According to the web site www.wordiq.com, ôAnimal rights is the viewpoint that animals have rights and are worthy of ethical consideration in how human beings interact with themö (1). The issue of animal rights is fraught with controversy. This is primarily due to the fact that when people try to assess whether something is right or wrong, they generally do so in view of their own self-interest. Since animals can be used to serve manÆs self-interest, they are always in danger of having their rights sublimated to manÆs desires.
In fact, animals do have rights. However, not all of their rights have been signed into law. Therefore, it is necessary to differentiate between legal rights and moral or ethical rights. Since there are activities that are legal but not right, and conversely, those that are illegal but right, we cannot fully depend on legalities to determine morality and ethics.
AnimalsÆ legal rights consist primarily of protection from abuse. There are many animal abuse laws on the books, and recent news stories(like the one about the man who burned a dogÆs tail and went to jail for it(demonstrate that the courts will uphold them. But aside from abuse, neglect, and cruelty, law does not recognize animal rights, nor do animals have rights equal with humansÆ.
Supposing, though, that animals had equivalent rights, how would this change our world? Hunting, which is acceptable even under Biblical guidelines, could be outlawed instead of just regulated as it is now. ChildrenÆs rights could change, too, since children could logically demand legislation at least as protective as that won by animals. Veterinary medicine would be hampered by the same malpractice suits that plague regular medical doctors. Although the use of animals as guide dogs or circus performers probably would not violate animal rights, the use of animals as police dogs or in rodeos could be argued to engage animals in danger