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PETS AND THEIR PEOPLE: HOW WE FOUGHT FOR THE UNDERDOG!; ...and the bears, tigers, seals which were being brutally treated around the world.

WE'RE simply the pets! 1999 was an important year for Pets and Their People. Not only were we voted RSPCA Newspaper Of The Year but we also helped improve the lives of hundreds of animals across the world. At the same time, we have brought you stories to warm your heart and make you laugh.

But it is our role as a campaigning newspaper on behalf of animals unable to defend themselves which has earned us most praise and thanks. As a new Millennium dawns, CHARLOTTE SELIGMAN and HELEN GARSTON look back at the campaigns you helped us to fight and win...

March 7

THEN: We exposed the half-starved zoo bears of Japan who lived in appalling conditions. Following our appeal - backed by stars of EastEnders and The Bill - we received 1,000 letters from outraged animal lovers which we handed over to the Japanese Embassy in London.

The zoo owners were later forced to admit they had broken their own code of conduct and had to create more space for the bears.

NOW: The creatures are living in larger pens, are fed properly and no longer have to fight over scraps of food.

June 27

THEN: Evil badger baiters faced a taste of their own medicine after TV presenter Chris Tarrant pleaded with readers to shop the wicked thugs who pit these pathetic animals against each other for fun.

NOW: Baiters were hunted down and prosecuted after the RSPCA launched a shop-a-badger baiter hotline to help police catch the criminals. Many of the criminals were tracked down to the North East of England and police made arrests during undercover raids. Following the tip-offs, more court cases are pending.

August 8

THEN: We told the stories of dogs like Suba and Sari used as target practice by Kosovan soldiers after they refused to budge from their doorsteps. We went on to raise thousands of pounds in two weeks for the animal victims of the Kosovan conflict.

NOW: The money was used for emergency supplies and veterinary treatment for 200 animals. When Sari recovered, she had a beautiful litter of seven puppies and she is now being well cared for as a pet by a vet in the region.

April 4

THEN: 10,000 of you clamoured to register your protest when we revealed how thousands of beautiful seals were being massacred for their fur in Canada. Screen legend Bridget Bardot and TV comedy writer Carla Lane backed our campaign.

NOW: The Canadian Government has bowed to worldwide pressure and promised to review the number of culls - some two million - it carries out each year. It will announce its decision in March.

July 4

THEN: We exposed the scandal of the East African civet trade. The animals are captured and kept in torment so that scent can be painfully extracted from a gland to be used in expensive perfumes, including Chanel No 5.

NOW: Following our investigation, thousands of readers emptied their bottles down the sink. Chanel and Lancome withdrew all bottles containing civet musk. They have also banned any further use of it in their fragrances.

August 22

THEN: More than 5,000 Sunday People readers wrote in anger after our shocking pictures of bears being torn apart by dogs in rural Pakistan. We found evidence of more than 80 contests involving 300 bears, helpless to the sick bloodlust of their owners.

NOW: With your support, the World Society For The Protection of Animals persuaded the Pakistani Government to help fund a sanctuary for rescued bears. It is hoped it will open later this month and house up to 100 bears. The "sport" remains illegal and the authorities continue to fine people caught arranging fights.

August 1

THEN: A mighty 10,000 Sunday People readers jammed our campaign hotline in shock after our horrifying report on how dogs were strung up alive over a fire and barbecued at picnics in the Philippines.

The Philippines Embassy in London condemned the revolting practice and vowed to prosecute the perpetrators.

NOW: Some of the thugs have already been prosecuted, according to the Embassy, and have been given hefty fines. Others caught will face prison sentences.

Although it's illegal anyway, our investigation into the sick practice will continue.

May 2

THEN: Sunday People readers and stars from the BBC sports quiz They Think It's All Over - including Gary Lineker, Nick Hancock and David Gower - helped raise a staggering pounds 210,000 to save Siberian tigers from extinction.

NOW: The money has been used to fund game scouts in a bid to stop poachers wiping the tigers out. The tigers remain on the endangered species list but early reports from the game scouts suggest that the numbers didn't fall further in 1999. We will continue to monitor the situation and are confident numbers will increase.

July 11

THEN: We won a huge victory after our sickening report on how calves are torn apart by lions in China "just for fun" in a wildlife park. The Chinese Embassy in London was handed our dossier of damning details and sickening photographs - and promised a full investigation.

NOW: We received nearly 9,000 calls from shocked readers. And just two weeks after our report, the park agreed to ban the horrendous spectacle. We are still monitoring the situation to ensure park bosses stick to the ban.

August 29

THEN: Following a tip-off from a worried tourist, we sent a reporter to investigate the scandal of the Portuguese circus big cats. We exposed how lions and tigers were being starved and abused at an appalling circus on the Algarve - and some were being whipped to make them perform.

NOW: After our report, we handed our evidence and pictures to the Portuguese Government. No circus has yet been closed down although Portugese police are keeping a close eye on the situation. So are we - and we plan to go back next summer.

October 17

THEN: We revealed how British lambs were sent on horrific 2,000-mile long trips in cramped lorries and sweltering heat to abattoirs in Greece. Many of the animals ended up on the plates of unsuspecting British tourists. The practice blatantly flouted European animal welfare laws and we urged immediate action by the Government.

NOW: Your 2,000 letters were passed on to the Greek Embassy in London and Agriculture Secretary Nick Brown, who promised a full investigation. He is expected to issue a statement later this month.

October 31

THEN: More than 4,000 readers swamped our hotline after our investigation into how gorillas in West Africa face extinction because they are being butchered for meat. We found chimps and gorillas on sale in markets for pounds 20.

NOW: The embassies in the countries responsible stressed that the sale of gorilla meat was illegal and have promised to prosecute anyone caught in the trade. We have heard of none so far and will continue to put pressure on the embassies.

November 14

THEN: Our most successful campaign was undoubtedly the story of the five Bengal tigers disowned by their bored circus owner in Germany. They faced certain death unless we stepped in to help raise the money for a new home.

NOW: You, our caring readers, clubbed together to raise pounds 10,000 to help the Captive Animal Protection Society build a sanctuary near Heidelberg, set to open this spring. Diane Westwood of CAPS said: "It's all thanks to the generosity of your readers. The money will ensure they see out their days happily."
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Title Annotation:Features
Author:Seligman, Charlotte; Garston, Helen
Publication:The People (London, England)
Date:Jan 2, 2000
Words:1248
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