Animals used for Labor


Humans domesticated non-human animals and over the millennia continued using animals in labour despite various technological advances. Animals are made to overwork in harsh conditions and are subjected to various forms of aggressive actions to make them work. They are made to travel long distances carrying heavy loads or pulling heavy carriages. In the agricultural industry, they are used to pull heavy ploughs in the heat. Certain places also employ horses and yaks for transportation. The work that the animal is made to do is often tiresome and could cause immense physical pain. The fear of punishment leaves them in immense stress and they are usually exploited till they die or are killed if they are too spent to work.


Use of Donkeys, Horses, and Mules in the Brick Industry

The traditional brick industry in South Asia uses more that 5 lakh animals in and extremely hazardous environment. Donkeys, horses, and mules are used transport bricks within the kilns and to the locations where they will be used. The animals are subjected to overloading, overworking, poor welfare standard, beating, and have limited access to nutritious food and clean drinking water. The brick industry witnesses various forms of human abuse like child labour and hazardous working conditions, so the animal abuse in the industry is usually invisible when it comes to introducing initiatives and changes in policy. Working to ensure the welfare of animals in this industry directly links with humanitarian and environmental causes.



Although there are guidelines in place for the weight that an animal is allowed to carry, the number of hours in a day that they should be made to work, the periods of rest that need to be ensured, and the fact that the animals need to be disengaged from work when there are other technological alternatives, the implementation of these laws is scarce. However, having laws that only prevent the use of animals do not seem to suffice if systems to ensure that humans have access to technology that can replace animals. This leaves people to continue using these animals who are made to carry heavy weights in areas where vehicles are not allowed, leading to overworking the animals with minimum welfare standards.


Way Forward

While there is a need for legal language to prevent the continued use of animals for labour, there needs to be systems in place for better enforcement. This would also imply that systemic changes need to be brought about where the issue can be tackled holistically to ensure that humans who use these animals do not suffer either and have access to alternatives.



Which animals are used for labour?

The most commonly used animals for labour are donkeys, mules, horses, oxen, buffaloes, camels, yaks, elephants, etc.

What alternatives can be used for animals in labour?

Tractors and mechanised equipment that require lesser supervision and are even way more efficient than using animals are effective alternatives to using animals.

What are the different ways in which animals suffer when they are used for labour?

Animals are subjected to immense physical strain where they are made to pull heavy loads for long durations, leading to injuries, lameness, and fatigue. These animals are kept confined to small spaces increasing loneliness, frustration, and boredom. Lack of social interactions is detrimental to their wellbeing too. There is very poor veterinary care, and they are subjected to harsh treatments in order to make them obey which impacts them mentally.



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