Animal Rights vs. Animal Welfare: What’s the Difference?


Photo by Alin Luna from Pexels

Victoria Foster, Staff Writer

Animal rights and animal welfare are two different beliefs that often get confused for each other. Each represents one side of how people believe we should approach our relationship with animals.

Animal rights supporters are those who believe we should not interact with other animals in any way. Examples of this include not owning pets, not breeding animals for food or clothing and not using animals for experimentation. They believe that all animals should be left to their own devices in the wild without human interference.

Animal welfare supporters are those who believe that humans should continue to integrate other animals into our lives, but humanely. Examples of this include owning pets responsibly with proper care, providing good living conditions for animals bred for food and clothing and making conservation efforts in the wild. They believe in using human interference to create better lives for animals

There are other ways in which people can learn to differentiate the two. Animal welfare is pro-ownership, and animal rights are anti-ownership. Animal welfare often takes a very methodical and fact-driven view, while animal rights hold a more emotional and philosophical view.

Animal rights organizations include People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and the Animal Liberation Front (ALF). These organizations have actively worked to remove all forms of farm and pet animals from people’s everyday lives so that they may live in the wild.

Animal welfare organizations include the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) and the United States Association of Reptile Keepers (USARK). These organizations have actively worked to encourage and enforce the proper ownership of animals so that both sides live healthy lives.

Both groups rarely overlap and agree on a course of action; however both groups believe that what they are trying to accomplish is for the good of the animals. It’s important to look at which side you agree with but also which organization you choose to support, as every group of people have their good and bad sides.

It’s good to know the difference between animal rights and animal welfare in order for a person to contribute to what they truly believe in. Be sure to search any organizations you plan to support and learn if they are for rights or for welfare.