There are countless examples of environmental effects on animals that later manifested in humans. The classic example is the “canary in the coal mine“. The idea of placing a canary or other warm blooded animal in a mine to detect carbon monoxide was first proposed by John Scott Haldane, in 1913 or later. Well into the 20th century, coal miners brought canaries into coal mines as an early-warning signal for toxic gases, primarily carbon monoxide. The birds, being more sensitive, would become sick before the miners, who would then have a chance to escape or put on protective respirators.
In Minamata Bay, Japan, cats developed “dancing cat fever” before humans were affected due to eating mercury-contaminated fish. Dogs were recognized as early as 1939 to be more susceptible to tonsil cancer if they were kept in crowded urban environments. Studies similarly found higher disease rates in animals exposed to tobacco smoke. Yushō disease was similarly discovered when poultry began dying at alarming rates due to polychlorinated biphenyl poisoning, although not before approximately 14,000 people were affected.
I wonder if PETA would object? How many birds died? There are no stats, did they really save lives, probably, and human life is more important than a canary. Someone should make a giant statue of a canary and place it at a mine site. What are your thoughts?