This is something I’ve been thinking about: What’s the difference between animal welfare and animal rights? I certainly don’t have an answer, of course, and I’d love to hear what you think. Here’s how I’m looking at it right now:
“Animal rights” is hot. It’s divisive. It’s PETA. Animal rights activists argue that all animals have the same rights as humans (also animals, of course). The animal rights movement wants to end the use of animals for any domestic purposes, in some of the more extreme cases even as pets.
“Animal welfare” means we’re responsible for the care and humane treatment of all animals. Animal welfare is about being responsible for the animals who share our space. It’s animal shelters and the ASPCA.
The animal rights movement wants to end animal testing and horse racing and animals in the entertainment industry. Animal welfare doesn’t necessarily oppose those activities as long as the animals are treated well.
I suppose if my breakdowns are close to accurate, I fall somewhere in the middle. I think humans have worked very hard to domesticate many animals to help us, and as long as we treat those animals with care, love, and respect, we can have a great partnership. I think service dogs are a miracle. And I think animals in the entertainment industry, as long as they’re treated really well and not stressed out, are awesome. I mean, have you seen Hotel for Dogs?
But I don’t think animals should be used for testing. I don’t think we should have horse racing or greyhound racing. I think we need to take into consideration how incredibly intelligent animals are and factor that into our care and treatment.
So I suppose I fall somewhere in the middle? This is pretty heavy for a Friday, I know, but I’d love to hear what you think. What do you think are the differences between animal rights and animal welfare? And where do you fall on the continuum?