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The Human-Animal Studies Report
January 2021
Dear Friends and Colleagues,

Welcome to the Animals & Society Institute's first of 2021 Human-Animal Studies Report, and Happy New Year!

Vaccines for the coronavirus—which to date have all been tested on nonhuman animals—have begun to make their way into distribution. This has prompted both hope for a brighter 2021, and a quandary for vegans and animal advocates opposed to such testing. More broadly, calls for the use of animals in coronavirus vaccine experimentation have increased, at the same time they are provoking criticism of animal experimentation models as highly exploitive, disregarding of the animals’ welfare, and indeed unnecessary. 

This month’s “Animals and COVID-19” section of the Human-Animal Studies Report, Coronavirus Vaccines and Animal Testing: Ethical Dilemmas and Promising Solutions, investigates how the development of COVID-19 vaccines have reignited calls to end animal experimentation, and the new technologies that could replace it. (Note: Other COVID-related surveys, articles and calls appear interspersed below.)

With the new year underway, we wish you—and the animals—a better 2021.


Editor’s note: The HAS e-newsletter is organized as follows: Jobs, grants, and calls are ordered chronologically by deadline dates, with the earliest first, and will continue to be posted until the deadlines expire. Books and articles include, where possible, links to access them directly from this email. Because publication reference styles vary by source, they might not always be consistent or pretty, but they will get you there. To read more about the topics discussed, click the bold hyperlinks for source material and additional information.

Please send your comments, suggestions, and submissions to:, and if possible include a URL link to your project or announcement.

Animals and COVID-19

 Coronavirus Vaccines and Animal Testing: 
Ethical Dilemmas and Promising Solutions

Vaccines for the coronavirus—to date all tested on nonhuman animals—have made their way into distribution. This has prompted both hope for a brighter 2021, and a quandary for vegans and animal advocates opposed to such testing. More broadly, calls for the use of animals in coronavirus vaccine experimentation have increased, at the same time they are provoking criticism as highly exploitive, disregarding of the animals’ welfare, and indeed unnecessary. Fortunately, new technologies are allowing models that could make animal testing unnecessary.

Let’s state this upfront: Both the Pfizer and Moderna mRNA COVID-19 vaccines now under distribution to humans used animal trials. Typically, vaccine development begins with animal models because it is supposed that if those fail, there is little reason to assume the vaccine will work for humans. However, according to the Associated Press, “Due to the urgent need for a vaccine in a surging pandemic, Pfizer and Moderna were given approval to simultaneously test their vaccines on animals while they were conducting Phase 1 trials on humans.” As early as July, 2020, Moderna announced positive findings from nonhuman primate testing, and moved to a Phase 3 trail of their vaccine using humans. By September, 2020 Pfizer was touting that its vaccine candidate protected against infection in preliminary non-human trials in mouse and nonhuman primate models. At least ten other companies are moving forward with animal trials for new COVID-19 vaccines, including new research on a nasal spray vaccine which has recently shown promise in animal trials using rodents.

For those promoting animal testing, this is obviously not a problem. For example one pro-animal studies group, Americans for Medical Progress (AMP), whose stated aim is to protect “your investment in biomedical research,” is arguing for the critical role of animals in developing COVID-19 treatments and vaccines. However, that the vaccines now available have been tested on animals presents a quandary for vegans, animal advocates, and those concerned with animal testing generally, with some arguing they will not take the vaccine

Several organizations have taken the initiative to address this dilemma. To address these issues, a group of highly-regarded vegan and plant-based doctors have created a video discussing some of the contentious issues around the vaccine. As noted in Plant Based News, which posted the video in the article above, “One of the issues the doctors raise is that the vaccine does not actually contain any ingredients of animal origin….” PETA-UK seems to add the condition that the vaccine be legally required into the ethical equation: “The goal of being vegan and advocating for animal rights should always be to bring about positive change for animals. As long as tests on animals are a legal requirement, refusing to take a medicine on ethical grounds will not help animals who have already been used in tests or spare any the same fate in the future.” 

The Vegan Society’s response to the COVID-19 vaccine is softer, stating, “it has never been more important for us to talk about the definition of veganism in the context of medications, including vaccines. The definition of veganism recognises that it is not always possible or practicable to avoid animal use, which is particularly relevant to medical situations. In the case of COVID-19, vaccination will play a fundamental role in tackling the pandemic and saving lives. As all vaccines currently are tested on animals, at this stage it is impossible to have a vaccine that has been created without animal use.” 

While the explanations and logics for taking the vaccine may vary, the overarching point is that the focus on the crucial nature of this vaccine to assist with global pandemic recovery provides a good time to rethink animal testing generally. From this perspective, advocate organizations such as Cruelty Free Europe argue that it is more human and effective to use non-animal scientific methods that directly relate to the disease in humans. And while “primate researchers” have raised a call to test leading COVID-19 vaccine candidates head-to-head in monkeys, some researchers say these studies will not add much to the overall effort. As quoted in the above article in Science, Moncef Slaoui, who headed vaccine development at GlaxoSmithKline and served as the chief scientific advisor for the US government’s Operation Warp Speed, “Frankly, I did this for 30 years, and the primate study is relevant to give you information before the [human] clinical trial. But when you have a phase III trial in tens of thousands of [human] subjects, the relevance of [the  human trial] information is 10 times, 100 times more significant.” 

Primatologist, Lisa Jones-Engle takes the argument further, noting that “Animals are not miniature humans. Developing a vaccine in monkeys and mice means it works in those species, but rarely in humans. Animals are complex social beings like humans but they differ genetically and physiologically in important ways. Their immune systems respond differently to pathogens and vaccines…. Look at the headlines over the last 40 years—how many times were we assured that an HIV or malaria or TB vaccine that showed promise in monkeys was headed our way? These “monkey-tested” vaccines fail time and time again in humans and in some cases, as happened with a test vaccine against HIV, actually harm patients.” (See also, cognitive ethologist Marc Bekoff’s blog post in Psychology Today, “It's Time to Move on From Nonhuman Animal Models,” for further, related arguments by Marc and others.)

Fortunately, new technologies are creating new experimental models that may make animal testing a thing of the past. A solution supported by a growing number of scientists might lie in new research models that use human-biology-based testing instead of animals. Several alternatives are currently being refined. The first consists of three-dimensional human organs on a microchip, tiny tissue cultures that simulate human organs. Such models also are being used effectively to demonstrate drugs are therapeutically effective and nontoxic, speeding up their release and bypassing animal modeling, and for a lower cost. According to Dr. Thomas Hartung, the director of the Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing (CAAT) at Johns Hopkins University, these technologies are so well established that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it would reduce mammal testing by 30 per cent by 2025 and phase it out entirely by 2035. 

The above article notes that, these technologies, coupled with the use of more sophisticated computer modelling, plant-derived vaccines, and 3D bioprinted human tissue, could replace animal testing in not only vaccine development, but also in biomedical research, education, and regulatory testing. The benefits? In certain instances, according to Dr. Charu Chandrasekera, executive director and founder of the Canadian Centre for Alternatives to Animal Methods (CCAAM), such alternatives could save almost 90% of the cost of animal modeling. 

While perhaps not monetarily quantifiable, reducing the incalculable harm caused to animals through the use of unnecessary and outdated testing models is certainly more important. If it takes financial arguments to make this happen, then we're all for them.

More COVID-19 Resources

A recent recorded seminar conducted by, COVID-19 Research: With or Without Animals?, explored such research. Moderated by Kathrin Herrmann (Johns Hopkins Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing), the session features speakers Aysha Akhtar (Center for Contemporary Sciences), Elizabeth Baker (Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine), Thomas Hartung (Johns Hopkins Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing), Lindsay Marshall (The Humane Society of the United States/ Humane Society International).

See also:
Eggel, Matthias; Camenzind, Samuel (2020). Authorization of animal research proposals – a comparison of harm concepts in different European regulations. Berliner und Münchener Tierärztliche Wochenschrift, (133).

Geerts, H. Re-engineering CNS drug discovery and development using computer aided modeling. In Silico Pharmacology. 2020 Nov 23;8(1):7.  

NOTE: The “Animals and COVID-19” section of this Report is copyright © 2020, the Animals & Society Institute. All rights reserved. This material may be reproduced for personal use or by not-for-profit organizations with proper credits and the web site link For other uses, no portion of this publication may be reproduced or distributed, in print or through any electronic means, without the written permission of the Animals & Society Institute. 


The Animals & Society Institute—along with Dr. Jane Goodall and a coalition of almost 200 international NGOs organizations—formally has joined the call for support of the principles outlined in “The Animals’ Manifesto: Preventing COVID-X.” Designed to create a more sustainable, equitable and humane world, the Manifesto is an appeal for us to address our disrespect of animals and the natural world that facilitated the emergence and spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. Doing so will not only prevent future worldwide zoonotic catastrophes, it will also create a more humane world for all. The Manifesto calls for reducing our unsustainable lifestyles by moving away from industrialized animal farming toward plant-based diets, working toward alleviating the poverty that pushes habitat destruction and wildlife trafficking, supporting environmental education, increasing vaccine efficiencies, ensuring animal wellbeing and, overall, developing a new relationship with the natural world. As we continue to work together toward a more humane world for all, ASI is proud to support and promote the goals outlined in the Manifesto.

The ASI-managed Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science has made the article “Make Me a Match: Prevalence and Outcomes Associated with Matching Programs in Dog Adoptions” open access through March 1, 2021. This research surveyed 370 animal shelters and rescues across the US and assessed the prevalence of and the relationship between different aspects of matching programs and outcomes such as return, live release, and euthanasia rates, and days in the shelter.


This month’s LINK-Letter from the National Resource Center on The Link between Animal Abuse and Human Violence covers the following: The State of Ohio has enacted one of the nation’s most comprehensive cross-reporting laws to reduce animal, child and elder abuse. Social workers are learning that pet-inclusive social work improves service delivery. 14 animal and family shelters received $244,000 in grants to care for pet victims of domestic violence. 

The New Zealand Centre for Human-Animal Studies has announced the new co-directorship of their teaching-research hub, welcoming Professor Nik Taylor as a new director, alongside their existing director, Professor Annie Potts. Nik is a public sociologist whose research focusses on mechanisms of power and expressed in/through human relations with other species and is informed by critical/ intersectional feminism. Nik is also the managing editor of qualitative social science for the ASI-managed journal, Society & Animals. You can read more about Nik at her UC page

The Good Food Initiative has created and recorded a course on “Cultivated Meat and Plant-Based Meat.” Over the next few years, both the alternative protein industry and academia could leverage courses like this to bolster the alternative protein talent pipeline. GFI is already working with several other universities that want to incorporate the course into their curriculum, and are excited to support developing similar courses in additional universities' life science departments. If you are interested in exploring how your university could partner with GFI to establish an alternative protein course, contact for additional information.

Julie Palais has published articles aimed at raising awareness on animal cruelty data from the FBI among those in law enforcement, public management, and social services to learn about this data and make sure their local and state law enforcement agencies are collecting it. See, “Animal Cruelty Hurts People Too: How Animal Cruelty Crime Data Can Help Police Make Their Communities Safer for All”; “The Link Between Animal Cruelty and Public Safety: Defining the role of the animal control officer”; and, “Crunching the Numbers on Animal Cruelty.” 

HAS Funding and Opportunities

Faunalytics is now accepting applications for a Research Scientist who will conduct original research studies (including study design, data analysis, and reporting/presenting results) and support animal advocates via direct support services. Deadline, January 31, 2021.

Durham University's (UK) Department of Philosophy invites applications for the post of Assistant Professor in Environmental Philosophy, to begin September 2021. Please direct any academic inquiries to Simon P. James (

The Culture and Animals Foundation is accepting proposals for grants aimed at funding academic and artistic projects that raise public awareness about animal rights. Grants are awarded in three categories: Research (scholarly projects about animal advocacy and its cultural roots and impact); Creativity (original work by artists and thinkers that expresses positive concern for animals); and Performance (public performances and exhibitions to raise awareness of animal advocacy). Find out more HEREProposals will be accepted until January 31, 2021.

The Human-Animal Bond Research Insititute (HABRI) has released its 2021 request for proposals to investigate the health outcomes of pet ownership and/or animal-assisted activity or therapy, both for the people and the animals involved. Proposals are due February 11, 2021

The Morris Animal Foundation is now accepting proposals for grants focused on canine health research. Grant applications are due by March 10, 2021,

Podcasts, Webinars, Lectures, and Courses

This section includes both upcoming live events, and past events that were recorded.

A first-of-its-kind conference focused on equity + access within social services for people and their companion animals experiencing homelessness, My Dog Is My Home’s “Co-Sheltering Conference,” is scheduled for March 3-4, 2021. Hear from experts in the fields of emergency housing, social services, and animal welfare on everything from supporting the human-animal bond and advocacy for low-barrier policies to animal health and safety and building community partnerships.

Pet victims of coercive control are often overlooked in both academic literature and in policy and practice when addressing violence against women and girls. Chaired by Dr Victoria Knight, this recorded event “Pet Victimology and Coercive Control” explores the work of Associate Professor Di Turgoose and Dr Ruth McKie which has an important focus given that 50% of households in the UK are multispecies including those where Coercive Control in domestically violence and abusive relationships takes place.

Animal Justice Academy is a FREE 6-week online advocacy bootcamp to empower people to make a better world for animals. Join over 80 animal advocacy leaders in 40 days of unprecedented learning, community, and collective action, January 25 – March 5, 2021.

Farm Sanctuary now provides free age-appropriate virtual presentations—both live and pre-recorded—for students from K-12 to university by their humane educators, as well as free downloadable curricula for teachers and parents that meet Next Generation Science Standards and National Art Standards. has made the recording of its sixth and final webinar, The Future of Animal Politics in the context of Climate Change, COVID-19 and Movements against Racial Capitalism, available.

New HAS Books and Monographs

Following are some recent books published of interest to the field of Human-Animal Studies.

Éric Baratay, Ed., 2020. Croiser les sciences pour lire les Animaux (Crossing Sciences to Read Animals), Éditions de la Sorbonne, October 2020. 

Tom L. Beauchamp and David DeGrazia, 2020. Principles of Animal Research EthicsOxford University Press. New York.

Bradshaw, Karen, 2020. Wildlife as Property Owners: A New Conception of Animal RightsUniversity of Chicago Press

Sarat Colling, 2020. Animal Resistance in the Global Capitalist Era. Michigan State University Press.

Fournier, Angela, 2019. Animal-Assisted Intervention: Thinking Empirically. Palgrave McMillann.

Eduardo Gonçalves, 2020. Trophy Leaks: Trophy Hunters and Industry Secrets Revealed. Independently published. 

Kendall-Morwick, Karalyn, 2020. Canis Modernis: Human/Dog Coevolution in Modernist Literature. Penn State University Press.

Turner, Lynn, 2020. Poetics of Deconstruction: On the threshold of differences. London: Bloomsbury.

New HAS Articles and Book Chapters

Following are some recent research articles and book chapters published in the field of Human-Animal Studies.

The latest issue of the Animal Studies Journal, 9(2), is now available.

Abbate, C. Re-defending Feline Liberty: a Response to Fischer. Acta Analytica (2021).

Sue Donaldson, 2020. Animal Agora: Animal Citizens and the Democratic Challenge, Social Theory and Practice, 46(4), Social Theory and Practice, Volume 46, Issue 4, 709-735.

Dutkiewicz, J., Dickstein, J. The Ism in Veganism: The Case for a Minimal Practice-based Definition. Food ethics 6, 2 (2021).

Isabel Escobar-Ibarra, Daniel Mota-Rojas, Fernando Gual-Sill, Carlos R. Sánchez, Fidel Baschetto, María Alonso-Spilsbury, 2020. Conservation, animal behaviour, and human-animal relationship in zoos. Why is animal welfare so important? Journal of Animal Behaviour and Biometrics. vol.9, n2, 2111.

Kortetmäki, T., Oksanen, M., 2020. Is there a convincing case for climate veganism?. Agriculture and Human Values

Pérez Fraga, P., Gerencsér, L., Lovas, M. et al. Who turns to the human? Companion pigs’ and dogs’ behaviour in the unsolvable task paradigm. Anim Cogn 24, 33–40 (2021).

Calls for Papers: Journals and Chapters

A call is out for contributions to a special issue of the journal, Animal Behavior and CognitionThe Effects of Animal-Visitor Interactions in ZoosSubmission deadline is March 30, 2021.

A call is out for papers for the forthcoming Health and Human Rights Journal—a novel issue focused on how the treatment of nonhuman animals is relevant to health and human rights. Submission requirements can be found herePapers are due March 31, 2021.

The open-access journal, Animals, will publish a special issue on "Social Isolation and the Roles That Animals Play in Supporting the Lives of Humans: Lessons for COVID19." Deadline for manuscript submissions is April, 30 2021

People and Animals: The International Journal of Research and Practice has issued a call for articles on “The Impact of COVID-19 on Human-Animal Interactions in Families, Communities and Organizations.” The call is open until June 30, 2021, but articles can be submitted at any time and will be published incrementally. Submit here.

A call is out for articles in a special issue of Social Sciences, dealing with "Human-Animal Interactions and Issues in Criminal Justice: Toward a Humane Criminology." Guest editors Kimberly Spanjol, Cathryn Lavery, and Heath Grant, seek broad contributions of original research of application and theory of human–animal interactions in Criminal Justice. This includes issues that impact companion, wild, and farmed animals. The deadline for manuscript submissions in August 31, 2021.

Calls for Papers: Conferences
and Workshops

The International Society for Anthrozoology has announced a call for abstracts for consideration for the 2021 virtual conference, which will be live streamed on June 22-24, 2021. The theme for ISAZ 2021 is The Changing Nature of Human-Animal Relationships: Theory, Research, and Practice. The call for abstracts will close on Friday January 29, 2021 at 17:00 (EST).

From May 25-29, 2021, the Faculty of Kinesiology at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada and Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, USA will host a virtual conference on Sport, Animals, & Ethics. They are inviting papers focused on ethical issues related to the involvement of animals in the context of sport, recreation, or leisure, welcoming a wide spectrum of submissions; e.g., from direct use such as hunting animals to indirect involvement; e.g., the environmental/animal impact of golf courses. Abstracts are due Friday, January 29, 2021. 

The virtual Animal Advocacy Conference, Insights from the Social Sciences, will take place June 30 – July 2, 2021. This conference uniquely bridges the gap between academic researchers and activists/professionals in the field of vegan and animal rights advocacy. To contact the conference organizers, please email submission portal will close on February 28, 2021.

The Centre for Human-Animal Studies will host the 7th Biennial Conference of the European Association for Critical Animal Studies (EACAS). The conference, EACAS 2021: Appraising Critical Animal Studies, will be virtual and will take place June 24-25, 2021. Papers are welcomed from all disciplines and sub-fields, and from those working independently or as part of advocacy/activist movements. Abstracts are due February 28, 2021.

The Community for Human-Animal Studies Israel (HASI) | The Israeli Anthropological Association in collaboration with the Coller-Menmon Animal Rights and Welfare Program at the Buchmann Faculty of Law, Tel-Aviv University have issued a call for papers for the conference, Human-Animal Relations: Opportunities and Challenges in Changing Realities. The conference will take place June 1-3, 2021, and is intended to bring together schoalrs who are passionate about exploring human-animal relations, and strive for generating developments and innovations in the field. Abstracts are due March 1, 2021.

As you can see, there is a tremendous amount of activity and progress going on today in the field of Human-Animal Studies, and we always invite your input and participation.

Your donation to the Animals & Society Institute will enable us to continue to expand the field in many more ways and work in conjunction with others around the world who share these goals.

Thank you for supporting our Human-Animal Studies efforts!

Gala Argent, PhD
Human-Animal Studies Program Director