Animal Rights Zone

Fighting for animal liberation and an end to speciesism

User Industry Responds with Animal Welfarism (and a bit of "social closure") ~ Dr. Roger Yates

This blog entry is another in a series

from Dr. Roger Yates ...

A Few Thoughts on Whether Animal Welfare Campaigns—and Many Animal ...

Animal Welfare.

We'll do the Animal Rights, They'll do the Welfare.

This series explores the idea that specific animal welfare campaigning is not required in order to bring about animal welfare reforms. In other words, the progressive animal advocacy movement, especially those in it who regard themselves as animal rights advocates, can get on with the business of educating about animal use - the welfare will happen anyway. Indeed, the more "turbulence" created in society by animal rights advocacy, the more welfare we are likely to see.

My Auntie Lillian would tell me to look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves - this, in a sense, is a similar idea. It means, in my view, that rights-based animal advocates can afford to devote all their efforts in challenging the systems and ideology of speciesist animal use: they can advocate for animal rights and not get into the messy business of trying to regulate atrocities. Animal rights supporters need not themselves expend time, money, or energy on animal welfarism - on increasing cage sizes, moving other animals to "group housing," "pushing" animal users to gas instead of slit the throats of chickens, etc., etc.

The latest support for this idea comes from an interesting source - the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). In Europe we tend to regard the HSUS as a version of the Societies for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: they do not stand for, nor claim to stand for, animal rights. Some North American advocates, however, such as Bob Linden of Go Vegan Radio, suggest that the HSUS deliberately fudge their position on human-nonhuman relations in order to extract money from animal rights supporters. In terms of this little series of mine, this technicality is not particularly relevant - all we need to know is that the HSUS recently published a video exposé of a pig farm, just as the vegan-based animal rights and anti-speciesist group, Animal Equality, do. The major and important difference is the claims-making that these groups produce to accompany their videos.

So - how have the pig users responded?

They have responded, as they always do and in many senses must, with animal welfare recommendations. In a National Hog Farmer article, Make Your Farm YouTube Proof, located in a deeply ironic section of their site about "animal well-being," they advise exploiters of pigs to:

Providing feed, water and an environment that promotes the well-being of our animals.
Providing proper care, handling and transportation for pigs at each stage of life.
Protecting pig health and providing appropriate treatment, including veterinary care when needed.
Using only approved practices to euthanize, in a timely manner, those sick or injured pigs that fail to respond to care or treatment.

Now, it might strike us with some force that "hog farmers" apparently have to be told to provide other animals with food and water - but this whole article is about increasing welfare, and the look of animal use, in case "you're next."

This advise comes from the Ohio Pork Producers Council and they are clearly concerned with two things - screening new employees to prevent further exposés and sharpening up on welfare as a general matter.

In other words, a video that could have been making the case for animal rights in civil society results in animal welfarism. 

Conclusion: campaign for animal rights.


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