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Animal Rights Or Animal Welfare?

written by Beca Zaun & submitted by Marj Brooks

Most people believe there is little difference between animal welfare and animal rights organizations.  But the ‘Animal Rights’ movement’s main goal is not, and never has been, to save or help individual animals.  Its only mission is to market its anti-human, anti-pet philosophy and vegan lifestyle to the American public.  Animal rights extremists have camouflaged their true agenda from the public.  This agenda is the ultimate goal of abolishing all animal ownership.  They disguise this goal in many different ways.  One way is to encourage the public to confuse animal rights with animal welfare.  These two concepts are diametrically opposed.

Animal welfare works for the humane treatment of all animals and embraces a broad variety of uses that include owning pets, raising and using animals for food, fibre, labour, and medical and behavioural research; managing animal populations by hunting; keeping animals in zoos and other educational venues; and enjoying animal sports and animals in movies, circuses, and on stage.

The animal rights viewpoint, on the other hand, views domestic animal ownership as exploitation and seeks to destroy the domestic animal by using government to pass prohibitive animal laws, such as mandatory spay/neuter, breed specific ordinances (BSL), pet limits, and anti-breeding restrictions.  Proponents of animal rights are collectivist in nature and harbour a deep-seated hatred of humanity.  These animal rightist ideologies do not mix with principles of morality, individual responsibility or responsible government.  One of their main objectives is to take away your right to own or breed pets – community by community, state by state.  Consider the following quotes from some of the leaders in the animal rights movement:

“It is time we demand an end to the misguided and abusive concept of animal ownership.  The first step on this long, but just, road would be ending the concept of pet ownership.”  Elliot Katz, President, In Defence of Animals, “In Defence of Animals,” Spring 1997

“We at PETA very much love the animal companions who share our homes, but we believe that it would have been in the animals’ best interests if the institution of “pet keeping”-i.e…, breeding animals to be kept and regarded as “pets”-never existed.  The international pastime of domesticating animals has created an overpopulation crisis; as a result, millions of unwanted animals are destroyed every year as “surplus.” This selfish desire to possess animals and receive love from them causes immeasurable suffering, which results from manipulating their breeding, selling or giving them away casually, and depriving them of the opportunity to engage in their natural behaviour. Their lives are restricted to human homes where they must obey commands and can only eat, drink, and even urinate when humans allow them to.” Animal Rights Uncompromised: PETA on Pets: published on PETA’s website, January 8, 2007

“I don’t use the word “pet.” I think it’s species language. I prefer “companion animal.” For one thing, we would no longer allow breeding. People could not create different breeds. There would be no pet shops. If people had companion animals in their homes, those animals would have to be refugees from the animal shelters and the streets. You would have a protective relationship with them just as you would with an orphaned child. But as the surplus of cats and dogs (artificially engineered by centuries of forced breeding) declined, eventually companion animals would be phased out, and we would return to a more symbiotic relationship enjoyment at a distance.” Ingrid Newkirk, PETA vice-president, quoted in The Harper’s Forum Book, Jack Hitt, ed., 1989, p.223.

“Liberating our language by eliminating the word ‘pet’ is the first step… In an ideal society where all exploitation and oppression has been eliminated, it will be NJARA’s policy to oppose the keeping of animals as ‘pets.'”  New Jersey Animal Rights Alliance, “Should Dogs Be Kept As Pets? NO!”  Good Dog! February 1991, p. 20.

“If we really believe that animals have the same right to be free from pain and suffering at our hands, then, of course we’re going to be, as a movement, blowing things up and smashing windows … I think it’s a great way to bring about animal liberation … I think it would be great if all of the fast-food outlets, slaughterhouses, these laboratories, and the banks that fund them exploded tomorrow. I think it’s perfectly appropriate for people to take bricks and toss them through the windows. … Hallelujah to the people who are willing to do it.” Bruce Friedrich, PETA’s director of Vegan Outreach, Animal Rights Conference, 2001

Animal rights activists also support Breed Specific Legislation (BSL).  This targets specific breeds of dogs based on how they look, from extra insurance policies and special licenses, to outright bans of particular breeds.  The reason for this, of course, is that BSL has the overall effect of reducing the number of pet animals.

“……our support of such legislation is NOT out of concern that some dogs may be vicious. Our concern is only for the dogs who are being abused and neglected because of the way they look……, [BSL] legislation would help reduce the number of animals brought into the world only to be dumped at shelters, abandoned on roadsides, abused, neglected, and killed. That in itself is enough reason to support breed–specific legislation.” Teresa Gibbs, PETA Investigative Reporter

To further their agenda the animal rights groups (of which there are many) have created a powerful, sophisticated and media-savvy movement designed to take advantage of the concern and ignorance that many people have regarding animals and animal issues.  These groups target meat-eating, individual animal sports and pastimes one by one.

“Serving a burger to your family today, knowing what we know, constitutes child abuse. You might as well give them weed killer.” Toni Vernelli European Campaign Director, PETA, PETA Europe news release, “Meat Expo Declared A ‘Danger Zone’ By Vegetarians: PETA Targets Smithfield 2000” November 27, 2000.

“My goal is the abolition of all animal agriculture.” JP Goodwin, employed at the Humane Society of the US, formerly at Coalition to Abolish the Fur Trade, as quoted on AR-Views, an animal rights Internet discussion group in 1996.

“We are going to use the ballot box and the democratic process to stop all hunting in the United States … We will take it species by species until all hunting is stopped in California. Then we will take it state by state. Wayne Pacelle, President of the Humane Society of the US (HSUS), formerly of Friends of Animals and Fund for Animals, Full Cry Magazine, October 1, 1990.

One of the Animal Rightist’s current campaigns is the attempt to change the term “owner” to “guardian.”  People who have pets will no longer “own” them, but be their “guardian” instead.  This may seem like an innocuous distinction, but it is a potentially dangerous one.  The term “guardian” already has a legal definition, which would not be altered by including animals.  The legal term refers to temporary caretakers who are court appointed to care for children or adults who are not responsible to care for themselves.  Therefore, the state retains all rights over the one receiving the care.  The state can dictate all standards of care, as well as revoke the guardian’s statu
s whenever it determines that the guardian is not doing their job properly.

In other words, pet owners would not be free to make their own decisions for their animals regarding housing, feeding, training, breeding, euthanasia, spaying or neutering.  Guardianship leaves the animal owner with all the duties, including financial, of caring for the animal, but removes their right to make decisions regarding that care.

Animal rights groups are very eager to have these guardianship laws so they can dictate care, remove animals from their owners, and make ownership so difficult and legally precarious that people will avoid having animals at all.  This would be a big step towards the animal rights extremist’s stated goal of ending pet ownership completely.

One of the most well known animal rights groups is the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS).  Most people believe this organization supports and helps fund nationwide animal shelters.  The truth is that the HSUS, who calls itself an “animal protection” agency, does not operate or have direct control over any animal shelter and is not affiliated with any local humane societies.

“[The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is not affiliated with, nor is it a parent organization for, local humane societies, animal shelters, or animal care and control agencies …… The HSUS does not operate or have direct control over any animal shelter.” From a 2001 disclaimer issued by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS)]

Despite HSUS’s public claims that it seeks only to ensure animals are humanely treated, the group’s values and actions are tilted toward eliminating humans’ use of animals entirely, including ending lifesaving biomedical research on animals, funding anti-breeding campaigns, and reducing society’s consumption of meat and egg products.

The HSUS scams thousands of dollars from an unsuspecting public using their massive media events, attention-grabbing legislative proposals and Hollywood spokesmen.  The HSUS misrepresents itself and takes advantage of every single “crisis” issue it can find to try to profit from it.  Its main activities are comprised of promoting laws to restrict use/ownership, propaganda in support of such laws, and fundraising/self-promotional actions.  While it has no relation to local humane societies and animal shelters anywhere in the US, HSUS does control dozens of legal corporations throughout the world. Despite its image as a cash-strapped animal protection agency, the HSUS has become the wealthiest animal rights organization on earth.

The HSUS, as well as the ASPCA, believe in the same animal rights philosophy of moral equality between humans and animals that the other more obviously radical organizations believe, like PETA, the Animal Liberation Front (ALF), etc.  HSUS has stated unequivocally that “there is no rational basis for maintaining a moral distinction between the treatment of humans and other animals.”  This whole premise is based on a single specious argument:  men feel pain and have rights; animals feel pain; therefore, animals have rights.  The problem with this is that man’s rights do not depend on his ability to feel pain; they depend on his ability to think.

Rights are ethical principles applicable only to organisms capable of reason and choice.  Animals are by nature amoral; they don’t survive by rational thought, but by sensory input and instinct.  They cannot reason and cannot learn a code of ethics.  The implication of the animal rights philosophy is that nature has no moral hierarchy.  To them, “non-human” animals are morally superior to the human species.

“Surely there will be some nonhuman animals whose lives, by any standards, are more valuable than the lives of some humans.” Peter Singer, Animal Liberation: A New Ethic for Our Treatment of Animals, 2nd ed. (New York: New York Review of Books, 1990), p. 19.

“Humans have grown like a cancer. We’re the biggest blight on the face of the earth.” Ingrid Newkirk, PETA’s founder, president and former national director, Readers Digest, June 1990

“To those people who say, `My father is alive because of animal experimentation,’ I say `Yeah, well, good for you. This dog died so your father could live.’ Sorry, but I am just not behind that kind of trade off.” Bill Maher, PETA celebrity spokesman

Saying that human concerns outweigh animal concerns is just more bullshit.” Chris DeRose, Last Chance for Animals: SHAC rally, Edison, New Jersey, November 30, 2002

This animal rightist worldview has another unfortunate side effect:  it has made violence against human beings more acceptable.  Animal “rights” devalues an individual human life to a worth no greater than an insect or a rat.

“The life of an ant and that of my child should be granted equal consideration.” Michael W. Fox, Scientific Director and former Vice President, The Humane Society of the United States, The Inhumane Society, New York, 1990

“A rat is a pig is a dog is a boy.” Ingrid Newkirk, PETA’s founder and president, Washingtonian Magazine, August 1986

Animal Welfare, as opposed to Animal Rights is concerned with the health, safety, and the future of animals, not to mention the quality of life for both animals and humans.  No moral, mentally healthy human being wants to see animals suffer.  We have a duty and a moral responsibility to prevent animal suffering.  Pet owners, breeders and rescuers spend literally thousands of dollars and untold hours of time and effort caring for animals.  They do it out of love and respect for their pets.  However this is not the same as granting them moral equality.  There is a fundamental difference between respect and consideration for animals and granting them equal moral rights, just as there is a fundamental difference between humans and animals.  Animal rights philosophy seeks to blur that difference through anthropomorphism, brainwashing and political maneuvering.

There is an underground war going on in this country for the right to own, use and care for animals.  The animal/human relationship goes back thousands of years.  Animal Rightists want to destroy that relationship…one-law-at-a-time.  Those of us who care for animals are under attack like never before.  Licensing, new taxes, pet limit laws, registration schemes, Breed Specific Legislation and arbitrary governmental intrusion into our privacy have done incredible damage to healthy pet ownership over the years.

Animal Rights law is the fastest growing field of law in the country.  HSUS is currently in the process of expanding its litigation capabilities.  There has been a steady replacement of ‘helping animals’ statements on the web sites and in publications with ‘protecting animals,’ as organizations continue to shift toward passing and enforcing more laws.  If present trends continue, home breeding of dogs will be wiped out in this country within a few years, and along with it, the purebred dog.

All of us who love our pets must recognize the difference between animal rights and animal welfare.  Whether they’re opposing breeding, meat, medical research, zoos or fur, the animal rightists real agenda goes much further.  We need to be vigilant in our own communities, as well on the State and Federal levels so that we, as pet owners, are not legislated out of existence


  • Any regulations or laws that attempt to limit pet ownership

  • Legislation that attempts to redefine pet ownership to “guardianship”

  • Breed specific laws, e.g., laws which ban particular breeds

  • Laws that define all breeders as commercial entities, including hobby breeders

  • Unreasonable license fee increases

  • Any other items that relate to ownership of pets or breeding of dogs


  • Educate yourself on the issues involved; familiarize yourself with the animal rights agenda so that you will recognize anti-ownership or breeding legislation in your city or state.

  • Do not give money to organizations like the HSUS; instead support your local animal shelters.

  • Join a group that deals with animal legislative issues, like the National Animal Interest Alliance (

  • Check the American Kennel Club ( website on a regular basis for legislation that affects your state.

  • Refer any proposed regulations or laws in your area to  The AKC has many helpful documents related to wording for regulations related to dogs. 

  • Be a model citizen with your dogs and help educate other owners to do the same.



National Animal Interest Alliance,

Pet Law,

Activist Cash,

Sportsmen & Animal Owners Voting Alliance,

PETA Kills Animals,