Establishing and Upholding Animal Rights in the US
How often do we hear of people committing violent crimes against other people? It sometime seems that we cannot turn on the television without being bombarded with reports of violent crimes in our society. Yet, what the media usually neglects to cover are violent crimes committed against animals.
In June, Jonathon Moore and George Allan Pettingill of Springfield, Arkansas were charged with a criminal offense after reportedly hurling an 11-week old kitten out of the window of a moving vehicle, killing the animal. While many people feel this case is insignificant, animal rights activists point out that any person who is violent enough to pitch a kitten out of a moving vehicle is a threat to both animals and humans. The controversy generated by the conviction of these two men has lead to many questions regarding animal rights; namely, What are an animal s rights? What moral obligations do we, as human beings, have in upholding these rights? How far are we, as a society, willing to go to grant animals their rights?
Many people feel that we cannot apply our society s idea of morality to animals because, unlike humans, animals are unable to reason and cannot understand what rights are. They point out that most animals used for food, fur, or experiments are bred for that specific purpose, suggesting that humans have dominion over all animals. These people accept that animals have certain interests, but some believe these interests can be sacrificed if there are justifiable human benefits. This leads proponents of animal rights to ask, When are we justified in using animals to benefit humans and what, then, constitutes animal abuse?
From a pro-animal rights perspective, animal rights means that animals, like humans, have interests that cannot be sacrificed to benefit others. They do not hold that an animal s rights are absolute; like a human, an animal s rights must be limited. The main idea activists wish to convey is that animals have the right to equal consideration of their interests.
Although opinions vary greatly on the matter of animal rights, should the government intervene and establish that define and protect animal rights? Perhaps if the government can successfully establish guidelines that clearly define what an animal s rights are and the extent to which we are to protect these rights, we can alleviate the needless suffering of animals in our society.