Most of us have grown up having meat for meals, we have worn leather, and enjoyed going to zoos and circuses (PETA, 2008). We grew up with pets purchased at pet stores. We owned guinea pigs, cared for colorful birds in cute cages. We had wool or silk in our wardrobes and loved McDonald’s cheeseburgers (PETA, 2008). Not once did we consider our activities on these animals involved. Yet, did we ever stop to ponder why animals do have rights? Peter Singer wrote in his book Animal Liberation that the most elementary factor of equality is not equal treatment; it is equal consideration (PETA, 2008). All animals feel similarly and to an equal degree as humans. They feel motherly love, pain, fear, frustration and pleasure (PETA, 2008). Each time contemplate something which would meddle with animals’ needs, we then have a moral obligation take them into consideration (PETA, 2008).
Animal Rights is then, a movement which aims to protect all kinds of animals from human exploitation (Bocco, 2008). Included in exploitation are any acts that cause animals pain, like fur production, medical experiments, and imprisoning animals in cages at zoos and circuses (Bocco, 2008).
The Animal Rights Movement is different from animal welfare groups (Guther, 1998). Animal rights activists advocate that animals be thought of as individuals, not property. Animal Rights welfare activists want increased humane treatment of animals (Bocco, 2008).
The Animal Rights movement goes as far back as the 19th century, and made a popular comeback in the 1970’s (Bocco, 2008).
According to Dr. Tom Regan, animal rights is logical, scientific, unprejudiced, just, compassionate, unselfish, fulfilling, socially progressive, environmentally wise and peace-loving (Regan, 2000).
Arguments against human rights include: animals and humans greatly differ; humans and animals can’t have the same rights since animals can’t vote; animals don’t respect humans’ rights; God gave humans dominion over animals and if humans don’t eat animals, they will run us out of our homes (Regan, 2000).
A list of Animal Rights groups include Animal Defenders International (ADI), Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF), American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), Animal Welfare Institute (AWI), International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), League Against Cruel Sports (previously also known as LACS), Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), Society for Animal Protective Legislation (SAPL) and WDCS (Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society) (NCSU, 2000).
- Bocco, Diana. What are Animal Rights? Retrieved on August 14, 2008 from <http://www.wisegeek.com/what-are-animal-rights.htm>
- Guither, H. ANIMAL RIGHTS: History and Scope of a Radical Social Movement. Southern Illinois University Press, 1998.
- PETA. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Retrieved on August 14, 2008 from http://www.peta.org/index.asp
- Regan, T. The Philosophy of Animal Rights. Retrieved on August 14, 2008 from <http://cultureandanimals.org/animalrights.htm>
- The Tom Regan Animal Rights Archive. North Carolina State University, 2000. Retrieved on August 14, 2008 from <http://www.lib.ncsu.edu/animalrights/about.html>