A right for animals

Right for animals

A right for animals? After the state election in Lower Austria, the FPÖ Lower Austria has defined its priorities at its club meeting: safety, health, animal welfare, One of the agendas of the new FPÖ Landrat Gottfried Waldhäusl is now animal welfare. Two days after the retreat, the state council demanded in a press release: "otter plague must be sustainably contained". The occasion was the announcement of the ÖVP county council Stephan Pernkopf, by a decision to allow the "removal" (ie killing) of 40 protected Fischottern temporarily, which in the view of his FPÖ colleagues not go far enough. To protect the otter is "misunderstood love of animals".

In the middle of April 2018 appeared to Gottfried Waldhäusl at the district hunting day in Zwettl. State hunter Josef Pröll (once ÖVP minister) is said to have said there, "The Wolf has lost nothing in a cultural landscape as in Central Europe," Waldhäusl should have added: "Why is animal welfare only for the wolf?".
Two examples of the ambivalence of what is termed animal welfare in politics and society.

Historical injustice

Not infrequently, this refers primarily to cats and dogs. He often stops where it is about economic interests, (supposed or actual) competition from wild animals or the enjoyment of hunters and fishermen. From Pythagoras to Galileo Galilei, René Descartes, Jean Jacques Rousseau, Immanuel Kant and Arthur Schopenhauer, there are always considerations in human history that animals should not be treated cruelly, that humans are part of nature and only through language and reason distinguished from the animals.

Animal welfare means enabling animals to live a life that is appropriate to their species and that does not cause them suffering, unnecessary fear or permanent damage. With the industrialization and the mechanization of agriculture and livestock, the exploitation of animals has increased immensely. Already in the 19. Tierschutzbewegungen therefore emerged in the 19th century. 1822 was the first animal protection law in England.

Nonetheless, from the middle of 20. In the twentieth century, animals were raised to higher and higher levels of meat, milk and eggs, crammed into cramped space, slaughtered in slaughter factories, shot into space and tormented for testing cosmetics and chemicals, and sometimes completely useless experiments.

Successes by animal rights activists

However, in recent decades, there has been some progress in animal welfare: behavioral scientists like Konrad Lorenz with his gray geese, Jane Goodall with their chimpanzees, the British chicken researcher Christine Nicol and many others surprised us with the intelligence and behavior of animals and changed our attitude. Nicol's findings on the needs of chickens in the 1980 years, for example, have made it illegal for euthanasia batteries to be banned in the EU since 2012, with only more "designed cages" allowed with more space. That's still not true to the species.

For other livestock, there were also improvements in keeping regulations or to avoid pain in the EU and in Austria. For example, since 2012, cattle are no longer allowed to be permanently tethered, or pigs can only be cuddled with 2017's tail as needed and under pain treatment since October.
Through the work of animal welfare organizations and activists, the public has been made aware of conditions in fur farming, the conditions of slaughterhouses, the killing of male chicks in laying hen farms, or the cruelty of wild animal plate traps. In part, there were legal improvements, voluntary changes (such as the joint rearing of chickens and roosters in Toni's free range eggs) or social ostracism as in furs. However, livestock are still transported across Europe, criticized the association against animal factories, which has recently followed the example of two calves from Vorarlberg.

The Belgian-American animal rights activist Henry Spira succeeded in the 1970 years, with great tenacity to draw attention to the agony of rabbits, which at the "Draize test"Concentrated ingredients of cosmetics were dropped into the eye. 1980 therefore came to mass protests against the cosmetics company Revlon. Under this pressure, research programs were finally developed for the development of cosmetic testing methods without animal experiments.

Henry Spira had come across animal rights issues through publications by Oxford University lecturers and Australian philosopher Peter Singer ("Animal Liberation" 1975). Animal rights activists do not go far enough. We should not only spare animals unnecessary suffering and keep them humanely, but give them basic human rights, just as humans have them.

From the thing to the animal right

In Roman law, animals are considered things - as opposed to the person who is a person. Switzerland is the only country in the world that recognizes dignity in its constitution. Since the amendment to the Civil Code of October 2002, animals are no longer things. From 2007 to 2010, the canton of Zurich even had the world-wide unique office of an animal lawyer in court exercised by the lawyer Antoine Goetschel. Due to a Switzerland-wide vote this office was abolished again.

In the Netherlands, 2006 brought the new "Party for the Animals" (Partij voor de Dieren) to Parliament for the first time, and now there are such parties in other countries as well. In the US, attorney Steven Wise of the Nonhuman Rights Project is working to ensure that chimpanzees are recognized as individuals and receive the right to "habeas corpus". In Buenos Aires, the 2014 has already succeeded for an orangutan female.

But where do we draw the line? Does a chimpanzee have more rights than a chicken and this has more rights than an earthworm? And why do we justify that? Many philosophers worry about these questions. "Abolitionists" such as the US law professor and author Gary Francione reject "animal welfare". He considers the use of non-human animals to be problematic. For animal rights, only the criterion of sensibility is relevant, with which a self-confidence and an interest in one's own life go hand in hand.
The interest in one's own life can also be assumed by plants. So it's no wonder that there are isolated discussions about the rights of plants.

Photo / Video: Shutterstock.

Written by Sonja Bettel

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