Animals aren't humans, and don't want our 'rights'
With the exception perhaps of the Great Apes, other species don't require or benefit from special protections from us. Animal rights is not in their best interests. In the majority of cases, animal rights runs CONTRARY to animal welfare. Nature doesn't much care about the destiny of an individual--it's all about the genetic lineage, and about the survival of the species. Mankind's companions in the journey of life are all the species that he interacts with--every domesticated or wild opportunist that relies on him in order to survive and thrive.
A cow is an INCREDIBLY successful animal, due to the bargain it has made with mankind--we care for them, we spread them across the globe, we keep their lineages healthy...the fact that we eat them is irrelevant, if it weren't for us, they would not exist at all. The wild animals they evolved from cover only a small area of the planet. If we are not permitted to care for and eat cows, then they will become extinct.
In my opinion, there can be no greater sin than to be responsible for the extinction of a species. Once it is gone, there will never be one just like that again.
All of our companions include the cattle, horses, sheep, dogs, cats, poultry, rabbits, ferrets, cats, dogs, and yes, even so-called 'exotics' like many reptiles and amphibians, cage birds, and small pet species. Everything that we take into our care and propagate and spread benefits tremendously from its association with us, because we allow it to branch into new habitats by providing those habitats for it, and we allow its numbers and range to increase far beyond what they could have in its original environment. In more than one case, we have saved species from natural extinction by taking them into our care. This is evolution.
The animal rights people would have you believe it is unnatural, but nothing could be further from the truth.
By appealing to us, these species have found a winning strategy, and they have won their survival. Being our companions is not a burden they must bear, it is an example of the incredible interconnectedness and innovative nature of life itself.
Ask the Wollemi pine tree how terrible humans are. Ask the domestic dog, so amazingly evolved to interact with us, whether being our pet is a burden. Ask the axolotl if we lack compassion for its kind, now critically endangered in the wild, but living and thriving in every research lab and biology classroom in the world.
As global warming progresses, we will have still more species to rescue from the brink. Are we responsible for that? It doesn't matter. It would have happened eventually anyhow, because it always has in the past, many times in our Earth's history. To those species, it doesn't matter at all. What matters is survival...by any means, however strange, wondrous, distasteful, or beautiful. That is what life is.