AUTHOR: Rosa María Cajiga, student of the 6th edition of the Master in Animal Law and Society Online and member of the communications committee, Section of Animal Law, Florida Bar, USA
ABSTRACT: Due to the success and impact of the webinar "Coronavirus and animals: the human-animal relationship in the pandemic society" and the many requests received to consult the materials, we will exceptionally extend the registration for all those who want to obtain the participation certificate and the recorded lectures of the speakers.
A monographic dossier will be published in December in dA magazine. Derecho Animal (Forum of Animal Law Studies) with the lectures of all the participants in the webinar.
KEY WORDS: Animal Law, webinar, pandemic, Covid-19, coronavirus.
Coronavirus and animals: the human-animal relationship in the pandemic society.
There is an inevitably close connection between people’s health, animal’s health and our shared environment. The well-known COVID-19 arose in animals then mutated and crossed the species barrier into humans; this is called zoonotic disease, and then finally spread widely among humans. The habitat loss and degradation, caused mainly by anthropogenic activities, could be one of the biggest factors in how viruses have begun breaking down the walls between us and the animals that originally carried them.
At the inaugural session of the Coronavirus & Animals webinar series COVID-19 demonstrates the need of a Global Animal Law, Prof. Dr. Anne Peters, head of the Max-Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law, Heidelberg, Germany, said: “The COVID-19 pandemic –zoonotic disease- illustrates how the problems of nature at global proportions stem from the use and abuse of animals by humans"
De izquierda a derecha, Sra. Laure Gisie, Dra. Teresa Giménez-Candela, Dr. Joan Amenós, Sr. Loïs Lelanchon, Sr. Carles Lorente, Sra. Isabel Buil, Sra. Francisca Gutiérrrez, Sra. Pilar Menéndez, Dr. Riccardo Cardilli, Sra. Myriam Olivera, Sra. Sarah Hamou, Sra. Cristina Alves Braamcamp, Sra. Jessica Melo, Dr. Jaume Fatjó, Sra. Manuela Brancanes y Sr. David Bayona.
The International Centre for Animal Law and Policy (ICALP) has organized an extensive series of Webinars Coronavirus & Animals, The human-animal relationship during the pandemic with 28 speakers from more than 11 different countries around the world. This series of webinars has brought to us an ignored and even uncomfortable truth, the cost of our actions in relation to how we treat our non-human animal’s fellows and our environment has provoked our recent global pandemic that has paralyzed the world since the beginning of 2020. “The circumstances that led to this pandemic, make impossible to ignore the fact that there is a direct relationship between human action on nature and the spread of disease” Dr. Silvia Zanini, ICALP, University of Ca' Foscari, Venezia, Italy.(Webinar: Covid-19 & the man-nature relationship: The broken balance & the precautionary principle facing the complexity of the pandemic).
Human responsibility towards this global pandemic must be acknowledged, the mistreatment of animals wreak havoc on our own species. Millions of people around the world have live animals housed in extremely overcrowded spaces waiting until they are slaughtered in the market and then sold. In these conditions, infections are easily transmitted from one animal to another and the proximity to humans facilitates the infection to a larger scale. In this scenario without regulations, lack of inspection or even enforcement, we need to reconsider how we have been and still are managing this intrinsic human-animal relationship. “The coronavirus pandemic has helped us to rethink aspects of human-animal relations as a lasting threat to human health and security.” Prof. Randall S. Abate, Monmouth University, USA, (Webinar: Coronavirus and indirect opportunities to improve animal protection in the United States). This global issue shows us that harming animals can also lead to considerable harm to humans. This provides a self-interested reason to act on this problematic, in addition to develop an even stronger moral reason for humans to treat animals better.
Throughout the past we, as humans, have fashioned a seemingly impenetrable barrier between us and other animals. It appears to be that we, Homo sapiens, conveniently forgot the fact that we are also taxonomically classified as animals. We humbly, as many other species and other organisms on this planet, form part of a precisely well designed interconnected ecosystem. All living beings comprise one biological entity, one large functioning ecosystem within planet Earth. "Homo sapiens are one species among the millions that make up the world's biodiversity" Melanie Montenegro-Pérez, biologist specialized in Biodiversity Conservation and Animal Law, technician in Recovery and Rehabilitation of Wild Fauna. (Webinar: Another warning about the Homo sapiens treatment of their life partners.)
De izquierda a derecha, Dr. Josep Cañabate, Ilustrísimo Sr. Sergio García Torres (Director General de los Derechos de los Animales), Dr. Martí Pumarola, Dr. Joan Amenós, Dra. Teresa Giménez-Candela, Dr. Kyle Harper, Sra. Isabel Buil, Sra. Pilar Menéndez, Sra. Aimeé Pérez de la Cruz, Sr. Iván Fructuoso, Dra. Rosa María de la Torre, Sr. José Luis Leoncio Mendoza.
A constant remark was made during the webinar series about the urgent need to consider a new vision of the world, a change from the anthropocentric view to biocentrism or ecocentrism as a new global perspective. “The Corona crisis is a wake-up call to reconsider, reframe and reorient human-animal relations" Dr. Charlotte E. Blattner, University of Bern, (Webinar: From Zoonosis to Zoopolis).
The consequences of this pandemic on people’s everyday life and their relation with animals as well as with our environment teach us again the transcendence and effects of human actions over nature. Some positive effects are seen as the global coronavirus lockdowns are taking place, our often unseen wildlife has taken the advantage to enjoy the rare opportunity to experience life with hardly any humans around. Pictures and videos over the internet show us how several animals are regaining their confidence to explore what we consider our urban territories. This phenomenon demonstrates us that nature will always find its way over us. Contrary to this situation is the testimony of the negative effects of the missing human-animal interaction in regard to animals in captivity. Without human visitors some animals lack stimulation and get bored or lonely. "However, surprising evidence is emerging that some zoo animals exhibit signs of loneliness and lethargy as a result of the absence of daily human contact" Ven. Alexander Bruce, Australian National University of Canberra, Australia. (Webinar: Unexpected Revelations from Zoos on Human-Animal Relations in a COVID-19 World).
Important and novel aspects where also pointed out about responsible pet ownership and pet care during Covid-19. In Spain a new Law declared the state of health crisis this past March, which also included important remarks on the welfare of our companion animals. Dr.Teresa Giménez-Candela, Director of the ICALP and the Master in Animal Law and Society at the University Autonoma of Barcelona (UAB), expressed during the webinar Responsible Pet Ownership, Global perspective during the pandemic: “Real Decreto 463/2020 14th March, this Law also authorizes people to walk their dogs outside and take them to the vet as well as supermarkets and animal nutrition stores to remain open to ease the acquisition of food products for animals”. Over the course of this webinar she examines “From a global legal field, a reconsideration of the responsible pet ownership in a situation of health crisis, which presents different characteristics according to level of development of the legal protection of pets, previously existing to the incidence of Covid-19”
De izquierda a derecha, Sra. Kristin Suleng, Dra. Teresa Giménez-Candela, Dr. Joan Amenós, Sr. Iván Fructuoso, Dra. Elizabeth Umlas, Sra. Manuela Brancanes y Dr. Luciano Rocha Santana.
Innovative and unique ideas regarding animal welfare during the pandemic were also mentioned. The creation of an “Ideal protocol in Mexico which contains the minimum standards that should be set by the authorities and individuals regarding pets, animals in zoos, aquariums as well as in production and experimentation prior to Pandemics such as the one we are currently experiencing, COVID-19.” Dr. Elizabeth Montero, ICALP, Editor, Mexico. (Webinar: Protocol proposal for animals during pandemics, Mexico).
This COVID-19 pandemic has brought on us students, teachers, professionals, workers, farmers, pet owners, health carers, etc. enough to consider as Dr. Martí Pumarola Batlle, ICALP- Faculty of de Veterinary-UAB, pointed out in the webinar Animal Disease, Zoonosis, and One health: what vets have learned throughout history: “The COVID19 pandemic has exposed professional transversality in the field of health, when doctors, veterinarians, epidemiologists, immunologists, jurists, sociologists, environmentalists, politicians, etc. have had to collaborate to find and apply solutions to the problem”.
From this webinar series Coronavirus & Animals, we could said that some crucial measures to take into consideration could be to emphasis, create and demand a better informed, scientific, ethical and compassionate approach to the way we treat nonhuman animals and nature. We could also say that the real prevention consists in not only taking the basic steps to minimize the chances of virus infections, we should also primarily consider the infectious agents emerging in the first place and answer to the questions: why did this pandemic appear in the first place? Is this morally right? Is this safe for everyone’s health? If so, could we do it better?
“It would be useful to return to scientific knowledge away from the tweet and the banner. And this must be especially severe for a university world too engulfed in the so-called "cultural wars". Dr. Joan Amenós, ICALP. UAB (Webinar When we went out, they were still there: natural spaces and green areas after the pandemic)
Everyone has a role to play, everyone can do their part. In the meantime we should not forget to follow the basic principles of public health of physical distancing, hand washing, wearing masks, coughing etiquette and staying at home when sick.