July 15, 2003


 Poll finds Americans cool toward animal rights

Posted June 30, 2003

Animal rights activists have their work cut out for them. A Gallup poll testing public reaction to several animal rights goals found that most Americans aren't willing to fundamentally change their views about animals.

Conducted May 5-7, the Gallup survey of 1,005 adults discovered that a majority—71 percent—believe animals are entitled to some protections from harm and exploitation. But just 25 percent think that animals deserve the same rights as people.

In addition, most of those surveyed opposed banning all product testing or medical research on laboratory animals or prohibiting all types of hunting. There was, however, substantial support—62 percent—for passing stricter laws regulating the treatment of farm animals.

Bernard E. Rollin, PhD, a professor of philosophy and biomedical sciences at Colorado State University, says increased federal regulation of the biomedical research industry has assuaged public concerns about laboratory animal abuse. "Now," Dr. Rollin observed, "people are asking for agricultural protections."

Interestingly, of the 25 percent who say that animals deserve the same rights as people, many nevertheless objected to limitations on animal use. For instance, 48 percent reject the notion of banning medical research on animals; 38 percent oppose prohibitions on testing products on animals; 23 percent don't support greater regulation of farm animals; and more than half oppose banning all types of hunting.

The poll also found that women are more likely than men to support animal rights, and Democrats more likely than Republicans, but there are few differences by age.