Founded IFAW to fight the Atlantic Canada seal hunt
CAPE COD, Massachusetts––Brian Davies, 87, founder of the International Fund for Animal Welfare, Network for Animals, the Political Animal Lobby, and Animal Survival International, died after a prolonged illness on December 27, 2022.
Born on February 4, 1935 in Tonyrefail, Wales, an impoverished mining village, Davies was sickly as a lad, and was raised chiefly by his grandparents through the World War II years, 1939-1945, while his father served in India as a Royal Air Force tail gunner and his mother worked in a munitions factory, returning home on weekends.
Found career when a car hit a dog
Reunited after the war, when Brian Davies was 11, the family relocated from Wales to England. Continued ill health and his parents’ continued poverty obliged Brian Davies to leave school at 14, in 1949.
Employed in a variety of manual labor jobs, Brian Davies met and married his first wife, Joan Pierce, in 1955. Emigrating first to Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada, and then to Oromocto, 20 miles north, where the cost of living was less, Brian Davies joined the Canadian Armed Forces in 1956 to provide some security to his two children with Joan, Nicholas and Toni.
In 1958 a car hit a dog outside the Davies’ family home. As there was no veterinarian in Oromocto, Brian Davies took the dog to the Fredericton Animal Hospital, at recommendation of the Fredericton SPCA.
Becoming the unofficial and unpaid Oromocto representative for the Fredericton SPCA, Brian Davies was in 1961 offered a post as field secretary for the New Brunswick SPCA, and left the Canadian Armed Forces after a five-year hitch to accept it.
His role as field secretary consisted chiefly of investigating cruelty complaints, with little legal authority to bring charges against offenders, while Kindness Club founder Aida Flemming (1897-1994) did humane education for school children.
Flemming, wife of Hugh John Flemming, premier of New Brunswick from 1952 to 1960, had three star pupils: informally, Brian Davies; Jane Tarn, her successor of many years; and 10-year-old Paul Watson, enrolled in the Kindness Club in 1959 by his mother.
Watson’s first campaigns on behalf of animals, recounted in his 2002 book Seal Wars: 25 Years on the Front Lines With Harp Seals, was against sport fishing.
A little later, Watson befriended a beaver family, then avenged them after they were trapped for fur, by becoming an avid trap buster.
The Watson family moved to Toronto soon afterward. Paul Watson, after high school, became a merchant sailor, helping to found Greenpeace in 1971, and leading the Greenpeace anti-sealing campaign until it was cancelled, after which Watson in 1977 founded the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.
“Just a guy with a desk”
Brian Davies meanwhile was promoted to executive secretary of the New Brunswick SPCA, serving in that capacity from 1964 to 1969.
“That meant he was just a guy with a desk,” Animal Protection Party of Canada senior policy advisor Stephen Best told ANIMALS 24-7.
Though Davies upon promotion to the top job at the New Brunswick SPCA was still largely unfamiliar with the brutality of seal-clubbing, it had already been denounced internationally for decades.
William Hornaday, best known as founding director of the New York Zoological Society, mentioned ecological and humane opposition to the Atlantic Canadian seal hunt as early as 1900.
Jack London in The Sea Wolf (1904) made the sadistic sealing captain Wolf Larson his most memorable villain.
London had witnessed seal-clubbing in Pacific waters; he was also aware of the Atlantic Canadian hunt, and he was an active ally of the humane movement, especially the American Humane Education Society, a then nationally prominent subsidiary of the Massachusetts SPCA, whose youth groups were called the Jack London Clubs in his honor.
The March 1933 edition of The National Humane Review, published by the American Humane Association, recalled that sealing in both Atlantic and northern Pacific waters brought intensive humane protest before 1911, as “No cruelty was too horrible for the seal hunters.”
The pioneering ichthyologist David Starr Jordan (1851-1931), for whom the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration research ship David Starr Jordan was named, was an early and outspoken opponent of seal-clubbing, as was Sir George Baden-Powell, who helped to instill in his younger brother Robert the love of nature that inspired Robert to found the Boy Scouts.
The first wave of protest against sealing faded after then-U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt in 1911 endorsed into law a set of fur seal conservation measures that 62 years later were combined with whale and dolphin protection legislation to become the Marine Mammal Protection Act.
But contrary to widespread impression, encouraged by the sealing industry, the 1911 law did nothing to make sealing less inhumane.
Protest revived after an exposé of the Atlantic Canada seal hunt appeared in the July 1929 edition of National Geographic.
Further exposés subsequently appeared in at least five leading British magazines, along with a 1932 pamphlet called The Cruelties of Seal Hunting, by Sydney H. Beard, of London.
World War II interrupted humane opposition to sealing, but the future of sealing was an issue when Joey Smallwood (1900-1991) led the former British Dominion of Newfoundland into confederation with Canada in 1949.
Gaining governance of Labrador as part of the deal gave Newfoundland jurisdiction of by far the greater portion of the commercial sealing industry, leaving Quebec, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward island as minor participants.
Smallwood served as Newfoundland prime minister until 1972.
Harry R. Lillie
The cruelty of the Atlantic Canadian seal hunt meanwhile had again come into the spotlight as result of a film made on the ice by Harry R. Lillie.
Lillie (1903-1990), born in Dundee, Scotland, was for a decade a maritime engineer before becoming a ship’s surgeon in 1936.
After World War II military service, Lillie served aboard British whaling ships during the 1946-1947 whaling season, then was one of two medical doctors serving the 25-vessel U.S., British, and Canadian sealing fleet in the spring of 1948.
Lillie extensively exposed what he saw in “With Whales And Seals,” published in the December 24, 1949 edition of the British Medical Journal.
“As in whaling,” wrote Lilly, “unnecessary cruelty is inflicted on the seals. The baby harp seals (whitecoats) born out on the pack ice are helpless, and are taken mainly for their fat,” an incorrect observation, as whitecoats have always been killed chiefly for their pelts.
“Shooting seals is worst of all”
“Often, instead of killing them properly by a blow on the skull,” Lillie continued, “sealers just daze them with a kick before cutting the little bodies out of the pelts.”
But horrifying as Lillie found that, he wrote, “The shooting of the adult seals later in the season is the worst of all…Some seals may die at once, but others shot through the neck or lungs writhe about until they may flop over the edge of the ice to die out of sight.
“I have seen as many as five seals from one [ice] pan disappear leaving bloody trails,” Lillie testified, “while others crippled die in pools of blood. Three hundred thousand seals are involved annually off Newfoundland alone, and international control is urgent.”
Canadian gov’t sent Brian Davies to the ice
Lillie returned to the Labrador front to film sealing in 1955. The Nova Scotia SPCA in the same year issued a statement of opposition to the cruelty that Lillie documented, and at least two commercial documentaries included footage of Inuit seal-clubbing.
By 1965 there was sufficient opposition to the Atlantic Canada seal hunt that the Canadian government sent Brian Davies and Jacques Vallée, then general manager of the Montreal-based Canadian SPCA, to monitor the killing, expecting to use their report to quell protest.
Davies and Vallée witnessed seal-clubbing for the first time on March 12, 1965.
Rescued two seal pups
“On returning to his base in Prince Edward Island,” Wikipedia summarizes, “Davies found two live seal pups on the shoreline who had been taken there by sealers. He took them to his home in Oromocto,” New Brunswick, “where they were raised by the Davies family. A local newspaper 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 found a ‘Save the Seals’ campaign.”
The campaign initially consisted only of a canning jar with a slot cut into the lid, with “Save the Seals” handwritten on a strip of masking tape, on the front counter at the New Brunswick SPCA headquarters. But not for long.
Got the boot
Davies rapidly expanded the campaign, against escalating pressure from the Canadian government, until in 1969 the New Brunswick SPCA, again according to Wikipedia, “withdrew from the seal campaign, having concluded that the seal hunt was conducted humanely and arguing that campaigning against it was ‘draining too much attention and effort away from other matters the society took responsibility for.’”
Davies responded by taking “Save the Seals” independent as the International Fund for Animal Welfare, better known by the initials IFAW.
Margaret Hodgson Gurd, a longtime member of the Canadian SPCA board of directors, initially represented IFAW in Montreal, assisted and eventually succeeded by Anne Streeter.
Checked out the ice as potential tourist attraction
“IFAW had a volunteer office here in Montreal,” Streeter later recalled, “where we handled the international files, organized demonstrations, and collated three one-million-signature petitions, two of which we sent to Pierre Trudeau, who was then prime minister of Canada.
“One we sent to Norway, the country that helps to subsidize the seal hunt in Canada.
“Joanna Dupras,” wife of George Dupras, another longtime Canadian SPCA board member, a photographer from Holland, and I were the first to go to the ice with Brian Davies to check it out as a potential tourist attraction,” Streeter continued.
“Later, I went to Strasbourg [France] with the IFAW delegation to lobby against the seal hunt [at a meeting of the European Union]. This was organized by Stephen Best. Subsequently, Stephen Best and Dan Morast started the International Wildlife Coalition and I joined them to research the fur business.”
Direct mail fundraising
Brian Davies scored his first international media coup when on March 26, 1968, the British newspaper Daily Mirror published a full-page image of a whitecoat seal pup gazing up at the club that was about to kill her, captioned “The price of a seal skin coat.”
The photo was taken by then-CBC camera man Stephen Best.
Also in 1968, the U.S. Postal Service introduced the bulk mail discounts that made high volume direct mail fundraising practical and economical. Taking advantage of the opportunity, and establishing a U.S. office in Yarmouth Port, Massachusetts, from which to mail at nonprofit bulk rates, Brian Davies, along with Animal Protection Institute founder Belton Mouras, pioneered the use of direct mail to fund animal advocacy.
Brian Davies published his first of several books attacking the seal hunt, Savage Luxury: Slaughter of the Baby Seals, in 1971.
The Canadian government, meanwhile, having failed utterly in attempting to recruit Brian Davies and Jacques Vallée to defend the seal hunt as representatives of the humane community, tried again in 1973 by sending Tom I. Hughes and Harry C. Rowsell to the ice as members of a Committee on Seals & Sealing Advisory Committee appointed by the Ministry of Fisheries & Oceans.
Both had significant humane bona fides and maritime military experience that the Ministry of Fisheries & Oceans hoped might counter Brian Davies’ military bearing and growing reputation as a man of action on behalf of animals.
Hughes, born near Blackpool, Lancashire, England, was at age 15 accepted into the Royal Naval College. On September 3, 1939, the day the United Kingdom and France declared war against Nazi Germany, a Nazi submarine torpedoed and sank the British aircraft carrier H.M.S. Courageous, killing 519 men.
Hughes, however, survived the sinking.
RSPCA, B.C. SPCA, & Ontario SPCA
Leaving the Royal Navy after World War II, Hughes became a “voluntary agent” of the Royal SPCA, emigrated to Canada in 1953 to become secretary/manager of the Vancouver branch of the British Columbia SPCA, became executive director of the B.C. SPCA in 1956, and in the same year became a founding director of the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies.
From 1962 to 1989 Hughes was general manager and eventually president of the Ontario SPCA.
This overlapped a 20-year tenure, 1960-1980, as president of the Canadian Wild Horse Society, a 40-odd-year tenure as a founding director of the Animal Welfare Foundation of Canada, and more than 30 years, beginning in 1968, as a director of first the International Society for the Protection of Animals, and then the World Society for the Protection of Animals, after the International Society merged with the Dutch-based World Federation for the Protection of Animals in 1981.
Harry C. Rowsell (1921-2006), a Royal Canadian Navy lieutenant during World War II, after the war became a prominent veterinary pathologist, served from 1968 to 1992 as founding director of the Canadian Council of Animal Care, formed to supervise animal welfare in laboratories, and served from 1983 to 1986 as a member of the Scientists Center for Animal Welfare board of trustees.
Both Hughes and Rowsell were appalled by what they saw during the 1973 Atlantic Canada seal hunt.
“It’s a hell of a thing,” Rowsell testified afterward. “Stop telling people to write letters to Canada and Norway,” Rowsell advised activists. “Tell them instead to start a worldwide campaign against wearing fur.”
That proved, in the long run, to be good advice.
Meanwhile, Rowsell and Hughes, who remained head of the Committee on Seals & Sealing Advisory Committee until 1988, focused on trying to make the seal hunt somehow “humane.”
Countering their efforts, on the side of total abolition of the seal hunt, was Stephen Best, who took the iconic seal-clubbing photo in 1968.
Best was in 1973 funded by Brian Davies to direct, film, and edit Seal Song, a 30-minute documentary that “became part of the long-running British television series Survival,” Best remembered.
A year later, in March 1974, Karen Davis joined Brian Davies and others on a visit to witness the seal hunt at Grindstone Island in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
Traumatized by what she saw, Davis recalls “staying away from the experiences of animal abuse for 10 years” afterward, but had already become prominent in animal advocacy on multiple fronts by the time she founded United Poultry Concerns in 1990, acknowledging inspiration from both Brian Davies and Animal Rights International founder Henry Spira.
The 1976 seal hunt brought yet another influential convergence when Brian Davies, Paul Watson, then still with Greenpeace, and journalists Robert Hunter (1942-2005) and Silver Donald Cameron (1938-2020) all found themselves staying at the same Cape Breton boarding house.
Hunter had in 1971 cofounded Greenpeace as the “Don’t Make A Wave Committee,” in opposition to nuclear weapons testing by France in the South Pacific.
Cameron was long among the most prominent environmental journalists in Canada.
Also in 1976, Davies met Gloria Colisanto, his wife of 41 years, marrying her in 1981.
Flew in Brigitte Bardot
1977 brought a heavily publicized visit to the ice by French actress Brigitte Bardot, who had retired from her film career in 1973 to focus on animal advocacy.
Unable to rent a helicopter to visit the ice, in violation of so-called “Seal Protection Regulations” introduced by the Ministry of Fisheries & Oceans, meant to keep witnesses to the seal hunt away, Brian Davies had already purchased and learned to fly his own helicopter, taking Bardot, Best, and others out to the ice himself.
For this, Brian Davies was sentenced to serve 21 days in jail, to pay a fine of $1,000 or spend six more months in jail time, and was forbidden to fly any craft over the Gulf of of St. Lawrence or the Labrador Front for three years.
Moved to the U.S.
Further, the Canadian government warned Davies that continued campaigning against the seal hunt would bring revocation of IFAW’s tax-exempt charitable status.
Davies’ response was to relocate IFAW to Yarmouth Port, the organizational headquarters since 1978.
Best, who had continued to do video work for IFAW off and on, in 1980 finally accepted an invitation from Brian Davies “to work full time for the IFAW,” Best recalled.
“My brief at the IFAW,” Best said, “was to develop a program and strategies for the involvement of the IFAW in the political process in Canada, the United States, and the European Community [later renamed the European Union].
“Between 1980 and 1984,” Best resumed, “I developed and managed various political, election, and public relation campaigns in Germany, the United Kingdom, and Belgium that eventually achieved the 1983 ban on the import of baby harp and hooded seal products into the European Community.”
That campaign may have been significantly aided by the political self-destruction of Hughes and Rowsell, brought about by Anne Doncaster (1938-2014).
Recalled Mississauga.com, “Anne Doncaster attended an event one night in 1978 that changed her life forever. The evening included a film called Canada’s Shame, about fur trapping, presented by George Clements,” a longtime anti-trapping activist whose organization, with a long and complex history, is now called Fur Bearer Defenders.
Founding the Mississauga Animal Rights Society and the National Animal Rights Association, Anne Doncaster lastingly embarrassed Hughes, Rowsell, and the Ontario Humane Society in 1981 by exposing a plan to shoot two dogs to test a gun developed as an intended alternative to clubbing seals.
Seal hunt suspended
Both Hughes and Rowsell continued to enjoy credibility on other topics, Hughes as among the first to expose and criticize the use of pregnant mares to produce the hormonal drug Premarin and Rowsell in support of developing alternatives to animal testing, but Hughes lost his leadership influence at the Ontario Humane Society and on anything having to do with seal hunting.
Brian Mulroney, Canadian prime minister from 1984 to 1993, suspended the offshore phase of Atlantic Canada seal hunt, which had accounted for about 90% of the killing. The so-called landsman’s hunt, in which sealers walk out on the ice instead of taking boats, continued without interruption when ice conditions allowed.
The suspension of the offshore hunt held until 1996.
Brian Davies and IFAW, anticipating victory in the seal hunt campaign, had already been developing other campaign topics, specifically dog-eating in South Korea and the Philippines.
Brian Davies apparently became aware of dog-eating in South Korea circa 1978. His first campaigns against it, centered on fundraising and urging activists to write letters of protest to the South Korean government, brought unkept promises that led Davies to make premature “victory” announcements in both 1978 and 1980.
In 1983 Brian Davies connected with Sunnan Kum, 54, a Daegu druggist who had founded an organization called Koreans for Animal Protection two years earlier.
More premature “victory” claims
Brian Davies and Sunnan Kum won further promises and made more premature “victory” announcements in 1984 and 1986.
Brian Davies in 1987 hired Sunnan Kum’s younger sister Kyenan, who lived in California, to lobby for IFAW, and helped Kyenan Kum to found a U.S. supporting charity, International Aid for Korean Animals.
Still more unfulfilled promises and premature “victory” announcements followed, in 1984, 1986, and 1988.
Then-Korean president Roh Tae Woo reportedly realized the revulsion of the western world at dog-and-cat-eating, and the need to really do something about it, after IFAW supporters picketed Buckingham Palace in late 1989 as Roh dined with Queen Elizabeth II.
18 years to first prosecution
But another 18 months passed before the Korean Animal Protection Law was approved on May 7, 1991. At that, the law was not enforced against the dog meat trade until June 2018.
As the IFAW campaign to secure the law progressed, Brian Davies himself offered statistics which, if accurate, suggested that South Korean dog-and-cat eating had actually increased from one million dogs and cats eaten per year as of 1988 to more than two million in 1991, in apparent direct rebuke of tactics focused on collectively shaming the nation.
“We knew the law wouldn’t save dogs & cats overnight”
By 1994, Brian Davies acknowledged in IFAW appeals that the hard-won Korean Animal Protection Law was not being enforced.
“We knew it wouldn’t save cats and dogs overnight,” Davies wrote, “but it was a great first step, because like our laws here in the U.S., it says abusing animals is a crime.”
The Korean Animal Protection Society and International Aid for Korean Animals imploded and collapsed as the Kum sisters aged. A constellation of new indigenous South Korean animal advocacy organizations, however, have subsequently closed what were the biggest dog and cat meat markets in South Korea.
According to Stephen Best, Brian Davies became aware of dog-eating in the Philippines at around the same time that IFAW took on dog-eating in South Korea, through photographs shared with him by British tabloid journalist Richard Moore.
Brian Davies then hired Moore and sent him, with Best and another staff member, Charles Wartenburg, to the Philippines to research the issue.
The campaign against dog-eating in the Philippines gained momentum in 1986 when IFAW connected with the Philippine Animal Welfare Society, founded in 1954 by British missionary Muriel Jay. The Philippine Animal Welfare Society collapsed after Jay returned to England, but was revived, with IFAW support, by Nita Hontiveros-Lichauco, who had been the youngest participant in Jay’s humane education program.
A lightly enforced 1997 Philippine law nominally stopped the dog meat trade.
However, Linis Gobyerno, self-described as an “anti-graft, corruption prevention, and detection group,” formed in May 2000 by journalist Freddie J. Farres, author of a 2003 exposé entitled Please Help Stop The Illegal Dog Meat Trade In The Philippines, alleged extensive corruption in enforcement operations involving representatives of IFAW, the International Wildlife Coalition, and Brian Davies’ Political Animal Lobby.
The campaigns against dog-eating in South Korea and the Philippines were hugely financially successful for IFAW, but many key IFAW personnel were frustrated that Brian Davis had turned from highly effective political campaigning in nations he knew well to bumbling in nations he barely knew at all.
International Wildlife Coalition
Seeing more opportunity in continued work to influence the European Parliament, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, and the International Whaling Commission, a constellation of IFAW talent including Best, Doncaster, Streeter, Daniel Morast, Donna Hart, and Charles Wartenburg, in 1985 left to form the International Wildlife Coalition.
Best told ANIMALS 24-7 that the parting was amicable.
Like IFAW, IWC was headquartered on Cape Cod. Volunteers maintained offices in Toronto, Montreal, London, and Brazil.
Early fundraising failures, including a disastrously bad direct mail contract, foredoomed the International Wildlife Coalition.
The U.S. and Canadian organizations became dormant by 2006, but the International Wildlife Coalition Trust, incorporated by Wartenburg, continues to campaign from England against dog-eating in the Philippines, and the International Wildlife Coalition-Brazil continues under marine mammalogist Jose Truda Palazzo.
Palazzo was among a world-class team of scientific advisors recruited and funded by Brian Davies, also including longtime IFAW-Russia representative Masha Vorontsova, whose work, begun in 1994, brought a 2009 ban on whitecoat sealing in the White Sea, and David Lavigne.
David Lavigne & Sydney Holt
From 1973-1996 a professor of zoology at the University of Guelph, in Guelph, Ontario, Lavigne from 1990 to 1999 doubled as executive director of the International Marine Mammal Association. Lavigne was then senior science advisor for IFAW from 1999 to 2013.
The biggest name among the IFAW science advisors, however, largely behind the scenes, was Sidney J. Holt (1926-2019), better known for long associations with the International Whaling Association and Greenpeace.
Paul Seigel & Jill Robinson
The exodus of the former IFAW personnel who formed the International Wildlife Coalition opened the door to two more of Brian Davies’ most successful recruits, Paul Seigel and Jill Robinson.
Seigel, a direct mail fundraiser, took over most of Best’s former roles as Davies’ chief strategic advisor and global troubleshooter.
Jill Robinson, a former flight attendant, “began working for Brian and IFAW in 1986 after being employed by then-Asia Consultant David Dawson in Hong Kong,” she emailed to ANIMALS 24-7, “and remember plunging into scenes of horrific abuse that left one feeling both hopeless and helpless.”
Bile farm bears
Initially Robinson was liaison to IFAW-funded organizations including the Philippine Animal Welfare Society and Beijing Small Animal Protection Association.
1n 1993 Robinson discovered nine bears caged in the basement of a hospital-owned facility in Guangdong that tapped their gall bladders to extract bile, for processing into traditional medicines.
Now believed to be in decline in China, Vietnam, and Laos, the bear bile industry was then still growing, after the basic methods were developed in North Korea.
Davies agreed to rescue the bears, if Robinson would make the arrangements, to publicize and promote an IFAW campaign against bile farming.
A property in Pan Yu was leased, a rescue center for the bears was built, and the bears arrived in 1996.
Four years later Robinson spun off the Animals Asia Foundation as an independent charity, in order to build a much larger sanctuary in Chengdu and extend campaigning against the bile industry to Vietnam, where the Animals Asia Foundation has operated a second bear sanctuary since 2007.
Cockatoos & corellas
Yet another of Brian Davies’ long-running campaigns, that never really caught on either politically or with donors, sought to stop exterminations of alleged nuisance cockatoos and corellas as alleged agricultural pests in Australia.
Initiated in the mid-1980s, the cockatoo campaign in 1997 evolved into the Australian Cockatoo Rehabilitation Project, managed by wildlife rehabilitators Sandra & Robert Ferguson, closed in 2002 just before Brian Davies retired.
By then Brian Davies’ reputation in animal advocacy circles had become considerably tarnished. The 1994 retirement of Richard Moore, who appeared to have made more enemies than friends, only transiently helped.
A decade after rejecting Best’s advice to build on the political credibility IFAW had developed through the seal hunt campaign, Brian Davies in 1994 established the Political Action Lobby and the IFAW Charitable Trust.
These were added to a string of organizations already including the IFAW Holding Company Inc., Fonds International Pour la Protection des Animaux, Stichting IFAW, IFAW (U.K.), the IFAW Political Action Committee, IFAW (U.S.A.) Inc., the Brian Davies Foundation Inc., the International Marine Mammal Association., IFAW Australia PTY Ltd., IFAW Trading Ltd., Political Action Lobby Ltd., IFAW Trust, and IFAW Promotions Ltd..
“I’m worth it”
Collectively these entities raised $60 million a year, of which about 40% went toward program expense, exclusive of direct mail expense reported on tax forms as “public education,” with 60% spent on fundraising and administration.
Davies himself was paid far more than anyone else in animal advocacy.
Questioned about that, Davies said simply, “I’m worth it,” without bothering to explain.
That appears to have touched off a round of executive salary increases among animal advocacy organizations that has not stopped yet, with some organization heads now paid markedly more than people holding similar positions in private enterprise and government work.
IFAW had also become involved in disaster relief, with disastrous results in all aspects but fundraising.
Taking extensive video of damage to the International Primate Protection League gibbon sanctuary near Summerville, South Carolina, after Hurricane Hugo in 1989, IFAW according to IPPL founder Shirley McGreal failed to provide any recovery funding to IPPL.
McGreal never forgave Brian Davies for that, and never quit mentioning it.
Three years later, in 1992, after Hurricane Andrew damaged animal care facilities from one end of Florida to the other, then-American Humane Association animal protection division chief Dennis White told ANIMALS 24-7 that Brian Davies helicoptered to the command center at Dade County Animal Control, offered use of his communications equipment and helicopter, and “sent a staff member to help with the foster care program we were beginning to organize. Other than that, he said it looked as if we had things under control and to call him if we needed assistance.”
The helicopter was often seen thereafter dropping in here and there to take photos for use in IFAW fundraising appeals, but actual IFAW assistance, ANIMALS 24-7 was told by multiple sources, was scarce.
But even as photos of Brian Davies grew ever more ubiquitous in fundraising appeals, Davies himself became ever less accessible to media.
By the time Brian Davies retired from IFAW in 2003, he had fallen from being the person most often mentioned in coverage of seal hunt opposition 25 years earlier to a distant fourth over the entire time span, far behind Brigitte Bardot; former IFAW representative Rebecca Aldworth, who by then represented the Humane Society of the U.S. on sealing issues; and Paul Watson.
But Davies continued to make headlines, for instance by donating £1million to the Labour Party, headed by Tony Blair, during the 1996 United Kingdom election campaign.
Elected prime minister on a platform that pledged to ban fox hunting, Blair finally brought the Hunting Act into effect in 2004––which nominally banned most forms of hunting wildlife with dogs, but animal advocates and friends in Parliament are still trying to plug loopholes in the Act that have allowed much fox hunting to continue.
According to the Network for Animals eulogy for Brian Davies, Blair offered him “a peerage, which he turned down––something he often regretted in later years, not because of the status it would have brought, but because he came to believe he could have achieved more for animals as a Member of the House of Lords.
“Telling close friends that he was burned out and exhausted,” said the Network for Animals eulogy,” Brian Davies turned IFAW over to Fred O’Regan, a former Salvation Army executive whose mismanagement expedited the departure of Seigel and Robinson, and emboldened the Canadian Ministry of Fisheries & Oceans to boost the Atlantic seal hunt quota to more than 400,000 seals per year.
In actuality that quota has never even been remotely approached, the European Union ban on seal product imports and lack of anticipated demand for seal pelts in China having all but killed the sealing industry.
Network for Animals
Keeping control of the Political Animal Lobby, Davies returned to animal advocacy campaigning in 2006, founding Network for Animals as a fundraising umbrella for campaigns against horse-fighting and dog-eating in the Philippines led by former IFAW employee Melchor Alipio, badger culling and hunting with hounds in the United Kingdom, rhinoceros poaching and elephant culling in South Africa, resumed efforts against sealing after the Atlantic Canada seal hunt re-started [also in 1996] and street dog aid projects in Croatia, Greece, Italy, Jordan, Kenya, Montenegro, the Philippines, Serbia, South Africa, Thailand, Turkey and Uruguay.
Davies later spun the Network for Animals wildlife projects into a separate organization, Animal Survival international.
Scottish National Party
Davies made headlines for almost the last time when in November 2015 the Political Animal Lobby donated £10,000 to the Scottish National Party, headed by Nicola Sturgeon, “just a month after its Members of Parliament blocked a vote on fox hunting in England,” objected the Daily Mail.
This obliged David Cameron, then Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, to drop an attempt to repeal the Hunting Act.
The Scottish National Party had historically not voted on issues not involving Scotland. The Hunting Act is not in effect in Scotland because Scotland has a stronger prohibition on hunting with dogs.
Network for Animals in 2017 responded to ANIMALS 24-7 coverage of Hurricane Harvey by donating $49,562 to the Houston SPCA for disaster relief, and made similar donations after other hurricanes hit Florida, where Brian and Gloria Davies had a second home on Sanibel Island, destroyed by Hurricane Ian on September 28, 2022.
Brian Davies may have last taken a hands-on role in animal aid in June 2019, when he personally ferried a cargo of cat food from Kefalonia to Ithaka, Greece, where Network for Animals funds a cat sterilization program that has reportedly achieved “a dramatic reduction in cat poisoning as a means of population control.”
Brian Davies is survived by his two children, his second wife, Gloria, and by their dogs Max and Flora.