Animal Law Review

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There is a great divide in animal advocacy between Abolition and Welfare. Abolitionists seek to end the property status of animals. Welfarists, while acquiescing in the categorization of animals as property, seek to improve the conditions in which those animals live and die. Abolitionists have worked toward their goal for decades, and Welfarists toward theirs for centuries, but animals continue to suffer and die in ever-increasing numbers. This Article reviews the theories and methods of Abolitionists and Welfarists and suggests one reason that they have failed to relieve animal suffering and death: Welfarists use the right tool in the service of the wrong goal; Abolitionists work toward the right goal but expressly decline to use the right tool. Specifically, Welfarists accurately portray the appalling conditions in which animals live and die, but they inaccurately claim that welfare measures can remedy those appalling conditions without any challenge to the property status of animals. Abolitionists correctly assert that the exploitation of animals must end, and they depict the astonishing rate at which animals are killed and eaten, but they typically spare their audience the unpleasant subject of animal suffering. The thesis of this Article is that the tide of animal suffering and death will turn only when Abolitionists employ the tool used to achieve social change throughout the history of the United States: accurately depicting the suffering of the oppressed, in image and narrative.

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