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Struggling with the Concept of Animal Rights

Posted By Drea on February 25, 2014

A thought occurred to me while I was arguing with someone regarding the damage of Blackfish in regards to our fight for the right to have and breed animals.  (Really this post has nothing to do with marine mammals. I’m a dog person and have no real knowledge about marine mammal care. So if you came here to fight with me about it, leave now.) The thought is that in general, the argument against Animals Rights with our fellow breeders, animal fanciers and animal lovers is due to the struggle people have with cognitive dissonance.

Cognitive dissonance is defined by Merriam-Webster as “psychological conflict resulting from incongruous beliefs and attitudes held simultaneously.”  Although honestly, I find that Wikipedia does a better job at explaining it in layman’s terms:

“In psychology, cognitive dissonance is the excessive mental stress and discomfort[1] experienced by an individual who holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values at the same time. This stress and discomfort may also arise within an individual who holds a belief and performs a contradictory action or reaction.[2] For example, an individual is likely to experience dissonance if he or she is addicted to smoking cigarettes and continues to smoke despite believing it is unhealthy.[3]

Leon Festinger’s theory of cognitive dissonance focuses on how humans strive for internal consistency. When inconsistency (dissonance) is experienced, individuals largely become psychologically distressed. His basic hypotheses are listed below:

“The existence of dissonance, being psychologically uncomfortable, will motivate the person to try to reduce the dissonance and achieve consonance”

“When dissonance is present, in addition to trying to reduce it, the person will actively avoid situations and information which would likely increase the dissonance” [1]”

Now what does this cognitive dissonance have to do with argument against Animals Rights with our fellow breeders, animal fanciers and animal lovers?  The answer is EVERYTHING.

Fellow breeders, animal fanciers and animal lovers that we argue with generally love animals. They care for their animals in their life. Some of them see them as children, some see them as an extension of their own being, and some even see them as their entire life. These beliefs and feelings toward other animals cause our fellows to want the best for their own animals, and for other animals to be treated well as well.

The idea of neglect, torture and harm to animals is painful for our fellows, just as it is painful for most of us.  So in walks the concept of Animal Rights.  It is a feel good, one size fits all species, idea supported by propaganda showing torture, inhumane treatment and death of animals.  This movement simply strives to give all animals the rights that humans have.

This idea of Animal Rights feels good at first. We mostly treat our dogs like family, like little furry people. We want the best for other dogs too. So if others are required, by law, to treat animals like little furry people then all would be good.  Right?

In walks someone like me.  I simply say “No, that is not a good idea. I can tell you why, but if you intend to keep your rights as a human to own pets, giving those pets rights as people is a bad idea.  You see, this isn’t about welfare, or proper species appropriate care. This is about literal, basic rights.  When you give the dog rights, it means that you cannot own it.  You can be a guardian, but you cannot be its owner.”

Wait, this still sounds good to you? How about this, “The animal rights movement, at it’s core, believes that animals should not be impacted by humans at ALL. First they will target the ability for breeders to keep their animals.  Then they will establish the idea that animals are not owned, and that they are persons.  Then they will establish that because they are persons, humans should not impact their decisions and should not hold them captive.”  You say that is impossible?  Guess what?  ITS ALREADY HAPPENING.

So, I made a point with you, fellow breeder, animal fancier, and animal lover.  You are starting to get it.  In walks cognitive dissonance.  You have spent your entire life trying to make animals’ lives better.  You want to support the idea that animals should be well cared for in species appropriate manners.  You want those that hurt, harm and torture animals to be punished.  The easiest way is to jump on the Animal Rights bandwagon because they are accomplishing this in a backwards way. But you now feel you can’t. It hurts your psyche because you feel you have to go AGAINST Animal Rights, which makes you feel, because of those commercials, movies, and advertisements that you are AGAINST care for animals.

Instead of heeding my advice and turning against Animal Rights.  You decide to bury your head in the sand because of this cognitive dissonance. You decide that you would rather continue watching those commercials, feeling validated that you are at least fighting for something, with someone who has some power.  You argue with me, citing the same old examples, and the same old arguments.  You continue to ignore that your rights as a pet owner are going to be abolished.  But it is easier cognitively, psychologically, and emotionally to ignore it all. “When dissonance is present, in addition to trying to reduce it, the person will actively avoid situations and information which would likely increase the dissonance”

I am challenging you, fellow breeder, animal fancier, and animal lover to face that dissonance.  Realize, on the other side of it is something much more powerful.  On the other side is the ability to stand up with all of us and fight for our animals.  We fight to keep them. We fight to have them treated fairly. We fight for their welfare.  We fight for their lives, their futures, and their offspring.  But we also fight for a society where pets, working animals, food, and other animal goods are produced humanely and with care.  We fight for our rights, as humans, to be able to respectfully utilize what animals have to offer.  We fight for those that torture and neglect animals to actually be prosecuted under the laws that currently in effect.

We are against having those that are responsibly caring for their animals targeted and restricted to the point we cannot produce quality animals.  We are against having our pets and animals taken away. We are against the idea that animals do not, and can not, have a good life with humans.  We are against Animal Rights.

And I sincerely hope you will join us.

Food for thought:


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