Animal Welfare and Pandemics">Animal Welfare and Pandemics

June 14, 2022 3:07 pm Published by

Animal Welfare and Pandemics

At first glance, it seems Illinois has excellent animal welfare standards. It has a statewide ban on  the sale of commercially bred pets. At the start of 2022, the Illinois legislature passed multiple  animal welfare bills improving the lives of dogs and cats. But what about our livestock? Should  we not have laws that protect them?  

You may believe that the welfare of humans is far more important than that of animals raised for  slaughter. Regardless of your opinion, livestock conditions influence the safety of people. The  COVID-19 pandemic is living proof. 

The COVID-19 pandemic most certainly originated in a Chinese wet market. Many blame the  sanitation measures. Perhaps lesser-known but equally important is how the animals were in  cramped cages under duress. These conditions contributed to the spread of COVID because, in  general, animals lose the ability to fight viruses under stress. 

Illinois does not have wet markets. However, it has factory farms — industrial-sized facilities  that raise animals for slaughter — that are just as dangerous. Animals in factory farms live in  crowded pens and cages, suffering great duress and thus lowered immunity. Their genetical  identity makes it the perfect environment for viruses to emerge and mutate. Indeed, the H1N1  flu, or swine flu, may have originated from an industrial hog farm in North Carolina. It infected  over 60 million Americans and killed thousands. 

Pandemics almost always stem from animals in crowded, unsanitary conditions. Would it not be  utter negligence if we didn’t regulate these facilities?  

Unfortunately, Illinois has no law that prohibits such feeding operations. Apart from limited  inspection from the US Department of Agriculture, there is almost no federal oversight of the  conditions in factory farms. What does this mean? Nothing prevents another swine flu or another  COVID pandemic from happening again. 

Illinois leads in factory farm operations. I call on it to improve animal welfare conditions. If not  for its animals, then for its people. Illinois, nor the United States, can afford another pandemic. 

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This post was written by Marsha

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