The Inescapable Harms of Animal Agriculture: How Might Sanctuaries Respond to Threats from Climate Disasters and Diseases

  • Stephanie Eccles Concordia University
  • Darren Chang Sydney Environment Institute, University of Sydney


Farmed animal sanctuaries are upheld as refuges, spaces demarcated materially and
discursively, where formerly farmed animals have the right to grow old, participate in multispecies
communities and collaborate in larger political projects that imagine the freedom for all and resistance
against animal exploitation. Sanctuaries disengage and agitate against food production narratives of
how these animals ought to live both spatially and relationally. However, the reach of the animal
agriculture industry is creeping into sanctuary spaces through ever-increasing risks such as diseases
(e.g., avian influenza), the climate crisis (e.g., fires and floods), and other disaster events, revealing
inescapable harms that must be addressed.

This article considers the shared, albeit unevenly experienced vulnerability to disasters for farmed
animals, as well as what the inescapable harms imposed by animal agriculture mean for sanctuaries.
We first identify human sovereignty as the source of intensifying crises and disasters that sanctuaries
are forced to confront, as well as the overarching context that sanctuaries are operating within.
Following that, we engage with biological and climate disasters as two main case studies, examining
how sanctuaries have responded to them, and what alternative actions sanctuaries could take. Finally,
we consider how sanctuaries might take up the labor and responsibility of participating in broader
struggles for institutional change beyond the sanctuary-gate, educating people about the relationships
between the climate crisis, disease risk, and all scales of farmed animal production and the subsequent
challenges they pose to sanctuaries. Through a multispecies justice framework, we suggest that disaster
events represent key opportunities for sanctuaries to engage with the political project of ending animal
production at all scales to ensure a safer future for humans and more-than-humans alike.

How to Cite
ECCLES, Stephanie; CHANG, Darren. The Inescapable Harms of Animal Agriculture: How Might Sanctuaries Respond to Threats from Climate Disasters and Diseases. Global Journal of Animal Law, [S.l.], v. 12, n. 1, p. 81-104, feb. 2024. ISSN 2341-8168. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 24 june 2024.