Nowadays a lot of talk is going around the globe about animal rights and its importance and rightly so. New legislations have been made around the world due to increase in awareness among the peoples by mass protests, lobbying and litigation. You might be amazed by knowing that using apes for research purposes is forbidden, bullfighting in Catalonia has become illegal and now the rules are strictly implemented to ensure the quality and standard of slaughter houses and livestock department. These things are considered for the welfare of animals. They are not truly related to animal rights.
The thing is that mostly animals are described as legal things in most parts of the world. They are a property of whoever owns them. On the other hand, humans are considered as legal persons having the benefit of legal rights for the usage of legal things. One reason of animals being termed as legal things is that they are called “animal” derived from “animalia” which is a very vast term as more than 1.25 million species of animals have been discovered till date and there are many more to come. It includes 60,000 vertebrates: 5,500 mammals, 10,000 birds, 6,200 amphibians, 30,000 fish, and 8,200 reptiles. The million-plus known invertebrates include about 950,000 varieties of insects, 81,000 mollusks, and 40,000 crustaceans. These all species of animals make it tough for them to be counted as “legal persons” as in case of humans.
How animals can be protected?
When we look around animals we find there are so many categories of them. There are some animals whom scientist believe that they don’t have the ability to feel pain or suffering like jellyfish and sponges. These can be protected through environmental or conversational laws. On the other hand there are some animals for which legislations are being made right from the start of nineteenth century like cows and sheep. These can be protected and are protected through strict laws as they have sense to feel pain and suffering.
Back in 2000, an international group of venerable animal organizations proposes a universal declaration of animal welfare which was indeed a big step forward. The idea behind this proposition was to stop unnecessary cruelty towards animals.
In 2005, a commission was setup to improve chances of animal adoption just like human adoption. This commission was endorsed by the World Organization for Animal Health, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, and the Council of the European Union.
Some animals possess a powerful sense of autonomy which is naturally gifted to them and a great intelligence factor as well including apes and elephants. They, too, have long received some protection from unnecessary cruelty. But rapid scientific advances over the last half century have demonstrated that their advanced levels of cognition leave them inadequately protected by anticruelty and similar legislation.
What we need to do?
The roots of animal rights are not only in legislation of nineteenth or twentieth century but they should lie in our hearts. Over the last few centuries, what we humans have done is to develop such principles which intend to protect out rights not concerning with anything other. It is time we recognize that we share the planet with other species with similar fundamental interests and that our failure to protect those interests both wrongs the animals and subverts the core values and principles that protect our own.