Animals Animal Rights The Top 10 Animal Rights Issues By Doris Lin Doris Lin Writer University of Southern California MIT Doris Lin an animal rights attorney and the Director of Legal and Government Affairs for the Animal Protection League of New Jersey. Learn about our editorial process Updated March 3, 2021 Fact checked by Betsy Petrick Fact checked by Betsy Petrick Ohio Wesleyan University Brandeis University Northeastern University Betsy Petrick is an experienced researcher, writer, and producer. Learn about our fact checking process Share Twitter Pinterest Email Animals Wildlife Pets Animal Rights Endangered Species Here is a list of the top animal rights issues being discussed, based on the effects on animals and the numbers of animals and people involved. It's all due to the human population, which is over 7.7 billion people and growing. Human Overpopulation Maremagnum/The Image Bank/Getty Images Human overpopulation is the No. 1 threat to wild and domestic animals worldwide. Whatever humans do to use, abuse, kill, or displace animals is magnified by the number of people on the planet, which is over 7.7 billion as of March 2021. While developing nations are experiencing greater population growth, those in developing nations generally consume more meat, and consequently have a greater impact. Property Status of Animals Hero Images/Getty Images Every animal use and abuse stems from their treatment as human property, to be used for human purposes no matter how trivial. From a practical standpoint, changing the property status of animals would benefit pets and their human guardians. We could start by referring to domestic animals living with us as "companion animals" instead of pets and referring to people caring for them as "guardians," not owners. Most dog and cat guardians refer to them as their "fur children" and consider them members of the family. With millions of cats and dogs killed in shelters every year, nearly all activists agree that people should spay and neuter their pets. Some activists oppose keeping pets, but no one wants to take your dog from you. A very small number of activists oppose sterilization because they believe it infringes on the animal's right to be free from human intervention. Veganism Enrique Díaz/7cero/Getty Images Veganism is more than a diet. It's about abstaining from all animal use and animal products, whether it's meat, milk, leather, wool, or silk. People who follow a plant-based diet may be doing it for ethical or nutritional reasons, while those who adopt a vegan diet for nutritional reasons might not abstain from buying or wearing leather or even fur. They aren't vegan because they love animals, but because they want to live a healthier lifestyle. Factory Farming PeopleImages/Getty Images Although factory farming involves many cruel practices, it isn't just those practices that are objectionable. The use of animals and animal products for food is antithetical to animal rights. Fish and Fishing Sirachai Arunrugstichai/Getty Images Many people have a hard time understanding objections to eating fish, but fish do feel pain. Also, overfishing threatens the survival of those that make up the marine ecosystem, in addition to the species targeted by commercial fisheries. So fish farms are not the answer. 'Humane' Meat Allan Baxter/Getty Images While some animal protection organizations promote "humane" meat, others believe that the term is an oxymoron. Each side argues that its position helps animals. Animal Experimentation Isarapab Chumruksa/EyeEm/Getty Images Some animal advocates argue that the results of experiments on animals are invalid when applied to humans, but regardless of whether the data helps humans, performing experiments on them violates their rights. Don't expect the Animal Welfare Act to protect them; many species used in experiments are not covered under the AWA. Hunting Johner Images/Getty Images Animal rights activists oppose any killing of an animal for meat, whether it's done in a slaughterhouse or a forest, but there are arguments specifically against hunting that are important to understand. Fur Alexandra C. Ribeiro/EyeEm/Getty Images Whether captured in a trap, raised on a fur farm or bludgeoned to death on an ice floe, animals suffer and die for fur. Although fur coats have fallen out of fashion, fur trim is still widely available and sometimes isn't even labeled as real fur. Animals in Entertainment andreroseta/Getty Images Greyhound racing, horse racing, rodeos, marine mammals on display, and animals used in movies and television are treated as chattel. Where there is exploitation for money, the potential for abuse is a constant problem. To achieve the behavior necessary to appear in movies or commercials, animals are often mistreated into submission. In other instances, the fact that they are not allowed to follow their natural behavior can result in catastrophic consequences, as was the case with Travis the chimp. How You Can Help BluIz60/Getty Images Trying to understand and take on "animal rights" as a whole can be daunting. Many issues concerning animal rights are fluid and evolutionary, with legislative changes occurring every day at the state and federal level. For example, Grey2KUSA Worldwide announced on May 13, 2016, that Arizona became the 40th state to ban greyhound racing. If you want to help, choose an issue or a few issues about which you are passionate and find other activists who share your concerns.