Sunio: Respecting animal rights to make better humans

FOR a developing country like the Philippines, animal rights issues are still topics that aren’t too compelling be talked about much yet. To most, animals will still just be animals – something you keep in the house, keep out of it, or a meal for the day. Nonetheless, what is the value legislating laws for non-humans for a third world country like ours?

Debates have also been spurring to give rights to artificial intelligences (AI) like Alexa, the first humanoid AI personhood. What we think that used to be science fiction is actually starting to come to life. Some cite examples from dystopian stories as a basis to giving her rights.

European countries, about a decade ago, tried to lobby for regulations that would disallow goldfish owners to keep their fish in a bowl or any spherical glass and only in rectangular aquariums. Developing countries like ours could only raise an eyebrow.

Still, there are movements to lobby for the better care of poultry and other animal products, in disallowing dogs to be caged, and other rules for keeping animals, aside from other existing laws for pets in some states in America.

Nonetheless, the value of strengthening laws and rules about animals and in keeping and treating them is about how we treat non-humans that are weaker and more vulnerable than ourselves; in fostering values such as respect, conscience, gentleness, and the likes to all living things.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals or Peta, for example, encourage vegetarianism and discourage the buying of animal-based products like leather and fur and animal experimentation.

In their website, they explain that in some modern farms, pigs spend most of their lives in tiny cages “where they can’t even turn around.” In the cages, they are made to bear piglets over and over again until their bodies wear out and are then sent to the slaughter house.

When there is a need to chop off body parts, no painkillers are also given to the animals. At the slaughter house, “many pigs are still conscious when they are dumped into tanks of scalding hot water, which is intended to remove their hair and soften their skin.”

They argue further that animals are “enslaved, beaten, and kept in chains to make them perform for humans’ “entertainment.” In the Philippines, we can site examples such as cock fights or sabong where chickens are made to fight, even to the point of death.

Netizens also condemn videos shared online that treat pets violently, like one that showed kittens that were stopped by a man’s feet to death.

Here in the Philippines as well, dogs are caged or chained their whole life. Most folks say this is to train them to guard the house and be aggressive to strangers who are potentially robbers.

These practices are clearly devoid of mercy and respect – even if it were towards animals.

How we treat or respect other non-human living creatures also reflect, or even influence, how we treat other people as well. This may contribute to the rise or fall of incidents of violence and crimes in the community as well.

These two elements also comprise how peace and order runs in the community – a vital ingredient in the betterment, and progress, of a country. A community that has rampant violence will not likely progress.

And the simple act of respecting other living things, and teaching this to people, will be a great catalyst to raising mentally healthy citizens.

The lack of the ability to show kindness, respect, and mercy to animals will also partly dictate or contribute how we treat other people, especially if we make animals victims of our violent tendencies.

Caring for animals is also an appropriate platform to practice in making our conscience run.

Because of food preferences, nutrition, or other reasons, some cannot totally shift to vegetarianism. But the most that we can do is stricter legislations and rules on animal production and slaughtering practices.

Other oriental countries highly respect the lives of animals but still need to hunt, raise, and consume them. However, they try to maintain the dignity of the game by offering small prayers before taking its life and serving them a quick and, as much as possible, painless death. We can, at least, do the latter.

In our country, the simple act of not tolerating the throwing rocks at stray animals and encourage households to take care of their pets by properly feeding them and giving them livable spaces goes a long way in fostering our sets of values towards living things.

Studies show that kids who are taught how to take good care of pets and animals will grow up to have a great set of values in the future.

We should start forwarding the culture of respect to all living things and not allow further the manifestation of people’s brutish tendencies to enslave or torture the weak.

In animal rights, the element of dignity for animals may be vague, but we can at least count on the benefits of teaching people to be more humane to non-human living things in order for them to become more human.
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