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Animal welfare vs Animal rights???

cowboyup

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Apr 19, 2005
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    I looked at the other threads and could not find one on this issue. An app I recently completed had an essay regarding this topic. I DO NOT WANT to start a fight with this thread, so please can we all agree to respect each others ideas and thoughts about these issues. Hopefully this can better inform all SDN users so we will be better prepared for interviews and such. Thanks

    The three vets that I have posed this question to in the past weeks have all answered the same.
    "Animals do not have rights, and Animal welfare is the most important part of my job."

    After hearing the explanations for their statements and reading up on the topics, I have come up with the following conclusions. The wellbeing of an animal is probably the most important part of what a vet does, it is the underlying reason most of us are going into the profession. Welfare must be provided by the owner and the vet. However animals do not have the same rights as humans. Animals do not have their own autonomy, as humans do. Because of this it is ok to use animals for food, as entertainment, and in research. Humans however, have an obligation to ensure they do not suffer unnecessarily, this being the concept of animal welfare.

    These are my thoughts about these topics, I would greatly appreciate others thoughts, bc this could come back up during an interview.
     

    eaglemeag

    Tufts University V'10
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    Apr 17, 2006
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      However animals do not have the same rights as humans. Animals do not have their own autonomy, as humans do. Because of this it is ok to use animals for food, as entertainment, and in research.

      This seems a non-sequitur to me. I don't understand how lack of autonomy makes it okay/right/ethical to use them however we wish. In my mind--even though I don't agree with the idea--that kind of logic is backwards; animals should have MORE rights *because* they don't have a say in what happens to them.

      I'm not going to personally take a stance either way, because I'm sitting the fence on this one. Just throwing that idea out there that I don't think the logic makes sense.
       
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      are_jay

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        This seems a non-sequitur to me. I don't understand how lack of autonomy makes it okay/right/ethical to use them however we wish. In my mind--even though I don't agree with the idea--that kind of logic is backwards; animals should have MORE rights *because* they don't have a say in what happens to them.

        I'm not going to personally take a stance either way, because I'm sitting the fence on this one. Just throwing that idea out there that I don't think the logic makes sense.

        I think what some people mean by animal rights, in the most extreme case, is that animals should not be kept in captivity at all, and humans should not keep them as pets or raise for food/fiber. Imagine the implications--feral dogs and cats overrunning every corner of this country because spay/neuter would be out of the question. To me, the relationship between animals and humans is just a consequence of how civilization has evolved. HOWEVER--and this is where the animal welfare part comes in--because we have "taken" the right of owning animals, we have an obligation to see that they are cared for, have shelter and basic care. This doesn't mean using them however we wish if it involves injuring them. I'm sure I'm going to be labelled odd for this, but I'll say it anyway. I also go one step farther--I believe we have an ethical obligation to attempt to match each animal with the appropriate "lifestyle." If an animal seems really unhappy about what we are requiring of it, I think it is unethical to keep forcing it. If the horse really hates showing, find it a home where it won't show. If a dog isn't happy in your home for whatever reason and the situation cannot be resolved, find it a new home. Not really sure what to say about food/fiber animals... we must have some cosmic deal worked out with them, and we still have an obligation to treat them with respect and with their welfare in mind until they are slaughtered.

        whew. time to go back to the anatomy books...
         
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        ginkogirl

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        May 4, 2006
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          I looked at the other threads and could not find one on this issue. An app I recently completed had an essay regarding this topic. I DO NOT WANT to start a fight with this thread, so please can we all agree to respect each others ideas and thoughts about these issues. Hopefully this can better inform all SDN users so we will be better prepared for interviews and such. Thanks

          The three vets that I have posed this question to in the past weeks have all answered the same.
          "Animals do not have rights, and Animal welfare is the most important part of my job."

          After hearing the explanations for their statements and reading up on the topics, I have come up with the following conclusions. The wellbeing of an animal is probably the most important part of what a vet does, it is the underlying reason most of us are going into the profession. Welfare must be provided by the owner and the vet. However animals do not have the same rights as humans. Animals do not have their own autonomy, as humans do. Because of this it is ok to use animals for food, as entertainment, and in research. Humans however, have an obligation to ensure they do not suffer unnecessarily, this being the concept of animal welfare.

          These are my thoughts about these topics, I would greatly appreciate others thoughts, bc this could come back up during an interview.

          Generally, it sounds like you've got a pretty good grasp on what constitutes animal rights vs. animal welfare (better than I could have compiled off the top of my head:) ) Just a point for thought/discussion: if animals don't have rights, then what do laws preventing creulty to animals represent? In my opinion, this would be an example of an animal's right to a life free of unacceptable pain/suffering. Feel free to voice other opinions about this, I'm curious to hear what everyone else thinks!

          ~Lisa
           

          kate_g

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            One other angle not yet mentioned... "Animal welfare" is a viewpoint and practical approach that involves actually trying to improve the quality and length of animals' lives. It is the practice of veterinarians, pet owners, farm owners, zoos, animal control departments, etc. - that is, people who interact with and "use" animals for food, money, or pleasure. "Animal rights" is generally a political and emotional issue, surprisingly divorced from practical benefits to actual animals. As mentioned in other posts there is often an implied goal of *not* interacting with animals, i.e. not "using" them in any way and just letting them be wild and free, meeting whatever end nature has in store for them.

            The two are not mutually exclusive, of course, and the "animal rights" movement does sometimes spur changes that improve animal welfare. But the ideaology and motivation behind the two are very different.
             

            kate_g

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              if animals don't have rights, then what do laws preventing creulty to animals represent? In my opinion, this would be an example of an animal's right to a life free of unacceptable pain/suffering.
              I think it's kind of a technicality. Laws generally do not give animals a *right* to food, shelter, and freedom from cruelty. Instead, they charge owners with a *responsibility* to feed, shelter, and humanely keep their animals. The effect may be the same - owned animals are required by law to be sheltered, fed, and treated humanely - but the humans are left firmly in possession of all of the rights (and responsibilities - the owner is legally "responsible" for a dog's bite too, not the dog!).
               

              cowboyup

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                I want to first thank all those who have posted for not turning this into a fight. Secondly, I think this discussion has been great. I agree that the laws enacted towards animals give the responsibility to the human owners. And that many use animal rights, because of its emotion without being informed or educated about the topic. Keep it up, the discussion is interesting.
                 

                Mohorsegirl

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                May 12, 2009
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                  That's interesting, I didn't know the AVMA was opposed to ear cropping. Does that mean vet schools don't teach it? Because there are vets here that will do it.

                  For what it's worth, I hate ear cropping.

                  Huh, they also oppose tail docking? I'm starting to like the AVMA better...
                   

                  moocow1987

                  Cornell c/o 2016
                  Jun 25, 2011
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                    I was just looking this up the other day and found about the same answers as your post, are_jay. Animal welfare seems to refer to the "humane" treatment of animals kept in captivity, whereas animal rights means animals cannot be kept in captivity at all.

                    I guess now we just have to define humane treatment.
                     

                    RackingHorse

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                    May 29, 2011
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                      I believe in animal welfare. I believe animals should be kept free from emotional stress, hunger, and thirst, and be provided with protection from the elements as domesticated(some of them) can not tolerate them as well as their wild ancestors. For those of you who are on the fence about the issue I would recommend reading Dr. Temple Grandin's book; "Animals Make Us Human." It is a great book that explains what animals are entitled to from humans.
                       

                      tsethar

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                      Jun 7, 2011
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                        I think it's kind of a technicality. Laws generally do not give animals a *right* to food, shelter, and freedom from cruelty. Instead, they charge owners with a *responsibility* to feed, shelter, and humanely keep their animals. The effect may be the same - owned animals are required by law to be sheltered, fed, and treated humanely - but the humans are left firmly in possession of all of the rights (and responsibilities - the owner is legally "responsible" for a dog's bite too, not the dog!).

                        I have heard of a law that makes it illegal to beat a dog where people can see or in the presence of a woman, but legal to beat the animal if no one is witness. Unfortunately I can't remember where (I heard it a few year ago) and I think it was historical, perhaps 19th century or previous. Anyway, the implication is that the wrong in beating an animal is not that the animal is hurt, but that it breeds violence among humans.
                         
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                        Trilt

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                          I have heard of a law that makes it illegal to beat a dog where people can see or in the presence of a woman, but legal to beat the animal if no one is witness. Unfortunately I can't remember where (I heard it a few year ago) and I think it was historical, perhaps 19th century or previous. Anyway, the implication is that the wrong in beating an animal is not that the animal is hurt, but that it breeds violence among humans.

                          That's a Kantian view - discussed a bit here. Arguing that animal cruelty breeds violence among humans is actually one interesting way to argue for animal welfare laws even if you're arguing with someone who disagrees animals feel and/or have any moral standing.
                           

                          CarpeDiem89

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                          Apr 5, 2011
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                            For me I am for animal welfare. But what a lot of people do not realize is that many animal rights organizations and animal welfare organizations work for the same cause. Such as finding a better alternative for factory farms, stopping true puppy mills,and stopping animal abuse. I have a lot of friends who lean more towards the animal rights side, but they still own animals but they are vegan because they believe that its wrong to consume animal products. A lot of people fall in that grey area between the two and not all animal rights people are extremists.

                            The most important thing is just to not be fooled by organizations such as the Humane Society of the United States. They lean more towards animal rights, but not very many people are aware of this. Its very important to stay educated on BOTH topics and look at BOTH sides of an issue before forming an opinion on an animal topic.

                            And who cares if its a zombie thread. Its a great discussion topic and I LOVE OPINIONS!
                             
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