What is the difference between animal welfare and animal rights? Animal welfare is a human responsibility that encompasses all aspects of animal well-being. It is fundamentally recognized that all people have a moral obligation to treat animals humanely and responsibly.
Animal rights, on the other hand, is the philosophical notion that humans and animals have the same legal rights—in the animal rights movement, there is no difference between a rat and sick child. For this reason, they oppose the involvement of any animals, for any purpose, in any medical research.
Currently, an earnest struggle is being waged between those who are seeking to reduce pain and suffering through the judicious use of animal research and those who wish to eliminate all use of animals—not only for research, but for food and even as pets. In recent years, some groups have resorted to threats and even violence to try to disrupt important research. Laboratories have been broken into, animals stolen, and scientific equipment and important research data destroyed.
We can all agree that animals are very important and that we should ensure their welfare. They should have adequate and appropriate food, water, and shelter. They should have companionship if it’s appropriate for their species. They should not have to endure excessive pain or distress. People are responsible for ensuring the welfare of domestic animals. But what about wild animals? Do we have a responsibility to ensure their welfare?
Do animals have inherent rights? Are those rights the same as humans'? There are humans who have their rights limited, for their own protection or the protection of others. Should animals be given limited rights? Or is the difference between their mental capacity and ours sufficient to simply deny these rights? All of these aspects should be considered.
It is essential that more people become involved in this debate because the health of the entire nation, even the world, will be affected by its outcome. We hope that you will encourage others to become informed about the vital issue of using animals in biomedical research. As you begin to understand the facts more fully, you will agree that the judicious use of animals in research offers the greatest hope of improving the lives of both humans and animals.
What are your thoughts?