Should Animals be Used in Modern Warfare?

In most instances, it is ignored that animals are innocent casualties of warfare. Throughout history of human conflict, animals have been employed as military instruments of war. At present, the utilization of animals is still common, but the intentions are ever more varied. Elephants were employed in warfare in 1100s BC. In addition, they were typically associated with Alexander the Great as early as in 356-323 BC and Hannibal in 247-183 BC. The journey of Hannibal with elephants traversing the Alps to wage war with the Romans was eminent, but historians articulate that majority of his elephants died at the time of the trip (Mares, 2012). The Roman Empire integrated elephants into its military after seizing them from overpowered militias. Elephants, in this case, were mostly utilized in order to instill fear in the opponents. Their ears and heads were sometimes painted with shiny colors in order to make them look frightening. Despite the fact that they performed a key task in some combats, they were also a liability.

Of all the service animals in exploitation, the ones employed by the military present the most contentious issue. To animal rights advocates and welfarists, the exploitation of animals by the military is extremely disturbing (Mares, 2012). These animals are usually placed into a great danger and several of them eventually die at service. Members of the military, on the other hand, articulate that these animals have saved several human lives in fights. They claim that animal losses in war are deplorable, but tolerable if human lives are saved. Animal rights proponents argue that animals used in warfare are not aware of whatever they are fighting for or against and the likelihood of their survival is extremely poor.

Animal Welfare and Rights Proponents’ Perspectives

Despite the fact that some animal work is categorized, it has been identified that the United States military employed dogs, marine mammals, sea lions, horses, beluga whales, pigeons, dolphins and chickens during the battles. Apart from the horses, several of these animals are still being utilized in the current warfare. According to the Department of Defense, in February 2005 approximately 2,300 dogs were functioning as guards, detecting land mines and bombs, and carrying out explorations, rescue, as well as recovery roles for the United States military (Mepham, 2011). Several were exploited in Iraq or Afghanistan to tackle the ongoing military disagreements in the states. Among the widespread breeds employed are Belgian Malinois, German and Dutch shepherds (Mares, 2012).

The United States used hundreds of animals in 2003 at the time of Iraq invasion. Animal welfare and rights groups such as the HSUS and PETA condemned the exploitation of animals. In April 2003, PETA spokeswoman and wildlife biologist addressed a letter to the secretary of defense Rumsfeld Donald (Mares, 2012). The letter stated that animals were not in any way signed up and aware of anything they had to do with Saddam Hussein or Iraq, and possibly, they would not survive. Other advocates went further to lay the blame on military for needlessly exploiting animals at a time when classy tools could be utilized instead (Cohen & Regan, 2001).

In Iraq, the military dogs carry out several roles including bomb detection, guard tasks and assistance in capturing enemy soldiers. Birds were used in Iraq as an alert to the threat of a biological or chemical assault. Nevertheless, their utilization is not perceived as an achievement, because almost no chickens have survived in the desert due to stress, injury, heat and illness. Some may have been eaten by the hungry American soldiers (Mares, 2012). About 200 pigeons were deployed to replace the chickens, but they died in the same manner. Utilization of specifically trained dolphins was more successful.

The United States employed the two bottled-nose Atlantic dolphins, referred to as Tacoma and Makai, to find the underwater mines along the Coast of Iraq. The dolphins were trained to identify the mines without exploding them and then, provide an alert to the handlers. The Marine Mammal Program, started by the navy in 1960, taught the mammals to undertake such functions as guarding vessels, filming objects under the water, reclaiming and conveying the equipment. They were utilized during the Vietnam War and in the Persian Gulf in 1980 (Mepham, 2011).

Soldiers deployed around the globe usually befriend with stray cats and dogs in other nations. They claim that these cats and dogs provide them with necessary comfort and friendship in times of military disagreements. Some military personnel working in Iraq in the beginning of 2000 discovered that they eventually learned to love the animals they had accepted. Since only the military animals are permitted to fly on the Department planes, soldiers are forced to look for alternative means of transportation of the adopted stray animals to the U.S. The costs of transporting an animal across the world borders and tackling with technical problems can rise up to two thousand dollars. Therefore, military support organizations and animal welfare groups have joined their hands to sponsor and draw volunteers to bring these animals to their new homes (Cohen & Regan, 2001).

Both soldiers and dogs undergo pain and suffering at war, but there is a big difference between them. Soldiers volunteer to sign up for military, whereas dogs by no means can choose to place their lives in danger in the interest of the state. Those, who concur with a conception of human power over animals, will most likely think that placing animals to serve humans in the manner of saving lives is a noble idea to implement. Some reward dogs for their service with medals and ranks to praise their bravery and loyalty (Mares, 2012). They acknowledge the bonds that exist between the handler and the dog and thus, struggle to reunite them when soldiers come back home. Different news stories demonstrate the power of the dog and soldier bond, which is irrefutable. However, the question here is whether this should be the case.

Several individuals will perhaps refute this claim, particularly if they attribute it to the Judeo-Christian idea that authority is construed as a stewardship (Cohen & Regan, 2001). This part of our population will without doubt question the military exploitation of animals, whether they are rats, canines or dolphins. Evidently, there is a relation to the exploitation of dogs in the search and rescue operations by the police. Obviously, these functions put a dog in risky situations, but little can be as dangerous as a war zone. The extent of risk is what definitely results in a robust view on either side of the issue. According to the basic standards of the modern animal rights faction, several species of animals have fundamental qualities that call for acknowledgement, contemplation and safeguarding. In the perspective of animal rights activists, these essential interests guarantee the animals both legal and moral rights.

Ethicists, Philosophers Perspectives

It has been articulated that the current animal rights faction is the primary social reform association established by philosophers. Australian philosopher, Peter Singer, and American philosopher, Tom Regan, are worth mentioning not only due to the significance of their work, but also because they represent the two key contemporaries of the philosophical idea concerning the moral rights of animals. Singer, whose Animal Liberation book of 1972 is perceived to be one of the campaign’s introductory documents, disputes that the interests of humans as well as animals must be offered the same concern (Mepham, 2011). As a utilitarian, Singer believes that the exploits are morally right to the point where they increase pleasure or reduce pain; the major debate is whether an animal is conscious and thus, can experience pain or pleasure.

The initiator of modern utilitarianism, named Jeremy Bentham, wrote regarding animals “The question is not, Can they reason? Nor, Can they talk? But, Can they suffer?” (Mares, 2012).Given the animals can undergo suffering, Singer claims that people possess an ethical responsibility to reduce or stop causing suffering as they have the same task to reduce or stop causing suffering and pain to a fellow human being (Mares, 2012). Regan, who is not a utilitarian, claims that to a certain degree some animals possess fundamental moral rights because they encompass similar developed cognitive capabilities that validate the ascription of fundamental moral rights to humans (Cohen & Regan, 2001). Due to the high merit of such capabilities, these animals also possess an intrinsic value. Therefore, in his words, the animals are actually the subjects of life.

Both Singer and Regan, as well as other advocates of philosophy of the animal rights, have experienced resistance (Mepham, 2011). Even some religious scholars dispute that animals do not have a moral consideration in comparison to humans who encompass an enduring soul. Others claim that because animals are illogical, humans have no obligation toward them. Others place the ethically pertinent difference between animals and humans in the capability to talk, the ownership of liberated will or attachment in an ethical community. The issue with these counterarguments is that with the exclusion of the theological dispute, which cannot be verified, no one distinguishes all animals from all humans. After philosophers initiated the animal rights campaign, ethicists, physicians, lawyers, psychologists, writers, academics and veterinarians, who were employed within their own fields to uphold animal rights, soon joined them. Several professional companies were set up to sensitize the public and colleagues concerning the mistreatment of animals.

In the beginning of the twenty first century, court cases concerning the interests of animals, in some instances with animals referred to as plaintiffs, turned out to be common. Lawyers’ escalating interests in animal rights protection matters have a considerable impact in the society due to the major positions they hold in the creation of public policy. Legal academics began formulating and assessing theories whereby animals encompass fundamental legal rights based on similar values and doctrines that apply to humans. Increasing scientific exploration into the social, poignant and cognitive capacities of animals and recent progress in the fields of psychology, genetics, ethology, neuroscience, evolution, and physiology, several of which have confirmed that animals and humans share a wide array of capacities, behaviors, and genetic material, provide strong support to these arguments (Cohen & Regan, 2001).

The animal welfare ethic that developed in the Neolithic period compelled individuals to take into consideration their animals’ wellbeing in an effort to attain their own rationales. It established a reciprocally favorable pact between humans and animals, which assumed that as soon as we took care of animals, they would take care of us in return. This prehistoric long-term agreement, stipulated individuals’ self-interest to consider their animals. Surprisingly, this very basic animal welfare moral exists in the modern world, particularly in situations where hands-on animal care persists. At present, we refer to this extraordinary relationship as the human-animal bond (Mares, 2012).

Philosophy is the bottom line argument in favor of the animal rights. Philosophical arguments entail abstract theories and concepts concerning questions of morality and ethics. It can be difficult to understand and relate to real-life circumstances, but philosophy is significant in terms of shaping people’s motivations and feelings toward a given problem. Philosophical disputes generally either validate or criticize some actions directed at animals (Mepham, 2011). Not all individuals involved in the animal faction believe in animal rights as most of them work there for various motives. However, historically, the most widespread motivator has been a concern for animal wellbeing.

When applied to animals, welfarism presumes that humans encompass the basic responsibility for their wellbeing. Welfarists accept that society utilizes animals for several reasons. Their aim is to minimize the extent of pain and distress animals undergo. Welfarism focuses on considerate and benevolent care and treatment. Regan’s Case for Animal Rights and several consequent books classify and fortify the idea of animal rights. He asserts that all beings that are subjects of a life with a pragmatic welfare deserve respectful treatment and a right to that action (Cohen & Regan, 2001). In other words, living beings that have conscious understanding and self-identity ought to have ethical rights. Regan fails to identify which animals exactly fall into this classification, but higher species such as vertebrates fit this criterion. This philosophy is distinct from utilitarianism and welfarism since it claims that animals possess moral rights to some freedoms and privileges just as humans do. Nevertheless, it does not imply that animals entail precisely similar rights as people do. The majority of animal rights activists believe that animals at least possess the rights to life and freedom from physical abuse (Mepham, 2011).

The philosopher renowned for condemning the animal rights is Carl Cohen. Cohen and Regan are the co-authors of The Animal Rights Debate that offers a point-counterpoint assessment of the problem. Cohen concludes that animals can never be the bearers of rights since the idea of rights relates directly to humans; it is ingrained in the human ethical globe and comprises force and applicability barely within that globe. He asserts that animals are conscious and they feel suffering and pain, but he is adamant in his opinion that sharing these characteristics with humans does not make animals ethically identical to them (Cohen & Regan, 2001).

A good number of people believes that it is not right to exploit animals in warfare. These individuals maintain that even animals have moral rights to liberty, life and other benefits that must be advocated by the society and law. These people are the strong advocates of animal rights and fundamentalists of the rights factions. When they write, articulate or announce their convictions, they are referred to as animal rights advocates. Other individuals consider some animals to have legal or moral rights in specific situations. They may save abandoned pets, advocate for legislations against animal exploitation in warfare, feed pigeons in the animal orphanage or undertake several other activities on behalf of animals (Mepham, 2011). These individuals are widely classified as animal welfarists and their notion of animal rights commonly depends on the situations. For instance, a welfarist might perhaps preserve the rights of pet cats and dogs, but feed on pork or chicken. This is deplorable for the fundamentalists of animal rights as they dispute that all animals possess rights that are relevant at all times. Such people experience opposition from several sources, and some of these disagreements are pushed by ethical and philosophical distinctions in viewpoints.

All animals have economic worth to humans. Livestock ranchers, farmers, pharmaceutical companies and breeders are some of the individuals that hold a material interest in the animal trade. If humans were to stop taking care and valuing these animals, they would lose their jobs. In virtue of the provided economic, philosophical and moral arguments, those against the notion of animal rights believe in it as robustly as those who advocate in favor of it.


Whether in peace or in conflict, animals undergo terrible injuries and even deaths caused by humans. We usually hear of landmines leading to deaths and cruel injuries of innocent individuals, but animals have a similar fate. In reality, ten to twenty animals are killed or harmed at landmines every day. Hundreds of these mines are normally invisible as they are hidden underneath the woodlands, paths fields and roadsides. The philosophy of animal rights calls for a necessary judgment. Any dispute that conceivably illustrates the independent worth of human beings means that even animals equally possess this same value. Moreover, any dispute that reasonably illustrates the right of humans to be treated with respect also means that animals possess the similar right. Therefore, people should not mistreat animals and use them in modern warfare.

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