THE impact of animal activist groups is destructive to the cause of animal welfare.
During the past few weeks this has been reinforced by the decision of the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) to withhold damning evidence of cruelty.
For the RSPCA to attack both PETA and Animals Australia for the two groups’ patterns of behaviour is a telling sign of just how off the mark these activists have become.
RSPCA NSW chief executive officer Steve Coleman’s point that “what the RSPCA stands for has absolutely been muddied by the efforts of other organisations that have a different agenda” also has important implications for last week’s decision made by NSW Farmers to remove the welfare organisation’s policing powers.
It is disappointing NSW Farmers, in its expression of dissatisfaction with the RSPCA, hasn’t put forward concrete examples to back its concerns about the organisation.
However, this highlights Mr Coleman’s point that the line between welfare and animal rights has been blurred to the detriment of positive welfare outcomes.
During last week’s conference NSW Farmers’ member James Jackson said the association’s stance would send a message to the RSPCA that it needed to lift its game and look at welfare in a holistic sense.
It has certainly sent a message, but perhaps not the same message delegates were expecting to get through.
Instead it has highlighted who’s on which side of the fence.
RSPCA has been clear in its response - it wants to be on the farmers’ side.
The definition of welfare does overlap with the definition of animal rights in the area of animals being free from abuse, and livestock producers would also support that notion.
However, to expect people to not use animals for food is not on the RSPCA’s agenda and while the RSPCA is a lobby group, it’s not lobbying at the expense of any animal’s wellbeing, unlike these activist groups which have exploited suffering animals for their own political purpose.
Farmers have a good history with the RSPCA and even if the two groups don’t see eye-to-eye on everything, it would be a waste for farmers to walk away from this relationship, particularly when the risk of extremist groups filling the void is a real threat.