Animal welfare or animal rights? On the surface it seems like a minor semantic difference, but in reality, the difference in position on morality regarding the treatment of animals goes much deeper.
Animal rights activism is rooted in radical misanthropy and is riddled with philosophical and scientific inaccuracies and hypocrisy. As humans it is good and right that we question the morality of the things that we do, but determining what is feasible and realistic is a huge part of that. The animal rights movement is fueled by nothing more than faux moral superiority and a fairy tale.
Unsolicited advice should always be offered with respect, genuine politeness, and a willingness to back off at their request, especially if you do not know the person personally, nor the history of their relationship with their pet. Someone posting pictures of an obese dog may have only just rescued him. Someone threatening that they are going to declaw their cat may just be blowing off steam.
Before you attempt to educate someone on their personal blog post, you should always make it a point to educate yourself about them first.
The other day I witnessed an interesting conversation. The topic was a very young puppy that was really too young to be away from her mother, and the person said they had rescued her from a puppy mill, and that’s why she was with them at such a young age. That’s really sweet and touching on the surface, but not when I realized, upon scrolling down the conversation, that she went to the puppy mill, paid the breeder, and walked away with her new 5 week old puppy.
That is not a rescue; that is a purchase.
Some weeks ago, an inside joke erupted, lamenting the lack of a unified dog energy scale. About twice a week I’ll get a message asking me for information about a random breed, wondering if they were “high energy” or not, and whether they are a good breed for a “first time dog owner”.
But see, here’s the thing. A dog’s energy is completely relative to your definition of high and low energy. I have a dog that some people might consider “high energy”–a working line Belgian Shepherd.
But what is animal welfare? What’s our standard? One man’s bare minimum may be another man’s above-and-beyond. What’s the standard? 3 walks a day for your dog? Two? Do you tell your cat “I love you” at least once a day?
In 1965, the U.K. Government tasked Professor Roger Brambell to investigate just that: what is animal welfare? His investigation was specifically regarding livestock, and the initial response was that animals should have the freedom to “stand up, lie down, turn around, groom themselves, and stretch their limbs.” Source These freedoms became known as “Brambell’s Five Freedoms”.
“Educate yourself!” A phrase we eagerly throw around when someone we deem ignorant is saying something we disagree with. And it’s true, some people really need to educate themselves, in particular people who have taken it upon themselves to educate others.
But how do you educate yourself?
The struggle of an animal behaviorism scholar is much like that of most scientists. We study textbooks and research papers and other scholarly works on a subject, and we take the terminology literally. We have to, because there’s a reason nomenclature and professional/vocational terminology exists: to create a standard of communication amongst our professional peers and to minimize miscommunication. When certain terminology becomes popular outside of that immediate circle, the meaning can become warped.