This issue has been debated on the high seas, on the streets, and in the courts. What, if any, rights do animals have? Here is an outline of what has been determined to be the basic rights of animals.

What do you think about when you think of animals? They are part of our life and nature. Even the ones that are not suitable for personal pets have been born into this world for a reason. You don’t have to be religious to understand that.

A Bit Of History

In the past, animals were used for food, clothing and shelter. The Native Americans and other tribal peoples only took from the land what they needed. This included killing only for food to eat, clothing to stay warm, and materials for shelter to protect them from the elements.

There was a mutual respect for animals that was also mimicked in the animal kingdom. Animals were given their space to live by their instincts. That has all changed. Right now, humans are the only species who kill for sport.

safari animals
Image Credit: GoodFocused, Shutterstock


You see people everywhere fighting for the rights of animals. As the policies are written, animals have the right not to suffer or be abused. Sentience is being defined as the ability to feel suffering. If a being can suffer then they can also cause suffering to others or stop it.

Animals are sentient. They are intelligent creatures who can, in their own way, love, be loyal and make decisions about their life in their normal habitat. For them, it all runs on instinct and what they are taught by older animals in their group.

The issue here is the fact that many of these rights are denied to animals. You hear about dog fighting rings, puppy mills, animal testing, animal cruelty and sport killing going on. Activists fight the use of animals strictly for their value to humans no matter what the resulting condition of the animal.

groups of cats and dogs running in the meadow
Image Credit: Bachkova Natalia, Shutterstock

Animal Welfare versus Rights

This is not a clear cut issue. Remember our story in the beginning? Animal populations were regulated by hunting. They still are, especially when it comes to deer populations. Animals starve when they don’t get enough to eat and that can be painful. They get hit by cars when construction infiltrates their habitats. Is it crueler to let them starve or reduce their numbers?

What about animal testing? Many animals have a similar internal structure to humans and testing is done to them to help us. Some companies have stopped animal testing but others use it still but with humane practices for the animal research and euthanization process.

While these issues come under debate there are some that are rather straightforward. Dog fighting, fur trading, harming animals for food delicacies (shark fin soup) and other practices that hurt, maim or allow the animal to repeatedly suffer are considered cruelty and punishable in the criminal court system.

Animals have the right not to be hurt. They can sense danger and can also feel pain. If you want to own an animal, learn to respect them as well.

Featured Image Credit: Jesper Brouwers, Unsplash