For many, the past year has been one of separation, isolation and despair. But for all the obstacles that the novel coronavirus has presented, families and communities across the country have united with a resolve to overcome our common struggles with solidarity and strength.
Given the seemingly unending torrent of bad news this year, it is easy to forget that COVID-19 originated due to a broken human-animal contract. Researchers believe that COVID-19 originated in a wet market, where wild animals are kept in inhumane and unsanitary conditions. In wet markets, wild animals are bought and sold, confined to cages and often butchered on site, causing blood, feces and other refuse to intermingle with the living animals still held in captivity. Not only are wet markets havens for animal abuse, but they also act as hotspots for zoonotic diseases.
American Humane is urging policymakers and politicians to ring in the new year with a humane New Deal. Without a comprehensive overhaul of the human-animal contract, the year we have just experienced will become the norm, rather than an anomaly. Governments must better regulate the relationship between humans and animals to minimize cruelty and prioritize safety.
Wet markets, like the one in which COVID-19 originated, must be closed. In the immediate aftermath of COVID’s discovery, the wet market in Wuhan, China was shuttered, but reopened within months. This is unacceptable. Until governments around the world agree to impose more stringent regulations on wet markets, animals will continue to be abused and global biosecurity will remain threatened.
Closing wet markets, however, won’t be enough. Dig a bit deeper, and it is clear that wet markets are just one focal point in a web of animal cruelty. Consider that at one wet market in Thailand, two-thirds of animals sold were non-native. Animal traffickers and poachers rely on these hubs to turn a profit. Flouting regulations protecting endangered and at-risk animals is profitable – animal trafficking is the fourth-most valuable black-market industry.
Inking a new contract between humans and animals cannot be approached through piecemeal solutions, but only by broad, substantive reforms, which is why American Humane is fighting for A New Deal for Animals, People and the World We Share, a 10-point policy plan to course-correct our relationship with the wild world. Cracking down on wet markets and the illegal wildlife trade is just the beginning. Read more about the policy proposals and add your name to the fight: https://americanhumane.org/new-deal/.