Animal rights as opposed to animal welfare

Many people confuse the term "animal welfare" with "animal rights" and these terms are often used interchangeably in the media. Animal rights is a political movement opposed to all uses of animals and to free animals from captivity and exploitation while animal welfare involves a code of ethics and standards for the humane treatment of animals and there are vast differences between the two concepts. The major differences between animal rights and animal welfare is that animal rights is concerned with the "use" and "rights" of animals while animal welfare is concerned with the "treatment" of animals and the fundamental recognition that all people - including medical research scientists - have a moral obligation to treat animals humanely and responsibly. Animal rights seeks to abolish the use of animals by all humans, including meat and dairy consumption and clothing made from animals. They further seek to abolish the use of animals for entertainment or for any purpose at all.

On the grounds that animals have basic rights, animal rights advocates or liberationists repudiate the argument that scientists or industries can own any animal as their property. Simply stated, animals have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, all of which contradict the property status that is often literally burnt into their flesh. In the United States, animals are considered "property", although animal laws vary from one country to the next which leads to fundamental differences in the existing laws designed to protect animals. An animal's moral statues, be it sentient being or machine, inevitably determines how an animal will be viewed in the eyes of the law. Animal rights is the philosophical notion that humans and animals have the same legal rights and that there is no difference between a rat and sick child, and this philosophy is their basis for opposing the involvement of any animals for any purpose whatsoever.

Animal rights encompasses a philosophical view that puts animals on the same moral plane as humans, and rejects the use of animals for any reason: for clothing, food, entertainment, sport, companionship, transportation, rescue work or biomedical research. Organizations that embrace animal rights tenets include People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), In Defense of Animals, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine and the Animal Legal Defense Fund. Animal rights advocates such as Gary L. Francione and Tom Regan, argue that the animal welfare position is logically inconsistent and ethically unacceptable. "Animal Liberation" is known as the bible for animal rights, published in 1975; the author is Peter Singer. However, there are some animal rights groups, such as PETA, which support animal welfare measures in the short term to alleviate animal suffering until all animal use is ended. The philosophy of animal rights says, in essence, that animals have the same rights as humans: For example, we don't keep other humans as slaves, so we shouldn't keep dogs as pets, and zoos should not confine exotic animals that are threatened with extinction. All medical testing on animals should be banned. Because we don't kill and eat human beings or use human byproducts for food, we should ban the consumption of all meat and other animal products, including milk and eggs. We don't use human hides for clothing, so we should not use leather for shoes, fur for coats or even the silk from silk worms for blouses. 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.

Animal welfare groups are involved with humane treatment for animals and that means no unnecessary suffering or discomfort. They are concerned with the caging and feed-locks used in animal agriculture and with the disturbance of natural habitats of wildlife. They monitor animal testing in cosmetics and medical testing and they work to reduce the exploitation of animals. Animal welfare is defined as the responsibility that human animals have to treat other animals with compassion and provide them with humane and ethical care. Animal welfare does not advocate vegetarianism or veganism. They do not have an issue with using animals as food and clothing or in testing as long as the animals do not suffer needlessly. On the other hand vegan lifestyles are advocated by animal rights proponents as this lifestyle fits concisely into the philosophy of animal rights.

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