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Ari Anderson
Professor Baird
English 1010-035
3 Dec. 2014
Position Synthesis Paper
The world is changing, and with it so is the way animals are valued and protected.
In the past, most animals have been viewed as property or a food source by society and
therefore treated as such. In recent years, this way of thinking has become outdated. With
the increasing numbers of pet owners, animal rights and animal welfare has become a hot
topic and generated many heated debates. Groups and individuals alike are pushing for a
universal acceptance of animal and human equality. The welfare and rights of animals are
just as important as that of humans.
Animals are living, breathing creatures that have the same emotions and physical
needs as humans. Abuse of any kind, whether to a human or animal, should never be
tolerated. In Animals Legal Rights Come From an Evolving Relationship With Our
Pets by David Grimm, he discusses how cats and dogs are becoming fellow citizens.
Whether right or wrong, some people have stronger feelings for their pets than they do
for most people. Animals are now being included in their owners wills, fought over in
court during custody battles, and have organizations set up for their aid and protection.
The law is becoming more and more pet-friendly and includes prosecution to any
individual who puts them in harms way. All fifty states now enforce fines of up to
$125,000.00 and up to ten years in prison. Animal cruelty and abuse is now considered a
felony.

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The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was founded 65 years ago with the
position that human beings are inherently creatures of dignity and worth. They believe
that human suffering is worse than the suffering of any other living thing. William Shulz
wrote in Are Animal Rights Human Rights? that these characteristics are also
occupied in animals as well and should not be limited only to humans. We must ask
ourselves how can any human not be affected by animal suffering. As a society, if we
dont require that humans treat other living creatures with the same respect and kindness
that we expect and deserve, how can we have a civilized society? Shulzs belief is if
people are allowed to mistreat animals, whos to say that they wouldnt mistreat another
human being?
In fact, research has shown that violent people are violent people, regardless of
their victim. Frank Ascione wrote an article for the Juvenile Justice Bulletin in 2001 that
states out of 9 school shootings in the United States, 5 of the 11 shooters had a history of
animal cruelty. This information is rarely mentioned to the public but could be helpful in
determining future violent acts. This article talks about the link between mental health
and animal abuse. During a study among four to sixteen year olds, it was discovered that
boys and girls with mental disorders had a higher rate of animal abuse than those without
a disorder. With tougher consequences to those who mistreat animals and getting the
abuser psychological help, maybe the violent acts against other humans can be avoided.
Society needs to be educated on the connection between animal abuse and violence
against humans.
Most recent cases involving animal abuse are made public and involve high levels
of emotion. A University of Illinois at Chicago student avoided going to prison after

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torturing his puppy by pouring boiling water on him after he urinated on the floor
because the judge felt he had been punished enough in the court of public opinion.
Animal rights activists flooded the internet with the story that included Kyle Voissems
name, causing him to lose his scholarship, getting him kicked out of the university and
also making it so he could not find employment. He was sentenced to a years probation
instead of the three years allowed by law. The sentence angered the public to the point
they continued their attack of Voissem by posting emotional video of the dog online. The
judge believed that the group engaged in aggravated cruelty to another human being in
the name of loving animals.
This 2013 story in the Chicago Tribune written by Steve Schmadeke is a powerful
example of one humans abuse of an animal that then led to a group of human beings
acting cruelly to another human. Two wrongs do not make it right. Voiseem made a
mistake and will pay for that mistake for a long time. The judge was right in giving him
probation and taking the dog away from him but he shouldnt be unable to get
employment or an education. Inevitably all humans make mistakes and shouldnt have
our lives ruined in the process. Society needs to find a middle ground for protecting
animals and humans rights equally.
Scientists used to believe that most creatures behaved by sheer instinct and their
behavior was genetic and not learned. This belief system was accepted by many and
helped develop the behavior of some people towards animals. If a person believed an
animal was unintelligent or without emotion or feelings, it makes it easier for them to be
less compassionate or kind. An article written in 2003 by Jeremy Rifkin titled, A Change
of Heart About Animals challenges this idea. Rifkin looked into recent research of how

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scientists are finding that animals are more like us than we imagined. Through research,
scientists learned that geese must teach their goslings the migration routes, elephants
stand by their dead children for days touching them with their trunks, and that Koko, the
300-pound gorilla was taught sign language and scored between a 70 and 95 on human
IQ tests. This research makes it very hard to believe that these creatures are unintelligent
or incapable of feelings or relationships. In my personal life, I have witnessed animals
who have bonded with humans and other animals, who have mourned the loss of another
family pet, and who have learned commands or tricks.
There are two different groups created to help and protect animals. Some people
are confused by the terms animal rights and animal welfare. Most people believe they are
the same when actually they are quite different. They are both interested in the treatment
of animals but have differing views on what is best for them. It would be wise for the
public to educate themselves on the different belief systems of each group. Jill
Montgomery helps educate her readers by explaining the differences of these two groups
in an article published online in 2013 titled, Animal Welfare and Animal Rights: A War
of Words With Casualties Mounting.
Animal welfare is the more traditional model that people have used for years in
the care and treatment of animals. This includes proper housing, management, nutrition,
responsible care, and humane handling and when needed humane euthanasia. They
believe animals have rights and especially to live free of pain, but they do not believe
animals have the same rights as humans.
The animal rights movement is a newer philosophy that believes animals do have
the same rights as humans. They reject the use of animals for any purpose whether they

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are treated humanely or not. There are people who whole-heartedly believe this
philosophy and will go to great lengths to make sure it is enforced. Others find this
philosophy ridiculous. It is this difference of beliefs that has caused many emotional
outbursts. The strong stance of animal rights followers has caused drastic consequences
to the livestock industries. They carry a lot of power with the public and some members
of this group have gotten into legal trouble because of their overzealous behavior in
defending animal rights. It is not uncommon to hear a story about a member of PETA, the
People for Ethical Treatment of Animals, throwing paint or flour on someone who is
wearing fur.
The author shares the story, The Unwanted Horse that explains what happens to
old and sick horses in the United States when their owners no longer want them or can no
longer afford to take care of them. The horses are sometimes shipped to Mexico to be
processed as food for human consumption or for food for other animals. This has been
allowed to happen because horses are considered livestock and not companion animals.
Horse lovers are trying to get this practice abolished not only for the humane treatment of
animals but because of the ethical issue of feeding sick or old horse meat to humans.
Horse refuges have been established in many states to give the aging horses a place to
live out their final years or to help them be adopted.
Its unfortunate that the differing views of both groups can cause discord and
sometimes violence because people become so passionate about their beliefs and their
love of animals. Its important that legislature make a decision on what the proper
treatment of animals is and that each group accept that decision and move forward and
enforce the laws. Attacking the opposing group and becoming violent is not helping the

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animals or teaching the future generations to be tolerant of one anothers beliefs and
respecting the laws. We need to work together as a society to improve the quality of life
for both humans and animals.
The overall lesson society can take from the desire for animals to have the same
rights as humans is that nothing bad can come from expecting more from ourselves as a
human race. There has been great improvements in the way animals are viewed and
treated in the past decade or two, but there is still much public education that needs to be
done. Legislature needs to decide what the proper treatment of animals is and put steps in
place to make sure those laws are enforced. The media and animal rights groups need to
be responsible in their reporting of animal abuse stories and use their positions to educate
and not instigate more violence and hatred. Parents can teach their children to love all
living creatures and to teach them compassion and empathy. Children that learn to be
kind to animals have a greater chance to grow up to be adults that are kind. Whether a
person believes animals should be treated equally to humans or not, the world can only
become a better place to live for everyone if all living creatures are treated with kindness
and compassion.

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Works Cited
Grimm, David. Animals Legal Rights Come From an Evolving Relationship With
Our Pets. New York Times: The Opinion Pages. Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr., 1 Oct.
2014. Web. 29 Oct. 2014.
Shulz, William F. Are Animal Rights Human Rights? The Blog. Huffington Post.,
Arianna Huffington and Kenneth Lerer, 17 December, 2013.
Schmadeke, Steve. Former UIC student spared prison in dog cruelty case. The Chicago
Tribune., Gerald W. Kern, Web. 12 July 2013.
Rifkin, Jeremy. A Change of Heart About Animals. Article Collections. Los Angeles
Times., Austin Beutner, Web. 1 September 2003.
Montgomery, Jill. Animal Welfare and Animal Rights: A War of Words with Casualties
Mounting Animal Welfare Council Website., Animal Welfare Council, May 2013.
Ascione, Frank R. Animal Abuse and Youth Violence Juvenile Justice Bulletin, U.S.
Department of Justice, September 2001.
Sunstein, Cass R., The Rights of Animals: A Very Short Primer, JOHN M. OLIN LAW
& ECONOMICS WORKING PAPER NO. 157, John M. Olin, No date available.