The movement for the ethical treatment of animals is now a global phenomenon. Issues about the ethical treatment of animals include: the inhumane utilization of animals in laboratory experiments, raising animals for food consumption of humans in inhumane conditions, usage of animal body parts for human clothing, cosmetic testing in animals, animal fighting practices, and other animal cruelty practices. Various animal rights and welfare organizations have been established around the world and the organization that pioneered these organizations is the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). Animal rights and welfare movements are not only proliferating worldwide but are also intensifying their actions for their cause.
Animal welfare is defined as the responsibility of human beings in all the facets of the well-being of animals. These aspects include the provision of proper housing, nutrition, preventive care, disease treatments, and humane euthanasia. Animal rights on the other hand is defined as the possession of animals with equal rights with human beings(FBR). Animal welfare has no conflict with the interest of the human society because it is the responsibility of human beings to protect their fellow-creatures, the animals. The persuasion of animal rightists though to establish that animals have equal rights with humans result to conflict with the interest of the human society.
People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is the pioneering organization of the animal rights. This organization is considered as the largest among the animal rights organizations across the globe with more than 1.8 million members(PETA). The co-founder and president of PETA, Ingrid Newkirk believe that animals have the same rights with humans(F. f. B. R. FBR).
The animal rights concern of PETA is focused on suffering of animals in the following institutions: laboratories, factory farms, clothing trade, and entertainment industry. The work of this animal rights organization is centered on public education, research, legislation, investigations of animal cruelty practices, animal rescue, protest campaigns, special events, and celebrity participation(PETA).
The protest campaigns of PETA are audience captivating because it involves women wearing vegetable leaves. Various celebrities have also joined them in their pursuit of the rights of animals through participation in their protest campaigns and advertisements. The celebrities that participated in the animal rights advocacy of PETA include: Pink, Sarah Jessica Parker, Pamela Anderson, Paul McCartney, James Cromwell, Eva Mendes, Jenna Jameson, Alicia Silverstone, and Alec Baldwin. Their animal rights campaigns include animal exploitation; and animals used for clothing, testing, food, education purposes and entertainment(PETA).
The concern of animal rightists especially PETA regarding animals utilized for clothing of humans consists of different sub-issues. One is the mutilations in lambs in the process called museling. This procedure subject the sheep to pain through cutting parts of the sheep’s backside skin and flesh without administering any pain killers or anesthetics. This practice is noted in Australia, the world’s prime exporter of merino wool. Aside from the museling procedure, transportation of sheeps to the Middle East is also another problem in Australia because they transport sheeps in overcrowded multilevel liners. During the overcrowded transport that can take up to months, the sheep are given limited amounts of food and water as well as being subjected to adverse weather conditions.
During a shipment in 2002, 14,500 sheeps died due to heat stress and then their carcasses were just thrown into the sea. The suffering of sheeps does not end there since it continues upon their unloading from the liners wherein they are handled by dragging their ears and legs. After that the sheeps are slaughtered in unregulated abattoirs that bleeds the ships without prior stunning, a procedure done to make the sheep unconscious thus not capable of feeling pain(PETA).
The next sub-issue on animals used for clothing is associated to the leather industry. The skin of animals including: horses, pigs, goats, sheep, zebras, cattle, and crocodiles are utilized to produce leather. Millions of animals are raised in overcrowded farms and subjected to procedures without utilization of painkillers such as: castration, dehorning, branding, and tail docking just to produce the highly in demand leather.
The animal raising condition is not the only problem in animal farming for leather but the slaughter procedure endured by these animals is a problem as well. The bleeding and skinning of animals is done without the practice of proper stunning because usually these animals are slaughtered in countries that does not employ animal welfare laws during slaughter. The leather industry aside from causing suffering to animals also contributes to environmental pollution due to the tanning procedure that is employed in leather production. Tanning of leather makes use of chromium, lead, cyanide, and formaldehyde that are toxic pollutants of the environment and are hazardous to human health.
The last sub-issue on animals used for clothing is the billion dollar fur industry. The fur industry produces fur mostly through raising animals in the fur factory farms. The animals raised for their fur are minks, rabbits, raccoons, and foxes. These animals suffer from stress, disease, fear, and parasites during their existence in captivity. The housing provision for fur animals is also not the optimal because usually small cages are utilized. The minks which are solitary wild animals are raised in overcrowded cases during their captivity.
This living condition inflicts stress to the minks because they are extracted from their natural wild wetland habitats. The slaughter of animals raised for fur is also horrible because they are either poisoned with strychnine and carbon monoxide or placed in decompression chambers or their necks are broke. These slaughter methods used in the fur industry inflicts pain and are brutal ways of killing animals just for the sake of their fur(PETA).
The horrible slaughter methods employed by the farmers of animals for clothing are enough reason to stop buying products like fur, leather, and cashmere. Every fur, leather, wool, or cashmere made clothing produced is a representation of the sufferings undergone by the animals raised for the said materials. No matter how fashionable these materials are, it could not erase the fact that animals were raised and slaughtered inhumanely for it.
PETA and various animal rights and welfare organizations are encouraging the public to stop buying clothing and accessories that are animal by-products to stop the its production and trade(PETA). Despite the awareness created by organizations like PETA there are still individuals that patronize these products do still many animals suffer in the process.
Another issue on animal rights is on the utilization of animals in testing of household products, drugs and cosmetics. The testing involves procedures that instilling in animal stomachs, skin applications, eye squirting, and spraying in animal’s nose of the products to be tested. Even the Food and Drug Authorities require the aforementioned testing before the newly created products can be sold in the market for human utilization.
The vast amounts of products established each year thus also mean that countless animals has been utilized and suffered during the product testing. The most commonly used animals for product testing in laboratories are rats, mice, and birds because they are not included in the regulations instituted by the animal welfare act. The number of animals killed in laboratories during and after testing of products to be released into the market is already millions and counting(PETA).
The animals that are subjects of product testing are injured, inflicted with pain, develop diseases, and worst die in the process. The health of the consumers is safeguarded at the expense of the millions of animals that suffer during product testing. Animal rights advocates consider this practice as unethical treatment or cruelty to the animals thus they condemn it.
The animal rightists approve of companies that do not perform animal testing for their products. These people also encourage the consumers to stop buying the products of companies that perform animal testing. The animal rightist organizations like PETA even released a list of companies that perform animal practice. Their aim in the release of this list is to decrease the consumers of companies performing animal testing so that these companies will be forced to stop this practice(PETA).
The utilization of animals in the laboratories is not only limited to the testing of products to be sold in the market. Animals are also used in science laboratories for research purposes. The animal rights advocates are against this practice and they propose the stopping of the utilization of animals in researches. Their argument is that the employment of animals in researches is unjust even if the purpose of these experiments is to benefit humans and animals through the discovery of preventive and therapeutic medicines that will prolong life. The propaganda of the animal rights advocates state that the researches utilizing animals can not replace the suffering of these animals even if many humans and animals can be save because of the research experiment(FBR).
The scientific community especially the professionals in the research industry contradicts the advocacy of the animal rightists to eradicate animal testing. The rebuttal of the scientific community to this advocacy of the animal rightists is that the scientific community follows the humane procedures for animals as well as practices the protection of the welfare of animals utilized in their research experiments. The scientific community believes that violation of the animal rights and welfare does not occur in animal testing procedures.
To the scientific community, animal testing and utilization of animals in researches does not by-pass animal rights and welfare because these procedures are done both for the benefit of the welfare of humans and animals. Knowledge on how to manage and cure the diseases of animals which is necessary in prolonging their life span and existence on earth could have not been obtained if animal utilization in research experiments is not established. The animal rightists condemn the practice of animal testing and animal research utilization without taking into consideration the benefits of these practices to the welfare of animals in general(FBR, 2006).
The breakthroughs in the scientific field that brought about the discoveries of preventive, therapeutic, and curative medicines for diseases of humans and animals are not possible without the use of laboratory animals in their researches. Hence, the scientific community recognizes the importance of animals in research experiments thus these people acknowledge the importance of animal welfare. In order to promote and practice the protection of the welfare of animals during research experiments, various laws and guidelines has been implemented across the globe.
In United States for example, the scientific community practices the “Three R” in their researches that involves animals. These three R’s are the following: Reduction in the number of animals employed in the studies, replacement if other research models are available, and refining of the procedures to make certain that the most humane handling of animals is instituted(FBR, 2006).
Protests of animal rightists and activists to animal utilization in research experiments are among the factors that result to the development non-animal research models. Today, various research methods that do not involve animals such as mathematical models, cell and tissue cultures, clinical observation, and computer models exist. These methods though are not as reliable as the method with the involvement of animals hence they are still considered alternative to the research method that utilizes animals as models. This unreliability of non-animal research models is one of the reasons of the persistent animal utilization in researches despite the protests of animal rightists and activists(FBR).
The protests of animal rights and welfare advocates to the utilization of animals in research also led to the emphasis of stress reduction and promotion of social and behavioral well-being of the animals used in research experiments. The animals utilized in researches need to be provided with the “Five Freedoms”. The five freedoms employed in research animals include freedom from/ to: discomfort; hunger and thirst; pain, injury, and disease; fear and distress; and express natural behavioral patterns. The provision of these five animal freedoms will ensure that the welfare of animals during the research experiments is protected(CCAC, 1993).
The human consumption of animals and their by-products is also another aspect wherein the animal rightists are against. They believe that animals should not be eaten by humans because humans and animals have equal rights. The animal rights advocates like PETA encourage the vegan diet. These people believe that if humans will only eat fruits and vegetables the animals will not suffer any cruelty that is brought about by animal rearing for food production or animal farming. PETA especially believe that farm animals are subjected to pain and suffering in the farm environment thus they are deprived of their rights(PETA).
The most intensive campaign of the animal rightists is the “to go vegan” campaign. The campaign of animal rights advocates for people to be vegetarian are based on: their belief that meat consumption is cruelty to animals, human health issues related to animal meat consumption, and environmental issues. Animal rightists believe that raising animals for their meat result in various kinds of animal cruelty. The animal slaughter and human consumption of its meat is the primary form of animal cruelty.
The other forms of animal cruelty in farm growing of animals for human food consumption are: provision of small enclosure for the animals; performance of procedures like castration, dehorning, and branding that causes pain to the animals; and the transport of animals to slaughterhouses in an overcrowded vehicle. The animal rightists campaign the vegan diet not only protect the rights and welfare of the animals but also to promote the health of the human population. Eating vegetables only provide good health to humans because it prevents the occurrence of various diseases like strokes, heart attacks, and cancer(PETA).
Aside from the vegetarian advocacy of the animal rightists, alternatives to animal slaughter for its meat are also being promoted by these people. Today, PETA is campaigning for the production of meat in-vitro, meaning that meat produced not through animal slaughter rather through culturing of animal stem cells in laboratories. This campaign of PETA involves a million dollar reward to those people that can formulate a procedure of growing meat in-vitro. If the in-vitro meat culture campaign of PETA will succeed, human meat consumers could enjoy animal meat without animals suffering in the process(” Animal activists offer million dollars for test-tube meat,” 2008).
Another issue of great concern to the animal rights advocates is the use of animals in various forms of entertainment. Animals that are utilized in the entertainment sector are the animals in zoos, rodeos, and circuses. The animals that are trained to perform are segregated from their natural ecology thus boredom, fear, and loneliness affects them. The trainers of animal performers also engage physical abuses of the animals during the course of the training or performance.
The acts that the animals are forced to do are sources of stress and fatigue to them. The animals in captivity are deprived of their natural rights that include being able to: find mates, raise families in their natural environment, live in their natural habitat, and explore their natural ecology. The cruelty that is experience by animals in their handlers or trainers is the major factor of the contradiction of animal rights advocates to the involvement of animals in the entertainment industry(PETA).
The last concern of animal rights advocates is the exploitation of animals through various ways. Included here is the euthanasia of animals that have no adoptive homes or stray animals. It is estimated that annually 3 million animals such as dogs, birds, rabbits, and cats are euthanized because the have no human owners that will give them shelter. Some animals suffer from deprivation of their basic necessities and veterinary care due to their belonging to unfit owners. Birds in housed in cages without enhancements or furniture like a tree branch are denied of their natural necessities. Birds in activity also often suffer from the lack of adequate housing space that will enable them to fly. Often humans house their pet birds in cages that are levels below their optimal living enclosure size(PETA).
The chaining of dogs outside the house is another form of animal exploitation. The living condition that chained dogs have is usually stressful because they are not protected from the harsh environment and cruel people. Responsible ownership of dogs include the provision of shelters with adequate roofing, bedding, and space that will protect the dogs against the harsh climate. Chaining of dogs is against the welfare of these animals also because their movement is restricted by the chain. The provision of dog shelters or houses will enable them to move according to their preference even in the confines of the enclosure(PETA).
The above mentioned issues are the primary concerns of the animal rightists today. The organizations or movements for animal rights and welfare educate people of their cause by involving the media in their campaigns and activities. PETA for example utilize the various forms of media to inform people about the animal rights that they believe in. The various media forms employed by PETA are the television, print media, radio, and internet. The advertisements of PETA especially their billboards and magazine ads capture the people to pay attention about the issues regarding animal rights.
The movements and organizations that promote the welfare and rights of animals manifest extremism in their campaigns and course of actions. This extremism generated high number of people disagreeing to their way of fighting for the animal rights advocacy. Among the widely contradicted stands of PETA is their belief that the human consumption of animal meat has no difference with eating human flesh.
PETA firmly set across this stand in their various statements regarding human cannibalism and eating animal meat. This statement does not only generate disagreements from many people but receive intensive criticisms as well. The criticisms are centered specifically on PETA’s belief that animals have equal moral worth with that of the animals. Critics disagree with this belief, thus they regard PETA as a distorted and misanthropic organization(Smith, 2003).
The criticisms and disagreement of majority of the world’s population to the stand of PETA that animals have equal moral worth with human beings is rooted in the humanity’s belief that humans are the highest form of animals in the world. The superiority complex over the other creatures on earth of humans does not permit them being likened to what they believe as lower forms of animals. The superiority complex of majority of the human population also led them to the belief that as the highest form of animals humans are entitled to do everything they wish to the other animals. This includes humans having the right to eat any type of animal meat they want.
The animal meat eating habit of humans has existed for centuries thus its total abolition is rather impossible. The animal rightists like PETA though believe that this line of reasoning is not correct. They believe that animal meat eating despite being a tradition of the human society for many centuries already is a violation of the moral rights of animals. Their argument is that eating of animal meat is not justified by the fact that it is traditionally done by humans(PETA).
Critics also condemn the contradiction between the belief and the manifested actions of animal rightists. The violent acts and protests of animal rightists contradict with their belief that animal meat consumption is morally equal crime with human cannibalism, murder, and holocaust. Today, animal rightists tend to demonstrate violence in their fights to attain equality in the moral and legal rights of humans and animals. The violent protests and actions of animal rightists resulted to conflicts between them and the bulk of the non-animal rightists’ population. This also led them to be classified as among the domestic hate groups in the world(Smith, 2003).
In the animal rightists’ quest for equality of human and animal rights many individuals and institutions’ rights are also by- passed. The extremism of animal rightists endangers the lives of many members of the human society. The protest and actions of these people include employment of violent assaults, death threats, and fire bombings. Their quest to persuade the society into accepting their views misguided them to utilize criminal acts. They protect the rights of the animals at the expense of the human population(Smith, 2003).
The animal rightist also demonstrate violence in their raids to offices or laboratories of researchers that utilize animals. Among the violent raids of animal rightists is the incident in the laboratory of Adrian Morrison. The animal rightists barged in the facility without his consent and ransacked his files. These people even stole several animals from the medical school which the laboratory of Dr. Morrison is part of. The harassment of scientific community members that use animals in their researches were also done to Dr. Morrison.
This veterinarian though stand against the animal rightists. He believes that animals are integral components in the research experiments of the scientific community and for the progress of medical knowledge. He also contradicts the animal rightists because he believes that humans are superior to animals. According to him, the utilization of animals in biomedical researches is scientifically essential, acceptable morally and ethically needed(Morrison, 2001).
PETA though being the most successful animal rights organization is also the most criticized movement because of its radical nature. Critics of PETA described various objections regarding the nature and pursuits of this organization. PETA is promoting the rights and welfare of animals but this organization euthanize the bulk of the animals that are entrusted to their care. In 2003 alone, PETA killed approximately more than 1,900 animals. The advocacy of this organization to promote the welfare and the rights of animals is contradicted by this action(Freedom, 2008).
The extremism of PETA is also highly criticized because it interferes with the religious teachings. The Kosher slaughter which is an age-old tradition of the Jews is opposed by PETA to the extent that they accuse the Jewish leaders of misinterpreting their sacred text regarding the topic. This organization also stated that Jesus was vegetarian despite that it is very contradictory to what is written in the scriptures. The extremism of this animal rightist organization resulted to their distortion of the foundations of various religions. This type of radical action is not good to the society because it creates chaos and confusion(Freedom, 2008).
PETA as an animal rights organization support the animal activist organizations that are engaged in various crimes. The extremism of the actions undertaken by the animal activists groups is very alarming because they manifest terrorist tendencies. Among the terroristic actions done by the animal activists organizations which is supported by PETA are: firebombs planting in restaurants, destruction of seafood delivery truck brakes and blowing up of SUVs.
The co-founder of PETA itself reasoned out that the extremism demonstrated by the animal rightists and activists are due to the failure of the society to be persuaded by their gentle protests. These animal activist and rightist organization believe that through violent actions their causes will be heard by the society(Freedom, 2008).
The conflict between the scientific community and the animal rightists continues up to the present time. The issues about the use of animals in research experiments encompasses ethics, moral values, and scientific necessity. The conflict between the animal rightists and the scientific community though benefits the animals used in researches because emphasis on the welfare of research animals was intensified.
But this conflict will persist because both parties will not settle each others causes due to the conflicting interests. The scientific community can not totally abolish the utilization of animals in their researches. On the other hand, the animal rightists are not contented with the development of research animal welfare because these people want the total eradication of animal usage in researches.
The protection of the welfare and the rights of animals is a noble cause but the extremism of the animal rightists and activists disrupts the society. The role of animals in the human food chain can not be eradicated. The advocacy thus of the animal rightists to eradicate the consumption of animal meat and its by-products is an impossible one. To prevent further disruption of the society, the animal rightists should be contented with the protection of the welfare of food animals and stop the extreme measures to eradicate consumption of animal meat and its by-products.
Despite of the extremism demonstrated by the animal rightist organizations, there contribution to the protection of the welfare of animals is indispensable. The people should support their noble causes like not patronizing the animal by-products like wool, cashmere, leather and fur to stop the cruelty to animals done by the producers of the materials for these products. The cruelty to animals can be eradicated and their welfare can be protected through such simple actions.
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