Are your beloved pets really “refugees?” According to a pair of New Jersey law professors, you’re violating your animals’ rights by even calling them “pets” in the first place.Despite living with six rescue dogs, Rutgers University professors Gary Francione and Anna Charlton think of their companions more like “non-human refugees” that share their home. In a recent article on Aeon.co, the pair assert that domestication and pet ownership violate the fundamental rights of animals.“Non-human animals have a moral right not to be used exclusively as human resources, irrespective of whether the treatment is ‘humane’, and even if humans would enjoy desirable consequences if they treated non-humans exclusively as replaceable resources,” Francione and Charlton wrote.In other words, those “cage-free eggs” and “crate-free pork” that you eat are still forms of animal exploitation, the two allege.“However ‘humanely’ we treat animals, they are still subjected to treatment that, were humans involved, would be torture,” Francione and Charlton argue.In particular, the pair of professors claim that the humans’ “most-numerically significant use” of animals – for food purposes – is unnecessary.“We don’t need to eat animals for optimal health,” the pair wrote. “Indeed, an increasing number of mainstream healthcare authorities, including the National Institutes of Health in the US, the American Heart Association, the British National Health Service, and the British Dietetic Association, have stated that a sensible vegan diet can be just as nutritious as a diet that includes animal foods.”And if it’s not necessary to keep animals as food, it’s also not ethical to keep them as “pets,” Francione and Charlton wrote.Get free real-time news alerts from the Newark Patch.SUBSCRIBE“We treat our six dogs as valued members of our family. The law will protect that decision because we may choose to value our property as we like. We could, however, choose instead to use them as guard dogs and have them live outside with virtually no affectionate contact from us. We could put them in a car right now and take them to a shelter where they will be killed if they are not adopted, or we could have them killed by a veterinarian. The law will protect those decisions as well. We are property owners. They are property. We own them.”The professors concluded:“Domesticated animals are completely dependent on humans, who control every aspect of their lives. Unlike human children, who will one day become autonomous, non-humans never will. That is the entire point of domestication – we want domesticated animals to depend on us. They remain perpetually in a netherworld of vulnerability, dependent on us for everything that is of relevance to them. We have bred them to be compliant and servile, and to have characteristics that are pleasing to us, even though many of those characteristics are harmful to the animals involved. We might make them happy in one sense, but the relationship can never be ‘natural’ or ‘normal’. They do not belong in our world, irrespective of how well we treat them. This is more or less true of all domesticated non-humans. They are perpetually dependent on us. We control their lives forever. They truly are ‘animal slaves’. Some of us might be benevolent masters, but we really can’t be anything more than that.”Read their full paper here.
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