For centuries, humans have exploited animals, causing them suffering indicating that the welfare of animals still requires more protection through the implementation of legislation to tackle mistreatment of all animals. In our modern society, a major social ethical concern that has arisen significantly are treatments such as cosmetics, drugs, and curing fatal illnesses. All for the advancement of our knowledge and animals such as rats and mice are viewed as ‘expendable’. The use of animals in research is a controversial topic that will be critically analyzed further in this essay.
Furthermore, it is substantial to scrutinize the extent of how far animals are exploited, through hunting them as a source of food and for the clothing industry and accessories. We use animals for our enjoyment through sport, zoos, circuses, and films. Organizations some of which consist of doctors and distinguished scientists must consider the advantages and disadvantages when inflicting any pain including discomfort or any recognition of distress, animal practice must be justified.
We must consider the ethics of animal’s welfare and whether they are entitled to the possession of their own existence and their basic needs being met.
The EU comprises the recognition that animals are sentient and can suffer from pain and express all types of emotions in the same ways as humans. ‘Brexit represents a major political change that will affect animal protection in the UK.’ Evidence shows that monetarily 80% of the Uk’s animal welfare legislation comes from the EU. This could have a major impact into how animals are treated.
For example, The EU implemented the law that it is illegal to test cosmetics such as body wash and nail varnish on animals. Whereas the government is not able to recognize that animals have feelings. This can be supported by the animal rights position which holds that while animals and humans may have different cognitive abilities, ‘animals, like humans, have an inherent value’
Despite the fact that the EU has a range of animal welfare laws the UK are predominantly improving their treatment towards animals which can be supported by World Animal Protection, an ‘international non-profit animal welfare organization, shows that the UK has some of the highest animal welfare standards in the world.’ New regulations are being implemented to strengthen animal welfare, primarily around puppy sales. This is known as ‘the Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018’. Furthermore, making CCTV cameras mandatory in all slaughterhouses and planning a rise in prison sentences for offenders who do not abide by the new regulations that were introduced.
Animal welfare Minister, David Rutley, implies that the regulations will end the mistreatment of puppies and will be able to get to the root of devious breeders. This will evoke new pet owners to have no doubt how their pets were treated in their previous home.
An example of a regulation implemented are licensed pet breeders are prohibited from dealing in puppies and kittens under the age of 8 weeks. Organizations such as the RSPCA are strongly opposed to animals being mistreated with their purpose to promote animals to being treated humanely and prevent the cruelty directed to them. Hence the RSPCA is fervent in the governments to criminalize third-party sales of animals that are currently being established. In contrast, evidence demonstrates the on-going illegal trafficking of puppies traveling a great distance into the UK without the puppies following the regulations when dealing with pets. Puppies being transported without the required vaccinations may have negative implications and exposure to health complications for both animal welfare and to human health. Puppies are trafficked through the Pet Travel Scheme which permits animals to enter another country more effectively. It is evidently proven countries such as hungry are falsifying information on pet passports to transport underage puppies into the UK. This issue has escalated in recent years and is no longer small scale. A welfare organization finds ‘the breaches to the Welfare of Animals [Transport] England] Order 2006 abhorrent.’
To guarantee the safety of animals the Animal Welfare Act 2006 was introduced by DEFRA and in contrast to other legislation, the Act applies to all animals. The act was formed on the protection of Animals Act 1911 where owners must follow the regulations put in place to prevent unnecessary physical, mental or psychological harm on animals. The welfare of an animal must be a primary focus when used for research, wildlife trade, and entertainment purposes. In recent years there have been controversial issues in how animals are ethically treated.
The Grand National race has become a controversial issue recently, being one of the most hazardous events has sparked outrage when during the race a horse was killed after it collapsed on the first fence. Incidents like these occur regularly causing animals to be treated as expendable. While Animal-rights organization, PETA states, ‘it’s the race of greedy, callous people whose ethics don’t comport with our contemporary understanding of horses’ sensitivity and intelligence.’ Entertainment animals once reach their peak in their career are routinely killed. The Animal Welfare Act requires all animal’s basic needs to be met such as a suitable environment for them to accommodate and ensuring all animals display normal behavior patterns. Otherwise, an individual who was to disregard the legislation can be prosecuted to a maximum of 3 years in imprisonment and a potential fine of up to £20,000.
In 2019, a significant act was introduced by Sir Oliver Heald MP which received royal assent on 8th April, having achieved all of its parliamentary stages and the house of Lords. The current Welfare Act 2006 specifically section 4 will be amended to eradicate a section of the current law of self-defense. A bill was implemented due to the heroic incident in honor of retired police dog Finn who put himself in a fatal position where he was brutally stabbed in Stevenage in 2016.
Finn had sustained life-threatening injuries which caused him to undergo a 5-hour surgery where he had a low percentage chance of survival rate. Despite his predicament, he survived and recovered to go back on duty 11 weeks later. His handler PC Dave Wardell has campaigned to reamend the law to increase the punishment for individuals who service animals. Dave commented “Finn’s Law will provide protection for police dogs and police horses which I am really pleased about. It is a major step forward.” This will ensure unnecessary harm is inflicted on service animals considering before the act was legalized animals were treated as property by the law. As a result, when a service animal was injured or killed this was characterized as damage of property in contrast to them being living creatures.
Animals are complex organisms with their genetic makeup, as a result of natural selection which Darwin whose contributions to science became the foundation to the discovery of evolution. Where animals are adapted to the ecological niche, they may have formerly lived in. It is fundamental that animals’ physiological homeostasis is being attained otherwise animals are suffering unjustly. Zoos and circuses are unable to imitate what their natural habitats provide for them. An article by PETA (People for Ethical Treatment of Animals) has reported animals ‘in captivity exhibit self-destructive, repetitive behavior because of the inherent stress—symptoms of a condition known as “zoochosis.”’
Zoos assert their proclamation to the protection of species from endangerment to extinction. Hiding behind the pretext of conservations. However, a study published in the Journal PLOS ONE has constituted only 18 percent of animals are essentially endangered. This illustrates animals are kept in solitary confinement and unstimulating environments causing them distress, pain, and occasionally isolation with the placement of animals depriving them of social interaction with other animals. This may severely impact existing programs with their primary resolution to protect wildlife. Zoo conservations are depriving and diverting support and resources for programs with the zoo’s ideology of supposedly caring for the welfare of animals.
Zoo licensing act 1981 under the welfare act 2006 lawfully requires zoos to accommodate animals under conditions with the objective to ensure all animal’s welfare is met to a high standard. This includes ‘providing each animal with an environment well adapted to meet the physical, psychological and social needs of the species to which it belongs.’ On the other side of the argument, Carl Cohen, one of the most distinguished philosophical advocates find it needless for animals to have any moral claims as they are unable to comprehend ethical principles and direct one action’s appropriate.
Individuals would seemingly argue animals confided in circuses are treated significantly worse due to the additional attribute of harsh treatment animals are inflicted in training. The cruelty of circuses is, however reforming to provide improvements to the welfare of animals, explicitly wild animals. Environment Secretary Michael Gove has publicized a new bill on the 1st May 2019 to ban the usage of wild animals in traveling circuses. In today’s modern society wild animals have no place for traveling circuses. The bill will mandate no circus operators in the UK to allow animals such as zebra’s camels, tigers to be a part of their environment. Circuses are not able to accommodate the complex needs of wild animals with the poor conditions a circus may offer for them.
Circuses are a loud, disruptive and demanding environment that cannot benefit animals who are not adapted to such a place. These animals will not be able to exhibit their normal behavior as cubs they would have been forced into submission until they were obedient to obey the orders of performing acts. Performing singularly is torture for animals with being forced to contort their bodies into positions that can cause serious damage and tear to ligaments and performing threatening acts such as jumping through the fire can risk the potential of burning fur. Studies have accumulated ‘that pain and fear are the only elements that drive wild animals to perform in circuses, with the noise and lights pounding on their senses.’
Wildlife law is obligated for many purposes in the protection of wildlife regulations of wildlife use and the offenses individuals in society impose on animals that are found to be unacceptable and do not abide by the laws. Wildlife crime comprises an extensive range of offenses. ‘Much of UK law in relation to wildlife crime is shaped by international regulations.’ Offenses
Elephants have been severely targeted in modern society with declining numbers by almost a third in the last decade and approximately 20,000 a year are continuously being slaughtered due to the international demand for ivory. Consequently, the UK has introduced the ban on ivory sales which was confirmed by Environment Secretary Michael Gove. Ivory is substantially projected as an image of wealth, status and can be exploited for financial gain. The UK is currently providing information against the illegal ivory trade to which an international fight is cemented. EU states to follow into the steps of the UK to ban commercial trade in raw ivory.
It is a global priority that animals especially endangered ones are lawfully protected from illegal trafficking whether for the purpose of medicine, resource of food, entertainment, or other uses humans see fit. The illegal wildlife trade is stated to be the fourth largest illegal trade, consequently, severely affects some animals to near extinction. ‘Since its inception, CITES has aimed to conserve more than 35,000 species of animals and plants.’ CITES also known as the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora is a multilateral treaty between governments and aims to ensure the protection of endangered species are not under threat. This addresses the issue on a global scale to engage with the biggest markets of illegal wildlife trade.
PAW or what is known as the Partnership for Action Against Wildlife is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to the reduction of wildlife crime. Their aim is to effectively control and tackle the constant crimes that are committed unlawfully such as, poaching, illegal trade, bat persecution, and animal cruelty in general. Furthermore, their objective is to raise awareness of wildlife legislations that are implemented to prevent offending acts from occurring. Legislation acts such as The Wild Mammals Act 1996. Any offender convicted under this act with the intent to inflict unnecessary harm such as mutilate, skin, or otherwise beat an animal may be liable to a term of a maximum of six months of imprisonment.
If humans have the right to not be used for research and testing why are animals acceptable to this practice. Research centers may cause distress to animals and treat them in an inhumane way. Animals being confined in small cages with no freedom of movement and being forced to live out of their natural habitat. In addition, animal testing can be severely harmful to animals such as mice and rats where they inhale toxic fumes or even dripping harmful chemicals into rabbits’ eyes. Despite the harm, an animal may have to endure this does not confirm products are safe to use in humans. Animals are complex organisms that function differently from humans. Statistics show that 90% of drugs have failed in human trials despite them succeeding in the animal trial.
For this reason, animal research is highly regulated, with laws implemented to prevent mistreatment. Researchers must follow strict guidelines placed by the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986. The amended legislation was introduced in 2013. The home office is in charge of enforcing the law related to animal use and must ensure all animals are treated to a high standard and are suffering the minimum amount of pain and discomfort. The home office states, ‘Our regulations ensure that animals are used in scientific procedures only when there’s no validated alternative and when the potential benefits outweigh the harms.’ Several countries are against futile experimentations in contrast to there being various non-testing methods that can be used instead of that bans such as the cosmetic-testing bans were implemented in the European Union, India, New Zealand, and elsewhere.
Statistics illustrate a large proportion of animal testing in the EU to experience ‘moderate’ or ‘severe’ suffering to animals. The EU now has recognized that ‘animals are sentient beings’ and be treated in the same way as humans are. Obviously, the degree of suffering may not be equivalent to each other as some animals may be able to endure pain far less than people. That does not ignore the ethical issues of maltreatment on a living creature. ‘In the UK in 2016, 35% of animal experiments involved moderate or severe suffering.’
To conclude, animals should have the same rights as humans in terms of how they’re treated since we’re both sentient beings. Due to the inability of animals to claim all ethical rights, legislations are implemented with the help of animal welfare organizations since they are unable to advocate for themselves. However, these developments are mostly seen in western cultures due to modern views and science proving that animals are intellectual species but in underdeveloped countries, this is not the case as their survival depends on them due to lack of food.
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