Organized efforts to improve living conditions of animals date back to the 19th century. At that time, animals started to be given a greater concern as sentient beings, subject to feelings of pain, hunger and suffering.
It caused criticism on some forms of cruelty. This concept was first developed in Great Britain in the 19th century. Today the core concept in animal treatment refers to five basic freedoms, as formulated by professor John Webster, which are:
1. Freedom from Hunger and Thirst – by ready access to fresh water and a diet to maintain full health and vigour.
2. Freedom from Discomfort – by providing an appropriate environment including shelter and a comfortable resting area.
3. Freedom from Pain, Injury or Disease – by prevention or rapid diagnosis and treatment.
4. Freedom to Express Normal Behaviour – by providing sufficient space, proper facilities and company of the animal’s own kind.
5. Freedom from Fear and Distress – by ensuring conditions and treatment which avoid mental suffering.
These abovementioned freedoms refer to animal protection, which is meant as efforts to reduce suffering of animals and support their humane treatment without concern for their ultimate use.
Various groups condemn intensive farming methods, laboratory animal research, fur farming, hunting and capture of wild and animals or species in extinction, conditions in which cattle is being imported, technics of nurturing of poultry or animals relevant to dietary industry.
Other aspects of this thematic field encompass exhibition of hunted animals, poisoning of wild predators, use of genetically modified food to nurture animals, conditions of veterinary profession, raising consciousness of animal rights and their advocacy. One of new priorities is farm animal welfare, activists criticize what they see as inacceptable farming conditions for animals and they urge for a stricter legislation concerning their shelter and treatment.
The range of aspects is very wide, so is the number of organizations present in this field. Now organizations working in the field of animal protection constitute a very widespread grassroot movement after being on the fringe in last decades. Some people believe that the animal rights movement is today the successor of the antiwar and human rights movements of the 1960ties and 1970ties.
The biggest and the oldest organization of this kind in Poland is the Society for the Protection of Animals, which was established in Warsaw in 1864. It is worth mentioning that it was the second society of this kind in the world after the British Royal Society in 1840. The Polish society has been working in a coordinated and permanent manner since its creation. Many famous Poles have contributed to its benefit, such as Bolesław Prus, Henryk Sienkiewicz, Stefan Żeromski and many others. Now it operates in almost ninety local branches. It acts to protect animals, to treat them in a humane way, to shape positive attitude of people towards animals and to protect environment. Together with sponsors it organizes the World Animal Day. Currently it is developing a project, which enables to localize a lost dog via a microprocessor implanted under the dog’s skin with a proper number, containing information about the dog and its owner once the dog is found. The readers reading this information are being distributed between the Municipal Police, veterinary clinics, activists of the Society and dog shelters, who are enabled to identify lost dogs, which results in a decreased number of homeless dogs in shelters.
Here are some of the most important animal rights organizations in the world:
At International Animal Rescue – http://www.internationalanimalrescue.org/ – they return rescued animals to their natural environment, but also provide a permanent home for animals that can no longer survive in the wild. As human populations expand, wildlife comes under increasing threat. By rescuing individual animals belonging to species in extinction and reintroducing them into protected areas in the wild, their work also plays a role in the conservation of the species as a whole.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals – https://www.aspca.org was the first humane society to be established in North America. Today it is one of the biggest in the world. They are privately founded and they have over 2 million supporters nationwide. It maintains a solid local presence and it is aimed at providing effective means for the prevention of cruelty to animals in the United States. They act to strengthen legal protection of animals, to get animals out of shelters and to find them homes as well as to shape attitudes towards animals and raise conscience about the need to improve living conditions of animals.
League against Cruel Sports – http://www.league.org.uk it is a British charity aimed at reducing cruelty to animals associated with sports such as bird shooting, fox shooting, wildlife crime, preventing illegal dog hunting, dog fighting, bullfighting, badger culling and others. They have campaigned for 90 years and they have managed to introduce many hunting bans and involve many people to support them.
Safe Animals from Exploitation (SAFE) – http://www.safe.org.nz is a New Zealand organization. It acts against extensive pig and chicken farming practices. It also opposes live sheep exports, duck shooting, vivisection, genetically engineering animals. It wants to ban rodeos in New Zealand. It encourages people to reduce or eliminate meat consumption on health grounds as well for environmental and animal rights reasons. It is considered to be one of the more efficient organizations due to its good links to other environmental and animal rights groups, non- partisan approach and various methods of action.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals(PETA) http://www.peta.org/ with more than three million members and supporters is the largest animals organization in the world. It operates in the four sectors, where animals suffer most intensively for the longest period of time. It is the food industry, the clothing one, the vivisection and the entertainment industry. They also deal with the cruelty to domesticated pets. Their spectre of actions is very miscellaneous as they do research, advocate animal oriented legislation, do animal rescue and cruelty investigations, educate public, organize protests, involve celebrities and organize special events. They encourage going vegan as the ultimate new year resolution to be kinder to animals, to save water, decrease pollution, decrease of greenhouse – gas emissions – as the meat industry generates many collateral costs not to mention health benefits. http://www.peta.org/features/ultimate-new-years-resolution-go-vegan/