The following is excerpted from this link. I cite it because it rather succinctly states some views I share about animal welfare and the increasing difference between it and animal rights. To wit, the "animal rights" movement is largely led by a bunch of lunatics with poor philosophical and intellectual underpinnings and funded by well-meaning but ill-informed people, but Mr. Scruton is far nicer about it than I. Maybe it's a British thing... The quoted material is in italics below.
Michael Duffy: The animal rights movement which owes quite a lot to the Australian philosopher, Peter Singer, has succeeded in having hunting banned in Britain, although not, I should say, in Australia. What’s your view of their arguments?
Roger Scruton: Total rubbish. The arguments that are given are that somehow this is a cruel sport and doesn’t belong to the modern age in which we have proper compassion for animals, but anybody who’s done it realises that it is not only the natural way of controlling the fox population (which has no other predator, after all) but also is the least painful and most instantaneous form of death that the animal can actually encounter. All the alternatives like shooting and trapping and snaring and so on are, to my mind, far crueller and should actually be banned. But the point is that the real objection to hunting by those who oppose it is that people enjoy it. It’s a kind of modern Puritanism, and this Puritanism you can see totally infecting the philosophy of Peter Singer…a kind of inverted Puritanism which doesn’t allow people to have morality based upon the sense of the distinctness of the human being, everything has to be brought down to the lowest level.
Michael Duffy: Where does that come from, do you think? Why has it triumphed, as it has in this case anyway?
Roger Scruton: I think the reason why the animal rights thinks it has triumphed is that, with the loss of religion, people have lost all sense of the distinctiveness of the human species and what actually gives us a destiny apart from the animal kingdom, so to speak, and so the people have become worried that in fact they are only animals, there’s no difference between me and a fox. So what I couldn’t possibly do to a human being, I couldn’t possibly do to a fox either. But this is based on a complete misunderstanding of the nature of human life.
Michael Duffy: And the nature of foxes probably...
Understand that while I am against the animal rights movement, I'm equally against people who torture kittens or set up or watch dog fights. I'm not against animal testing, as long as it's done as humanely as possible. Nevertheless, if it comes down to Fido or someone I care about, I'm going to choose the welfare of my loved one first.