The Ethics of Pet KeepingJun 27, 2020
Do we really have the right to own our fellow creatures? Are there some animals that should never be kept as pets? Is it okay to declaw a cat, clip a bird’s wings, or dock a dog's tail? These are some of the questions we're asking on this week's show.
Harold G. Neuman
Friday, November 18, 2022 -- 5:54 AMHumans have domesticated and
Humans have domesticated and cared for animals for a long time. This post is about pets, not animals we work or eat. That said, domesticity is a state created and fostered by us for the benefit creatures we call pets. It is a responsibility pet keepers take seriously, so much so that medical care for our domesticated friends is a lucrative business for veternarians. Is there a morality connected to pet keeping? I suppose so. Responsibility, in this sense, extends to kindness and love. So, supposing we were to outlaw pet keeping, on account of some imagined morality around their freedom, their rights of autonomy? What would that obtain?
Many, if not most domesticated pets would die if they were summarily freed. A few, mostly cats, would go feral and survive for a time. In any case, the abrogation of keepers' responsibility would erase most altruistic intention. Those who refuse to consider this are missing a key point---if they don't keep pets, ignorance of facts may never cross their minds.
Wednesday, November 23, 2022 -- 5:06 PMWhose minds, the pets
Whose minds, the pets themselves or those who don't own them? How does the problem of other minds figure in the problem of domesticated animal-ownership? Isn't it the case, for example, that if it's only after discovery of one's self in distinction from that of another's that the problem arises, and that the "we" precedes the "I" chronologically in development of the individual, that all relationships with apparently sentient non-human beings must be included in the former stipulation? If that's the case, the distinction between pets and livestock is a superficial one. Why should a chicken, for example, not share in the same rights as a poodle? Is it because any restaurant which has "fried poodle" on the menu would fail to develop a strong customer base? Pet ownership in this relation looks like a kind of apology for owning animals for whom emotional response is not socially permitted. Is this one of the facts referred to as unconsidered by those who "miss the point"?