Whether praised, criticized, or dismissed, the quest for better treatment of animals - even perhaps extending to granting them some form of legal rights - has already made significant changes in Western society and law, and it may well make more profound ones in the decades to come. Most states and countries have laws against cruelty to animals, though the penalties for breaking these laws are often slight and the types of animals covered are limited. Wildlife species are protected if they are in danger of extinction. Regulations, not always carrying the force of law, place some limits on the treatment of animals in laboratories and on farms. For the most part, however, animals are legally regarded as property that their owners can use however they wish. Dealing with a contentious topic that animal rightist attorney Gary Francione has hailed as "the civil rights movement of the 21st century," Animal Rights examines all sides of the debate regarding animal welfare in contemporary American society.
Providing a broad overview to the topic, this invaluable reference resource helps students, teachers, librarians, journalists, and others involved in animal rights issues define, understand, and research this topic.