Archive | 2:36 PM

Vet School Interview [Guaranteed Welfare vs. Rights Question]

11 Dec

I love animals and want to see them treated with due respect.  I think as humans we are responsible for all of nature.  We need to properly care for the environment and all creatures in it.  The animal welfare vs animal rights debate rages on and on.  I will tell you how my values and morals translate to supporting welfare.  But first, here are definitions of each term:

Welfare-human responsibility to treat animals humanely in respect to housing, management, transport, prevention and treatment of illness and disease, and euthanasia. It encompasses pretty much every aspect of animal care and use.  Welfare uses scientific evidence to base guidelines, and allows different areas of animal use to self-regulate within these parameters.

Rights-see animals equal to humans and strongly believe animals should not be used by humans in any capacity.  At all.  Not to conduct research, for sport, to eat, or as pets.  True animal rights activists think animals should have the same legal standing as people–not be regarded as property.  They operate as radical non-profit organizations that tug on human emotions to spread misinformation.  Some groups even resort to violence to get their message across and further their political agenda.

I believe in and support animal welfare, because I am not an extremest.  I think welfare is comprehensive enough to be ethical, and believe animals do not have the mental capacity to legally fend for themselves in a world dominated by human beings.  Because of human intervention, most animals would not be able to acquire shelter from the elements (or people or their dangerous contraptions) or hunt for food as they did when their habitats were unblemished by human invention.  As people took over animals natural landscapes, they also garnered the responsibility to care for the animals they displaced.

I also support animal welfare over animal rights, because logistically it makes more sense.  When animals and people are placed on an equal plane, how would be test things or learn medical technique?  I’ll get back to this point in a little more detail in a moment.  But first think of this conundrum that would become reality if animals were granted the rights of people.  Following the natural preditor/prey instict would suddenly become punishable by human law.  Because all animals would have the right to live.  If a coyote is considered equal to a person, would killing a rabbit for food be considered murder?  Would we incarcerate the coyote, who wouldn’t have the intelligence to understand its human crime?  And if so, at how much more expense then we already pay to jail people?  Since most animals hunt a smaller animal then themselves, where would we imprison these numerous offenders?  See how impractical animal rights gets when you analyse what it would mean to society?

I also think welfare is more compassionate than animal rights, because I believe in treating all people (equally) with dignity.  Human rights for everyone is an imperative moral tenant.  Without the use of animals for testing products and conducting research, learning surgical technique, and important food and materials, we would need to utilize computers (which aren’t very technologically advanced yet or as realistic) or use humans.  Having just completed a book about the Nazi doctors and how they used concentration camp victims for experiments, I know we can never return to the bleak prospective that some people are less valuable than animals.  The Germans completely outlawed animal testing of any form, but felt justified in using “inferior” human beings to test vaccines, medicine, surgical procedures, and cold stress, among other things.  Careful use of animals (and of course remembering history) precludes this from happening again.

Yes, we should always aim for higher standards of care and make sure every animal experiment is justified, useful, and humane.  And people should certainly ensure that farm animals, pets, and other animals that are in our care are healthy and never subjected to cruelty.  But putting animals on a pedestal and forbidding humans to utilize them for any purpose is trouble.