Animal welfare vs animal rights

Our previous page has outlined in detail what animal welfare is – but what is Animal Rights and why is it NOT animal welfare?

Animal welfare refers to an animal’s quality of life and how well an animal is coping with their environment. This is rooted in science and makes outcomes based on observable facts. Like Animal Care Australia, real animal welfare organisations fight for animals to have positive physical and social experiences in their lives, without restricting the keeping, breeding or ownership of animals.

Animal rights, on the other hand, is an ideological philosophy which puts forward as fact – that no animals should be used by humans for any reason. This includes for food, labour, and entertainment, among other ways animals exist in modern society. Animal rights activists, then, have a specific goal in mind: Ending the use of animals by humans.  

Animal welfare vs animal rights:

Animal welfare and animal rights differ based on one key aspect: Animal welfare is a fact-driven approach to our relationship with animals, whereas animal rights takes an ideological approach.

Advocates for animal welfare make no position on animal use, whereas the animal rights argument does.

Animal Care Australia believes asking the community to end their relationships with animals after centuries of working and living alongside each other is not an effective way to end the suffering of animals. We recognise the importance that human-animal relationships have in cultures and economies. We are focused on asking people to make changes to their interactions with animals to better those animals’ lives. Our priorities lie both in the wellbeing of animals and their carer owners.  The best approach – our approach – is to educate, not regulate for better animal welfare outcomes.

Some Animal Rights advocates, such as Ingrid Newkirk of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) believe immediate abolition is needed but is simply unrealistic. Instead, these advocates support the pursuit of incremental welfare reform as a means to eventually abolishing all animals in captivity. They endorse animal welfare because it facilitates a “springboard into animal rights.”

Animal Rights advocates use animal welfare to garner support for their beliefs.

Consequences of an Animal Rights philosophy include:

× No breeding and killing animals for food, clothes or medicine.

× No use of working animals – no guide dogs, no police horses, etc

× No selective breeding for specific traits/features, other than the benefit of the animal.

× No hunting.

× No zoos, or use of animals in entertainment.

× No pets or companion animals.

× No sport involving animals.

× No competitive animal competitions.

× No research involving animals (now re-framed as no experiments on animals)

Over the years these organisations have adjusted the terminologies used when promoting their goals. First they used Animal Liberation and then Animal Rights, with some even adopting Animal Justice and animal defenders, and today the attempt to justify their ideologies under Animal Protection. Regardless of the term or marketing spin, they are still striving for the same ideological outcomes.

Animal protection IS animal rights and IS NOT animal welfare.