As part of Massey Universities Animal Welfare and Behaviour Special Topic Week, our Executive Director, Tara Jackson, was invited to give a guest lecture to final-year vet students on the use of animals in science from an animal rights perspective.
This was a fantastic opportunity for us to promote our firm stance on the use of animals in science and share a different perspective than the students are used to.
We first talked about the difference between animal welfare and animal rights:
Everyone working within the animal space has their own idea of what welfare is but not necessarily what animal rights are. There are fundamental differences between animal welfare and animal rights.
Animal welfare has a presumption that animals are being used in ways that are not in the animal’s best interest.
Whereas animal rights theorises that animals have their own intrinsic value – they don’t belong to humans, and they aren’t here to serve us. This is where we sit. We believe that animals have their own right to life, the same as humans do.
We then talked about our core beliefs and why we think animal experimentation and the harmful use of animals for research, testing or teaching purposes needs to end. Our ED also shared her personal experiences from her time studying zoology at Massey University and the different scenarios that made her uncomfortable and that she opted out of.
This was an interactive talk and students got to share their experiences, beliefs and opinions as well. This was an incredibly positive experience, and the students seemed open to what we had to say. If this room full of future vets is anything to go by, sick and injured animals in Aotearoa are in good hands!
We left students with the following take-home messages:
- If you feel uncomfortable – listen to your gut. Don’t let time silence you.
- Use your voice and position to have a positive impact for animals.
- Don’t do research for the sake of doing research and just getting a publication by your name (yes, this happens!)
- If you ever want help, if you are facing something that makes you uncomfortable, that you know in your heart is wrong (ethically or scientifically) and you want help finding an alternative method then don’t ever hesitate to get in touch.
Our Executive Director ended the lecture with this:
"You are all the future of the veterinarian industry, the industry that literally saves the lives of animals. Whether these are companion animals, animals used in zoos, farms, labs, rodeos or one of the many other industries that involve animal use, you will all be helping set the precedent for what society deems acceptable. With your position, you hold a lot of power and public trust, I really hope that going out into the world, you use this power wisely."