Animal Legal Defense Fund ALDF White Paper - COVID-19 and Animals
An Animal Rights Article from

FROM ALDF Animal Legal Defense Fund
June 2020

White Paper: Rethinking our relationship with animals to reduce the likelihood of the next global pandemic.

Ducks Chickens


Global outbreaks of zoonotic diseases — like COVID-19, a novel coronavirus disease — are on the rise. Zoonotic diseases are the cause of most epidemics and pandemics, including the deadliest, and they need only a human-animal interaction to arise. Given the increasing incursion of human beings into wildlife habitat around the world3 and the growing demand for meat and other animal products,⁴ it’s not a question of “if” there will be another zoonotic-derived pandemic but “when.” Therefore, even as governments mobilize to limit the staggering impact of COVID-19, it is imperative that they also take urgent action to prevent the next pandemic.

While this task is daunting, it is a solvable problem. It will require policymakers and the public to honestly confront not only the root causes of COVID-19, but all factors that foster the development and transmission of zoonotic disease — namely how humanity’s relationship with animals keeps us at a heightened risk.

warehoused Pigs

Policymakers are rightly preoccupied with the current crisis. However, now is the time to also look beyond relief, recovery, and reform to a more holistic reimagining of the systems and conditions that created this pandemic and exacerbated its impacts. In looking to the future, we must craft policy solutions that will create transformative change and social conditions that are more humane, equitable, and sustainable.

The attention given to the fact that this particular pandemic can be traced to spread that began in a foreign country misses most of the lesson. Emerging and re-emerging zoonotic disease5 need only the spark of a human-animal interaction, billions of which are happening every day and around the world.

Cow feedlot

This paper seeks to identify the root causes of zoonotic disease and to offer solutions that will mitigate pandemic risk by reimagining the human-animal interactions that have contributed to the current crisis and are presently laying the groundwork for the next.


Return to Animal Rights Articles