Do Animals Have Rights?

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Katy Khaos recently made a video about vegans, voluntaryists, and questioning whether we should extend the Non-Agression Principal (NAP) to animals.  It was an interesting video that definitely made me think.  I’m using this post to write out some of my thoughts.  Katy mentions that vegans, like libertarians, are tired of answering the same old questions.  Vegans might have excellent answers to my thoughts, but maybe I’m lazy, I haven’t sought their answers…

Animals definitely do not have the same rights as humans.  Animals cannot reason.  They cannot enter into a contract.  Even if you wanted to make a contract with an animal, what would happen when they violate it?  If an animal wanders onto my property or into my home, is that a violation of NAP?

Do animals have a right to life? I think most people agree we have some ethical responsibility to animals.  I’d say most people think animal abuse by humans is pretty disgusting.  What what about animals toward animals?  If I see one human attacking another, I have a right to intervene on behalf of the person being attacked.  I could even use deadly force if the attacker wanted to kill the victim.  Would it be acceptable to shoot a lion eating an antelope?

Is it unethical to own a pet?  Certainly I cannot ethically own a human.  Even if I try to let my cat live on its own, it would keep coming back.  Does that mean she consents?  There have been stories of kidnapped children not escaping their captors when they had a chance. Jaycee Dugard comes to mind.  Does that mean she consented? Certainly not.

Animals definitely have some feelings.  My cat hisses when she feels threatened.  Our family dog used to hide under the table during a thunderstorm.  Animals can definitely experience well-being.  Because of this, I think animals definitely have more rights than other property.  We have an ethical responsibility to treat animals with respect, but animals are and have always been food.  I care for my cat.  I cried when my family’s dog died.  But I still eat beef and chicken and don’t feel it is unethical.  Please correct me if you can.