Veterinarians routinely position themselves as the professionals who are most knowledgeable about non-human animals, and the public turns to them for guidance in matters of animal health and welfare. However, as research indicates, there is a considerable gap between what the public thinks veterinarians know and the actual veterinary curriculum. This study investigates the perspectives of veterinary students towards issues of animal welfare and animal rights, based on the results of a 2012 survey. Results indicate that veterinary students have limited and narrow understandings of both concepts, and that their knowledge is shaped by their professional socialization in veterinary education. Despite the enormous ethical complexity and diversity of philosophical perspectives that are inherent to both animal welfare and animal rights positions, veterinary students typically are not adequately prepared for a career that is located at the very center of these debates.