- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 22, 2016

Two Rutgers University law professors have published an essay making a “case against pets,” arguing that domestication of animals is a form of torture that is morally and ethically wrong.

Despite living with six rescue dogs, professors Gary Francione and Anna Charlton describe their pets as “non-human refugees,” according to an article they published on Aeon.co this month.

“Although we love them very much, we strongly believe that they should not have existed in the first place,” the couple wrote. “We oppose domestication and pet ownership because these violate the fundamental rights of animals.

“When we talk about animal rights, we are talking primarily about one right: the right not to be property,” they continued. “We all reject human chattel slavery. That is not to say that it doesn’t still exist. It does. But no one defends it.”

The professors argued that the way animals for food are treated would be considered torture if people endured the same treatment.

“However ‘humanely’ we treat animals, they are still subjected to treatment that, were humans involved, would be torture,” they wrote.

The professors also oppose the killing of animals for human consumption, saying a “sensible vegan diet” is the preferred alternative. They wrote that in a perfect world, the domestication of animals would be completely eradicated.

“We would be obliged to care for those domesticated animals who presently exist, but we would bring no more into existence,” they wrote.

“Domesticated animals are completely dependent on humans, who control every aspect of their lives,” they continued. “They remain perpetually in a netherworld of vulnerability, dependent on us for everything that is of relevance to them. We have bred them to be compliant and servile, and to have characteristics that are pleasing to us, even though many of those characteristics are harmful to the animals involved. We might make them happy in one sense, but the relationship can never be ‘natural’ or ‘normal’. They do not belong in our world, irrespective of how well we treat them. This is more or less true of all domesticated non-humans. They are perpetually dependent on us. We control their lives forever. They truly are ‘animal slaves.’”

They wrote that in a fair and just world, “there would be no pets at all, no fields full of sheep, and no barns full of pigs, cows and egg-laying hens. There would be no aquaria and no zoos.”

“If animals matter morally, we must recalibrate all aspects of our relationship with them. The issue we must confront is not whether our exploitation of them is ‘humane’ — with all of the concomitant tinkering with the practices of animal-use industries — but rather whether we can justify using them at all,” they concluded.

According to Mr. Francione’s Rutgers profile, the law professor has been an outspoken advocate of animal rights for the past 25 years. He and Ms. Charlton, an adjunct law professor, founded and operated the Rutgers Animal Rights Law Clinic from 1990-2000.

His bio states Mr. Francione is currently on leave.

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