17 April 2015
Why Animal Rights?
Some have fur, some have feathers, some have scales, some walk on four legs, some on two, some even swim, each has their own form of communication; all these differences and yet there are simple constants between every species. Each has a heartbeat, a sense of self, a survival gene, and a will to live. There are thousands of different animal species on this planet; some of them could not be more different from one another. However all animals, both non-human and human, have basic instincts as well as their own way of life. Who are we to say that our way of life is superior to another species? What gives the human species the right to decide which lives are valuable, and which are not? In What Should we do About Animal Welfare? Mike Appleby tells the biblical story of Noah’s Ark. Most know the story; God came to Noah and explained that he was going to destroy the Earth and everyone in it. He then ordered Noah to build a boat and take two of every animal, one male and one female, with him, “Not just some animals, not just the useful ones, but representatives of all animal species. It is particularly notable that he looked after animals that were thought of as ‘unclean’”(Appleby, ch1). I thought integrating this story into a book about animal rights was interesting. It adds to the argument of all animal lifeforms are valuable and important. I personally believe that all animals should be treated as our equals. It breaks my heart reading or hearing about instances in which an animal is treated inhumanly. However, the sad truth of the matter is that humans very often use other animals as test subjects and even forms of entertainment. Animal rights need to receive more consideration because any animal with a will to live has a right to live without pain or suffering. The abuse that animals suffer at human hands is heartbreaking, sickening, and infuriating. It’s even more so when we realize that the everyday choices we make, such as what we eat for lunch and the kind of shampoo we buy, may be directly supporting some of this abuse. In the United States alone, about 26 million animals are used for scientific and commercial experiments every year. Animal testing is defined as the use of non-human animals for research and development projects, especially for purpose of determining the safety of substances such as food or drugs (PETA). Animal testing is an unethical process. In 1966, the Animal Welfare Act was put into place. The Animal Welfare Act regulates the care and use of animals in research, testing, teaching, exhibition, transport, and by dealers (neavs). This document did require some regulation of the treatment of animals, however, about 95% of the animals used in experiments, including birds, mice, rat, and cold blooded animals, are not even covered by the minimal protections of the animal Welfare Act. This document also excludes farmed animals raised for food and fiber or used for agricultural research, e.g. cows and pigs. This means less than 10% of animals (dogs, cats, nonhuman primates, guinea pigs, hamsters, rabbits, etc) in labs are covered by the Animal Welfare Act. This law only sets minimal standards for housing, feeding, handling, veterinary care, and psychological well-being (neavs). According to my fieldwork, many people do not even know what the Animal Welfare Act is. I recorded that only 12 out of 28 participants were aware of the AWA (Wistuk).
Unfortunately some regulatory agencies require companies by law to test on animals, e.g. pharmaceuticals and garden chemicals. Personal care products, such as make up shampoo and cologne however are not required to use animals as a means to assess the safety of their products. Many companies however do continue to perform a variety of cruel tests on animals. These tests are performed in order to determine potential side effects from the products. To test for