The concept of animal rights is based on the idea that some or all non-human animals have a right to live their own lives and to be viewed as persons rather than property. This effectively makes the use of animals as research subjects, for entertainment, clothing, food, and as beasts of burden prohibited. A strong advocate of animal rights is the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals or PETA. In the Unites States, there are plenty of organizations that uphold animal rights and where volunteers can join in to offer support. These are the American Humane Association, Animal Allies, Committee to Abolish Sport Hunting, and Progressive Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), to name a few.
In 1966, the Animal Welfare Act was signed into law and is enforced by the Animal Care, APHIS and USDA. It is the only federal law that regulates the treatment of animals in research, transport, exhibition, and by dealers. Laws to protect animals, however, already exist in Europe as early as the 1600s. In 1635, a law was passed in Ireland where it is prohibited to pull wool off a sheep and for ploughs to be attached to a horse’s tail, referring to the act as “the cruelty used to beasts”. But opponents of animal rights claim that treatment of animals is just because they lack reason and are nothing more than complex automata. Should animals be treated like humans, then?
List of Pros of Animal Rights
1. Save animal lives
Testing and experiments done on animals are not always reliable in certain situations. After all, humans and certain species are extremely different, resulting in tests that are inconclusive. So, there really is no need to use animals for testing or hurt them in the process. Unfortunately, a lot of products have to be tested on animals before they are approved for human consumption.
2. Dead animals are no use for humans
If an animal dies during an experiment or test, no results will be gathered. This would only lead to more animals dying before anything conclusive is achieved. What is even worse is that when an animal dies, the ecosystem will be damaged and human beings will pay for the price. Nature has a very delicate system that will cause a chain reaction if disturbed. When this happens no human will be safe. So why mess with the works of Mother Nature?
3. Saves money
Performing animal tests are expensive. Candidates for experimental tests require special food, shelter and care that don’t come cheap. Good enough if the test results will come out conclusive. Otherwise, all efforts, money and time are wasted, more so if an animal requires special treatment to obtain long-term results. Because of how expensive animal testing is some companies even go as far as to breed animals specifically for testing so they can sell them for a high price.
Therefore, if no testing will be done on animals, the overall cost will be saved and used for something else. It can fund other types of organizations that will help improve the world or resolve certain economic or social issues.
List of Cons of Animal Rights
1. Prevents safety testing
Is it enough to save animal lives when the cost is a human life placed in danger or lost? New products and medications that could save people but are considered harmful until tested on certain subjects will never be used if animal testing is no longer allowed. It would be even more immoral if test subjects used are humans themselves. This may have been going on with clinical trials, but the only difference is that medications used in these trials have already been tested on animals and are considered safe.
2. Stunt research development
Animal testing opens doors in research of new products and medication that will significantly speed up the development in the medicine field. Drugs used to prevent and treat cancer, HIV, diabetes, and other serious conditions have all been tested on animals first. Animal rights put a stop on such research, risking the lives of humans in the process.
3. Reduce risk on human lives
Because products and medications are first tested on animals, no human lives will be put in danger or lost. Exposure of humans to risky substances or possibly hazardous materials will also be cut down, preventing diseases and other side effects. Therefore, animal testing ultimately saves humans, even if this is at the expense of non-human animals.
4. Pose problems with food consumption
Animal meat provides a different source of protein, vitamins and minerals, something that opponents of animal rights claim that will not be found on any vegetable or fruit. Moreover, not everyone can be a vegetarian, and those who are not vegan don’t see anything wrong with eating meat or wearing fur, but they do take exception with their rights being imposed on. Simply put, animal rights take away some human rights.
5. Blur the lines between human and animal rights
If animals are viewed as humans, distinction between the two species will be blurred. Most opponents believe that animals do not have the same rights as humans, which means they will never be equal. Proponents, however, would say that animals should be free from human exploitation and cruelty, even if they are below humans in the natural world chain.
But here is a problem: if animal suffering is minimized, what will become of product research and development? Human health would not be improved without animals as test subjects. Animals play a role in the supply of food, is it acceptable for humans to starve and be malnourished because animals are off the menu? Then again, if animals are hurt or killed because of human activities, our planet’s ecosystem will be damaged and will lead to destruction of all humans and non-human animals.
According to poet and philosopher, Sri Aurobindo, “Life is life–whether in a cat, or dog or man. There is no difference there between a cat or a man. The idea of difference is a human conception for man’s own advantage…” Do you agree or disagree?