4 July 2003
M. Yves Ducharme
Federation of Canadian Municipalities
24 Clarence St
Ottawa, ON K1N 5P3
Re: SARS Wildlife Connection
Dear Mr. Ducharme,
I am writing you on behalf of our 115,000 supporters nation-wide, and the millions of Canadians who share our views about the protection of animals and the environment to ask you to call upon every community across Canada to make certain that they enforce public health legislation which outlaws markets that sell live animals for slaughter.
As Canada recovers from its SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) outbreak, the important information about the connection with China’s wildlife markets needs to be carefully considered and acted on.
Genetic studies have shown that the SARS virus is a coronavirus, genetically identical to coronaviruses found in bats, monkeys, civet and snakes. It is also a zoonosis, an animal disease capable of spreading from animals to humans. Many of these zoonotic diseases are density dependent and similar outbreaks can occur whenever animals are gathered in large numbers. Keeping and slaughtering, often inhumanely, large numbers of animals in cramped, unsanitary conditions, with no thought to the well-being of the animal is not only cruel to animals, but also puts human health and the environment at risk.
It was a wild animal market in southern China that was at the centre of the SARS outbreak. This market, and others like it, has domestic and wild animals, many of which are endangered, crammed into crates, cages, tubs and other containers in deplorable, unsanitary conditions.
I have travelled extensively across Canada and around the world and there is nothing more depressing and unhealthy than markets which sell live animals for food. These places are a biological time bomb waiting to go off.
We are asking for your help in making information available to cities, towns and villages on the health risks to both people and animals that are inherent in these open-air markets. This measure is in the interests of both public health and animal welfare.
I look forward to discussing this matter with you further,
Chairman & CEO