A pair of Rutgers University professors who live with six rescued dogs believe that owning pets is immoral and "violates the fundamental rights of animals."

In an article in digital magazine Aenon, Gary Francione and Anna Charlton claim that animals matter morally and cannot be considered property.

"When we talk about animal rights, we are talking primarily about one right: the right not to be property. The reason for this is that if animals matter morally – if animals are not just things – they cannot be property," the couple wrote in "The Case Against Animals."

Francione and Charlton claim that if humans were treated in the same way that pet owners treat animals, it would be considered a form of torture and in a sense, slavery.

"We are all generally agreed that all humans, irrespective of their particular characteristics, have the fundamental, pre-legal right not to be treated as chattel property. We all reject human chattel slavery," they said. "That is not to say that it doesn’t still exist. It does. But no one defends it."

The essay claims that there are currently more laws on the books that regulate "our use of  non-human animals — more than there were regulating human slavery. However, they contend, the laws don't work.

"These laws are relevant only when human interests and animal interests conflict. But humans have rights, including the right to own and use property. Animals are property. When the law attempts to balance human and non-human interests, the result is preordained," Francione and Charlton say.

The pair lives with six "rescue dogs," but claim the dogs aren't their property, but "non-human refugees" with whom they share their home.

"Although we love them very much, we strongly believe that they should not have existed in the first place," they state in the essay.

The professors speak out against zoos, aquariums and animal testing and any other ways that humans have "used" animals.

"The bottom line: whether you adopt an animal-rights position and recognise that animals must have a basic, pre-legal right not to be property, or you stay with conventional wisdom, the result is the same: substantially all of our uses of animals must be abolished," the essay states.

Toniann Antonelli is a social content producer for NJ 101.5. She can be reached at toniann.antonelli@townsquaremedia.com, or on Twitter @ToniRadio1015.

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