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In one way or another, nearly everyone’s life is affected by animals. Are we accountable for the way we treat them?

How should humans treat animals?


Some people believe that animals may be used in any way that humans see fit. Others feel that animals should be treated in much the same way as humans are.

  • One prominent animal-rights activist argued that animals should enjoy the “basic right not to be treated exclusively as resources or economic commodities.” He adds: “We should stop treating nonhuman animals as our property.”

  • In what many view as an extreme case, billionaire Leona Helmsley left a $12-million trust fund to her dog and willed that the dog’s remains be placed next to hers after its death.

To think about: How do you feel animals should be treated?


The Creator of life, Jehovah God, told humans to “have in subjection the fish of the sea and the flying creatures of the heavens and every living creature that is moving on the earth.” (Genesis 1:28) It is reasonable to conclude, then, that God views humans as superior to animals.

This conclusion is reinforced by a significant statement made just before the scripture quoted earlier. The Bible says that “God went on to create the man in his image, in God’s image he created him; male and female he created them.”​—Genesis 1:27.

Because humans were created “in God’s image,” we are unique in how we display godly qualities, such as wisdom, justice, and love. Humans also have an innate capacity for morality and spirituality. Animals lack such human abilities because they were not created “in God’s image.” They are inferior and not intended to be treated in the same way as humans are.

Does this mean that humans have the right to mistreat animals? No.

“Six days you are to do your work; but on the seventh day, you are to cease from your labor, in order that your bull and your donkey may rest.”​Exodus 23:12.

 Is it wrong to kill animals?


Some hunters and fishermen kill animals for sport, thrilling in the chase or the conquest. Others would agree with Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy, who wrote that killing and eating animals is “simply immoral.”


God allows people to kill animals to protect human life or to provide clothing. (Exodus 21:28; Mark 1:6) The Bible also says that humans may kill animals for food. “Every moving animal that is alive may serve as food for you,” says Genesis 9:3. Even Jesus helped his disciples to catch fish that they later ate.​—John 21:4-13.

Nevertheless, the Bible says that God “hates anyone who loves violence.” (Psalm 11:5) So it stands to reason that God does not want us to harm or kill animals merely for pleasure or for sport.

The Bible indicates that God places a high value on animal life.

  • The Bible says that at the time of creation, “God went on to make the wild animals of the earth according to their kinds and the domestic animals according to their kinds and all the creeping animals of the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.”​Genesis 1:25.

  • The Bible says of Jehovah: “To the animals he gives food.” (Psalm 147:9) God created an ecosystem that provides more than enough adequate food and shelter for animals.

  • King David of Israel said in prayer: “Man and beast you preserve, O Jehovah.” (Psalm 36:6) During the global Flood, for example, Jehovah preserved eight individuals and all kinds of animals before destroying the wicked people.​—Genesis 6:19.

Clearly, Jehovah approves of his animal creation, and he expects humans to treat animals with due regard.

“The righteous one takes care of his domestic animals.”​Proverbs 12:10.