Animal Welfare and Pandemics">Animal Welfare and PandemicsJune 14, 2022 3:07 pm
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