Past, present, future: animals do deserve humane treatment

Tommy lived in a dungeon and was abused for years. Still, the courts refuse to grant Tommy legal personhood so that he may find delayed justice. 

Still, unlike many abused animals, Tommy the chimp now has his freedom.

Charles Siebert’s article “Should a Chimp Be Able to Sue Its Owner?” published in The New York Times addresses Tommy’s plight. 

Tommy was a continuous victim of animal cruelty. The Nonhuman Rights Project Inc., a nonprofit for American animal rights filed lawsuits on behalf of Tommy.

St. Edward’s University students and faculty discussed Tommy’s situation and the concept of animal rights on March 11. 

Siebert’s article drove the discussion, which was led by Associate Professor of Philosophy, Jack Green Musselman.

During the discussion, countless animals and scenarios were brought up. This helped develop a sense of the current situation with, and the future of, animal rights.

The human species seems to have a superiority complex that makes humans think they are the only ones capable of feeling, thinking and communicating. This is not true.

Years of research by scientists have found that elephants “are capable of complex thought and deep feeling.” according to PBS in the episode, “Echo: An Elephant to Remember.” 

Elephants, along with various other animals, are capable of feeling joy, love, grief, stress and altruism; to name a few.

Other non-human species are capable of feeling the stress that comes with abuse. Tommy even developed depression. He was cognizant enough to understand the neglectful circumstances he lived in. 

After living day after day in his abusive situation, he understood that the following days would be no better.

Is it not cruel to prevent these animals, who are deeply suffering, from having rights?

These questions are at the center of pro-animal rights arguments.

Due to animals’ inabilities to comprehend laws, they cannot possibly be held responsible for breaking them.

However, the mental capabilities of a chimpanzee, dolphin, elephant or pig, among other animals, are advanced enough to surpass that of children, which should guarantee them at least the same rights as them. 

In 2009, Live Science reported that dogs either match or surpass a two-year-old child in math, socializing and basic emotions. Animals feel pain and pleasure just as we do. Living creatures with higher cognitive abilities than some humans deserve rights.