in Forlì. They delivered over 1,000 kilos of food to flooded dog shelters, rescue centres and mixed reception centres for evacuated people and animals. They built and operated a temporary dog shelter, including a medical section and walking area, in Casola Valsenio, a village surrounded by 92 kilometres of collapsed roads. This facility allowed and continues to allow dogs and cats to stay close to their evacuated owners, housed in a gym nearby, for the time needed to return to normal life.

Every year there are a great many initiatives, battles and projects, and they require great commitment.
At the beginning of July, the 2022 Social Report was approved and published, presenting significant results for animal rights, achieved thanks to constant commitment, but also the faith of members, activists, donors, friends and partners.

2022 achieved some important goals:

  • animals finally gained a place in the Italian Constitution (Constitutional Law no. 1 of 11th February 2022);
  • thanks in part to the #aCasaLoro campaign, a law changed the fate of hundreds of thousands of exotic and wild animals (Dlg no. 135, of August 2022);
  • an important step forward was made in Circus Reform;
  • from the 1st January 2022, it became illegal to breed mink in Italy.

And many different missions were carried out, with strategies identified and results achieved: 104 legal actions; 20 convictions for abuse; 8 trials that led to the confiscation of hundreds of animals that were then taken in by appropriate facilities. We managed to uncover an illegal pig farm near Pavia and saved over 100 pigs. The evidence collected led to the conviction of the defendants for abuse and wrongful imprisonment of animals. These are only a few of the actions taken.

All this is thanks to the tireless volunteers at LAV, who express boundless empathy, altruism and solidarity, provide tangible help to the Emergency Unit in rescue operations, and work on a daily basis in their local areas with initiatives to raise awareness of the need for respect and protection for animal rights.


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N° 13


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