The use of animals for entertainment or gaming constitutes animal cruelty because they are subject to unjust suffering or harm. Animal rights activists are justified in their belief that the use of animals for entertainment or gaming constitutes animal cruelty because it is proven through factual evidence that animals suffer needlessly in the name of entertainment. Animals are victims of violence when they are forcefully involved in activities for the purpose of entertainment, and should not be exploited by humans because they are unable to make decisions for themselves.
Although animals are incapable of giving consent to participate in such events, these defenseless creatures should be entitled to rights that protect them from further acts of cruelty. Animals Deserve Rights Animal cruelty is defined as the crime of inflicting physical pain, suffering or death on an animal, usually a tame one, beyond necessary force for normal discipline. It can include neglect that is so monstrous—withholding food and water—that the animal has suffered, died or been put in imminent danger of death.
Animal rights activists contend that the use of animals for sports or any form of entertainment can also be labeled as animal cruelty. They claim that activities such as dogfighting, circuses, magic shows, and training elephants cause animals to suffer needlessly in order to gratify the entertainment of other people. The opposite side of the argument asserts that there is nothing wrong with using animals for entertainment purposes, as long as the animals are treated humanely.
They emphasize that animals are doing what their instincts tell them to do; they were born and bred into behaving a certain way and do not suffer from violent activities. Aware of both sides of the argument, at what point are ethics broached when we use animals to our benefit? Do federal regulations go too far to impose animal rights or do they need to tighten up on the restrictions that protect animals from cruelty?
Although rights are ethical principles applicable only to beings capable of reason and choice, animals are vulnerable against violence and should be subject to rights that protect them from harm, including exploitation by humans for entertainment purposes. Every day animals are endangered by thoughtless and immoral actions as a result of human exploitation—they are left defenseless against their malice behavior. There are many different reasons why humans abuse animals. Some believe there are justifications that permit manipulation of animals, especially if their intentions are to provide entertainment or for sport.
Although in a recent article, Cruelty on the Court by Gemma Vaughan, there is an indication that humans abandon all morality and treat animals with shockingly aggressive behavior for sport purposes. The article is about a school fundraiser put on by some districts that includes a cruel spectacle called “donkey basketball” that should have been banned a long time ago. In these events, donkeys are victims of gross mistreatment as students and faculty shoot hoops from the back of the animals.
Donkeys used in these fundraisers are repeatedly handled roughly by rowdy riders who are more interested in putting on a good show for audiences rather than treating these animals with the care they deserve. It is described in the article how donkeys used for basketball games are loaded and unloaded onto tractor-trailers and hauled back and forth from each event. An appalling statistic reinforces the notion that the donkeys are subjects of animal cruelty: “According to The Donkey Sanctuary in the U. K. an average-size donkey is not able to bear much more than 100 pounds, yet in most games, donkeys are forced to carry riders weighting 150 pounds or more” (Vaughan, 2012). This incidence is a convincing piece of evidence that animals are subject to abuse and should be given rights that prevent occurrences like this from ever happening again. Vaughan goes on to say that supporting donkey basketball reinforces kids the idea that forcing animals to perform ridiculous stunts is acceptable if it’s for a “good cause” and leads people to become desensitized towards the abuse of animals.
If you thought “donkey basketball” was shocking enough, there are many other instances where animals are mistreated and suffer greater a severity of afflictions. These incidences are known as dogfighting and horse racing, which are widely known for entertainment purposes. The reason why these performances are more dangerous is because the animals in these instances are exploited until they are no longer profitable or useful. In both sports, they usually result in an early and sometimes horrendous death. In the article, Rodeos Kill Horses, Don’t They by Jennifer O’Connor, an awful truth about horseracing is revealed.
In her article, O’Connor supports the argument that the use of animals for entertainment constitutes animal cruelty. She blatantly describes a horrifying incident when a horse is pushed too far during a race: “A horse stumbles, his leg shattered, his life over…Animals routinely die on the rodeo circuit…Since 1986, 62 animals at the Stampede have died or been euthanized. Of that number, 54 have been horses” (O’Connor, 2012). This statement provides evidence that animals are unrightfully subject to extreme cruelty, even death, as a result of people’s crude treatment for entertainment purposes.
Considering the use of animals for entertainment constitutes animal cruelty, it is evident that lax government policies need to be more firm to impose proper federal regulations regarding this issue. Animals are not properly protected by the law and as a result, they must suffer deadly consequences. There has been a certain incident that exposes a major breach in federal law when in reference to the article, The Cruelest Show on Earth by Deborah Nelson, which tells of an appalling mistreatment of a circus elephant.
In the article, the City Council of Los Angeles bans circus elephant performances in traveling shows and exhibits due to the occurrence of an unruly death of a three-year-old Asian elephant. The elephant one morning was supposed to perform his usual tricks in The Greatest Show on Earth when he clearly became sick. The attendants alerted a circus veterinary technician, worried for the elephant. In the article, Nelson states what was supposed to have happened in this instance, “Under federal regulations, sick elephants must get prompt medical care and a veterinarian’s okay before performing.
Neither occurred, and at show time Kenny [the elephant] trotted out to the center ring” (Nelson, 2011). The attendants did not stress any concern for the elephant’s poor health and allowed him to make his third appearance. After the third show, the elephant’s condition worsened as he began bleeding from his bottom. The elephant crew gave the elephant water and shackled him in his stalk. Less than two hours later, a night attendant discovered his “bloodied body on the concrete floor” (Nelson, 2011); he was presumed dead without cause.
The USDA in response to this situation charged Feld Entertainment, the circus company responsible for the incident, with two violations for making the elephant perform ill without prompt or adequate veterinary care. This is an obvious case in point of animal cruelty, and should prompt further actions by the federal government to create more stringent animal rights. Although animal rights activists have a strong argument supporting their claim, others contend that animals are not entitled to rights. They believe that animals are not beings capable of exercising or responding to moral claims.
Animals therefore have no rights, and they must be handled by the discretion of their owner. This is the center of the argument about the supposed rights regarding animals. The holders of rights, or humans, are entitled to comprehend rules of duty, governing all including themselves (Cohen, 2000). The one who possesses these rights must also recognize possible conflicts between what is their own interest and what is fair. This idea is expressed by Richard Stratton, author of “The Truth About the American Pit Bull Terrier”.
This article argues that dog fights should be legal because the owner is capable of deciding the rights of the animal, “Dogs such as the American pit bull terrier were bred for centuries to fight and should be allowed to spar…Dogs rarely die during matches. And owners should have the right to fight their dogs if they wish” (Stratton, 2007). This statement further expresses the argument that humans are capable of morality, and thus must exercise this power over beings such as animals that do not have this ability.
This is a valid argument to contend over this issue, but contains a problem in itself. The problem concerning the side of the argument against animal rights is obvious; the holders of rights may not recognize what is just because they can only consider what is in their own interests. Some hold the belief that there is a general code of morality to do no harm to animals; some hold that there is a general obligation to do good to animals when that is reasonably within one’s power.
Therefore, the concept that humans are obligated to reserve sovereign power over animals because they are the ones capable of morality is flawed; allowing people to treat animals freely by their own personal discretion allows the opportunity for them inflict unreasonable pain and suffering, which does not sound humane or ethical. Therefore, animals should be given rights that protect them from unreasonable pain and suffering. Even though animals do not have the ability to give consent to participate in entertainment activities, they should not be exploited for the gaming purposes.
The use of animals for entertainment or gaming is not only a form of animal cruelty, but it is a pristine example of humans taking advantage of their superiority and ability to make moral claims to exploit animals for their own desires. Animals should no longer be vulnerable subjects suffering or unreasonable harm. Humans may be able to hold the capacity to make moral claims, but animals do have the mental capacity to understand pain and suffering and should be qualified for protection through firmer regulations.
Cohen, C. (2000, January 26). Why Animals Have No Rights. Retrieved from http://people.ucalgary.ca/~powlesla/personal/hunting/rights/cohen.txt Nelson, D. (2011, December 11). The Cruelest Show on Earth. Retrieved from http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2011/10/ringling-bros-elephant-abuse O’Connor, J. (2012, July 18th). Rodeos Kill Horses, Don’t They?. Retrieved from http://incitytimesworcester.org/2012/07/18/rodeos-kill-horses-dont-they/ Stratton, R. (2007, August 3). The Truth About the American Pit Bull Terrier. Vaughan, G. (2012, October 3rd). Cruelty on the Court. Retrieved from http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2012/10/03/18722967.php