ARF’s Vail Style

Posted on 05/26/2009

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Animal welfare vs. animal rights in Vail Valley
Eagle Valley Humane Society director explains the difference for Vail Valley readersa
CHAR QUINN
SPECIAL TO THE DAILY
VAIL, CO COLORADO,
VAIL, Colorado — I was speaking to a friend who has volunteered for humane societies in several states, as well as Colorado. We were discussing animal welfare, animal rights, and animal control. I was surprised at her lack of understanding concerning these groups differences and I realized that many people probably have the same confusion.

A dog with a collar and leash is a great example to use to show the difference between animal welfare and animal rights. Animal rights activists do not believe that your dog should have to wear a collar; they believe the dog should have the right not to be restrained by having to wear a collar and leash — even if it puts their welfare in danger. Animal welfare groups promote the use of collar and leash to ensure a dog’s safety. 

The Eagle Valley Humane Society is an animal welfare organization. We have a variety of programs to help with animal welfare, as well as an agent to enforce state animal cruelty and neglect laws. We work closely with Mountain Valley Horse Rescue in Eagle — also an animal welfare organization dealing with abused, neglected and abandoned horses. 

Animal Control groups are set up by counties or towns to control animals. They are there to enforce the leash laws, pick up animals at large and deal with dangerous dogs. 

Counties vary on who controls Animal Control groups. Most neighboring animal controls are operated under the sheriff’s department or police department, while others across the state fall directly under county or town governments. 

Eagle County Animal Services, which is Eagle County’s animal control, falls directly under Eagle County government — it enforces the county petty offense laws and operates the animal shelter. When animal control falls under the sheriff’s department, as it does in some other counties, they can enforce county leash laws and the state criminal laws for animal cruelty and neglect. 

Many people are under the impression that local humane societies and rescue groups are under some of the national humane society headquarters. Local groups are not. 

National organizations vary greatly. Many of the national organizations for animals are about animal rights, not animal welfare. Some are for both, and some are just for animal welfare. It is important to understand what these national animal groups stand for when looking at the big picture — this is critical when it comes to making a donation. 

A friend of mine recently donated money to an animal rights organization to help stop the use of animal skins in a foreign country. This was a noble cause, but after researching this particular organization I found it has euthanized thousands of dogs and cats because it does not believe dogs and cats should be held in animal shelters. My friend would have donated elsewhere if she saw the entire picture and didn’t focus on one issue. 

Another important consideration with a national organization is that they do not have actual authority to do cruelty and neglect investigations. They are there to assist the local or state authorities.

Every state has different laws concerning whose responsibility cruelty and neglect investigations fall under — in Colorado it’s the Bureau of Animal Protection, which falls under the Department of Agriculture. The Bureau has approximately 140 Agents across the state. 

Animal cruelty and neglect complaints can be reported to the Bureau or your local police or sheriff’s department. In Eagle County, I am a Bureau Agent and people can report cruelty or neglect complaints directly to me. In counties where there is not a Bureau agent, animal cruelty and neglect complaints go through the police or sheriff’s department. 

I hope this helps clarify the differences among local and national animal groups. It is important to research the organization you are involved with and donating money to. You want the big picture, so take the time to do the research to make an informed decision.

Animals are a joy to our lives. Let’s give back to them.


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