Turning Lessons from COVID-19 into Stronger Protections for Animals

May 19, 2021

Kitten being rescued
  • In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the ASPCA found new ways to support pets, their guardians, and other animal welfare organizations by adopting new protocols and positions—including supporting veterinary telemedicine and urging a moratorium on evictions.
  • Sadly, many animals trapped in underregulated systems (like factory farming and the puppy industry) suffered even more than usual due to weak protections, poor planning and a total neglect of inspection responsibilities.
  • Today, the ASPCA released a report that reflects on lessons learned and recommends a set of policy changes that will strengthen protections for animals and transform the systems that failed animals during the pandemic. 
  • We urge policymakers to swiftly implement these recommendations and prevent future animal and human suffering.

Today, the ASPCA released a report entitled “Lessons Learned for Animal Protection during the COVID-19 Pandemic: The ASPCA’s Recommendations for Addressing Impacts on Animals through Federal Policy” [PDF] . This new report summarizes our findings on how the pandemic impacted animals and presents our related policy recommendations to Congress and members of the Biden-Harris administration. We urge policymakers to take immediate action to strengthen safety nets for animals and transform particularly harmful systems, including factory farms and puppy mills.

Over the past 14 months we have learned so much about the resiliency of the animal welfare community as organizations found novel ways to help the public and support each other. For each gap created by the pandemic, the ASPCA adjusted our programs to better serve animals and support our vibrant community of animal lovers. Our pets are our family, and they helped us all get through this especially tough year. That’s why we support increasing access to veterinary telemedicine as well as a moratorium on evictions for the duration of the public health emergency period, so that people and pets can stay safely housed together during turbulent financial times.

On the other hand, the pandemic magnified the acute dangers animals and workers in slaughterhouses face and exposed the cruelties and injustices of industrial animal agriculture, as massive factory farms turned to inhumane “depopulation” methods to kill animals who couldn’t be processed for slaughter. We also witnessed the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) cut even more corners in its oversight of puppy mills and other animal facilities licensed under the Animal Welfare Act.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recent guidelines for people who are fully vaccinated may be ushering in a wave of hope for some. However, in many cases, returning to “normal” will not undo the damage inflicted over the past year. We urge Congress and the Biden-Harris administration to implement the recommendations from our report to ensure that we build back better when it comes to animal protection. Otherwise, animals will continue to suffer, especially when systems break down during future emergencies.

You can help! Support the development of better systems for animals by taking the following actions:

With your help, we can make a difference for animals across the country. We will keep you informed on which of these measures U.S. political leaders enact into law.