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COVID-19: A Wake-Up Call For Our Abuse Of Animals

Our use and abuse of animals has demanded change for a long time. 
This pandemic has shown us the life or death consequences of failing to act.

A new report from the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is a call to action for animals. It proposes nine policies aimed at reducing the risk of another pandemic arising from zoonotic (originating in animals) disease. The novel coronavirus, responsible for COVID-19, likely developed in bats and infected humans through an intermediate host, and it isn’t the first time this has happened. The pathogens responsible for Ebola, avian flu, swine flu, mad cow disease, and SARS all came from animals. An estimated 73% of emerging infectious diseases are zoonotic. As for known infectious diseases, almost three in five (58%)—think rabies or salmonella– are transmitted by animals.

Human activity, and the use and misuse of animals, are frequently behind the spillover of contagions from animals to humans. In response to this now glaring threat, the HSUS and its Legislative Fund proposed nine policy recommendations to mitigate future pandemic risks: Multiple disease outbreaks have been traced to wildlife markets. Shut them down permanently.

In live wildlife markets, animals are often kept in unsanitary, overcrowded conditions. They are slaughtered on site and inhumanely, bodily fluids intermingle and spread to other animals, surfaces, packaging, and people. While coronavirus threw Chinese live markets in the spotlight, less well known is the extent of live wildlife markets in the U.S., where animals such as reptiles and amphibians are sold for human consumption. State legislatures should pass laws to prohibit such markets within their own borders. The federal government can also play a role by banning the importation of wild animals destined for these markets. Continue