When it comes to animal rights, there is not much agreement on what constitutes animal rights or for that matter, which species deserve these rights more than others. And given the vagueness of the animal rights activists, enacted by the governments of various countries as animal welfare act, there is no agreement as to what constitutes these basic rights or the process of enforcing the same. This is one of the reasons why there is such disparity between the intent behind the act and the act itself. In fact, one of the early proponents of the animal rights issue had protested against the inhuman act of vivisecting animals for the purpose of education, research and experiment.
Most of these animals were not anesthetized before the vivisection which was barbaric in by itself; but if that was not enough, the oppression of animals by using dogs and foxes to enact a hunt soon made it apparent that even animals deserve the right to their life, or at the least, a semblance of the same. Eventually, the act of blooding, where the tail of the fox was cut from its still bleeding body and used to daub the faces of the hunters proved instrumental in paving the way for animal rights. Over the course of the next few decades and several lawsuits, rules were framed as to what constituted extreme cruelty. Here are a few points that you may want to consider when discussing animal rights.
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- Old concept: Various religious ideologies promote animal rights and their right to life, from Hinduism, Jainism to Buddhism. It only goes on to show you that the concept of animal protection is not a new one but an age-old concept that predates by over 5000 years. According to the Vedas, all practicing Brahmins must practice ahimsa and as a result, are forbidden from killing any animal for meat or for that matter, even consuming any. And Jainism takes this a step further, as some of them often wear patches over their mouth, to prevent even the inhalation of small organisms.
- Universal Declaration of Animal welfare: Given the fact that the UN had passed earlier agreements which were watered down to an extent that they defeated the purpose, it is suggested that the current UDAW be endorsed by the UN as that would provide the same with greater legitimacy and bring the topic of animal sentience into sharp focus.
- The first animal protection act: Several activists had bought the topic of animal vivisection and intolerable cruelty being meted out against horses and other animals. Several of them campaigned for the better protection of animal rights and finally, the UK parliament enacted the first animal protection act. This led to the creation of several animal rights groups, anti-vivisection groups which eventually led to the Brown dog affair and pitched battles on campus grounds between police and the students.
- Discrepancies and confusion: There is more disagreement between various groups and the animal rights that they champion. While some are in favor of considering chimpanzees and other such ‘sentient’ beings as eligible for rights, there are those who rubbish such ideas on the grounds that we do not have the right to pick and choose which animal has more rights (depending on our preference), than any other species. One of the issues dividing most of these groups is how to differentiate one species as human-like and whether that is even the right metric to use when it comes to the issue of animal rights.
- Research: Some of the current animal welfare bills seek to limit the extent to which animals can be utilized in drug trials and research experiments. While it is right to argue that animals have the right to a normal sort of life, one that does not include being experimented on endlessly, it does make us consider a valid point. The fact is that drug researchers often need to test out various drugs and pharmaceuticals on animals so that the same can be refined and used to treat various health conditions effectively. Some of the current controversies surround this animal testing which is why most of these research facilities are often broken into and the animals set free.
These are some of the salient points regarding animal rights; the fact remains that we do not yet have a universally binding agreement that enforces animal rights but it is essential that we strive better to protect all life on earth. After all, we consider ourselves to be superior to all other species, which is why we need to go the extra mile to take better care of them.