A society which respects animal life contributes to a respect for the weak and vulnerable in general. Our campaigns, rigorously documented and backed up with facts, aim to gradually reduce violence and cruelty against animals. Here is an overview.
GAIA works to stop fur farming in Belgium, and acts as a member of the Fur Free Alliance to fight the fur industry elsewhere in the world.
Each year throughout the world fur production is responsible for the suffering and death of tens of millions of foxes, mink, chinchillas, raccoons, beavers and other animals. They are raised in cages and then gassed, anally electrocuted, drowned, beaten, or killed by other means in order to make coats, collars and other accessories.
The restricted space and environmental impoverishment in traditional battery cages deprive hens of their natural behaviour, provoke frustration and consequently numerous behavioural abnormalities.
GAIA asks consumers, supermarkets and food brands to encourage farmers to invest in farming systems without cages, by choosing to source their eggs from alternative systems (free-range or on the ground). These choices will determine the future for 5 million chickens each year for the next decade.
Battery cage rabbits
The intensive farming of rabbits in battery cages poses serious animal welfare questions. Few of us may imagine countless rabbits rotting in battery cages like those for laying hens. Yet, most rabbits are raised in such establishments – 500, 000 rabbits each year in Belgium alone. High mortality rates characterise the industry: more than 25% of rabbits die before slaughter.
GAIA calls for a ban on rabbit battery farming. Alternatives such as enriched cage systems allow rabbits to live in an improved, more stimulating environment, less uncomfortable and more suited to their basic needs.
Stemming the tide of cats
When it comes to cats, 1 + 1 = 6, and sometimes more than twice a year. "Letting nature take its course" often simply amounts to 36 cats in the space of 16 months ... and their subsequent death.
Overcrowded shelters can no longer cope with the influx of abandoned and found cats. Each year, more than 10,000 cats are euthanised owing to lack of space. Furthermore, these tragic statistics do not take into account all the unwanted animals, which are coldly disposed of in private, in numerous households.
GAIA calls for a legal framework and appropriate legislation to make the sterilisation of cats (feral and domestic) systematic in order to drastically reduce the number of cats killed, abandoned or euthanised.
The horse on your plate
Primarily destined for export, mainly to Europe, the meat from South American horses is served up to Belgian consumers. Belgium plays a major role in the importation and consumption of horse meat from the American continent.
GAIA asks supermarkets to fully take their responsibility for this trade: they must stop selling horse meat from countries where the traceability and welfare of animals cannot be guaranteed. We also encourage consumers to say no to horse meat, especially from third countries.
Force feeding for foie gras
Belgium is one of the few European countries producing foie gras. Tens of thousands of ducks are force-fed every year in our country. In France (the world’s number one producer), almost 40 million birds are force-fed annually, mostly ducks but also geese.
GAIA calls for a ban on force-feeding ducks in Belgium, and encourages consumers to give up the habit of consuming foie gras during the holiday season.
Slaughter without stunning
Each day hundreds of animals are slaughtered without prior stunning day in Belgian slaughterhouses. More than 40,000 sheep suffer the same fate every year on the occasion of the religious festival of Sacrifice.
Not surprisingly, cutting an animal’s throat without prior stunning causes severe and prolonged suffering, which in some cases lasts up to 14 minutes before the animal dies. These facts fly in the face of the legal obligation to prevent "any avoidable pain or suffering" at the time of killing.
GAIA calls on political leaders to put an end to the exception in the law which states that any animal to be slaughtered must be stunned beforehand unless a religious rite is invoked.
Pig breeding operations must consider the basic needs of their animals. In particular, GAIA urges prohibition of the surgical castration of piglets. Fattening pigs and sows should also have more room to move. They need to be able to forage and to lie down without discomfort.
This harsh reality concerns the vast majority of the 11 million pigs raised each year in Belgium, and the 600,000 breeding sows.
Respect for the urban pigeon
Despite its uselessness and violence, the most common means of controlling pigeon populations in cities and towns remains the capture and slaughter of pigeons.
In contrast, contraceptive pigeon lofts are an ethical and effective alternative to control the large number of urban pigeons. GAIA encourages cities and towns to stop catching and killing pigeons and to implement pigeon contraceptive lofts instead.
Each year in Belgium alone, more than 600,000 animals are used in scientific laboratories. They are subjected to all kinds of tests: toxicity, basic research, etc. The researchers defend these tests, claiming that animal experimentation is still necessary. But is it really?
GAIA demands a truly ambitious policy in favour of alternative methods to animal experimentation, which would spare countless thousands of animals a lifetime of suffering in the name of science.