Caged dogs at a market in Yulin, in China's Guangxi region. Photo: AFP
Stephen McCarty
Stephen McCarty

For a better post-Covid world, start with our treatment of animals

  • We can prove what ‘better people’ we have become by showing compassion towards all animals
  • Think of those creatures we torture in the name of ‘research’ that spend their entire lives incarcerated

Much has been made of how, when Covid-19 is beaten, or at least beaten back for a while, we might all come out of these extreme circumstances as better, more compassionate people. And how we might unveil a new-look world.

Around the globe, untold practical difficulties are being faced: keeping jobs, putting food on the table, making sure the lights stay on. Then there is the psychological suffering. Radio shows abound with wits’ end tales of chronic incarceration, the crushing boredom of imprisonment we don’t deserve and segregation we didn’t ask for from our loved ones.

Now consider those problems from the point of view of the countless millions of animals we exploit – factory “farmed”; confined to torture chambers masquerading as laboratories; held year upon year in marine-life “attractions”; confined alone for decades in concrete zoo pens; put to work in circuses; snatched from herds on the plains; held immobile in barbaric conditions to produce useless, pointless traditional Chinese “medicine”.

And, of course, stuffed into cages in vile Asian “wet markets”, with which the wider world is, finally, becoming familiar.


Wet markets in Wuhan struggle to survive despite lifting of China’s lockdown to fight Covid-19

Wet markets in Wuhan struggle to survive despite lifting of China’s lockdown to fight Covid-19

After a few weeks of going Covid crazy, we were scaling our four walls, breaking down, self-pitying. Now stop to think of how many animals spend their entire wretched lives in a state of permanent lockdown, with no hope of escape, rehabilitation or even a touch of kindness.

Ask the dogs deliberately bred to suffer from muscular dystrophy at Texas A&M University (for “research”, you understand) how they feel about being locked up and egregiously experimented on year after grinding year. Until death. All this in our name.

We can prove what “better people” we have become by showing compassion towards all animals, beginning with those incarcerated by us, jailed in order to suffer physical and mental pain ad infinitum. Ad nauseam.

And then we can reflect on what human population pressure and criminal greed are doing to what’s left of the natural world, vanishing with the help of the black-market trade in endangered species, trophy hunting, habitat loss, rising temperatures, poaching and pipelines.

Much is being made of how we “are not alone” in this crisis, but so many animals remain exactly that: alone, hopeless and terrified.