Animal Rights
vs Animal Welfare

Animal Activist or Animal Advocate?
Animal RIGHTS or Animal WELFARE?
Do YOU know the difference?
Animal Welfare supports humane use and treatment of animals and believes that humans have a responsibility to care for animals. Animal Welfare includes humane treatment and responsible care of animals used by humans for service, research, food, education, kept in zoos or sanctuaries, and especially those animals kept by pet owners.

Animal Rights (AR) is based on moral and ethical philosophies. While Animals Rights Advocates and Groups talk about humane care, the bottom line is to work for humane care and legislation ONLY until all animals can be removed from human use. The reason for this is the Animal Rights belief that no species on this planet is better than another; therefore, humans have no right to dominate over, use, breed, or eat non-human species.

"..can the slavery of animals be justified? After all, precisely what characteristic or "defect" is it that animals have that justifies our treatment of them as our slaves, as our things, as property that exists only for the sake of us, the human masters. The reality is that we progressives like to think that we have eschewed all vestiges of slavery from our lives, but the reality is that we are all slave owners, the plantation is the earth, sown with the seeds of greed, and the slaves are our nonhuman sisters and brothers." Gary Francione, (Professor-Rutgers School of Law) Animal Rights Commentary, February 15, 1996: Human Superiority.

Additional Quotes:

"Probably everything we do is a publicity stunt ... we are not here to gather members, to please, to placate, to make friends. We're here to hold the radical line." Ingrid Newkirk, PeTA's president and founder, USA Today, September 3, 1991

"Arson, property destruction, burglary and theft are 'acceptable crimes' when used for the animal cause." Alex Pacheco, Director, PETA

"In a perfect world, we would not keep animals for our benefit, including pets," Tom Regan, emeritus professor of philosophy at North Carolina State University and author of "Empty Cages" - speaking at University of Wisconsin-Madison campus, March 3, 2004

"The entire animal rights movement in the United States reacted with unfettered glee at the [Fox Hunting] Ban in England ...We view this act of parliament as one of the most important actions in the history of the animal rights movement. This will energise our efforts to stop hunting with hounds." Wayne Pacelle, CEO, Humane Society of the US (HSUS), London Times, December 26, 2004

"We are going to use the ballot box and the democratic process to stop all hunting in the United States ... We will take it species by species until all hunting is stopped in California. Then we will take it state by state. Wayne Pacelle, Senior VP Humane Society of the US (HSUS), formerly of Friends of Animals and Fund for Animals, Full Cry Magazine, October 1, 1990.

Current surveys show that nearly 70% of pet owners consider their pets as family members. This is a good thing as this raises the level of care and commitment that owners provide for their pets.

The Animal Rights leaders and grassroots organizations are very adept at blurring the lines between Animal Welfare and Animal Rights. Animal Rights Groups exploit our love of animals to work for various types of restrictive legislation (limit laws, breed specific legislation, mandatory spay/neuter) as well as laws that are steps toward changing the legal status of animals as property.

In a speech to the Animal Agriculture Alliance, Wes Jamison, PhD, an associate professor of agriculture at Dordt College said the animal rights movement, which has its roots in Europe, is here to stay. Dr Jamison says four social conditions cause the movement: urbanization, humanization of animals (anthropomorphism), acceptance of evolutionary theory, and affinity for equal rights among species (egalitarianism). Today's urban society whose main contact with animals is pets that they view as family members, creates a ready-made audience for animal rights activists. In the late 1990s many animal rights groups started using legislative, regulatory, and judicial processes to work toward their goals. With little success at the federal level, efforts have focused on state and local levels. According to Dr. Jamison, this is where animal rights groups are having a quiet and very significant impact on the way people use and view animals. They have advantages. They have better organization, they have intense activism, and they have local civic support.

To quote Gary Francione (Rutgers School of Law) and Tom Regan (Professor of Philosophy, NC State University) - "Not only are the philosophies of animal rights and animal welfare separated by irreconcilable differences... the enactment of animal welfare measures actually impedes the achievement of animal rights... Welfare reforms, by their very nature, can only serve to retard the pace at which animal rights goals are achieved." A Movement's Means Create Its Ends," The Animals' Agenda, January/February 1992, pp. 40-42. (NAIA website

Equally important is to understand the philosophy and organization of the animal rights movement. Only the extremists make headline news - ALF (Animal Liberation Front) breaking in to a school or lab and "rescuing" animals housed there, or throwing acid on vehicles owned by pharmaceutical company executives. The activists who work to integrate their philosophy into our legal system one small step at a time through the courts don't make exciting news for the press.

By changing public opinion - By changing the law - by electing pro animal rights legislators. Dr. Elliot Katz, founder of In Defense of Animals says "our efforts to raise the status of animals beyond that of mere property, commodities and things dramatically expanded as the state of Rhode Island, and the cities of West Hollywood and Berkeley, CA, and Sherwood, AR, followed Boulder, CO, in passing legislation recognizing the significance of animal guardianship ... important victories in our relentless war on animal exploitation, cruelty and abuse." He further claims "Updating city codes to include the term "animal guardian" is a symbolic change that demonstrates a new attitude of public concern for the welfare of all animals. Though updated legal language does not affect one's legal rights, responsibilities and liabilities, the psychological and sociological impact of this change in language is advancing positive attitudes about animal care."

In reality, this statement by Katz better explains the motive behind Guardianship: "It is time we demand an end to the misguided and abusive concept of animal ownership. The first step on this long, but just, road would be ending the concept of pet ownership." Elliot Katz, President "In Defense of Animals," Spring 1997.

Visit the Institute for Animal Rights Law (IARL) website. There you can download their radical version of a model spay/neuter ordinance which reads "it shall be unlawful to harbor in this jurisdiction any unspayed cat or dog over four months of age or any unneutered cat or dog over four months of age. "Harbor" is defined to include legal ownership, or the providing of regular care, or shelter, or protection, or refuge, or nourishment, or medical treatment."

IARL will also 'educate' you on why anti-breeding laws are constitutional. Their website says - The core of a typical anti-breeding law is its "findings," which usually are that:

* Euthanasia of unwanted cats and dogs is rampant, with totals annually of millions of animals;
* The root cause of this mass killing is the problem of overpopulation, which causes social problems beyond those of euthanasia.

Further, IARL says "Based on these findings, the anti-breeding laws provide for a moratorium on the breeding of cats and dogs, and if that doesn;t reduce the overpopulation problem in that municipality then a mandatory spaying and neutering program is provided."

As the end goal of animal rights is to end breeding of companion animals, they need to draw a straight line between breeding and euthanasia, whether or not the logic used to make a case is flawed or the information presented is inaccurate. First euthanasia is hardly rampant, as figures have steadily decreased over the past decades. Further, IARL, in typical activist fashion, chooses to completely ignore all other reasons for animals ending up in shelters - generally related to a breakdown of the owner's ability or desire to care for the animal.

If you become involved in local legislation issues, it is important to remember that much of the general public and many of the legislators do not understand these differences. They are being manipulated into passing restrictive laws which can be the vehicle for future enactment of measures to possibly eliminate ownership of pets.

Ethics and responsible ownership cannot be legislated - it must be taught, and animal cruelty laws already exist to punish the offenders.