We’ve noted for some time that there is a fundamental difference between animal welfare, which is the well-being of animals, and animal rights, a radical ideology that proposes that society instill legal “rights” upon animals and ultimately ban the use of animals. Animal welfare requires science-based, sometimes difficult choices, as we told readers of the Bucks County Courier Times:

Egg-laying hens are generally housed in cages, which ruffles some people’s feathers. Aren’t birds better off running around outside, they ask?

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) notes that hens in cages have lower mortality rates. Moreover, cage-free and free-range environments expose birds to more disease vectors, predation risks, and cannibalistic behavior (the phrase “pecking order” has a basis in fact).

The other view, animal rights, sees animals as equals if not superiors of people, otherwise known as “human animals” in the movement lingo. Animal rights groups have even invented a word, “speciesism,” linking failing to adopt the animal rights view with nefarious “isms” such as racism. Movement bigwigs from former PETA VP Bruce Friedrich to Humane Society of the United States CEO Wayne Pacelle have espoused it. PETA even wants this concept taught in schools.

In this radical view, eating a ham sandwich, wearing a leather belt, or mixing dairy creamer into coffee is morally equivalent to genocide, as PETA and its allies are happy to claim (until they’re caught in this offensive behavior). Extremists that adopt this worldview see keeping performing animals, horses and pets for entertainment purposes as slavery. PETA actually argued this before a federal judge, who all but laughed the argument out of court.

The science may not lead to making decisions that would look best in a cartoon. But just like the science on vegetarian doggie kibble, the science on farm practices doesn’t necessarily align with the animal rights songbook. If you’re looking for credible advice on animal welfare, the HSUS/PETA crowd are the last people you should seek out.