The Attitude Of People To Animals Essay Example

            Death of any kind is a very touchy subject for the average person.  This is definitely true when it comes to humans, but it’s also just as sobering when it comes to the death of animals.  Some people are just as or more compassionate about animals than they are about most humans.  The subject becomes even touchier when there is a mention of having to end an animal’s life through some form of euthanasia.  The procedure of euthanizing is one that has just as many critics as it does proponents, due to the seemingly inhumane ways that animals are forced to meet their end.  Some people are animal rights activists who are vehemently opposed to anything that have anything to do with possible inhumane treatment of animals, and some are regular pet owners, who might be faced with the possibility or decision of having to euthanize one of their pets.  However, any inhumanity or apprehension that may be involved with euthanasia, in many cases, it is the right and reasonable step.

            Many people are reluctant to take the step of euthanizing their animals, and there are many people who are outright opposed to it.  There is the feeling that the animal should be given a proper chance to live and survive, or at the least, be able to leave the land of the living on their own terms, and euthanasia robs the animal of those abilities, because it is forced to accept its fate without any sort of fight.  Some people feel that it’s a step that is taken far too quickly, and that all treatment measures should be exhausted before an animal should be euthanized.  Some feel that if one owner is unable to take on the responsibility of tending to their sick animal, that there are plenty of other people out there who are very willing to take care of it and give it the love, attention, and financial support that it requires.

There is also some apprehension towards euthanasia, not only because of the procedures themselves, but because of the period following the procedure.  Animals may still twitch or exhibit regular living movements after their breathing has stopped, and those things may be a little disturbing to watch, because the death may appear to be a little too much to take, for both animal and witnesses.  When animals are euthanized, the eyes sometimes don’t close, and there is sometimes movement and emptying of bodily waste, and that’s a little too much for some people to be able to watch.  As far as methods go, some are perceived to be too harsh, from decapitation, strangulation, electrocution, and in some extreme cases, shooting.  Some people feel that if humans are no longer thrown into gas chambers, strapped into electric chairs, put before firing squads, or meet death by guillotine, then animals, who have feelings just as humans do, should not have to experience such grotesque treatment.  Along those same lines, many opponents of euthanasia share those sentiments due to the fact that just because an animal is sick, it should not have to automatically and heartlessly have its life ended, just to supposedly put it out of its misery.  If elderly people are not put to death when they appear to be too old to tend to themselves, or if the mentally or physically unfit don’t get cast aside, unless you live in certain countries, then why should elderly animals be put to death just because they’re old, disabled, or sick? However, there are plenty of reasons that show that euthanasia is not as horrid and heinous as it is sometimes made out to be, and that it, in fact, is often a very reasonable and understandable procedure.

            Firstly, putting animals to sleep is a relatively painless procedure.  That erases a great deal of the apparent inhumanity of the act.  In the past, and even now, if it’s not done professionally, cases of euthanasia involve using force, as evidenced towards the end of the book ‘Old Yeller,’ when the beloved canine title character of the book is shot to death.  But, as human execution methods have changed for the better, if there is such a thing, over the years, as have methods of animal execution.  There are many methods of euthanasia, depending on the species and the situation, but injections seem to be the most widely used and acceptable method today, at least for most animals, domesticated or otherwise, from dogs and cats, to hamsters and other rodents, to rabbits.  The injection can be of potassium chloride, or it might be an intentional overdose of a substance such as pentobarbital.  The death is swift and painless, with the animal taking its last breaths within seconds after injections, and the process often occurs with the animal already under anesthesia.  And, the potential movements and actions by the animal, such as muscle twitching, or the eyes not closing, or the heart continuing to beat even when the animal has stopped breathing, all of those occur without the animal’s knowledge.  The other methods, such as strangulation and decapitation, are only acceptable in certain circumstances, and those are done under anesthesia.  With the death not being slow and agonizing, it makes the process a lot easier and more peaceful for both the animal and their possible owner(s).

            Euthanasia is usually only done as a last resort, when it’s absolutely necessary for the animal’s sake that it be put to sleep.  There are some cases when it is a hasty measure, and where it’s done wrong and unnecessarily, but for the most part, euthanizing is deeply thought-out, and avoided at all costs.  But, there are some situations when it’s absolutely necessary for it to be done, when no other measure can be taken, for one reason or another.  For example, racehorses that are seriously injured are put to sleep if it’s apparent that the injury suffered is too serious for the horse to be able to recover from, or if there is a potential threat of a possible fatal injection setting in the affected area within a short time.  If a pet has gotten seriously ill or been ill and deteriorated to the point where there is little to no hope for it to live or to live without being in extreme difficulty, ending the animal’s life is the proper measure to take, without a doubt.  Few people, no matter how much they may care for their pet, would not want to see it suffering and struggling, even if it means having to reluctantly give up a big part of their lives.  Doing the right thing isn’t necessarily always the option that someone may want to do, but it might be the best thing to do.  There are some situations when the pet has suddenly taken ill, and there isn’t much time to prepare for the animal’s death, and that makes apprehension about euthanasia understandable.  Even when the animal may have been sick for an extended period of time and has gotten progressively worse, making the decision to euthanize the animal is one that requires a lot of thought.  And, in the end, regardless of if the animal has been terminally ill for a period, gotten seriously injured in some way, or suddenly become ill, if the procedure would be in the best interests for the animal to be put out of certain misery, then it has to be done.

            There are other circumstances, not involving physical illness, when euthanasia is the correct thing to do.  Sometimes, an animal has become unmanageable, for one reason or another, due to extreme changes in its behavior and mental state that cause it to be a danger to others, or just too much to deal with for an owner.  Even if the animal might be otherwise healthy physically, when it poses a threat to possibly hurting someone, may it be another animal, or a person, then euthanasia has to be considered.  Euthanasia is also a step that is often taken when an animal has attacked and injured someone, and that’s when it’s become all too plainly obvious that the animal is far too much of a threat to continue to be kept as a pet within the household.  No matter how much you might love your pet, or how the pet used to be, if it has the potential to physically harm you or the people around you, then the right steps must be taken.  Sometimes, euthanasia has to be done to curb a potential overcrowding issue.  A pet may have given birth to a number of offspring that the owner is unable to take care of, and is unable to find decent homes for, either on their own or through shelters.

            There are some cases, not necessarily involving pets, where euthanasia is a step that is taken for reasonable, but controversial reasons.  There are many stray animals, and in some cases even pets, who are taken to various shelters with the hope of finding them a home.  However, there are limits on when animals can be kept in the shelters before a home for them must be found, dependent on the amount of room there is in the shelter.  When there isn’t enough room or resources to maintain the animals, and no one steps up in enough time to adopt the animal, animals are often enough euthanized.  This is a highly controversial topic, and it’s a measure that no one would like to have to take.  But, to prevent against population overcrowding, or putting or keeping stray animals out in the streets just to wander around and end up dying or being killed anyway, it has to be considered.  It would seem that there are more than enough people who would like to have a pet or could take care of a stray, but that’s not always the case.  As is with the case where pets have too many babies for their owners to be able to take care of, spaying and neutering is something that should be done at a certain point to ensure population overcrowding doesn’t happen, and to curb the amount of animals that have to be euthanized as a result, even if it’s the only step that can be taken when all is said and done.

            Euthanasia is done professionally, by people who are trained to know what they’re doing.  Most veterinarians get into the occupation because of a great love for animals.  In taking care of people’s family pets and other animals, becoming attached is easy and almost unavoidable, because of the regular and close contact that they have with the pets and pet owners.  Thusly, because of that emotional investment, if they have to euthanize an animal, they’re going to take extra care to ensure that the animal is well taken care of, even in death.  Before the animal’s death and while the procedure is taking place, veterinarians will often soothe the animals and talk to them.  It’s undoubtedly just as hard on the veterinarian as it is on a pet owner, or anyone else who might be present, to have to put an animal to death, regardless of if it is sick, healthy, or if it has a home or not.  In the human medical profession, being attached to patients is not always necessarily the best thing, but in veterinary medicine, personal care for an animal is a great asset, especially in cases of euthanasia.  The care that the vet exhibits towards the animal not only helps the animal out, but it also benefits and consoles owners who are broken-hearted about having to let go of a pet.

            There are several benefits for owners of pets who have to be euthanized.  Along with the benefit of being able to know that their pets are longer suffering, it can relieve a lot of stress and burden from the owner.  In cases where the animal has gotten terminally ill and requires regular, extensive treatments, the costs for the treatments and for maintaining the sick animal can get very high, and some owners are not able to carry the financial responsibility that such care calls for.  Euthanasia allows the owners to give their pets a proper goodbye and the realization that what they did was the right thing to do.  That also helps to counteract the assumption that euthanasia puts the lives, and deaths, of animals into the wrong hands.  Euthanasia can also help to preserve the animal in a reasonable state, for those owners who might want to see their pet as closely resembling the way it was when it was living and healthy, or for those extremely attached owners who want to forever immortalize their animals by stuffing them, which for all intents and purposes, is actually a little lower than euthanasia on the moral and morbidity ladder.

            It’s never easy to let a loved one go, human or animal.  But sometimes we have to, and that’s one of the sadder, harsher realities of life.  When you’ve had a pet for several years, someone that you’ve drawn close to and become extremely attached to, as if they’re like a sibling, or a child, and then that day comes when you face having to say goodbye, it’s a tough thing to accept and properly deal with.  But, because of the amount of love and care that you have for the animal, that can help to drive home the fact that the decision is the right one, for both the pet’s sake and for yours as the owner.  And, in cases when the animals involved are not pets, that same human, caring element remains, at least in most circumstances.  True enough, there are some people who are devoid of emotions about taking an animal’s life, and do so ruthlessly, and those are the cases when you can’t help but feel sadness or anger.  However, in most cases, it is the right thing to do.  It’s tough, but it’s right.  The feelings that the opponents of euthanasia have are often justified, and their care and love for animals is understood and shared by nearly everyone who has some sort of heart.  But, when it’s all said and done, the animal’s best interests and well-being must be taken to heart, over anything that we as humans may feel, and sometimes, that doesn’t always mean doing what you want to do, but what you have to do.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

“2000 Report of the AVMA Panel on Euthanasia.” Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Asso-

     Ciation 218.5 (5 Mar. 2001).

Crosby, Janet Tobiassen.  “Understanding Euthanasia.” 2006.  About.com.  29 Nov. 2006 <http://www.

     vetmedicine.about.com/cs/lossandgrief/a/euthanasia.htm>.

“Euthanasia.” 2006.  University of Iowa Animal Research Institutional Animal Care and Use Commit-

     Tee.  29 Nov. 2006 < http://www.research.uiowa.edu/animal/?get=euthanasia#General>.

“Euthanasia: The Compassionate Option.” PETA Media Center.  29 Nov. 2006 <http://www. peta.org/

     MC/factsheet_display.asp?ID=39>.

Ulrich, Paul.  “A Vet’s Voice: Pet Euthanasia.” 23 Oct. 2006.  The Northwest Voice.  29 Nov. 2006

     <http://www. northwestvoice.com/home/ViewPost/15985>.

Animal Testing Is Unreasonable

Professor Charles R. Magel has stated, “Ask the experimenters why they experiment on animals, and the answer is: ‘Because the animals are like us.’  Ask the experimenters why it is morally OK to experiment on animals, and the answer is: ‘Because the animals are not like us.’  Animal experimentation rests on a logical contradiction” (“Animal Testing 101”).  Besides, in actuality, animals are not like us.  Carl Cohen agrees with this view, for he believes that animals cannot have rights as humans do seeing that animals do not understand the meaning of having rights.  In other words, animals are not like us because they are not part of a community made up of moral agents that are able to respond to moral claims.  Furthermore, animals cannot make moral judgments.  Hence, it is morally OK to experiment on animals.

     Animals are not like us mainly because there are various biological dissimilarities between humans and animals, making it absolutely unreasonable to compare humans with animals.  As an example, morphine is supposed to calm human beings, but it excites cats.  Cortisone does not cause birth defects in humans; it only does so in mice.  Penicillin can kill guinea pigs and hamsters, and aspirin can poison cats and cause fetal deformities in rats.  Digitalis is used by human heart patients, but raises the blood pressure of dogs.  Had we relied on the results of experiments conducted on animal subjects, we would not have discovered the benefits of penicillin to humans, nor the life saving value of digitalis to those people who are suffering from heart disease.  We would never have known the common anesthetic we now know as chloroform either, seeing that it is toxic to dogs.  Many steroids, adrenaline, insulin, and certain antibiotics are also harmful to animals albeit medically beneficial to mankind (“Animal Experimentation: Cruel and Unnecessary”).  All the same, Cohen refuses to take this research into account when he claims that an adequate utilitarian calculus of animal testing reveals that the benefits of animal experimentation outweigh its costs.  Moreover, he thinks that we should increase, rather than decrease the use of animals in medical experimentation.  Cohen further believes that it is wrong to decrease the use of animals in medical experimentation.  All the same, Cohen’s theory is incomplete given that he has not taken modern scientific research into account while formulating his theory on animal experimentation.  The philosopher has not considered, for example, that if we had relied on cat experimentation to know about aspirin, we would never have know the benefits of aspirin to ailing human beings.

     Regardless of Cohen’s beliefs, research has shown that animal experimentation does not always benefit mankind.  It is therefore illogical for scientists to use animals for research that is meant to benefit mainly humans.  I do not disagree with the fact that it is good for humans to know more about the animals who occupy the planet with them, just as it is good for us to know about the other planets of the solar system, the stars, the nebulas and dark matter in the cosmos.  There are general benefits of knowledge realized by all those who possess it.  In the past, animal experimentation has helped us to gain more knowledge.  After all, it is through our failed research with drugs using animals that we have come to realize that animals are not like us.  Hence, we should not move forward with such research.  Human intelligence is to learn from our mistakes, even if a mistake is made only once.  There is no reason to put animals to torture by giving them harmful medicines, later to discover that these medicines are actually beneficial for humans.  Besides, countless animals are abused in the laboratories of the experimenters.  People who care about animals complain to PETA about it all the time (“Animal Testing 101”).  After all, animals also have families; they live, breathe, feel pain, cry, and die, just as we do.  Yet, Cohen would disagree with the people who go to PETA with complaints.  According to him, it is morally permissible to overlook animal pain.  To put it another way, Cohen believes that animal pain is far less important than the significance of animal experimentation.  And, I believe that Cohen’s thinking is based solely on the fact that animals cannot fight for their own rights.  They do not stage protests outside the White House.  Neither have they ever formed groups to kill the experimenters in the laboratories.  Just because animals do not have a voice in our media, philosophers like Cohen want animal experimentation to go on.

     Despite the research reports on the unreasonableness of animal experimentation, approximately one hundred and fifteen million animals are still being experimented on and later killed in the laboratories of U.S. experimenters year after year.  According to Stop Animal Tests, “Much of the experimentation—including pumping chemicals into rats’ stomachs, hacking muscle tissue from dogs’ thighs, and putting baby monkeys in isolation chambers far from their mothers—is paid for by you, the American taxpayer and consumer, yet you can’t visit a laboratory and see how the government has spent your money” (“Animal Testing 101”).

     When experimenters say that it is morally OK to experiment on animals because “animals are not like us,” I am reminded of those racists around the world who go on killing people that are not like themselves.  The Nazis experimented on and killed countless Jews similarly, simply because the latter appeared inferior to them and could not assert their rights before the ruthless Nazis.  The fact that today’s experimenters use the same explanation to experiment on and kill the animals makes me want to ask: Would scientists be willing to believe that it is OK to experiment on and kill everyone that is not like us?  Is this a logical explanation for racist behavior, or for unnecessary animal killing?  Just as different groups of people around the world are killing day by day those that do not appear like themselves – scientists are killing the animals, even though it is morally wrong to do so.  Even so, Cohen would say that since speciesism is unlike racism, it is inappropriate to compare animal killing in the laboratory with racist killing.  I believe that Cohen has no evidence to support this view.

     Scientists are supposed to be some of the most intelligent people in the world.  I believe that they should have understood by now, from past experiences with animal testing, that it is illogical to use animals for tests meant to benefit humans in the long run.  I can only imagine how many drugs of benefit to humans scientists may be getting rid of because these drugs do not work on animals in the laboratories.  Some of those drugs may cure AIDS or cancer.  By finding out that those drugs do not work on animals, scientists may very well be doing away with the idea of such drugs altogether.  Cohen’s arguments are failing in these cases.  In his view, animal experimentation was meant to be of benefit to humanity.  In cases where new drugs are discarded simply because they do not work on animals – animal experimentation is, no doubt, failing to benefit mankind.  Who is responsible for this failure?  I believe that Cohen’s theory and the arguments of other philosophers that think along the same lines, are responsible for the loss in benefits we are experiencing through animal experimentation.

     Scientists had been using rats for cancer research before it was reported in the year 1993 that using rats for cancer research is essentially pointless given that the gene repair system of rats makes them unusually susceptible to cancer.  In other words, there are significant differences in the way the genes of rodents and humans are repaired (“Animal Experimentation”).  Although this fact is out – I expect that scientists who give in to illogical theories and explanations may continue to use rats for cancer research.  In point of fact, Cohen’s arguments are still believed by countless people.  To stop the scientists from misusing our valuable resources – finances, in addition to the ecological advantages of animals – I believe that the government should step forward and put an end to animal experimentation in medicine altogether.  Animal testing is unreasonable, and there is no reason to argue about it anymore.

ANIMAL EXPERIMENTATION IS UNREASONABLE                                                                                                                              Page # 6

Works Cited

1.                              “Animal Experimentation: Cruel and Unnecessary.” Retrieved from http://members.iinet.net.au/~rabbit/aniexp.htm. (12 March 2007).

2.                              “Animal Testing 101”. Stop Animal Tests. Retrieved from http://www.stopanimaltests.com/animalTesting101.asp. (12 March 2007).

3.                              Cohen, Carl. “The case for the use of animals in biomedical research.” The New England Journal of Medicine and Surgery, Volume 315, 1986.

Disagreement Between Peter Singer And Tibor Machan About Animals

It can be seen that Peter Singer and Tibor Machan will never agree with each other on the issue of animal rights. Machan’s notion that animals have no moral rights is a rather sweeping statement and could be interpreted as an absolute truth which would justify the continued “discrimination” of animals in terms of being subjected to cruel treatment which also includes being killed for experimental purposes and for food. Needless to say, Machan’s thesis appears to state that it is OK to do whatever we want to animals that we would not do onto humans. Furthermore, he finds the arguments of animal rights activists absurd and “unreasonable” as far as he is concerned.

Notwithstanding the other issues which threaten his credibility, Singer appears to stress a rather valid point on justifying why we should not inflict harm or kill animals for whatever reason. He feels that the notion of “all men are created equal” must also be extended to animals as well in terms of (humane) treatment. It can be inferred here that Singer is stating something obvious on why animals deserve to be treated humanely in the sense that they are living things too.  This is nothing new as Singer takes a leaf from Hindu and Buddhist teachings and interestingly, these are oriental philosophies; western philosophy appeared to have left this out, with the exception of the utilitarian notion of Jeremy Bentham (Singer, 1985).

Borrowing from Bentham, if there is something humans share with animals is the capacity for suffering.  We need to be reminded of our own suffering every time we see cruelty towards animals.  What can be inferred here is that we need to extend our sense of empathy towards animals too.  Furthermore, animals play an important role in the balance of nature as they have an assigned role in maintaining the order of things in the environment and to make them extinct (probably the most extreme form of cruelty) would have dire consequences on humanity.  In addition, there are animals that do have usefulness towards humans, most notably the ones made as pets where such are treated humanely.

In conclusion, despite the controversies that surround him, Peter Singer presents a rather reasonable argument on the need to recognize animal rights for if they suffer, we should relate to it and making them suffer to the point of extinction would have a long-term effect on people and it would come without warning and it may be too late to rectify that error.  Singer does recognize that animals lack intellect and it is all the more reason why we should stand up for them, to defend them where they could not because they lack that ability to reason.

Reference

Singer, P. (1985). The Animal Liberation Movement. Retrieved 8 August 2010 http://www.utilitarian.org/texts/alm.html.

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