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Despite being used interchangeably, the terms animal welfare and animal rights are different. One can state that the term animal rights refers to the privileges that animals should enjoy (Welfare vs. Rights). Scholars that support this school of thought argue that animals should have the same privileges as human beings (Welfare vs. Rights). On the other hand, animal welfare refers mainly to the human responsibility to ensure that all aspects of animal well-being are upheld (Welfare vs. Rights). This essay compares the two concepts in relation to animal research in medical science.
Apart from the definition, animal welfare is different from animal rights as it supports the ethical and responsible use of animals for the benefit of man (Animal Research). According to the Animal Research web page, animals are an essential part of medical research. Individuals that debate using animal rights are often against the use of animals for experimental biological studies. To convince them, I would mention some of the ground-breaking researches and studies that have been realized due to animal research. For instance, it is the use of cows in the search for a vaccine for smallpox that eradicated the disease (Animal Testing and Research).
While comparing animal rights and welfare, one also has to consider the fact that animals cannot have the same rights as human beings as the former (animal rights) recommends. Man’s complex brain has ensured their position at the apex.
Whereas human beings can reason and know what is right and wrong, animals depend purely on their instincts for survival. It is this reason that allows human beings to keep animals as pets. A person who suggests that animals should have similar rights to human beings should also not keep pets as it can be deemed ‘slavery’. Additionally, one can argue that supporters of animal rights should also be completely vegans.
Whereas one can argue that animals cannot have the same rights as humans, it is important to also point out that animal welfare ensures that animals are treated well at all times. One can state that whereas animals do not have the same complex brain as humans, they can feel pain, love, and other emotions (1). The fact that animals have feelings creates an ethical conundrum in regard to medical research. However, animal welfare ensures that the animals used in medical studies are as comfortable as possible (Butterworth 13). Many of these animals do not suffer during these experiments.
Despite the stated differences and the fact that I support animal research, it is prudent to note that scientists and researchers have a prominent responsibility towards animals. Indeed, animal research can be done on all types of animals that can enhance medical and biological research. Towards this end, scientists have to ensure that there are adequate policies to assure the dignified and ethical use of animals for medical research.
In conclusion, both animal rights and animal welfare aim to improve human interaction with animals for the benefit of both. However, animal welfare encourages the fact that human beings are more superior to animals. It is this superiority that should ensure that animals are not mistreated. Indeed, the use of animals in medical research has led to ground-breaking realizations. Despite this, it is important that all scientists involved in animal research adhere to policies that also protect the welfare of said animals.
Animal Research. AMP, 2019. Web.
Animal Testing and Research. Foundation for Biomedical Research, 2019. Web.
Butterworth, Andrew. Animal Welfare in a Changing World. CABI, 2018.
Welfare vs. Rights. Animal Welfare Council, 2019. Web.