A “Rebuttal” to an Article on ‘HubPage.com’ (per the Link below)
I recently stumbled upon someone’s article that caught my eye: “Why It’s Cruel to Keep Dogs as ‘Pets” If you haven’t read it, let me summarize some of its finer points. It talks about how pet owners display a special and selfish kind of cruelty because we force these canines to live “an unnatural existence.” It asks us to imagine being “stolen from your mother as a youngster, confined, controlled, surgically altered, and bored for hours on end,” while retaining all the frustrated instincts and desires of our wild ancestors. The author offers vivid imagery – describing the suffering caused by the “beloved master” who leaves us lonely all day with no bathroom privileges(!) and only rarely allowed to socialize with our own kind. Cruelty indeed! I was tempted to stop reading – afraid I would race down to the nearest dog park and give those ruthless tyrants a piece of my enlightened mind.
I’m kidding…but it did get me thinking.
Does she (the Author of this ‘Cruel to Keep Dogs’ article) have a point? Believe it or not, I don’t actually disagree with everything the author expresses. But before we explore the common ground, let’s finish uncovering some of the more surprising revelations of this pet-less prodigy. Let’s spend some time examining 3 main points.
1. “Dogs Carry and Transmit Disease”
Indeed they do. Yet I hardly think most dog owners consider this breaking news. Perhaps mainly because it is widely known that ALL living creatures carry and transmit disease. You and I included. And guess what? Humans have the dubious potential of carrying and transmitting far more diseases than dogs. Perhaps the thesis of her article would be better served by pointing out that pet ownership exposes our fur babies to innumerable germs not otherwise found in the wild. That I would concede. But then we need to explore the science of inter-species transmission.
My point is: Even if a wooded glen were a better environment for a dog, this is still the 21st century. There are not huge swaths of unexplored or available territory left and I find it unlikely that the fact that dogs have diseases is cause to commandeer land somewhere in Texas and open a released domesticated dog sanctuary.
Or is it? There’s more…
2. “Dogs are a dangerous public safety hazard.”
Now, this I didn’t know. Public Safety Hazard? What a powerful statement. Perhaps I spoke too soon.
But why? Are dogs so fed up with the cruelty of domestication that they are secretly and collectively plotting against all of the humankind?
No, friend. It’s because dogs can …. Bite.
This fact is hardly a revelation worthy of a public safety announcement but certainly nothing to make light of. I agree that dog bites have caused some terrible tragedies. I myself almost lost an arm to a cat bite. Seriously. The wound is one thing and an infection another. Yes, dogs can bite. So can cats and horses and gerbils and… have you ever heard of Mike Tyson?
Again, my point is that we all take on a certain amount of responsibility when deciding to adopt an animal. It’s an animal. And no amount of diplomatic discussion with our animals can deter a nibble now and then.
A vicious dog attack is admittedly quite another thing. I shudder at the very thought yet remain unconvinced that releasing millions of dogs into the wild will bring an end to tragic realities. They must be dealt with in a way that holds all perpetrators accountable and learned from in a way that deters future tragedies. But to label all dogs a “public safety hazard”? There is so much in this world worthy of this allegation… the issue of domesticated dogs hardly seems the best use of our resources and efforts. Just an opinion.
But maybe, as the author also points out, this really isn’t about us our health or our safety. Let’s consider the dogs we say we love so much… which brings me to …
3. “Many owners of dogs think that they love their “pets” and that they are members of their families, but the reality is that these animals are being denied their freedom that people mistakenly think they no longer desirable because they have been “domesticated.”
Here we begin to uncover the true source of the author’s angst. She is, in fact, one of the few humans in this world gifted with the ability to actually speak with dogs – to listen to their wants, needs, and hopes. Clearly, she’s done her research. She asks us to imagine being a dog trapped in a Manhattan apartment – and with good reason. On a recent trip to New York, I remember meeting an old poodle that seemed like he really had something to get off his chest. No doubt he was one of many sources for the in-depth interviews that precipitated this informative article. Sadly, it seems obvious to me that she ignored countless other fur babies clamoring for their voices to be heard – the homeless, injured, malnourished, unwanted – waiting for a loving home. Just take a look at this guy.
But what do I know? I got all the way through college without even knowing they offered a Masters degree in Canine.
In closing, and in all honesty, I’d like to take a short stroll across our common ground. The author states that if we simply MUST have a dog, adopt one. I like that. The reality is so many dogs are sitting in shelters waiting… let’s rescue them. I also agree that all dogs will never be domesticated enough to digest the plastic pellets of beaks and bowels most large pet food companies sell with a smile. Take the time to do your own research. Feed them good food. And if a high-quality raw diet isn’t possible in your budget, add in supplements that give them the nutrients they would get in the wild.
In the end, we all only get what we give – to each other and the creatures we love. In the meantime, we creatures have a license to express our opinions. However entertaining, enlightening or irritating these expressions may be, sharing them is certainly another piece of common ground I share with the author. Obviously.