Animal rights can also be referred to as animal liberation. Animal rights are the proponents of the fact that animals that are not human beings should be given equal consideration for basic interests just like human beings. Animal right activists use different approaches to argue that animals deserve to be accorded consideration and basic interests like human beings. To date, there has been a raging debate and disagreement on whether animals have rights or not. Animal experimentation is the use of non human animals for research purposes. Animals such as mice, rats, dogs, rabbits, monkeys and apes have all been in the past used in medical, product safety testing and discovery research. Such experiments result in pain and death to these animals and at best, reduce the animals’ quality of life. Animal experimenting is widely accepted to be morally incorrect because it infringes on the welfare and freedom of the animals.
Impact of animal rights
The animal rights debate has resulted into several lessons to human beings. First, it has led to the undoubted and obvious notion that using animals for research experiments is morally wrong and is unfair to the animals since they also deserve to live a quality and undisturbed life. It is therefore logical that animals’ rights be adhered to regardless of the cost to humanity if they are not done. Even though some people argue that animal experiments can be done in a humane way, it makes no difference in real sense. This is because the animals will still be negatively affected.
Therefore, human activists advocate for the animal rights doctrine which implies six things. Those animals should not be hunted in any way for any objective that benefits human beings. There should be no animal zoos which will enslave animals for the objective of entertaining human beings. Animals should also not be used as experimental objects. The idea of breeding and killing animals to make food, medicine or clothes is also against the animal rights doctrine. Also against animal rights is the selective breeding of animals for human benefit at the animals’ expense. Finally, the use of animals to carry out hard labor such as horses and donkeys is against this animal doctrine.
The debate on animal rights has resulted in people taking different stands on the issue. Some people have supported the animal rights while others remain against the whole idea of granting animals’ right just like human beings. Animal rights advocators oppose the use of animals for experimental research on the basis that human beings have no right to use the animals. They pose that since research done using human subjects is always done only on individuals who have given their consent, animals should also not be coerced into being used for experimental research. Since non human animals cannot consent on being used as subjects in experiments, it is concluded that it is invasive, injurious and unfair to use animals as experimental subjects.
Those who do not support animal rights argue that animals do not have conscience and do not have a thinking capacity. Furthermore, animals lack morals, souls, moral judgment and were created with the aim of serving mankind. Therefore these people believe that animals have no rights because they do not deserve to be given any. They also have the notion that it is animals’ role to be used by mankind hence using them in animal experiments is acceptable.
Laws that Protect Animal Rights
With the increased cases of research involving animals, there was the need to pass laws that would protect animals. It is not only the use of animals in experimental research; other cases like poaching, using animals for hard labor, exploiting animals by breeding them and other activities that put the life and health of animals at risk have led to animal protection laws in various countries. Currently, there are international treaties as well as individual country laws protecting various animals that are endangered from being poached, used in research or anything. Those animals are protected by law.
In America, animals are protected by the Animals Welfare Act. This act provides the minimum requirements or conditions of treating non human animals in a humane manner in different settings such as laboratories, zoos and other places. However, this law has proved to be ineffective because cases of animal right violation have been on the increase each year. The law also discriminates against some animals, for instance, rats and mice are not protected and as a result, 95 percent of animals used in laboratories are rats and mice. The law provides that all animal research centers have Animal Care Institutions to help in devising ways of using non animal alternatives in laboratories and protect animal rights. Such committees also oversee and ensure that every research experiment on an animal is approved. However, the problem is that the institutions that are meant to protect animal rights are owned by the research centers hence do not operate independently. The law does not clearly prohibit invasive processes and inhuman killing of animals after the experiments. Instead, the law focuses on minor issues like toys, cage size and anesthesia which do not add much to protecting animal rights.
Need to Protect Animals Rights
It is evident that there can be very little to be done to protect animals from being used in experimental research. It is also logical that using animals in experimental research is better than using real human beings which may risk their lives. The argument is that human life has more intrinsic value when compared to an animal’s life. Therefore, we cannot avoid using animals in experiments; however, we can regulate how we exploit them. Animals can be used in experimental research and still have their rights protected. This could be by using the most humane possible ways to handle animals in whatever situation.
Research laboratories, zoos, breeding centers and households should be taught on the best way to handle and treat animals. Animal rights should be popularized so that individuals can adhere to them. This will help in improving the welfare of animals while at the same time benefiting from animals. The animals can still be used for experimental research, be kept in zoos and bred but their welfare should be protected and their life valued just the way human life is.
Animal rights are a contentious issue. Animals are the only options human beings can use for experimental research. Therefore, stopping to use animals is not a solution. On the other hand, animals need to be respected and treated well to ensure that their welfare is enhanced. Therefore, the best way to enhance animal rights and welfare is to use the animals in a humane manner and protect their rights at all times. This will lead to a mutual relationship between human beings and animals. Where human beings protect animals and animals are used in experimental research and in other ways that are of benefit to mankind.
Council of Europe Publishing, Council of Europe. Animal Welfare. illustrated. London: Council of Europe, 2006.
Hayhurst, Chris. Animal Testing: The Animal Rights Debate. illustrated. New York: The Rosen Publishing Group, 2000.
Preece, Rod and Lorna Chamberlain. Animal Welfare & Human Values. New York: Wilfrid Laurier Univ. Press, 1993.
Regan, Tom. The Case for Animal Rights. 2, illustrated, revised. California: University of California Press, 2004.
Sunstein, Cass R and Martha Craven Nussbaum. Animal Rights: Current Debates and New Directions. illustrated. London: Oxford University Press, 2004.