Last week was Animal Rights week, as I've just learned.
What do most think of when they hear those words? I tend to think of PETA and the lengths they go to to use the ignorance of people to exploit their propaganda. For instance, I've recently heard of PETA members going to McDonald's locations in the U.S to speak to children and give hand outs in an effort to make them fear drinking milk.
Although, I am not a PETA supporter, I am interested in animal rights, but more importantly in animal welfare. You may think that the two mean the same thing, but they don't. Here's why:
Animals rights seeks to eliminate the use of animals by humans in any way. That means, no pets, no eating any kind of animal product, no zoos (of any kind), clothing that uses any animal product, etc. Essentially it is about awarding animals the same rights as humans have.
Animal welfare, on the other hand, seeks to ensure the proper treatment of animals that humans use (i.e for pets, food, entertainment, etc.).
A good example is the farming industry. Where animals rights activists want to eliminate the consumption of meat and shut down livestock farms all together, animal welfare activists accept that humans are omnivores and eat meat, and therefore seek to improve the conditions in which the farm animals live, are transported and are later slaughtered. One such organisation is WSPA.
It's really made me think about where I stand on these two subjects, but it's difficult to explain to the more hard core activists. For instance, I don't believe in the use of animals at the circus, but I am ok with canine agility competitions. I don't approve of having wild animals as pets, yet I see the value of animal sanctuaries who care for these 'pets' once they are no longer wanted.
I guess when it comes down to it for me, if a wild animal is being exploited for human entertainment, I feel it to be wrong and simply unnecessary. However, if an already domesticated animal (cat, dog, cow, goldfish, etc) is being kept as a 'pet' and cared for properly, I feel this to be perfectly acceptable. I most certainly believe that all animals under human care have the right to proper food, water, safe housing and medical care.
How do you feel about this touchy subject?
Until Next Time,