Are You an Animal Rights Expert?

Published by Heather Faraid Drennan.

It never hurts to brush up on answers to questions about animal issues—even seasoned protesters can get a stumper from passersby now and then. See if you know the answers to the following five questions that often pop up in discussions about animal rights:

What’s wrong with eggs and dairy products from “free-range” animals? There are no standards for what “free-range” means, so animals on such farms may still spend most of their time in filthy, crowded sheds. Cruel practices such as searing off hens’ beaks with a hot blade and relegating male calves to veal crates occur, and when the animals stop producing enough eggs or milk, they are sent to the same slaughterhouses as factory-farmed animals.

If we don’t test on animals, what other methods are available? Computer simulations, cell cultures, human cadavers, and clinical trials are just some of the many options researchers can use instead of animal testing to obtain more accurate and cost-effective results.

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What’s wrong with wearing wool? In Australia—where most of the world’s merino wool comes from—sheep have been bred to have excessively wrinkled skin in order to produce more wool. The wrinkles collect moisture, which attracts flies, so many farmers resort to “mulesing,” a gruesome and cruel procedure in which huge chunks of skin and flesh are cut from lambs’ backsides in a crude attempt to prevent flystrike.

Should we put endangered animals in zoos? Endangered animals bred in zoos are rarely released into the wild. Instead, they will spend their lives “warehoused” in cramped enclosures that cannot come close to replicating their natural habitats. As a result, many develop stereotypic behaviors such as pacing, rocking from side to side, and self-mutilation. The only humane and effective way to combat extinction is to protect animals’ habitats.

What’s wrong with using a choke or prong collar on my dog? As their names imply, choke and prong collars inflict discomfort and pain, and they can severely injure dogs’ necks and throats. Far safer and more humane options are no-pull harnesses and halters like the Easy Walk, Halti, or even a standard figure-H harness. For cruelty-free dog-training tips, check out celebrity dog trainer Tamar Geller’s video series for PETA.

Have another animal rights question that you’ve always wondered about? Visit PETA’s Frequently Asked Questions page.

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind