Animals are used in live cribs in towns and cities around the Christian world in the run up to Christmas. Most people understand the concern for their wellbeing as they are transported in and out of noisy, busy, urban environments and forced to spend all day in a barn under the gaze of hundreds of human eyes. But while there is some concern for how the animals are treated, this is not really the relevant issue. What we need to address urgently is the root cause of the issue which is the human hierarchy over other animals and our supremacist, speciesist view of them. The problem is that we believe we have the right to use them for the tritest of reasons such as tradition, taste, convenience, amusement, and profit, despite the pain we inflict on them as we control every aspect of their lives, before killing them when they are no longer of use to us.

The degree of harm we inflict on them and the manner in which we compromise their welfare is not as relevant as the fact that we believe we have the right to use them as our resources. While many people initially fail to grasp the harm of using other animals as companions, sources of labour or entertainment, believing that such acts are benign, once they begin to recognise them as autonomous, capable, individuals who are the descendants of free living animals whose liberty was taken from them through human domination and selective breeding, the problem becomes easier to understand. There is nothing at all wrong with a close relationship between other animals and humans; in fact, it is laudable. What is not acceptable is the deliberate breeding of other animals for human use. Many of us live with cats and dogs as our family members. In the case of rescued animals this is acceptable. But if we have created a demand for an industry that harms other animals to meet our need for companionship or entertainment, then we are morally obliged to face up to the harm we are causing.

Live cribs are promoted by the animal agricultural industry as a way of normalising animal use, particularly to young children, and an attempt to present a bucolic view of what is essentially a violent industry that harms, dominates and kills for profit. Children have a right to accurate information on animal sentience and animal rights, the moral obligation for humans to be vegan, and the intersectional harm caused by animal use.

The Dublin Live crib was cancelled this year on the grounds that we do not need to use other animals to enjoy the Christmas season. This is essential the animal rights perspective. Unfortunately, it was moved to another location and is now going ahead as are live cribs in many towns in Ireland and in other countries. Please do not support them.

Sandra Higgins discusses the issue of using other animals for entertainment with Declan Meehan on East Coast FM.