Animal rights and wrongs

July 5, 1996

It was a great surprise to see Roger Scruton, a right-wing ideologist and keen hunting man, writing for Demos, a respectable left-wing academic think tank. But it was a shame to see him espouse such nonsense about animal rights. He states that it makes no sense to confer rights on creatures who are insensible of the benefit and who have no conception of duty, responsibility or justice.

If that were the case then it would be acceptable to use those human beings who are severely handicapped for any form of abuse - but that is simply not the case.

We already confer rights on creatures, even though they obviously are incapable of claiming those rights. Domestic and captive animals have the right to be protected under the Protection of Animals Act 1911. We, as owners of animals, have a duty of care enshrined in law and have the power to enforce that law on others. The animals have the right not to be caused unnecessary suffering.

Similar rights have recently been conferred onto wild animals through the Wild Mammals (Protection) Act 1996. Although the Act falls short of conferring the right of animals to be protected from those moral delinquents who chase and kill them for pleasure as a sporting accessory, it will no doubt be amended in the future.

Whether Roger Scruton likes it or not, our modern civilised society will not accept unnecessary suffering to animals, be it in the home, the abattoir or in the hunting field, and we can all be thankful for that.

Kevin Saunders League Against Cruel Sports

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