Throughout the United States, and many other countries, there is debate on whether or not animals should have rights. Some strongly believe animals should be given rights, due to their capability of feeling pain and emotions. Others believe they should not be given rights because the human race is far more superior and cannot be comparable to other species. It is disappointing acknowledging, that there are individuals who under estimate the capabilities of other creatures. Yet, the question remains, should other species be granted rights?
Personally, I am torn between the two, but lean more towards the idea that different species should have rights. Jeremy Rifkin, author of the article “A Change of Heart about Animals”, has proven animals have emotions and feel pain. Rifkin states “Studies on pigs…have found that they crave affection and are easily depressed if [they are] isolated or denied [interaction] with each other”. The behavior of the pigs, in this study, can be related to the behavior of young children. Younger children tend to seek a greater amount of attention from their parents, and if not given attention immediately, they may become frustrated and alter their behavior. A child may act violently towards others due to frustration and lack of interaction. This can also be applied to animals in general. If an animal, such as a puppy, is adopted from a shelter, it is important for the puppy to have interaction with the owner. If not given interaction, it may feel threatened and act violently when approached.
Similar changes in behavior, caused by different emotions, is not the only comparison we have with other creatures. Animals are also capable of feeling pain, even though they may not be able to express it. In the article, “Hooked on a Myth” by Victoria Braithwaite, she explains that a study conducted on fish has revealed they have “nerve endings called nociceptors [that alert them] to the damage” when they are hooked by their mouth or have irritating substances in their systems. The same nerve endings are found in humans and serve the same function. Yet, we ignore their sense of pain when they are fished out of their environments. This concept may also be relevant to organisms that are victims of sport hunting. The article “Why Sport Hunting is Cruel and Unnecessary”, published by the PETA organization, stated that animals who become victims of this sport “endure prolonged, painful deaths when they are injured but not killed by hunters”. The most common form of death of these animals is starvation.
Believing other organisms are inferior to the human race can result in their neglection and abuse. This is true in many countries, including the United States. Animals have been ripped away from their natural environments and kept in captivity for our selfish pleasures. In the film, Frontline: A Whale of a Business, it is documented that marine animals, such as dolphins are caught in dry fisheries in Asian countries. During the process, dolphins are directed into a lagoon, where they are enclosed by surrounding boats. Then trainers, like those at SeaWorld, choose dolphins that have the potential to survive in their enclosures. Those that are not chosen are brutally murdered by the fishermen with weapons. The same brutality occurs in factory farms in the U.S. According to the article, “What is a Factory Farm?” published by the ASPCA organization, farms animals that are used for consumption are raised in tiny enclosures and in large quantities.
They experience mutilations to different body parts, like tails, horns, and beaks without anything to eliminate the pain. In these enclosures, they are also “[denied] individualized veterinary care” resulting in poor health. The health of farm animals is vital because it can greatly effect consumers. If animals are not maintained properly, it is easier for diseases, such as salmonella and E.coli to be transmitted to consumers. These diseases can be easily be transmitted through dairy, eggs, and meats. The human population can then be exposed to evolving bacteria because animals were being fed high doses of antibiotics and are no longer are effective. Animals should not be under estimated of their capabilities and we should acknowledge the characteristics we share with wildlife. We should make an effort to ensure our fellow creatures are protected and improve the way they are treated to reduce neglection and abuse. We should express the admiration and
appreciation they deserve.