Why should we protect animals in disasters and what can the EU do?

In the rubble of Bucha, Ukraine, a small grey and brown dog with a white face marking is pictured standing next to a vase of purple flowers and large green leaves. © FOUR PAWS | Maksym Havrylov

© FOUR PAWS | Maksym Havrylov Valentyna Vozna, Ukraine TaskForce Coordinator, Eurogroup for Animals Russia’s war in Ukraine brought unprecedented consequences not only to the people of Ukraine and food security systems in Europe and worldwide, but also to animals and the environment. Once the war hit the European continent, a lot of actors were willing to help animals and had the resources at their disposal, but their actions were limited mainly because of the lack of information about the current needs of animals in Ukraine, logistical issues and a lack of partners on the ground. This often resulted in fragmented and uncoordinated aid provision and rescue efforts with duplicated efforts, while hampering aid in reaching those most in need (1). Acknowledging the efforts of the EU and its Member States to help Ukrainian animals, Russia’s war showcased EU’s lack of preparedness to protect animals during a disaster. Various actions could be implemented by the EU to better address the plight of animals during disasters. The immediate solution lies in the legal inclusion of animals in EU disaster law with the aim of involving animal welfare actors in the development of disaster management plans and in a coordinated disaster response mechanism in the EU. In our opinion, the lack of consideration of animals in an official disaster response mechanism substantially undermines any capacity to provide timely and effective aid to animals. The imperative of protecting animals in disasters is broad and encompasses both animals and humans for several reasons. First, the human-animal bond is a major factor affecting animal owners in disasters (2). People may refuse to evacuate because they do not want to abandon their animals. As a result, public safety may be compromised due to risky human behaviour during evacuation. Second, people’s mental health can be affected by the additional stress provoked by separation from their companion animals. Animals provide emotional support to people regardless of their age during and after disasters (3). This issue becomes especially acute when refugees escape the disaster with their companion animals just to find out that their animals are not allowed in refugee camps or social housing in a safer place. Indeed, unnecessary exposure of people to animals should be avoided, but it is equally important not to cause more pain to already traumatised people. Third, there are economic reasons for protecting animals in disasters. For example, livestock animals play an essential role in the recovery capabilities of the region. Rescuing them is vital to the resilience of the local communities after a disaster and is also cost-effective. Namely, a loss of livestock for a farmer means loss of food security, lost wages of workers and reduced productivity among workers due to psychological trauma (4). Moreover, disasters may lead to increasing populations of free-roaming animals due to abandonment and the inability to evacuate them, possibly posing a public health risk of rabies and other zoonoses. Furthermore, once a disaster has ended animals left without adequate food and water resources also may experience

What Happens to Animals When the World is on Fire? – Framing Animals as Individuals in Climate Communications

Harley McDonald-Eckersall As the current and future impacts of the climate crisis become more apparent, the existential threat it poses to all life is increasingly unignorable. Communicators who seek to capture both animal and climate justice face an ongoing challenge: how do we represent animals other than humans as individuals with value within a discourse that often frames them as part of the problem? The challenge lies both in countering the heavily entrenched dominant narratives of human supremacy and exceptionalism, and in representing animals as more than either a ‘problem’ and contributor to the climate crisis (in the case of farmed animals) or as passive victims (in the case of wild animals). In this post, I will explore the ways we unintentionally reinforce dominant narratives of animals as lesser than humans, and provide advice for recentring and reemerging other species in climate communications. While the words that we use can seem irrelevant or unimportant in the face of the very real physical danger we face as a result of anthropogenic climate change, it is important to remember that our world is constructed through implicit and explicit stories (ACF 2016, p. 26). What we believe shapes what choices we make and what actions we take. Communication has the power to shape how we see the world. By understanding the implicit assumptions in our messaging, we can begin to deconstruct them and build new narratives grounded in common values (ibid). In the case of animals, how we communicate influences whether we are entrenching their status as fundamentally less worthy of life and freedom than humans, or whether we are challenging that at its core and redefining what it means to fight for true climate justice for all. How Climate Communication Can Erase the Animal While animals are undeniably equally impacted by the climate crisis than humans, narratives around resilience, adaptation and mitigation all too often focus on the latter while ignoring the former. Although there are many segments of society where this erasure takes place, one that is often unexplored is how the language used in climate communications reinforces a hierarchy of value that places humans at the top and all other forms of life below. The most common ways that this dominant narrative is maintained is through the normalisation of framing that de-individualises animals, the use of language which reinforces the notion of animals as existing for humans and relying on stories that feature animals as the ‘problem’ or cause of a problem. De-individualising A key way that we can reinforce a frame of animals as existing for human gain is through the use of language which erases the animal subject in preference for a homogenous species or subtype. One particularly entrenched feature of communications is the use of ‘mass nouns’ (Stibbe 2012)  to refer to animals, for instance referring to a population of cows destined for slaughter as cows or referring to animals killed for food using the umbrella term, ‘meat.’ Similarly, the use of industry terms such as ‘livestock,’

Let’s help wild animals affected by the Kaziranga floods

Aditya S.K, Animal Ethics Impact of increased flooding due to climate change The annual floods in 2022 have been devastating to the inhabitants of the state of Assam, with over 30 districts and 45 lakh people affected by flood water inundation due to the monsoon rains and overflowing of the rivers running across the state. Animals (including both domesticated and wild) have also suffered substantially during and after floods, as many of them drowned in the flood water, got displaced, or were injured by both natural factors and anthropogenic conflict. Especially in the regions of Kaziranga National Park, animals face serious harm every year when most of the park area becomes inundated with water. The number of floods in India rose to 90 in the 10-year period from 2006 to 2015, up from 67 in the 10 years between 1996 to 2005, according to the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction. [1]. Even worse, an increase of the flood risk in the Indian subcontinent is expected, where the multi-day flood events are projected to increase at a faster rate in the future than the single day events. The strong implication this has on the wellbeing of humans is well known. But there is less discussion of its impact on the wellbeing of nonhuman animals [2]. The plight of wild animals during floods While attention has been given to the effect of floods from the standpoint of damage to the ecosystem, there is much less information available about the effect of floods on the welfare of individual wild animals during and after the event. A flood is a stressful event for animals that triggers physiological, endocrine, and behavioral responses as a result of an evolutionary adaptation for survival. Apart from the physiological harm, floods involve discomfort, fear, and distress in animals. [3] Animals living in the wild suffer harm due to different factors during floods. While some of them are human-caused harms such as poaching, injuries, or deaths from vehicular accidents along NH-37 highway, where many wild animals migrating across the natural highlands of the Karbi Anglong hills to escape the flood waters can be hit by vehicles, this situation is worsened by the commercial establishments and mining activities across the nine corridors meant to facilitate movement of the animals to the hills.[4] It is also important to note how the animals suffer due to natural causes that result from floods, for instance, the grazing animals in the Kaziranga National Park reportedly suffered severely from shortage of fodder during flood situation as all the grasslands are submerged under water. At times, the submerging of undergrowth of the forested areas during high floods and the deposition of excess silt results in shortage of beels (marshy water bodies) and short grass, and a corresponding increase in long grass. As a result, grazing animals suffer from malnutrition and a shortage of food. Moreover, while escaping the flood waters, animals in the wild are also at increased risk of getting infected by diseases such as

Animals and the Ethics of War: A Call for an Inclusive Just War Theory

Ukrainian refugees with their companion animals on the Ukraine-Poland border. Photo copyright Milos Bicanski – We Animals Media. Used with permission. Josh Milburn (Loughborough University) and Sara Van Goozen (University of York) Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, heartrending images of Ukrainian refugees and their companion animals fleeing Russian forces circulated among Western media, and the press covered stories of organisations and individuals traveling into Ukraine to feed or rescue the animals left behind. The impact of war on animals became an issue difficult to ignore. Companion animals are not the only ones impacted by war. Disturbing stories about harm to Ukraine’s farmed animals appeared, while Ukraine’s zookeepers faced difficult choices about whether to evacuate animals. The war’s impact on wild animals is, currently, unknown. War has always affected animals. Soldiers have always used animals as transport, guards, and mascots. Armies have always staged battles in places where animals live. And domesticated animals have always felt the brunt when hostilities kill or displace their caregivers. Collectively, though, we’ve overlooked these issues. In the fog of war, we lose sight of animals. Given the impact that war has on animals, it is surprising that we lack the language to meaningfully discuss the ethical questions that animals in war raise. This is because just war theory – the dominant approach to the ethics of war in the western philosophical tradition – is resolutely anthropocentric. At least, it has been until now. “In the fog of war, we lose sight of animals.” Just War Just war theory is a set of tools for assessing when it is right to go to war (typically known by the Latin phrase jus ad bellum), how it is appropriate to behave in war (jus in bello), and related questions. Just war theorists tend to concede that states will wage war and that violence can be legitimate, but aim to reduce the occurrence of unjust wars and unjust behaviour in war. In the words of Michael Walzer, war may be hell, but even ‘in hell, it is possible to be more or less humane, to fight with or without restraint’ – just war theorists address ‘how this can be so’. It is fundamentally a philosophical theory, but one recognised as deeply important by international humanitarian lawyers (as it is the foundation of the international laws of war, such as the Hague Conventions, the Geneva Conventions, and the UN Charter) and militaries themselves (who use it to assess their activities). International humanitarian lawyers have started to explore how existing laws protect animals. Just last month, Cambridge University Press published Anne Peters, Jérôme de Hemptinne, and Robert Kolb’s pathbreaking Animals in the International Law of Armed Conflict. And, for a variety of reasons, militaries themselves grapple with questions about the treatment of animals. Many navies, for example, have policies to limit the impact of sonar on whales and dolphins. But just war theory lags behind. An inclusive theory? What would a more inclusive, more humane, just war

The Italian Constitution now explicitly recognises the need to protect animals

Scales of Justice

In February 2022, the Italian Parliament approved an amendment to the Constitution, with respect to the protection of the environment and animals. Article 9 of the Charter now features a new paragraph, which solemnly declares that «(The State) Protects the environment, biodiversity and ecosystems, also in the interest of future generations. State law regulates the methods and forms of animal protection».[1] This result marks a major success for environmental and animal rights groups that had been petitioning for decades for an advancement of the legal protection of the environment and animals, considering that the first 12 articles of the Charter, containing the “fundamental principles”, had been left untouched since 1948. However, it must be noted that animal protection is separated from the other rights and configured as regulated by the law, instead of being considered as a direct object of protection. This different approach is the result of a political compromise that made possible the approval of the amendment with the inclusion of animals, despite the strong opposition of some political groups representing the interests of hunters and farmers.[2] In the end, even though an historical goal was reached, the final formulation of the Charter with respect to animal protection was somehow disappointing, not only because it lacked the same extent of the recognition as the protection of the environment, but also because it failed to include animals as sentient beings as specifically requested by animal rights advocates.[3] The objective of including animal sentience remains meaningful, and NGOs have now shifted to campaigning for the inclusion of the wider legal principle of sentience in the civil code, that in adherence to traditional legal categories still treats animals merely as goods, without further consideration of their needs as living, sentient beings. [4] In fact, were the Parliament to approve this request, this could be considered as the first application of the constitutional principle of State law regulating “the methods and forms of animal protection”. Alessandro Ricciuti President ALI – Animal Law Italia ETS References [1] Senato della Repubblica La Costituzione, ‘La Costituzione – Principi fondamentali, Articolo 9’ <https://www.senato.it/istituzione/la-costituzione/principi-fondamentali/articolo-9> accessed 15 October 2022 [2] ilPost, ‘La Lega fa ostruzionismo sulla tutela di ambiente e animali in Costituzione’ <https://www.ilpost.it/2021/04/23/riforma-costituzione-ambiente-diritti-animali-lega-ostruzionismo/ > accessed 15 October 2022 [3] Paparella, A.., ‘Associazioni animaliste e ambientaliste: “Bene l’inserimento dello sviluppo sostenibile in Costituzione, è importante cogliere questa occasione storica per includere anche gli animali.”’ <https://www.ali.ong/comunicati-stampa/animali-in-costituzione-le-associazioni-scrivono-al-nuovo-governo/> accessed 15 October 2022 [4] Portoghese, P., ‘Animali nel codice civile: verso una nuova definizione legale?’ <https://www.ali.ong/aggiornamenti/animali-nel-codice-civile-verso-nuova-definizione-legale/> accessed 15 October 2022

Do non-human animals benefit from economic growth?

Photo of a commercial farm site where about 20 cows are feeding from a cramped trough

Different economists have theorized how economic growth affects human wellbeing. Academics usually analyze, for instance, whether an increase in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is related to higher education levels or lower poverty rates. Although this debate is not new, few have analyzed whether non-human animals can benefit from a blossoming economy.  In the case of human animals, Kuznets (1955) [1] was the first to suggest a relationship between GDP per capita and inequality. He made the case that these two indicators have an inverse U shape relationship, implying that inequality in a country will increase until a tipping point where industrialization would help redistribute the income. This relationship was later named the Kuznets Curve, and despite the criticisms it has received, economists have used this approach to study how economic growth affects other problems, such as environmental degradation [2] and biodiversity conservation [3]. In the case of non-human animals (NHA), Frank (2008) [4] has argued that the Kuznets relationship also applies to animal welfare. He claims that the harm suffered by NHA will first increase due to economic growth, as more of them are demanded for meat or entertainment, but will eventually decrease after a tipping point, due to better treatment through the adoption of animal welfare legislation and thanks to public concern. He has called this relationship the Animal Welfare Kuznets Curve (AWKC), and since the publication of his article, various authors have tested its existence using different methods. So far, the findings are mixed; while some argue that the AWKC exists by analyzing simple correlations[4], others using more rigorous methods argue that the AWKC is present only in certain sectors (i.e., leisure, experimentation) or regions. [5] The existence of the AWKC could prove particularly important for chickens, pigs and cows as they represent the biggest population of farmed land animals (88% in 2018). [7] Their global population has increased by 79% in average between 1990 and 2018[8], about twice the rate of human population over the same period (43%).[9] If the AWKC exists, these three species could experience higher levels of welfare after the economy reaches a certain point. Analyzing the AWKC could also help to provide suggestions regarding all NHA used in the food sector.  The main difficulty now to test the AWKC hypothesis for NHA used in the food sector seems to be the lack of standard measurements for animal welfare around the world. For this reason, most studies use the global number of NHA slaughtered annually to determine if the AWKC exists.[4] [7]  Additionally, there is no study to date considering the suffering of NHA used in milk or egg production, although dairy cows and laying hens are exploited for longer periods of time than cows and chickens used for meat production. Cows are slaughtered for meat production when they are 2.5 to 3.5 years old,[10] while dairy cows are used for an average of 5 years to “produce” milk before being slaughtered.[11]  In the case of chickens, those transformed into meat are slaughtered