WATCH: Your Inspiring Victories for Animals in 2023!

WATCH: Your Inspiring Victories for Animals in 2023!

This year is incredibly special for us for two reasons. First, because of all the incredible wins we’ve achieved for animals, and second, we’re celebrating our 40th anniversary. Whether you’ve been with us for four weeks or four decades, thank you for being part of our winning team! Let’s proudly reflect on the magnificent and uplifting changes we’ve achieved together. 


2023 in Numbers:

  • Aided over 30,000 dogs and cats.
  • Sent over 1.5 million emails through 100+ action alerts to advance important animal rights issues.
  • Spent 91% of donor gifts on direct advocacy, aid to animals, and administration to make it happen, with just 9% on vital fundraising to keep our mission going.
  • Rated highly: 4* Charity Navigator, Candid Gold Seal of Transparency, America’s Best Charities Seal of Excellence, and VegNews #1 Vegan Charity!

In Defense of Animals works to save and advocate for animals every moment of the day, every day of the year. With your support we’ve achieved so many animal victories, it would be impossible to list them all! Here’s just a small selection of our favorite animal wins and highlights from this year.

Did you get our special edition book? It charts our 40-year history of defending animals and shares our plans for the years ahead. Please take a moment over the holidays to enjoy it online, or request we mail you a free copy here!

2023 Animal Wins in California

California has been In Defense of Animals’ base of operations for 40 years, and we couldn’t be prouder of what we achieved here in our anniversary year.

One of our best highlights this year was transitioning actress Carrie Fisher’s expansive home compound into our new sanctuary and home base in central California, Freedom Farms. Our family grew to include a donkey, a horse, a dog, cats, cows, and peacocks, plus plenty of wild animals, from ducks to deer. In September, it got a little bigger with the birth of calf baby Noah! We have big plans to open up this Hollywood star’s home for you to come visit, so stay tuned!

We celebrated a huge step forward in our Tule Elk campaign with the National Park Service’s proposal to remove the deadly fence at Point Reyes National Seashore. It’s the first policy change in 45 years and signals a momentous positive shift. Celebrities Lily Tomlin, Jane Wagner, and Peter Coyote used their influence to help us maximize public comments in favor of freeing the Tule elk. In the past three years, we’ve recruited five celebrity voices, organized multiple events and attention-grabbing actions with hundreds of attendees, and sent over 118,000 emails from animal defenders to decision-makers. Thank you for your generosity which funds our fight to free the Tule elk!

In our parallel three-year-long battle for California’s wild animals, we were thrilled to celebrate a huge court victory that halted plans to bulldoze Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve! An estimated 1 million animals including threatened and endangered species have been protected, while greedy developers have been set back to square one and lost millions of dollars.

In October, the California Ecosystems Protection Act became law and banned the toxic rat poison diphacinone. This marks a huge victory for mice, owls, hawks, skunks, raccoons, coyotes, rats, bobcats, and mountain lions who will be protected statewide from January 1, 2024. Bullfrogs also won new protections when California’s Fish and Wildlife Commission voted in December to ban live imports of these amphibians ending their immense suffering during interstate transport. A massive poison drop on owls, hawks, seagulls, mice, fish, and marine mammals living on the Farallon Islands was delayed another year following our constant efforts, including a song to raise awareness. 

With our activist partners and the Stop Goose Abuse coalition, we won a major victory in Foster City during the deadly summer goose-killing season. The San Francisco Bay Area city reversed its plan to massacre up to 100 geese.

We were delighted to present our prestigious Guardian Award to five tireless and accomplished animal defenders in Malibu earlier this year: Moby, Zohra Fahim, Jeffrey Mausner, U.S. Congressman Brad Sherman, and In Defense of Animals President, Dr. Marilyn Kroplick. Our Interfaith Vegan Coalition presented two more Californian animal defenders with the Homo Ahimsa Award. Wayne Hsiung and Priya Sawhney were recognized for initiating the “Right To Rescue” animals in distress from animal agriculture.

We continued to see the rewards of years of campaigning for Farmed Animals in California when voter-mandated Proposition 12 was upheld by the Supreme Court. This important judgment is a huge blow to out-of-state animal ranchers who can no longer use cruel devices that force animals to live in extreme confinement if they wish to sell their products in California.

Our California supporters took action for animals in the state on a grand scale this year, sending over 560,000 messages to decision-makers! It took their efforts plus hundreds of hours of behind-the-scenes advocacy, testimonies at several key meetings, and a lot of hard work so we’re thrilled to make so much progress!

2023 Animal Wins in the Deep South

We rescued, fixed up, and rehomed 375 dogs and cats at our Hope Animal Sanctuary in Mississippi this year! We are so proud to continue serving the most impoverished communities in the U.S. Best of all, thanks to generous In Defense of Animals supporters, we are thrilled to have launched our low-cost Spay & Neuter Assistance Program, SNAP!

Telling you all their rescue stories would take a lifetime, but we can share a couple of them that we are especially proud of. One pup we saved from a couple that had neglected other dogs to death. Law enforcement helped us to seize the young dog who was practically all ribs. His gums were paper white and we had to feed him small amounts several times a day until he could handle a normal meal. Because he is a fighter, we called him Rocky, and we are pleased to report he is doing great!

Untold numbers of unwanted kittens are born in Mississippi through simple negligence when guardians fail to spay or neuter their cats. Many kittens are just dumped in rural areas when they are very young. They have a terrible chance of survival and suffer greatly before they die from parasites, wild animal attacks, or hunger and thirst. Tigger and Toby are two of the lucky ones. We are so happy to have rescued them… and spayed their mom!

Working in tandem with our Hope Animal Sanctuary, we also support Mississippi’s animals through our prolific and unstoppable Justice for Animals campaign. Our mission is to enforce existing animal laws, pass stronger ones, and get justice for abused animals. This year, we helped rescue and get justice for over 100 animals including dogs, cats, horses, rabbits, and one abandoned and injured pig.

Here are just a few of their stories:

We saved a sad horse from a negligent guardian who was starving her and rescued 12 dogs from a deplorable hoarding situation. One of the dogs had a surprise for us, it turned out she was pregnant! Sugar Baby gave birth to a beautiful family of puppies in the comfort of her own state-of-the-art tiny home at our Hope Animal Sanctuary.

A big part of our work is ensuring justice is served for animal abusers. A sad cruelty inflicted on dogs more often than you might expect is dragging them to death behind a vehicle. We were filled with satisfaction when one district attorney heeded our call for justice and pledged to personally prosecute a dog dragger from Crystal Springs. We will continue to fight to get a measure of justice for his victim, George.

In July, we worked with partners and law enforcement in Newton County to save 76 dogs from a nightmare “rescue” littered with bones. The owners of this supposed rescue have been arrested and each charged with six counts of felony animal cruelty. We will be following this case and supporting their full prosecution.

This adorable chap was abandoned on a chain. We unchained Kenny as part of our Break the Chains initiative. Despite his harsh start as a guard dog, he is a very loving boy. We gave him a new job: to provide comfort and support to other dogs we foster… a role he relishes!

Our National Goose Protection Coalition celebrated a win for Canada geese in South Carolina’s Surfside Beach Club. We saved geese from death when we supported a local animal defender and amplified her campaign which caused a public outcry and support for the geese. Nearly 11,000 In Defense of Animals supporters signed our letter urging the homeowners association to use non-lethal goose management and foster coexistence with wild animals.

2023 Animal Wins Nationwide

Two major issues we work on nationwide are Animals in Entertainment and Captive Animals. We are thrilled to have had a great deal of success for these animals this year, especially in New Jersey and Memphis, Tennessee.

Our international pressure campaign to free two giant pandas from neglect at Memphis Zoo has ended after two and a half years of collaboration with Panda Voices and panda fans worldwide. During that time, we have enabled In Defense of Animals supporters to send over 270,000 emails to decision-makers on the pandas’ behalf. We were elated first when Billie Eilish joined our campaign, and then again at the end of 2022 when the zoo announced it would return YaYa and LeLe to China. Tragically, LeLe succumbed to neglect before his return, but we are pleased that YaYa arrived home safely and seems to have recovered greatly from her ordeal. Hundreds of panda fans from around the world joined our touching and creative bilingual memorial service for LeLe. We will continue to fight for justice for LeLe.

When a young animal defender in New Jersey called on our help to aid animals suffering in a dismal petting zoo, we sprang into action. After a year of hard work, we were thrilled when Thompson Park Zoo was shut down! We successfully averted plans to continue the exploitation and instead found new homes for all the animals including turkeys, pheasants, ducks, roosters, two pigs, and 22 deer!

We are especially grateful to over 1,000 Floridian In Defense of Animals supporters who responded to our action alert for rabbits. Hillsborough County listened to us and banned the retail sale of rabbits in pet stores and other public locations. Thank you for making a difference!

Sadly, one victory in Florida from our cetacean campaign turned to despair. For many years, we have advocated for the release of the orca Lolita from the Miami Seaquarium. In April, we shared the wonderful news that Tokitae — her native Lummi name — was set for release to a sea sanctuary. Heartbreakingly, she died in August before she could reunite with her family.

Each year for almost two decades we have released our annual list of the 10 Worst Zoos for Elephants in North America. This year we exposed zoos’ “bigger space” sham with the endorsement of three prominent celebrities: comedians Bill Maher and Sarah Silverman, and actress Jorja Fox!

That wasn’t the only good news from our Elephants campaign. in Salt Lake City, Utah, Hogle Zoo closed its elephant exhibit, making it the thirty-fourth zoo to do so. On World Circus Day we shared a rare peek behind the curtain in a series of interviews with a former elephant groom who revealed shocking circus secrets and what really happens to performing animals in grisly detail.

Following work with our coalition partners, we celebrated a huge success for Farmed Animals when New Jersey banned gestation and veal crates, sparing pigs and calves on farms from two extreme cruelties.

In a major victory for sharks around the world, the Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act was passed as part of the Defense Authorization Act and signed into law in January. This hugely important measure finally bans the sale and possession of shark fins in the U.S. We thank everyone who supported this legislation to better protect sharks, including more than 7,000 In Defense of Animals supporters who signed our most recent alert and will continue to advocate for sharks and other marine species.

On our Respect for Fish Day, we made a splash for fish who are farmed and killed for their flesh with the help of #MermaidsAgainstFishFarming. Merfolk helped us with our fishless taco vegan food giveaway on Santa Monica beach in Los Angeles and took part in our mermaid contest.

Following the success of our Respect for Fish Day, we launched a brand new campaign to promote the protection of amphibians. Our first World Frog Day celebration was a huge success. We were delighted to host a panel of amphibian experts to discuss how you can help frogs in your community and screen The Toad Detour, a film that follows a groundbreaking wildlife crossing established by our Campaigns Director, Lisa Levinson.

For Fur Free Friday, we joined forces with animal activists worldwide to take on fur holdouts Louis Vuitton in Portland and Max Mara in Los Angeles. We empowered In Defense of Animals supporters who took part in a variety of anti-fur actions including sending thousands of emails to decision-makers. Additionally, we collaborated with cruelty-free fashion brand, Delikate Rayne, and interviewed the founder of the world’s first producer of plant-based fur, BioFluff!

We have been very active for Wild and Free animals throughout the country, especially for wild animal victims of barbaric and misguided hunting contests. In August, Oregon banned the majority wild animal killing contests on public lands becoming the ninth state to pass a strong ban! Thousands of coyotes will be spared from bloody deaths, as well as badgers, coyotes, gophers, certain moles, mountain beavers, yellow-bellied marmots, nutrias, opossums, porcupines, spotted skunks, striped skunks, and weasels. At the close of the year, New York is expected to follow suit, totaling 10 states that will have made a positive stand to protect wild animals from hunters. We are grateful to 3,200 New Yorkers who signed our alerts and over 1,100 Oregonians!

In Colorado, we heard about a prairie dog colony about to be bulldozed and did everything in our power to save them, starting with an alert to allow them to be moved. We then launched an urgent fundraiser to help our partners at Prairie Protection Colorado successfully relocate the prairie dogs out of harm’s way.

We celebrated another success in the state with a significant first for wild horses when Colorado passed a historic new law to protect mustangs! After a few horrendous years for Wild Horses, this victory was much needed. We will do everything in our power to make this a tipping point that swings in favor of horse and burro protection and away from taxpayer-subsidized ranching and extractive industries.

Our Justice for Animals campaign remains one of our most popular and successful initiatives. This year was no exception, we got justice for dozens of animals. We were particularly satisfied to get meaningful jail sentences for two separate criminals who proved the link between violence to animals and violence to humans when they brutally assaulted their girlfriends and killed their cats and dogs in Towanda, Pennsylvania, and Fairfield, Connecticut. Over 30,000 In Defense of Animals supporters wrote to the prosecutors and now these animal abusers will both serve long sentences in prison.

2023 Animal Wins Worldwide

Our two-decade-long fight to ban the dog meat trade in South Korea came to a head this year and a bill is under consideration right now… we are closer than we have ever been! With the help of our Global Anti-Dog Meat Coalition, celebrities Priscilla Presley and Katherine Heigl, and In Defense of Animals supporters who served in the Korean War, we sent an important video message urging politicians to pass the dog meat ban. Our rescue partners at Jindo Love Rescue continued saving lives on the ground, rescuing 93 dogs this year including 26 dogs from a dog meat farm!

IDA India is our longest-standing partner and remains one of our most effective! With support from In Defense of Animals, they have aided a whopping 29,830 animals in 2023. That’s 2,485 per month! We are especially pleased with renovations that have given our aging center a boost, benefitting resident dogs and cats as well as our caring staff.

From our oldest partner to our newest, we were delighted to start working with Paws of China this year to save cats, dogs, and other animals from the infamous Yulin festival and year-round meat trade. Most cats are already dead, but we saved three live cats from a meat market! They are now healthy, happy, and looking for a forever home.

Our work to save dogs from the dog meat trade got a new boost thanks to the launch of our Global Anti-Dog Meat Coalition! With our partners we organized two special events in Los Angeles to raise awareness about the Yulin Dog Meat Festival, and put pressure on officials in Paterson, New Jersey, to take a stand against the dog meat trade happening in their sister city. 

Our ongoing Crisis & Disaster support for animals became even more critical in October 2023, with the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war. Thanks to generous In Defense of Animals supporters, we have sent over $18,000 in aid to our animal rescue partners in Gaza and Israel. So far, they have saved over 300 animals and sustained thousands more. We additionally appealed to humanitarian leaders and aid agencies to put animal supplies onto aid shipments. Our work will continue as long as the animals need us.

In Ukraine, we have continued to support remarkable animal heroes. We were able to help purchase lifesaving equipment for Dr. Matviichuk and his team in Kyiv: an ultrasound and an anesthetic inhalation machine for treating small mammals! Elsewhere in Ukraine, rescued animals living at Mirolad sanctuary are currently keeping warm and well-fed with In Defense of Animals’ contribution to their winter hay stockpile. The sanctuary is operating as a vital respite center not only for animals, but also for human victims of the war who receive vital emotional support from the animals.

Through our Sustainable Activism campaign, we continue to support animal defenders. We provided practical, emotional, and spiritual support to sustain the vital work of hundreds of advocates, including through our unique Animal Activist Support Line. This year our Interfaith Vegan Coalition made waves at the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Chicago, presenting over 25 sessions on animal ethics and veganism, reaching thousands of Parliament-goers! We also fostered compassion for all animals with our first-ever sermon contest, dedicating essential messages of lovingkindness which are needed now more than ever to promote peace for all beings in our war-torn world.

One of our most groundbreaking wins of the year came right at the end. In December, Mongolia passed a groundbreaking law, its first to protect animal companions! The Pet Law ends the shooting and killing of cats and dogs and is additionally one of the most progressive laws for animals on Earth, and if enforced it could end animal homelessness. This monumental achievement follows years of dedicated tireless campaigning and advocacy by our Mongolian partner Lucky Paws and with the help of over 17,000 In Defense of Animals supporters who wrote to decision-makers. We are now looking to celebrate by sending vital veterinary equipment.

Thank You for Making the World a Better Place for Animals!

We could not be prouder of all we have achieved this year, and it’s all thanks to In Defense of Animals supporters like you. Whether you signed our alerts, gave donations, or volunteered your time, we want you to know that you made the magic happen! Thank you for celebrating 40 years of saving animal lives and making a better world for all living beings. If you haven’t already made an end-of-year gift, please consider doing so, or support our effective, lifesaving work in other ways.

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