Thursday, December 13, 2007

International Animal Rights Day: An Introduction

December 10th is International Animal Rights Day. It actually corresponds with National Human Rights Day. This article provides an interesting introduction to this day.


International Animal Rights Day passes decade mark

December 12, 2007

Dec. 10 is National Human Rights Day, marking the ratification of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations General Assembly on Dec. 10, 1948.

This document, attesting to the basic rights of all individuals, was created at the tail end of one of the most destructive and devastating wars in human history and it marked a new era framed by compassion, justice, and individual rights assuming precedence over the dictates of government or other powers.

Although the implementation of the Declaration of Human Rights has yet to be fulfilled to the extent that it was intended, National Human Rights Day does represent a time to reflect upon the progress made and yet to be made, our individual responsibility toward furthering this intent, and to appreciate the ideals that the Declaration reflects. Such ideals are the particular focus of this week's pet column, as December 10th also marks the 10th Anniversary of International Animal Rights Day.

International Animal Rights Day is a natural progression and extension of the principles of the Declaration. Including non-human beings within the Declaration submits to the moral imperative humanity holds toward protecting and respecting other living beings as we do ourselves. Many may ask why animals should be considered for this inclusion while hopefully more will ask why they haven't already been.

It is undeniable that human beings are now recognizing the capacity of animals to experience pleasure and pain, happiness and suffering. We know that animals possess and express distinguishing characteristics as individuals and although they may not be able to communicate their interests in our language, the existence of such interests — to live their lives according to their own priorities — is beyond question.

As we look at the damage to our environment caused by living under the pretense that human affairs exist in isolation from those of all other living creatures on the planet, we know that this approach can not be sustained. International Animal Rights Day challenges us to redefine our understanding of "progress" with a consideration of our responsibility to protect the rights of all living beings.

As noted in previous Pet Columns the mission of Second Chance encompasses the "promotion of responsible pet ownership and the human-animal bond." We recognize that to create a community, country, and world where animal humane societies are no longer needed we have to foster and nurture this human-animal connection. International Animal Rights Day envisions this shift and leaves us with the question of how would we best like to see it expressed in our community.

Even defining animal rights can be a daunting task, as for example some vegetarians would likely set different parameters than a rancher might. How can these varying opinions be honored in an inclusive definition of animal rights?

Remember the Declaration of Human Rights was "declared" almost two decades before the Civil Rights movement gained acceptance in the U.S. Thus like the U.S. Constitution it needed to be based upon the current environment with an ability to progress as humanity does.

Although International Animal Rights Day doesn't receive much press or recognition, for that matter neither does National Human Rights Day, Second Chance Humane Society would like to offer Pet Column readers an opportunity to participate in the intentions of this day. We would like to hear from you about ideas to promote animal rights in our local communities, that would hopefully be accepted and adopted by all. Please email us your thoughts.

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