Pets Have No Rights
In the United States and in most countries around the world, specieism persists while all other earth nonhuman animals (hereinafter called animals) are disregarded and afforded no rights. This is the sad state of affairs that needs to change for all animals to coexist, thrive, and live healthy lives.
The discussion of dogs as “property” also comes up when I speak with clients about how they should have their dogs microchipped. The conversation often continues detailing the depressing laws that dictate, if their dog was ever stolen, the penalties for the thieves are paltry; your beloved pet is considered property or equipment by United States law (Animal Welfare Act of 1966).
I’m not sure if these labels and terms disturb you as much as I, but labeling intelligent, feeling, sentient beings as property, and “things” to be discarded and used, is as insulting to us as it is demeaning to them. Sentient beings have a vast array of feelings; things don’t and were created to be used.
The world becomes dangerous when ironically and perversely things are loved, and sentient beings are used. This perverse inanimate object labeling needs to be addressed and changed.
Military Working Dogs Are Considered Equipment And Our Pets Are Considered Property
For Memorial Day and Veterans Day, we honor both deceased and living U.S. service members who have made the ultimate sacrifice with their lives to protect our freedom and country. Dog’s risk their lives and save people’s lives every day. Dogs make that same sacrifice by not only protecting our troops during wars but after the veterans come home with PTSD or any disabling injuries where they would benefit from the service dog.
Yet our hero dogs and family pets are labeled as mere property and equipment. These labels connote inanimate objects, not sentient beings. Just as we don’t define our children as property or as equipment who have no feeling or emotion, we should not insult ourselves or others and label sentient beings as such.
Labels, as defined by law, affect and dictate the perception and treatment of these highly emotional beings. Without the banishment of these obtuse labels, this paradigm shift will not occur, and animal abuse will not cease.
Equipment or property connotes and dictates an inability to feel, suffer, perceive, and experience profound pain, grief, fear, joy, and love. When I describe my ceiling fan, I do not think of that piece of equipment and property as the same as a living, breathing, feeling, and loving sentient being.
Our laws are not effective at protecting nonhuman animal rights. The United States estimates your dog’s life by how much he costs. Could you imagine the outrage and horror if your adopted child was stolen from you or killed and the perpetrator’s penalty was only the purchase cost of your child? Why is that any different?
How about if someone apathetically described your family member as “it” (although linguistically correct, not the most sensitive diction), not as an individual, which all sentient beings are, instead of by his or her name or as he or she?
The only difference between an animal and a person is the way in which we communicate. We all speak in different languages. We sense the universe differently (not better or worse). To disrespect other sentient beings by labeling them as equipment or property does a disservice to humans, our souls, and intellect. It belittles the world in which we live and encourages little empathy, compassion, or love.
I wouldn’t want to live in a world without compassion, empathy, or love, nor would I want to live in a world without animal rights. As Dr. Marc Bekoff agrees, “Following up on Charles Darwin’s ideas about evolutionary continuity, we know that the differences among animals are differences in degree, not kind.”
Animals are no more equipment or property than humans. Animals are people too!
Our perverse, thoughtless, harmful laws are not only paradoxical in nature but serve as an oxymoron, as property defines an inanimate object without rights, the ability to feel or have emotions. Science has proven for centuries how sentient beings feel profound pain, love, sadness, etc, to define them as property or equipment is an error of immense proportions and magnitude and a tragedy of justice. There is no stronger statement than practicing non-violence by treating animals as individuals with humane compassion.