If humans can solve a problem by hurting animals, it’s only a matter of time before it’s done — even if cruelty towards animals created the predicament in the first place.
The COVID-19 pandemic, whatever the particular circumstances that enabled the first human to become infected, is a result of our habit of containing animals in cramped, unsanitary conditions. As we’ve discussed previously, animal agriculture has given rise to numerous pandemics, and the present one is no different. Our insistence upon eating animals is killing us in more ways than one.
So we’ve forced various species into circumstances in which they often become infected with diseases — sometimes novel ones for which their immune systems are no defense. And then they infect us. Maybe you’ll think of that as a bit of payback if you’re feeling particularly misanthropic.
But it’s come back to harming animals again. Last week, it was revealed that someone infected with COVID-19 transmitted the virus to animals on a mink farm. Now, to stem a massive COVID-19 outbreak among those animals, more than one million will be slaughtered.
It’s a stark reminder that compassion for animals and animal agriculture are mutually exclusive. We cannot continue to force animals into unsanitary conditions and insist that we “honor” them in some milquetoast attempt to alleviate our guilt. And we cannot remain committed to sacrificing animals whenever doing so offers any degree of human convenience while pretending that we love them as our own. The societal shame we feel, when we do feel it, over what we put non-human animals through is appropriate and deserved.
I’ll be honest though. I don’t know whether slaughtering all those mink is, at the end of the day, the right call. Perhaps the disease would spread among them and end up killing far more than a million. Maybe not culling them would present too much of a risk of mink-to-human transmission, potentially causing additional pandemics down the road at least as deadly as the one we are presently enduring.
I’m not going to pretend I know more than the experts that made the decision, I’m simply lamenting the fact that we continue to imprison innocent animals — in this case for fucking fur — in environments that give rise to deadly pandemics, and then we kill more innocent animals to stem said outbreaks. It’s not right that animals always get the short end of the stick.