Should We Keep Pets?
The folks at Opposing Views asked me what my thoughts were about the keeping of pets.
First, let me say I’m thrilled there’s an "Is There a God?" debate. And as the inadvertent, official videographer at our best buddies’ new baby’s bris, I’m overjoyed that there’s a debate called "Should Boys be Circumcised?" When asked if I had "the stomach" to get so close to the blessed event, my response was "hey, I’ve been to a slaughterhouse, and there are certainly similarities, so sure, I’ll do it."
I wouldn’t feel right if I didn’t say, at least once, to someone other than my husband, my in-laws or my mother, that when a grown man (grandpa) is actually asked to pin an 8-day baby to a dining room table as he screams bloody murder and flails in pain because he is being cut without anesthesia and for no good reason, while people gaze on blissfully, that, my friends, is no blessed event.
And when people say the 6 pound, 8-day old "did such a great job" and "was so brave" what does that mean? He did a great job bleeding and squealing? With all due respect, there’s no bravery involved when a roomful of grown-ups ambushes you, strips you, overpowers you, then cuts you. You cry out for help, you try to escape, and you inevitably lose. The words "terrorize" and "torture" come to mind, but the tiny boy doesn’t know enough about what’s occurring to be brave. He’s just trying to survive.
You’re probably thinking this happened yesterday, but it was three weeks ago.
I’m done now.
End of rant.
Now, should we have pets?
Ideally? No. Realistically, considering the fact that we have bred and domesticated certain animals, I believe we have an obligation–as the creators of a colossal overpopulations problem–to do our best to solve the problem.
Rather than setting all animals free, which by the way I’ve yet to hear any animal advocate propose, but plenty of anti-animal advocates claim we propose, the solution would take, say, a generation (horses can live for decades, and I include them along with dogs and cats). During this generation, all breeding of "pets" by humans would cease, and spaying and neutering would be necessary, though I welcome arguments that us ceasing breeding would do the job without having to take control over the animals’ reproductive systems without their consent and sterilizing them. Desperate times require desperate measures.
I do not think that there’s a home for every dog and cat, as I’d have to modify "home" with "acceptable," and I know few people now who in my opinion are meeting the needs of their "pets" (particularly once the people have children).
Rounding up feral dogs and cats to sterilize them and return them would also be part of the solution, however I question where that stops. Do we just do it in our own neighborhoods? Do we actively go out looking for animals to sterilize? I’d say no to that one.
Finally, it’s true that "the wild" is a dangerous place and animals suffer all the time. My purpose, though, is to do something about the suffering that we have caused and continue to cause. Just because there’s suffering in the wild and there always will be doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to alleviate some of the suffering we’re responsible for.
Though dogs, cats and horses do add immeasurably to our lives (or at least they can), that’s not a good reason to continue to breed them and keep them in our homes. I’ve said before that I don’t feel that bad (most of the time) that Emily is an inside cat as she has a terminal disease (FIP) and is highly contagious and cannot ever be in contact with other kitties.
Meanwhile, a few doors down, at a home that has two outside cats, one recently disappeared, and two children (and two parents) are distraught. They’ve plastered the community with signs, and when a storm washed the signs out making them illegible and causing some to fall, they replaced them with new signs that are laminated, and they’ve used better quality staples. If the cat didn’t go outside, she would be home right now. Such is the position we’re in and we put our cats in.
This isn’t an issue that there’s consensus on. It’s not black and white, and it seems to involve compromise regardless of your position.
What do you think?