Animal rights are exactly what the title says – those rights that belong to animals. Just as humans have rights to healthy, safe lives, so to do animals. But animals have other worries as well. Many humans feel that animals are their property and treat them with little respect or with downright cruelty. Today animal rights laws are on the books across the world, and some campaigners are even pushing for a United Nations Universal Declaration of Animal Rights to mirror the declaration of human rights. You don’t have to become an international campaigner to do your bit for animal welfare, however. Use the tips in this article to get on your way to protecting animal rights in your daily life.
Animal Welfare in the UK
As of April 7, 2007 (March 29, 2007 in Wales), the overriding legislation governing animal welfare is the Animal Welfare Act 2006. This Act makes it a crime not only to be cruel to an animal, but to neglect an animal’s welfare needs as well. The main provisions of this Act include:
- A minimum age of 16 to purchase or win an animal.
- A requirement to provide a pet with a suitable home and diet.
- A requirement to allow animals appropriate conditions for normal behaviours.
- A requirement to protect animals from pain, injury, suffering or disease.
Pet owners and anyone who mistreats or neglects an animal’s needs face a number of penalties under the Animal Welfare Act 2006. Punishments include:
- A ban on owning animals.
- A fine of up to £20,000.
- A prison sentence.
Protecting Animal Rights
Government laws banning cruelty to animals and promoting animal welfare are a great start towards protecting animal rights, but it requires everyone to take responsibility for animal welfare before threats to animals are truly diminished. If you are wondering how you can possibly make a difference to animal welfare then there’s good news! There are many easy ways that ordinary citizens can protect animal rights in their everyday lives. Some of the most common methods of protecting animal rights include:
- Joining the Royal Society for the Protection of Animals (RSPCA) or Animal Aid to show your support for their good works.
- Donating money to animal welfare street campaigns, or donating your time and talents to local animal shelters.
- Raising funds for animal rights campaigns, or fundraising to make a lump sum donation to an animal rights organisation of your choice.
- Refusing to purchase products that can not be labelled “cruelty free” or be guaranteed that they haven’t been tested on animals.
- Purchasing only cosmetics and household products that meet humane standards.
- Adopting abused or abandoned animals.
- Providing a loving, healthy home for pets.
- Signing petitions protesting animal testing.
- Avoiding fur and even leather clothes and accessories.
- Cooking only natural and organic foods.
- Considering a change to a vegetarian lifestyle.
Animal rights can be a controversial subject, but at the bottom of any argument remains the fact that animals are living creatures that deserve the best life possible. Whether you are a pet owner or just an animal lover, there are many ways that you can promote animal welfare and protect animal rights every day. Lead by example and you never know how many others you will inspire to follow. The more the merrier!