Definition of Animal Rights

Definition of Animal Rights

Here is a definition of animal rights: The rights to humane treatment claimed on behalf of animals, especially the right not to be exploited for human purposes. The word, “humane” means: Characterized by kindness, mercy, or compassion. These are from the free dictionary – not very clever of me. But we may be able to go a little further. And there is no one single definitive definition.

First, I am not sure about the word “humane”. It seems to me that this word relates to human to human treatment. One wonders if all that an animal wants and desires is to be treated decently by another animal so the word “humane” might be substituted by a made up word “animale”.

Please click on the link to go to the Universal Declaration of Animal Rights. I said and still believe that this declaration is not really of any use. Look, we don’t even have basic animal protection laws in many countries of the world, the most notable and serious omission is that of China. There is great abuse of wild animals in Mexico for example (see Cats and the Law for more). The countries that do not have decent laws can refer to countries like Sweden and the UK and adopt their laws. We don’t really need a declaration of animal rights, we need laws that are enforced rigorously. There was no human Bill of Rights in England and Wales for centuries as the rights were enshrined in the law. Now we have a Bill of Rights things are worse because people abuse it.

The definition of animal rights, above, would allow for farm livestock, companion animals and cat breeding for example. But there are many animal rights people who would go far further and who desire total liberation for all animals. In other words we stop eating them. Some might only be satisfied when all human life is removed from the planet. But we should recognize that humans have abused animals horrendously over the eons. One of the most humane persons was Gandhi and he was a vegetarian. Should a definition of animal rights be wider, much wider than the definition above?

I made up some animal rights on a post on Cat Breeders and Animal Rights. I am sticking my neck out big time I know. But what came from that post is that we all seem to have different views on animal rights and the variations center around the extent of the rights. If we treated animals as equals, it seems to me that human rights could be adopted and adapted.

Part of human rights includes: “the right to life and liberty, freedom of expression, and equality before the law………” This could also apply to animal rights if we treated animals as equals. Indeed the right to have “freedom of expression” is already enshrined in the Animal Welfare Act 2006, which is the British Animal welfare law currently. See section 9 (2) of the Act, which states that:

  • (2) For the purposes of this Act, an animal’s needs shall be taken to include—
  • (a) its need for a suitable environment, {suitable home}
  • (b) its need for a suitable diet, {suitable food}
  • (c) its need to be able to exhibit normal behaviour patterns, {allowed to behave normally}
  • (d) any need it has to be housed with, or apart from, other animals, and {some animals’ normal behavior includes living with other animals}
  • (e) its need to be protected from pain, suffering, injury and disease.

So, for example, “normal behavior patterns” is lifted from the right of freedom of expression. This is considered animal welfare to animal rights people, not animal rights. But I am an animal rights person and I don’t consider it simply animal welfare. Animal rights extremists probably seek too much and go too far. We need balance and harmony with animals within the context of the present and not to try and turn the clock back tens of thousands of years as that is impractical and a definition of animal rights must embrace practicalities.

Definition of Animal Rights to Cats and the Law.


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