written by: Jade Grisby
Why Do Animals Have Rights?
Animal rights are defined as rights believed to belong to animals to live free from use in medical research, hunting, and other services to humans. Animal rights revolve from human law and because of this every state needs to have some form of punishment for those who do not take care of their animals. Even though states have many laws and regulations around animal rights not everyone follows them despite the consequences. The relationship that people have with animals is a key factor in why animals have rights and the degree of punishment if someone abuses their animal. Animals have been “man’s best friend” for about 11,000 years; because of this most people have a strong compassion for animals.
We as humans have lived with dogs and cats for so many years that the thought of killing them for food or sport is frowned upon and something that a pet owner could never do. But when it comes to livestock people usually don’t have that emotional tie with cows and pigs, that they do with dogs or cats because they didn’t raise a cow and then have to kill it. If people had to raise a cow or pig or a chicken, name it, give it care and attention then kill it a lot of people would not be able to do it because over time they form a special connection with that animal and they see it more as a companion than as food.
If animals have not been friends with humans for so many years then they would have barely any rights and would be seen as pests and problems rather than friends and companions. An example for this are wolves. Some wolves have dogs that are descents from them but, just because most dogs come from wolves does not mean that they are accepted into society as pets because they are still seen as feral and ruthless animals. Wolves only do what they need to, to survive. Much like a dog, they just do it in different ways. For example when a wolf is hungry it hunts its prey for food, whereas a dog will whine and sometimes beg its owner for food. Both these animals do what they need to, to get food they just do it in different ways.
As a society we focus our time, attention, energy and money on the cute and fluffy animals that need saving rather than frogs or lizards because fluffy animals are more visually appealing. In addition people tend to donate money to baby seals or baby cheetahs because they are more visually appealing. Compared to frogs and lizards which are scaly or slimy and generally not something that people want to spend their money on. Just because dogs and cats are more cute and fluffy than other domestic animals does not mean that all of them get adopted. Dogs and cats are the most common domestic animal in america and they have a stronger connection with humans than rodents or reptile animals. However just because dogs and cats are the most common animal for people to have in their homes does not mean that dogs and cats are exempt from cruelty.
Some people theorize that animal abuse and family/child abuse are very closely related to each other. Abusers hurt family members and have very little problem in abusing the household pet. Pets who usually comfort to those members that have been abused. When an animal is abused it is usually an indicator that a member of the family or all are being abused, because its harder to hide it when someone is abusing an animal. People can hide their hurt more easily than an pet can. When an animal is abused it will cower or whimper or even growl at its abuser. As it states in, How a Protecting Animals Benefits Us, Too, “In many cases, it appears that companion animals provide qualities that perpetrators of violence lack, namely safety and security, for victims of abuse and children. Due to strong bonds between victims and pets, victims often postpone leaving a violent situation out of fear of what could happen to their pets.” http://www.all-creatures.org/articles/ar-protecting-animals-humans.html This shows how humans and animals rely on each others company when they are abused.
Furthermore, animal abuse is a crime that is punishable by each state but every state varies on the severity of their punishments. For example states such as; Alaska, Arkansas, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Mississippi, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Montana, Virginia, West Virginia, Wyoming, North Carolina and New Mexico have less harsher punishments for animal cruelty/abuse than other states. The following states have higher punishments and fines compared to the states listed above. The following is a list of the states with higher punishment for a Felony of animal abuse. Alabama-$5,000 fine or 10 years in prison, Arizona- $150,000 fine or 3 years in prison, California- $20,000 fine or 1 year in prison, Colorado- $100,000 fine or 3 years prison, Connecticut- $5,000 fine or 5 years in prison, Delaware- $1,000 fine and not being able to own an animal for 15 years, District of Columbia- $25,000 fine or 5 years in prison, Florida- $10,000 fine or 5 years in prison, Maryland- $5,000 fine or 3 years in prison, Minnesota- $5,000 fine or 4 years in prison, New Hampshire- $4,000 fine or 7 years in prison, New York- $5,000 fine or 5 years in prison, Oregon- $100,000 fine or 5 years in prison and not being able to own an animal for 15 years, Tennessee- $3,000 fine or 6 years in prison and Washington- $10,000 or 5 years in prison. ( http://www.straypetadvocacy.org/PDF/AnimalCrueltyLaws.pdf )
The previous list shows how serious some states are about their animal abuse laws. However even though states have laws around the mistreatment and abuse of animals, not a lot of states have the same laws around animal mills. A puppy mill is when dogs are kept in cages and are not aloud to go outside. The dogs cages are very rarely if at all cleaned and the dogs sleep and eat in a cage with feces and urine on the floor.
The females are constantly getting pregnant and producing pups with no breaks and not in a sanitized area. Puppy mills are surprisingly legal in most states and in some places they are not regulated at all, which gives the owners the freedom to treat the dogs bad with very little consequences. Some states require a permit and mandatory rules that need to be followed and checked up on, while other states require a permit and others don’t require a permit at all because they have no laws around puppy mills. Puppys that are sold from the mills get bought by commercial pet shops which further funds puppy mills. https://www.dosomething.org/us/facts/11-facts-about-puppy-mills , http://www.aspca.org/animal-cruelty/puppy-mills . Kitten mills are very close to puppy mills but in contrast to puppy mills they are less popular in the pet industry. Kitten mills are usually at someone’s house rather than in a big warehouse. Kittens are usually breed with exotic cats to get very expensive mixes that can sell for thousands of dollars. http://www.petful.com/animal-welfare/kitten-mills/
Dogs get many diseases from puppy mills that can be very expensive for the owner to take care of and in some cases prompts the owner to give their pet away. The following is a list of the diseases some dogs get from being in puppy mills and how much they cost. Epilepsy- costs $200 to $500 a year – in the form of drugs, Kidney and Heart disease-$350 per year- in the form of pills, Joint disorders- $5,400 for the rest of the animals life- $450 in the form of pills, Endocrine disorders (diabetes)- $1,670.44 cents per year- in the form of pills and shots, Eye problems (cataracts)- surgery $3,400- no pills prescribed for cataracts, Shortened or missing limbs- $600 to replace a limb for big dogs- $200 for small dogs, Respiratory disorders- $216 a year, Mange- $350 per year- in the form of pills, Mites- $250 per year-in the form of pills, Gum disease- $800 per year- in pills, Nail overgrowth or growth into the paw- $600 for surgery, Missing teeth- $850 to fix, Heartworms- $400 to $1,000 per year- in the form of pills, Intestinal parasites- $1,284 per year- in the form of pills. http://www.petful.com/animal-welfare/puppy-mill-dog-health-problems/
Furthermore many dogs and cats get dropped off at local animal shelters because they get too old and aren’t as cute for the owners anymore, or they become too much for the owner to take care of and they can’t “make that kind of commitment” to an animal even though they bought it. During the holidays pet sales go up because ‘tis the season but when a couple months go by the owners are not happy about the animal anymore because puppys don’t stay cute and small for long.
Overall animals have rights because of their long connection with humans over the past eleven thousand years. Humans have domesticated animals and no longer need them for hunting but rather for companionship and fun. Since dogs and cats have been at the sides humans for long we feel the need to have laws to make sure that animals are not abused or mistreated.
There are some gray areas of animal abuse laws with animal mills. Puppy mills for the majority are legal and in some states aren’t even regulated so it gives people the freedom to treat animals horribly and in terrible conditions. Dogs and cats in pet shops mostly come from puppy or kitten mills and have developed either aggression towards humans because they have been abused or have disease’s that they contracted from the cages they have been in. The best way to stop animal mills and to help animals in shelters is to adopt an animal from your local shelter or humane society.