Animal welfare vs. animal rights: understanding the difference
by Beth Coughlin, Boston Dog Laws Examiner
In the world of animal advocacy, it sometime can be difficult to keep an accurate scorecard between Animal Welfare and Animal Rights groups. One of the keys to telling the difference: if someone says there is no difference, they are on the animal rights side of the debate. As a responsible pet owner, it is critical to recognize the difference and support Animal Welfare organizations.
Animal welfare is defined by the American Veterinary Medical Association as "The ethical responsibility of ensuring animal well being". Some of the primary activities this includes are:
*The responsible use of animals for human purposes, such as companionship, food, fiber, recreation, work, education, exhibition, and research conducted for the benefit of both humans and animals, is consistent with the Veterinarian's Oath.
*Decisions regarding animal care, use, and welfare shall be made by balancing scientific knowledge and professional judgment with consideration of ethical and societal values.
*Animals must be provided water, food, proper handling, health care, and an environment appropriate to their care and use, with thoughtful consideration for their species-typical biology and behavior.
*Animals should be cared for in ways that minimize fear, pain, stress, and suffering.
*Procedures related to animal housing, management, care, and use should be continuously evaluated, and when indicated, refined or replaced.
*Conservation and management of animal populations should be humane, socially responsible, and scientifically prudent.
*Animals shall be treated with respect and dignity throughout their lives and, when necessary, provided a humane death.
* The veterinary profession shall continually strive to improve animal health and welfare through scientific research, education, collaboration, advocacy, and the development of legislation and regulations.
(retreived 7-5-09 from AVMA.com, "Issues in Animal Welfare")
The other half of the equation are animal rights groups. These include well-known names like PETA and HSUS, as well as many of the local shelters that they support in the guise of animal welfare groups. These organizations:
*Advocate pure veganism
*Object to any form of companion animal in principle and any planned breeding of companion animals in practice
*Seek to outlaw all forms of medical research requiring any type of animal other than human
*Seek to outlaw any form of medicine requiring animal inputs, such as natural forms of insulin
*Seek to outlaw the use of any form of animal skin for use in clothing or other manufacturing
*Oppose any form of animal cruelty
The one goal they both share is the ending of animal cruelty. Where the true difference lies is in the definition of cruelty. To the animal rights activist, the 20,000 years we have shared with dogs as companions, cooperative hunters, and fellow herdsmen is a form of slavery and cruelty rather than a beneficial relationship for both species.
Know the facts before you donate to an organization.
For more info: Vist the AVMA.com and the Animal Welfare Committee.