Different animals treated differently
George Orwell’s “Animal Farm” is about the animals taking over the farm from Mr. Jones. In the restructuring, they adopt Seven Commandments. The most important one is, “All animals are equal.” However, when the pigs take over as leaders, they add “but some animals are more equal than others.”
When fireworks are used, some dogs are visibly frightened by the noise and may run away. One such incident on New Year’s Eve caused a stir and even captured front-page news coverage. On New Year’s Day, many of us were eating turkey or ham. Herein lies a contradiction. We protect those animals we call pets, while we kill other animals for food. The latter are often breed in constrained and unhealthy conditions and then slaughtered.
The media, at the same time, highlighted an incident of a cat caught in a snare and how it suffered. Yet we ignore the suffering of the wild animal which dies in the same trap. Another example of the contradiction. These contrasting connections between ourselves and animals is demonstrated in our relationships with rabbits. They are both kept as pets and killed for food. It does seem that some animals are more equal than others.
We can look at our relationship with other animals and our treatment of them through the lens of morality, welfare and justice. Do other animals exist simply for the benefit of us humans? Do they have an inherent right to just to live and without any interference from us?
The United Nations has a proposed “Declaration on Animal Welfare.” It has been around for years but has not yet come to a vote. It is mainly about the protection of animals and refers to farm animals, companion animals, animals in research, draught animals, wildlife, animals for recreation and animals for entertainment.
Some argue that as this proposal limits itself to the welfare of animals, it doesn’t go far enough. Instead, it should be about animal rights. Such a proposal was drawn up by a group in 2011, called the “Declaration of Animal Rights.”
The animal welfare proposal states that humans may make use of animals for companionship, work, pleasure, food and fibre production, provided they are treated with respect, and not subjected to cruelty.
The animal rights proposal argues that other animals are not to be used for human purpose in any way. This declaration “holds that all beings are created equal, and have a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
I do eat meat and can enjoy the company of a pet, but I also know I can do without them. Will there ever be a time when we longer use other animals for our own benefit?
Everett Hobbs C.B.S.