In order to give you proper understanding of the way in which this right should be determined in terms of freedom, we supply two schemes.
The first scheme shows how in practice and based on current Dutch legislation concerning animals, the keeping and killing of animals is looked upon. This is based on two viewpoints: the law on the one hand and "common sense" in society on the other. Only (active) abuse of animals is considered to be immoral and rejected by society as well as legally forbidden. Passive animal mistreatment is turned down by a majority of society, but not yet opposed to by this majority when it comes down to standing up against such practices. On this particular point the law has not yet been adapted also. The law's upholder is behind the times, considering the "brutal" border crossing by factory farming. Per situation or action the first scheme indicates whether this is or is not legally justified, and if the situation can be avoided.

In the second scheme we show how the same situations ought to be judged if animals are entitled to a constitutional right to freedom.
For example: Unavoidable and legally prohibited is "nothing" (no example could be brought forward). Poaching on the other hand is avoidable and at the same time legally prohibited.

 

Scheme I. Animal rights in the present situation


Present situation

 

Unavoidable Avoidable Immoral / in poor taste
Legally inadmissible

Nothing

Poaching

Animal abuse

Legally admissible

Killing viruses

Killing bacteria

Insects as traffic victims

Unintentional tread on insects during a walk

Wearing fur for luxury reasons

Attending organised animal fights or sports

Circus animals

Eating meat

Killing flies and mosquitoes

Caged birds

Pets

Zoo

Hunting animals for pleasure

Angling

Factory farming

Mammals as victims of traffic or bycatch

Bestiality

Most situations in our companionship with animals belong to the category "avoidable", and it is up to the individual to choose to what extent he or she will go along. So far the present situation. Cells in red indicate what is considered to be "not done".

 
The next scheme shows how things ought to be if we indeed base ourselves on a reasonable interest of man, as stated in the Health and Welfare Law for Animals. Attention: the category "avoidable" is now qualified and called "to be avoided". With this subtle difference we intend to indicate that it has to be preferred to avoid these subjects or situations, but that given the situation the principle that animals are entitled to freedom, remains. For example: if you are of the opinion that it is allowed to eat animals (an avoidable situation and unnecessary), you are nevertheless morally obliged to choose for those animals that - during their lives before being slaughtered - have had as much as possible the opportunity to live up to their natural behaviour.
The animals concerned are invertebrates, fish, reptiles, amphibians, birds and mammals. In principle animal rights apply to all animals, but given the enormous variety of species we do acknowledge that differences may occur between showing full respect to every fly or every elephant.
 

Scheme II. Animal rights based on freedom

Situation aimed for

 

Unavoidable

Avoidable

Immoral / in poor taste

Legally inadmissible /

no reasonable human interest

Nothing

Breeding of fur-coated animals

Hunting animals for pleasure

Circus animals

Angling

Factory farming

Experiments on animals

Keeping exotic pets

Caged birds

Private zoos

Animal abuse

Poaching

Attending organised animal fights

Legally admissible /

human interest thinkable

Killing viruses

Killing bacteria

Insects as traffic victims

Unintentionally tread insects

Ecological farming

Eating meat

Controlled hunting *

Killing flies / mosquitoes

Keeping pets **

Mammals as traffic victims

Wearing fur for luxury reasons ***

Bestiality

 

Thinking in terms of freedom when dealing with animal rights, has a number of consequences for farming, sport and the ways in which we let pets be our companions: these attitudes need to be curtailed.

*We would like best to see controlled hunting become superfluous, by encouraging natural balance; possibly by (re)introducing natural predators. By doing so it is not necessary to discuss whether or not controlled hunting should become forbidden.
**Keeping pets that were not over-bred and able to behave naturally. In general one could say that when it is a pet's choice -in sheer freedom- to stay with someone, there can be nothing wrong about keeping the animal as a pet.
***Wearing fur (in coats f.e.) is a different matter than breeding fur-coated animals. To forbid people to wear fur clothes goes too far, because in order to protest against this derogation of their freedoms it may very well enlarge the number of people who buy and wear fur.
Something similar applies to compelling people to eat ecologically produced meat. In the interest of these matters it is more useful to put pressure upon the public opinion.

Intentionally no definition of freedom is given. Freedom is a paradoxical concept, that by thorough elaboration becomes unworkable: "freedom defined is freedom denied".