Animal Rights Is Not Animal Welfare
Throughout most of history, human beings adopted more and more enlightened standards of animal "welfare"
for their pets, livestock, and laboratory animals. Insisting on humane treatment for animals was an important
economic decision. Farmers know that happy livestock animals produce more milk, better beef, and more valuable
leather. Medical researchers know that their scientific work is meaningless without healthy lab animals.
Animal welfare standards are just one way humans acknowledge the important bond between us and the animal world.
But beginning in the second half of the twentieth century, activists lost their way. Instead of striving to
strengthen this relationship by improving the lives of animals in our care, an extremist movement began attempting
to terminate that connection entirely. Today, we call it the animal "rights" movement.
Animal-rights activists believe that animals should be completely separate from humankind. Their goal is to
guarantee that the human race has absolutely no access to animals, no matter how important they may be for
our survival and progress.
Ingrid Newkirk, co-founder and president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), summed up the
goal of today's modern animal rights movement in a recent speech. "Our goal," Newkirk told the Animal Rights
2002 convention, "is total animal liberation."
For the uninitiated, "total animal liberation" means permanently eliminating much of what we take for
granted-regardless of how responsibly farmers, scientists, or trainers treat their animals. It may be hard to
imagine a world without meat, eggs, leather, milk, or circuses; but there's no denying that animal-rights
activists are gradually shifting these ordinary things to society's margins.
How? By consciously, shamelessly, viciously attacking people and businesses that don't subscribe to their
"four legs good, two legs bad" world-view. Since the animal rights movement began gathering strength,
over $100 million in property damage has been cause by animal-rights activists. A medical research executive
was beaten with baseball bats. Countless death threats have been issued. Scientists have been sent razor
blades in the mail. Trucks and buildings have been firebombed. Boats have been sunk.
"People have died, and are going to die," said former Animal Liberation Front "spokesperson" and SHAC organizer
Kevin Kjonaas at the "Animal Rights 2002" convention. "This isn't a joke. It's not a game."
Here's just a partial list of what supporters of this violence-prone movement want us all to do without:
- Kosher slaughter
- Milk chocolate
- Angora sweaters
- Cashmere blazers
- Fur coats
- Leather belts
- Leather jackets
- Leather shoes
- Leather wallets
- Silk scarves
- Silk stockings
- Silk ties
- Wool scarves & mittens
- Wool sweaters
- Worsted wool suits
Sports & Entertainment
- Equestrian competition
- Greyhound racing
- Horse racing
- Horse-drawn carriages
- Magic shows using animals
- Movies with animal actors
- Pet ownership
Science & Nature
- Agricultural pesticides
- Biology-class dissection
- Fish farms
- Medical research using animal test subjects
- Surgical training using live animals
In the United States today, there are over 100 organizations dedicated to enforcing this animal "rights" mentality.
Their annual budgets total more than $200 million. And they're deadly serious about achieving their goals.
In contrast, the people who are doing the most to promote animal welfare today are the very ones that the animal
rights movement wants to put out of business.
Farmers can't survive without carefully-tended livestock. Many medical advances depend on the meticulous care
given to lab animals. Anglers and hunters have a vested interest in the sustainability of animal populations that
are vital to their sport. And millions of children learn important life lessons by visiting zoos and aquariums-and
by loving and caring for dogs, cats, and other pets.
In a dishonest attempt to turn ordinary Americans against the responsible stewardship of animals, animal-rights
activists have historically polluted the arena of ideas with shrill rhetoric, headline-grabbing stunts, and
violent crimes. Their louder-is-better mentality threatens to further blur the line between animal welfare and
animal rights. The consequences of this for our way of life would be disastrous.
If you want to support the humane treatment of animals, by all means support your local animal shelter, your
local humane society (not the animal-rights-oriented Humane Society of the United States), or your local
zoological park. It's true that animals deserve your help. But animal-rights organizations do not.