THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ANIMAL WELFARE & ANIMAL RIGHTS


In Malawi and indeed many African countries that I have lived, the phrases ‘animal rights’ and ‘animal welfare’ are often used interchangeably, but there is a significant difference between the two. It is therefore our role as animal welfare people to try and paint the difference between these two significantly different ideologies as any advocate for animal compassion is dismissed immediately as a space wasting animal rightist in most social settings. 
It is with cynicism that most animal well being advocates are viewed by the general public and sadly also by policy developers. This is indeed the reason why most African countries grapple with archaic or even non-existent animal utilization regulations. Animal utilization by man-kind has been documented in many different spheres of society that varies from status, haulage, food, war, medicine, tourism, culture & tradition, security and even worship. This is by no means an exhaustive list of human use for animals but demonstrates the value they hold in our lives. 
While animals have traditionally been domineered over by us, even biblically, it was established that they, like us humans, go through emotions of joy, happiness, pain and indeed suffer. And it is herein that the distinction between animal welfare and animals rights can be drawn. This effectively boils down to the acceptability of animal utilization. 
Whilst there are more philosophical and scientifically documented definitions, in lay terms, Animal Welfare simply means the humane use of animals. This suggests that use of animals ought to be balanced with the provision of a happy life in the most extreme or at least avoid unnecessary suffering, while animal rights ideology offers no leeway for human utilization. This offers animals the same rights as humans, " If it is not good for animals, it is not good for humans" notion. In the case of captive wildlife, It boils down to the difference between “bigger cages” and “empty cages.” Those who believe in animal welfare are satisfied with larger cages, but those who support animal rights want empty cages. This example can be extended to as many animals species as possible. 
While ALL CREATURES appreciates the  challenge with meeting universally acceptable  humane standards of animals,  working in an environment where animal kindness is not a respected value in the face of increased commercialization on animals and animal products,  we the organisation promotes animal welfare but accepts that animal rights advocates have a place in some in certain realms of society. We believe that animal welfare is more applicable and acceptable in Africa as many communities depend on livestock for their livelihood and humane animal care is something that has been practiced for generations but the ball drops when the commercialization take-over the prevailing production systems. 
Whereas we look at emphasizing scientifically documented principles in our community veterinary services through community training and village meetings, we rely on policy and legislation to protect animals from the cruelty associated with industrial farms. The organisation works closely with the Malawi Police Services and the Department of Animal Health and Livestock Development to uphold and abide by the Protection of Animal Act of Malawi
In conclusion, i would like to add that international trade demands that countries observe acceptable standards of Animal Welfare to trade. This is monitored through the World Trade Organisation (WTO) with the support of the World Animal Health Organization (OIE). It is from this perspective that ALL CREATURES Animal Welfare Trust aligns to ensure observance of this very important duty that we hold as mankind.
I hope this this information provides some clues on the difference between animal welfare and animal rights. Should you have any specific questions, scientific, philosophical, moral or ethical on the subject our education team shall be able to ably address them.

Written By:

ALL CREATURES TEAM

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