Question: "What does the Bible say about animal rights?"
Answer: The Word of God does not mention the treatment of animals in great extent. However, from the creation account we get both how we must treat animals and what the Bible says about those animals. In Genesis 1 we find the creation of all things. It is during this chapter, in the Bible, that God sets the relationship between man and animal. (This relationship will change some in Genesis 9, which we will discuss later). In verses 28-30 in Genesis 1 God describes how man and animals are to exists. In verse 28 God gives to man authority over all that was created on earth. Man is to take care of and use the earth. Man is to have the authority over all that was created. This means that man is to ensure the control and protection of all that God had created.
We must be careful in this role. Many are for protecting every animal no matter the cost both to mankind and to the animals. However, it is important to notice what God does after the sin of man. Genesis 3 gives to us the details of the first sin man commits. In verse 21 God prepares for mankind a covering out of skin, for the first time an animal dies. The implications from this flow throughout the Word of God, because of man's sin death has entered the world. However, for our discussion on animals it is important to understand that the animals are to be used by men for our needs.
In Genesis 9 there is a change between man and animal. Up until this point in history animals were not used as food. However, God now puts certain animals in the diet of mankind. God also puts fear into the animals, so that they fear mankind. Again animals are used as to fill the needs of men. However, God continues His command in verse 2 to watch over these animals.
Animal cruelty should not take place if men truly have this command in proper perspective. We are to control the numbers of animals so disease and sickness do not kill them off, we are to use the animals for our needs, we are to control animals in a manner in which they are not harmful to humans, and finally we should protect them from over-killing and abuse. The problem lies in the fact that many do not understand this balance and tend to over protect or under protect animals. Animals were created for you and I to enjoy, so protecting a remnant for others to enjoy is also proper. Proverbs 12:10 tells us, "A righteous man cares for the needs of his animal, but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel."