Brian Davies (activist)

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Brian Davies is an animal welfare activist who was one of the founders of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) in 1969; IFAW has become one of the world's largest animal welfare organisations. Davies retired from IFAW in 2003 but remains active in animal welfare through two organisations he founded, Network for Animals and the Political Animal Lobby.[1]

Early life[edit]

Davies was born in 1935 in the Welsh mining village of Tonyrefail.[2] Much of his early childhood was spent with his grandparents while his parents served in the war effort. His father was a rear gunner in the Royal Air Force (RAF), posted to India, and his mother worked in a munitions factory, returning home only on weekends.[3] At the end of the war, when Davies was 11, the family moved to England. He left school at 14, because of ill health, and worked at various manual jobs throughout his youth.,[2][4] Davies met his first wife, Joan, in 1955. The couple emigrated to Canada where they had two children, Nicholas and Toni. When Davies joined the Canadian army in the following year,[2] the family relocated to the town of Oromocto in the province of New Brunswick.

Beginnings of a career in animal welfare[edit]

Davies’ interest in animal welfare began in 1958, when a car struck a dog outside the family's home. Because there was no local vet, Davies contacted the Fredericton SPCA and took the dog to the Fredericton Animal Hospital. This incident resulted in Davies becoming the Oromocto representative for the SPCA on an unofficial and unpaid basis.[5][6] Upon being offered the job of Field Secretary for the New Brunswick SPCA (NB SPCA) in 1961, Davies resigned from the military.[3] From 1964-1969, Davies served as executive secretary for the NB SPCA, which was considered by some of its prominent members to be lacking in influence and drive, according to the society's minutes.[4] Over the period of Davies’ tenure, he oversaw the group's transformation from one focused primarily on humane education for school children and the inspection of cases of animal cruelty, to an organisation that sought to address animal welfare issues at multiple societal levels. It was through his involvement with the NB SPCA that Davies learned of the commercial seal hunting industry in North East Canada.[4]

Opposition to Canadian seal hunt[edit]

Davies’ first visit to the Canadian harp seal hunt, accompanied by Jacques Vallée, the general manager of the Canadian SPCA, was on 12 March 1965 – a year which saw a total of 182,758 seals killed for their pelts and fat[7][8] On returning to his base in Prince Edward Island, Davies found two live seal pups on the shoreline that had been taken there by sealers. He took them to his home in Oromocto where they were raised by the Davies family. A local paper ran a story on their efforts to save the seals, resulting in national media attention and an influx of funding with which the Davies would run the “Save the Seals” campaign.[9]

International Fund for Animal Welfare[edit]

In 1969 the NB SPCA withdrew from the seal campaign, having concluded that it was conducted humanely and arguing that it was “draining too much attention and effort away from other matters the society took responsibility for”.[4][6] Despite the split with the SPCA, Davies sought to further develop the seal campaign and used the “Save the Seals” fund to found the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW).[10] IFAW promoted opposition to the seal hunt by enlisting the support of prominent celebrities, such as Bridgette Bardot appear before the cameras at the site of the hunt and to emphasize the cruelty taking place.[11] In 1971, in response to growing criticism of the Canadian hunt, a Total Allowable Catch (TAC) was established. The quota was set at 245,000 harp seals of all ages – a number which would drop to 150,000 in the following year.[8] The stance taken by IFAW against the seal hunt placed it in an antagonistic position in relation to the Canadian government, which sought to distance itself from the increasingly negative image of the hunt.[12] The tension between IFAW and the Canadian government peaked in 1977, when Davies was charged with violating the Seal Protection Regulations by operating a helicopter in a prohibited area. He was sentenced to a jail term of twenty-one days, a $1,000 fine or six months additional jail time, and probation conditions which forbade him to fly any craft over the Gulf or Front for three years.[4] Moreover, the Canadian government warned IFAW that continued campaigning would result in the termination of IFAW's tax-exempt charitable status. The pressure drove IFAW to voluntarily relinquish its charitable status and move its headquarters to the United States, first to Washington D.C. and in 1978 to Yarmouth Port, Massachusetts, its current International Operations Center.[13] In light of the increasing difficulty of campaigning in Canada, Davies began lobbying in Europe for the closure of international markets for the products of the hunt. In 1983, 18 years after the start of the seal campaign, the European Union General Court placed a ban on the importation of newborn harp seals (whitecoats) and hooded seal pups (bluebacks) throughout Europe, resulting in a huge reduction in seals killed in Canada's commercial seal hunt.[14]

In 1984, Davies established the IFAW Charitable Trust (IFAW CT) and the Political Animal Lobby (PAL), which enabled the development of relationships with political figures.[2] In order to increase fundraising Davies developed a system of direct mail fundraising in which IFAW's computers and software filtered members according to geographic location, interests and the amount and date of their last contribution. These methods helped spur the organization's rapid growth. Between 1982 and 1996, IFAW's international supporter base grew to 1.3 million and its income grew from $6 million to $42.8 million, of which 71.5 percent was spent on programs and 28.5 percent on fundraising and administration.[15]

Political Animal Lobby[edit]

Davies retired from IFAW in 1994 but continued to work with the Political Animal Lobby (PAL). PAL directed lobbying efforts at government ministers and other political decision-makers. Instead of demanding new legislation, PAL provided technical advice in an attempt to build working relationships with sympathetic politicians, and began making strategic donations to political parties. By 1996, PAL had made donations to a number of British political parties, most notably a £1m donation to the Labour Party. PAL continues to be active in its lobbying of British parliament and continues to donate funds to this work.[16]

Network For Animals[edit]

Davies founded Network for Animals (NFA) in 2010.[17] NFA is a campaign-directed animal welfare organisation, which initially focused on the dog-meat trade in the Philippines. The NFA has subsequently increased its efforts to include a wide range of animal welfare issues in its campaigns. In the UK, it campaigns against badger culling and hunting with hounds. In South Africa, it campaigns against rhinoceros poaching and elephant culling.[18] In Canada, NFA continues to try to end the seal hunt.[19] In Greece, NFA works to help dogs abandoned because of that country's present economic woes.


  1. ^ "WHO IS BRIAN DAVIES? | Political Animal Lobby". Archived from the original on 28 December 2013. Retrieved 28 December 2013.
  2. ^ a b c d Barry, D. (2005) Icy Battleground: Canada, the International Fund for Animal Welfare and the Seal Hunt, pp.5-10. Breakwater Books, Canada, ISBN 1550812114
  3. ^ a b Davies, B. (1989). Red Ice: My Fight to Save the Seals, p.39, Methuen London Ltd, London
  4. ^ a b c d e Clarke, C. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 5 November 2013. Retrieved 31 July 2013.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) “IFAW Begins: Brian Davies, the International Fund for Animal Welfare, and the New Brunswick Humane Movement in the 1960s.” University of New Brunswick, Canada, 2009. Retrieved 24 April 2013.
  5. ^ Davies, B. Red Ice: My Fight to Save the Seals. Methuen London Ltd., 1989, p.31
  6. ^ a b Kalland, Arne (2011). Unveiling the Whale: Discourses on Whales and Whaling, p. 52. Berghahn Books, Oxford. ISBN 0857454269.
  7. ^ Davies, B. (1989). Red Ice: My Fight to Save the Seals, p.5, Methuen London Ltd, London
  8. ^ a b "Canadian Harp Seal Hunt Quotas (or TAC) and Kill Rates Since 1952". Retrieved 28 December 2013.
  9. ^ Davies, B. (1989). Red Ice: My Fight to Save the Seals, pp.14-16, Methuen London Ltd, London
  10. ^ The Committee Office, House of Commons (3 June 1998). "House of Commons - Standards and Privileges - Seventeenth Report". Retrieved 28 December 2013.
  11. ^ Nadeau, C. (2001) "Fur Nation: From the Beaver to Brigitte Bardot"
  12. ^ Barry, D. (2005) Icy Battleground: Canada, the International Fund for Animal Welfare and the Seal Hunt, p. 42. Breakwater Books, Canada, ISBN 1550812114.
  13. ^ Barry, D. (2005) Icy Battleground: Canada, the International Fund for Animal Welfare and the Seal Hunt, p. 44. Breakwater Books, Canada, ISBN 1550812114.
  14. ^ "Ending trade in seal products | IFAW - International Fund for Animal Welfare". IFAW. Retrieved 28 December 2013.
  15. ^ Barry, D. (2005) Icy Battleground: Canada, the International Fund for Animal Welfare and the Seal Hunt, pp.7. Breakwater Books, Canada, ISBN 1550812114.
  16. ^ Ryder, Richard D. (2000). Animal Revolution: Changing Attitudes Towards Speciesism”, pp. 201-205. Berg, Oxford. ISBN 1859733255.
  17. ^ "Network for Animals: About". Network for Animals. Retrieved 28 December 2013.
  18. ^ "Campaigns". Network For Animals. Retrieved 28 December 2013.
  19. ^ "Home". Network For Animals. Retrieved 28 December 2013.