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Animal Welfare Vs. Animal Rights

By July 12, 2017July 13th, 2017ADBA Position Statements

About The ADBA

Animal Welfare Vs. Animal Rights

The issues surrounding the philosophies of animal rights and animal welfare are very familiar to those who utilize animals in industry, entertainment, sport or recreation. The animal welfare philosophy is fundamentally different from the animal rights philosophy, since it endorses the responsible use of animals to satisfy certain human needs. These range from companionship and sport, to uses which involve the taking of life, such as for food, clothing and medical research. Animal welfare means ensuring that all animals used by humans have their basic needs fulfilled in terms of food, shelter and health, and that they experience no unnecessary suffering in providing for human needs.


Animal Welfare, as defined by the American Veterinary Medical Association, is “…a human responsibility that encompasses all aspects of animal well-being, including proper housing, management, disease prevention and treatment, responsible care, humane handling, and, when necessary, humane euthanasia.”

  • Animal welfare proponents seek to improve the treatment and well-being of animals.
  • Animal welfare proponents believe that humans can interact with animals in entertainment, industry, sport and recreation, and industry, but that the interaction should include provisions for the proper care and management for all animals involved.
  • Animal welfare groups utilize scientific evidence to base animal care and handling guidelines.


Animal Rights is a philosophical view that animals have rights similar or the same as humans. True animal rights proponents believe that humans do not have the right to use animals at all. Animal rights proponents wish to ban all use of animals, including companion animals, by humans.

Animal rights advocates do not distinguish between human beings and animals. In the words of Ingrid Newkirk, founder of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals(PeTA), “There is no rational basis for saying that a human being has special rights. A rat is a pig is a dog is a boy. They’re all mammals.” Michael Fox of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has said, “The life of an ant and the life of my child should be accorded equal respect.”

Animal rights advocates reject all animal use, no matter how humane. Some have even suggested that animal welfare reforms impede progress toward animal rights because they improve the conditions under which “animal exploitation” occurs, making it more difficult to stimulate public opposition to animal use.

When the interests of humans and animals come into conflict, animal rights advocates put the animals first. PeTA’s Newkirk has said,“Even if animal research produced a cure for AIDS, we’d be against it.”

  • Animal rights proponents support laws and regulations that would prohibit rodeos, horse racing, breeding of purebred pets, hunting, the use of dogs as guide dogs for the blind or therapy dogs, life-saving medical research using animals, raising of livestock for food, petting zoos, marine parks and any use of animals for industry, entertainment, sport or recreation.
  • Animal rights proponents believe that violence, misinformation and publicity stunts are valid uses of funding donated to their tax-exempt organizations for the purpose of helping animals.
  • Arson, vandalism and assault are common tactics used by underground animal rights groups to further the animal rights cause. Groups such as the Animal Liberation Front, which have been classified as terrorist group by the FBI, routinely use criminal activities to further their cause.

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