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If People Have Rights, so Animals Can Also Have It

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Imagine growing up with a pet, one that has become your closest confidant, someone you would call your sibling. Now imagine that family member taken away to a testing facility and given a cancer cell to see if the latest treatment for cancer would work. During the duration at the experimental facility you are allowed to visit them. However, while waiting outside their assigned room, you hear loud yelps and low growls coming from your dearest friend. Thinking that this experiment may help thousands or maybe even millions, you just hope that this experiment is worth it and that they are okay. But sadly, it doesn’t work, and your pet dies. The historic tradition of animal testing first started in the fourth and third centuries BCE by the ancient Greeks and has continued into modern-day with the intention of improving human life. However, it is quite difficult to determine where the line should be drawn in these experiments which is why the topic of animal testing has become so controversial.

In 1966, the Animal Welfare Act was implemented to regulate the “handling, shelter, space requirements, feeding, watering, sanitation, ventilation, veterinary care, and transport” of laboratory animals. This means the law provides for the rights of the animals to have a safe and comfortable environment while being tested on. However, the law doesn’t go far enough. Despite these regulations, a few species are left behind–not covered by the AWA–leaving mice, rats, birds, and cold-blooded animals, which make up 99% of animals in experiments vulnerable to potentially inhumane treatment. And although many experiments are legal, they shouldn’t be. In the article “All Animals Are Equal…” by Moral rights philosopher, Peter Singer, he says that just because animals don’t have the ability to speak, they still have the ability to feel emotions and pain. One analogy he uses is the comparison between men and women’s rights. Stating that “The differences that exist between men and women are equally undeniable… Many feminist hold that women have the right to an abortion on request. It does not follow that since these same feminists are campaigning for equality between men and women they must support men to have abortions too. Since the act of having an abortion would be rendered meaningless as men would not need it. This same concept can be applied to animals as although humans and animals are distinctly different, both still share some of the most basic similarities. For example they are also living breathing beings that can suffer when they are hurt and feel ease when they are treated correctly. That does not mean animal rights activists are asking for the right to vote but just some of the most basic rights that can lead to a happy life– getting treated correctly or even just getting aid in their most basic needs like food and water. So really if one continues animal experimentation, it would go against the moral rights philosophy. As both their negative and positive rights would be infringed upon because not only are humans going against their basic unalienable rights but also their right to not be interfered upon. However, still, many argue that animals shouldn’t get rights as they cannot determine their actions from right and wrong by applying moral judgments. But even if they aren’t endowed with rights, isn’t it our moral obligation to make sure animals aren’t getting mistreated? As the Genevan philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau once said, regardless of an animal’s understanding of natural rights “ they are endowed (…) [to] partake [in] natural right[s]” and Jeremy Bentham, an English philosopher, “would famously state: ‘The question is not, Can they reason? Nor, Can they talk? But, Can they suffer?’” So by allowing this form of abuse for the sake of our own selfish needs, humans are violating animals’ right to live happy fulfilling lives. Therefore it is unethical to allow animal testing because it harms animals, is of little to no use in aiding human research, and kills millions.

Harming animals in the narrow interest of human well-being is immoral to say the least. In animal testing laboratories, animals are known as “time- and resource-intensive” which means that they are to be exploited to test as many substances (ie. chemicals) on their bodies as they can handle throughout their lifetimes. These tests are said to help find “medical treatments, determine the toxicity of medications, check the safety of products determined for human use and other biomedical… and healthcare uses”. However, one consequence of finding the toxicity of chemicals through prescribing large lethal doses in processes such as inhalement and skin contact is the possibility of getting intense stress that can sometimes lead to death. During these tests, animals are put under extreme conditions which can, as a result, put large amounts of stress on their bodies. 

Tests can “… cause some animals to develop neurotic types of behavior such as incessantly spinning in circles, rocking back and forth, pulling out their own fur, and even biting themselves. After enduring a life of pain, loneliness, and terror, almost all of them will be killed”.

With these effects in mind one should understand the animals’ tremendous sacrifice would be rendered useless as many of these experiments provide little information about how these chemicals react on humans. Taking into account the wellbeing of these animals, humans should also understand that they like us are living breathing creatures that have the ability to love and understand pain. Therefore, humans should stop these sadistic acts and find new ways to combat diseases as animal testing is a Pyrrhic victory that has more loses than gains.

Animal testing is a practice of the past that should stay in the past as it’s largely ineffective in the aid of human research/development. With the long history behind this disputed practice, people have grown accustomed to contributing to the tradition rather than developing better and more humane ways of testing vaccines, home cleaning supplies, and other chemicals to see the results/ symptoms if put in contact with humans. Despite that, these tests aren’t even accurate as different species respond to chemicals differently. So, in reality, the side effects vary with each test on a different animal which also means that the harm done on the animal won’t even reflect the symptoms shown on humans. And although,

“…we share lots of similar characteristics [with animals] (and even genetic material), the biological makeup of humans differs in significant ways from other animals. That’s the same across the other members of the animal kingdom. A disease that can be incredibly deadly to monkeys might not have any kind of impact on frogs or birds… because they’re different species”.

So not only are people unavailingly searching for answers in the wrong place, they are also mistaking animals–dogs, cats, mice–with humans for similar genomes when in actuality we all come from different families on the scientific classification chart. Of course, there are many who say that animal testing isn’t merely a thing of the past but one that is esssential to our society, arguing that animal testing not only assists in human research but also helps make hundreds of drugs that help animals. According to the article “Animal Research Saves Animals, Too” by the Foundation of Biomedical Research, “Dozens of diseases, from cancer to epilepsy, affect both animals and humans. Vaccines that treat humans benefit animals.” Nevertheless, still “more than 100 million animals are tested and killed every year”. Who’s to say that human beings are more worthy to live than other sentient species are, when in fact scientists have already found a more precise and cost efficient practices such as the vitro method and the silico method. The vitro method is a sophisticated method of using human cells and tissues to test substances whereas the silico method uses advanced computer modeling techniques, and/ or even just using human volunteers which equate to more accurate results. Through more sophisticated studies like the vitro method, humans would not only receive more accurate treatments for their diseases and safer household products but would also be saving millions of animals.

To conclude, by doing the proper research on the items we use everyday, we could limit the amount of unnecessary deaths. For example, popular houshold brands such as Windex and Bandaids, both use animal testing but there are many alternative products that would work just the same. For instance, the Seventh Generation All Purpose Natural Cleaner or Vegan band-aids that work just as well as the regular products but cruelty free. Even though protesting may not make much of a difference, if everyone transitions to brands that are much safer, brands like Windex and Band-Aid will also have to change their ways. Since there are scientifically proven methods like the vitro method and the silico method, the change should not be difficult as the methods are both cost efficient with a higher accuracy rate. With these small changes in our daily life, ideally we would stop this useless continuous cycle of deaths.    

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If People Have Rights, so Animals Can Also Have It. (2022, April 29). GradesFixer. Retrieved May 18, 2022, from
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