The Coverage of Animal Welfare and/or animal Rights in Journal Articles

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Introduction

For many people, animal welfare and animal rights are terms referring to the same concept, although scholars acknowledge that the underlying philosophies for the two are not the same. Animal welfare is defined as the conditions under which animal lives within its habitat. Animal welfare is measured using various benchmark areas, including behaviour, longevity, physiology, and potential for reproduction. In contrast, animal rights are based on the philosophy that the rights of humans and animals are fundamentally the same, and should be safeguarded. In the United States, the distinctive differences between animal welfare and animal rights are difficult to comprehend because the concepts received widespread usage and application recently. However, animal welfare, as compared to animal rights, has received more media coverage in the recent past. US media, particularly the social media platform has increased the coverage of animal cruelty cases. Further, the US has been the centre for international forums on animal welfare, where the participants include activists and scholars from around the world, which has channelled more attention to the issue of animal welfare. The current review of the treatment of the issues of animal rights and animal welfare in two journal articles will highlight the approach taken by the writer, and the message it passes to the target audience and the society in general.

The Treatment of the Issue of Animal Rights and Animal Welfare in the Articles

Article 1: A Decade of Progress toward Ending the Intensive Confinement of Farm Animals in the United States

In the article, Shields, Shapiro, and Rowan report the work of the HSUS (Humane Society of the United States) in the efforts aimed at protecting farm animals over the last decade, from the viewpoint of the organization. In the article, Shields, Shapiro, and Rowan point out that before 2002, there were few protections for farm animals contained in the law, but that the HSUS campaign held in 2005 changed the trend. The discussion of the work of the HSUS was aimed at highlighting the changing views of the society towards farm animals and their welfare, which calls for the adoption of protections. According to the article, the HSUS campaign led to an upsurge in ballot activity, which increased public awareness about the issue of animal rights and welfare and thus created the environment where the further legal protections followed. The authors’ position points to the fact that the widespread attention accorded to animal rights and welfare in the society was the factor underlying the formulation of new laws. For example, according to the article, the legislative work and campaigns by HSUS and other agencies were complemented by investigations done in farms and animal handling centres, which led to a drastic reduction in the confinement of farm animals. The industries affected heavily include the egg, pork, and veal industries, considering that the issue of intensive confinement was addressed, ending the era when animals such as chicken were put inside crates and cages. 

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According to Shields, Shapiro, and Rowan, the investigations done in farms and other animal handling areas such as slaughterhouses have been crucial in demonstrating the reality of inhumane animal treatment. The view by the authors points to the fact that the issue of animal rights and welfare can be addressed through community-wide activism, which has been useful in informing the public about the issue. For example, the authors added that the investigations have been crucial in cultivating public support and government activity, for instance on the publication of realistic animal welfare laws and policies. However, the article pointed out the importance of further activism, after highlighting the reluctance and outdated nature of federal laws on the protection of animals, as compared to the considerable progress made in states such as California. The effectiveness of public activism on the issue is reflected by the positions of companies such as Wal-Mart, which has pledged to buy supplies only from vendors that use crates and cage-free housing. The changes reported highlight the change in the society’s expectations on animal protection, which has increased the number of organizations concerned with the issue and the levels of protection contained in the law.

Article 2: Ag-Gag Laws: A Shift in the Wrong Direction for Animal Welfare on Farms

Wilson’s article explores the negative progress made in animal welfare and animal’s protection, due to the laws set in place. The destructive laws put in place, as discussed in the article include the gag orders that affected farm animal welfare during the year 2014. The treatment of the issue of animal welfare and rights is that despite the progress made during the past few decades, the passage of a few laws has affected the progress made on the issue negatively. As an example, the author noted that the passage of laws preventing the publication of photographs showing the condition of farms was a major restraint to informing the public about the animal welfare issues affecting farm animals in the US. The writer’s view is that the passage of laws has worked against the community and the media tools that more Americans would be informed about the abuse of animals and the need to formulate laws on animal protection. Apart from focusing on the issue of animal welfare, the article highlighted that the nature of modern farming has effects on consumers and many other areas of society, and that calls for the formulation of laws that favour animal protection. 

The most important message that the author sought to pass was that the gag laws discussed in the article, including anti-whistleblower laws limit public awareness about animal welfare animal protection. The view that the writer sought to pass to readers is that such laws need to be repealed, and new laws formulated so that animal protection can reach optimal levels. As an example, the article highlighted that ag-gag laws stop law enforcement from setting in place animal welfare laws, for instance by limiting the undercover investigations needed to expose the problem of animal rights and welfare. In essence, some of the laws in place prevent the formulation and adoption of the laws needed to foster animal protection. The indication of the analysis is that some laws conflict with others on animal protection, and therefore the conflicts in legal principles and statutes need to be addressed before considerable progress can be made in animal protection. 

Conclusion

Due to the common underpinnings between animal welfare and animal rights laws, many people do not understand the differences. However, from the recent activism done in the US, it is evident that laws are crucial to animal protection. The importance of laws to animal protection was addressed in article 1, where the message by the writers is that the knowledge of animal welfare issues led to the formulation of important laws on animal protection. The different approaches taken by the writers of the two articles emphasized the need to evaluate the legislation in place, towards ensuring that they are supportive of animal protection and not limited to the course. The conclusion from the analysis is that laws are crucial in animal protection, but can also limit the progress made in the area.

Did you like this sample?
  1. Frank Flanders and James Gillespie, Modern Livestock & Poultry Production (9th Cengage Learning, 2016).
  2. Larissa Wilson, ‘Ag-Gag Laws: A Shift in the Wrong Direction for Animal Welfare on Farms (2014) Golden Gate U. L. Rev, 44. 3-4, 311-335.
  3. Marc Bekoff, Encyclopedia of Animal Rights and Animal Welfare (Routledge, 2013).
  4. Sara Shields, Paul Shapiro, and Andrew Rowan, ‘A Decade of Progress toward Ending the Intensive Confinement of Farm Animals in the United States’ (2017)Animals, 7.5, 1-28.
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