General Human Health & Animal Protection

Why our health depends on treating animals better

An international group of scientists recently ended a year-long moratorium on controversial research on potentially deadly strains of the H5N1 avian flu virus. The purpose of the research was to engineer strains of H5N1 in order to understand how it might gain the ability to spread easily among people.

Regardless of whether or not this research continues, you can bet one thing: Our risk for a deadly form of the “bird flu” virus and other pathogens remain high as long as we don’t improve our treatment of animals.

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How protecting animals benefits us, too

Do we need to make a choice to either protect animals or humans? This is certainly what those who profit from hurting animals would like everyone to believe.  Advocates of animal experimentation especially employ the fallacy of a false dilemma: that we must choose to care about human suffering or about animal suffering, and that we cannot do both. This erroneous thinking leads us to believe that we must either experiment on a mouse (or a dog or monkey …) or we must experiment on a human child, implying that we are forced to make a choice—it’s the animals or us.

However, not only is this notion that we must either protect animals or humans not true, in fact, the opposite is true. The human plight is inextricably tied with that of other animals.

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Dr. Akhtar’s article headlined in Science Blog by former director of the National Institutes of Occupational Safety and Health

Dr. Anthony Robbins, Co-Editor of the Journal of Public Health Policy and former director of the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health and of the National Vaccine Program headline my article in his latest post on Science Blog’s The Pump Handle as he argues against the US Ag Gag laws. He says:

“There is growing concern about mistreatment of animals and its consequences for public health.  In a recent commentary published in the Journal of Public Health Policy, Aysha Akhtar describes how effective animal protection would have at least three important effects:

  • Reduce the incidence of emerging in factions, as poor treatment of animals contributes to the spread of new infectious diseases.
  • Medical research would also benefit from better animal treatment.
  • Domestic violence might be reduced is animal mistreatment were seen as  sentinel events that could trigger early intervention.”

Read The need to include animal protection in public health policies by Dr. Robbins.

Photo: Farm Sanctuary

The need to include animal protection in public health policies

Many critical public health issues require non-traditional approaches. Although many novel strategies are used, one approach not widely applied involves improving the treatment of animals. Emerging infectious diseases are pressing public health challenges that could benefit from improving the treatment of animals. Other human health issues, that overlap with animal treatment issues, and that warrant further exploration, are medical research and domestic violence. The diverse nature of these health issues and their connection with animal treatment suggest that there may be other similar intersections. Public health would benefit by including the treatment of animals as a topic of study and policy development.

Journal of Public Health Policy, ; 34:549–559

Read review of Animals and Public Health on Huffington Post

Kathy Freston on Huffington Post writes:
I’ve often said that by showing kindness to animals and eating fewer (or better yet, none) of them, we see personal health benefits — a reduction in heart disease, stroke, cancers, diabetes and obesity. What’s good for animals is good for us!

Now there’s an intriguing new book that extends my thesis of holistic well-being beyond food and into a variety of other areas of human interaction with animals.

In Animals and Public Health: Why Treating Animals Better is Critical to Human Welfare, Dr. Aysha Akhtar, a public health specialist, neurologist from the FDA’s Office of Counterterrorism and Emerging Threats, and HuffPost blogger, looks at the interlocking animal and human health issues involved in domestic violence, animal fighting, animal attacks, the wildlife trade, factory farming, climate change, and drug development.

Read full review on the Huffington Post.

 

How the top ten animal stories of the decade reveal the connection between animal welfare and public health

This past decade was, arguably, the decade of animals. More news stories covered animal welfare issues than ever before and some of the major events of the past decade involved animals. Animal protection has become a considerable social issue. But there is more to animal protection than the well-being of animals; human welfare is integrally tied with it and during this past decade, this connection was highlighted in unprecedented ways. The following top ten animal stories of the past ten years, listed in no particular order, reveal just how connected human and animal welfare and health are.

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