Chapter 10 Hot button issue.
While pets or companion animals have a lengthy history living with humans, aspects of this relationship are still evolving. There are a number of circumstances where different groups of people differ in their opinions of how animals should be treated, the type of care they should receive, and what types of animals can or should be kept as companions. These "hot button" issues are debated in the media, in the courts, at the federal level, and in local communities. They may be a point of contention among groups that would normally be allies, or find common ground among groups that differ on other topics or questions. This section will examine a handful of these topics, presenting a summary of the issue, a selection of references, and a list of points from each side of the issue. There are other examples to consider, and new ones are coming up all the time as we continue to redefine our relationship with the animals that share our homes.
OWNER OR GUARDIAN?
Animals are defined as property under law. This made sense at a time when livestock was among a family's most significant economic possessions. A family would buy or sell animals as needed. The animals were needed to provide food, fiber, and labor. The economy of the household and the community depended on this clearly defined relationship. If an animal was lost, killed, or stolen, the family or owner could seek compensation if another person was at fault. Things have changed. Animals are now kept in houses not for their economic value but for companionship. How should this relationship be recognized in our language and the law? Organizations such as In Defense of Animals are leading an effort to change the title of "owner" to "guardian." It is intended to change the way in which we view our relationship with animals, and our duties for their care. As a guardian, an individual living with an animal will have the responsibility to protect and nurture the animal, in terms of the animal's interests, not the person's.
Pro-Guardian Pro-Owner * People will be required to * If there are multiple guardians think about the best in a home and they have different interests of an animal opinions, how will a decision be in their care. reached regarding the treatment or care of a companion animal? * It is a proactive and positive term for raising * People are currently responsible awareness about animals for damage or problems caused by and their treatment. animals that they "own"; how will this be influenced if the people * The change in language are now guardians? will help to shape attitudes about animals. * This will change the legal status of animals, and may * The emotional value of require a substantial change companion animals will be in the infrastructure society recognized. People who have a has in place to deal with pet harmed or killed by animals and associated issues. accident or intentionally can be compensated for the * Introducing the guardian loss of their companion above terminology is a stealth and beyond the economic value tactic to change the legal of the animal. status of animals without directly addressing the issue. REFERENCES Chapman, T. (2005, March/April). Owner or guardian? Trends, 31-34. Katz, J. (2004). Guarding the guard dog? Are you a dog "owner"--or a dog "guardian?" Retrieved March 10, 1997, from http://www.slate.com/id/2096577. The Guardian Campaign. Retrieved August 15, 2007, from http://www.guardiancampaign.com/article_060524.html.
EXOTIC OR WILD ANIMALS AS PETS?
In addition to many species that have been domesticated and kept as pets for hundreds of years, there are other species that some people enjoy and desire to keep as pets. These include monkeys, large wild cats such as tigers and lions, wolves and wolf--dog hybrids, various large reptiles, and various other species.
Pro-Exotic Animals Anti-Exotic Animals * Americans should be free to own * Exotic animals pose a significant any animal that they desire as risk to the owners and the public, long as it does not pose a not just through injuries and public danger or nuisance. deaths by attacks, but also through exposure to zoonotic * The danger of exotic animals is diseases. exaggerated. Experienced exotic pet owners are able to provide * Many exotic pets are captured care for their pets and protect from the wild, depleting natural members of the public. populations of the species. * Exotic pet owners can help * Animals bred as pets are not to breed endangered animals in helpful in organized conservation captivity to protect them efforts since there is not enough from extinction. information available on their genetic heritage and breeding pedigrees. * The specialized needs of exotic animals can seldom be met outside of zoos or other institutions with the experience and resources needed to provide appropriate care. As a result, most of the exotic animals kept as pets suffer poor health and welfare. REFERENCES Farintino, R. The whims and dangers of the exotic pets market. Retrieved August 15, 2007, from http://www.hsus.org/wildlife/ issues_facing_wildlife/should_wild_animals_be_kept_as_pets/ the_whims_and_dangers_of_the_exotic_pets_market.html. United States Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. (2000). Animal Care Position Statement: Large wild and exotic cats make dangerous pets. Retrieved August 15, 2007, from http://www.aphis.usda.gov/ac/position.html. General information on wolf-dog ownership. Retrieved August 15, 2007, from http://www.floridalupine.org.
BREED-SPECIFIC LEGISLATION (BSL)
The fear of dog attacks has resulted in some communities passing, or attempting to pass, laws that would prohibit or restrict the ownership of particular breeds thought to be more dangerous than other breeds. Previous generations feared German shepherd dogs and Doberman pinschers. The breed most frequently targeted by current legislation is pit bulls (or the variety of names that dogs in this grouping are known by).
Pro-BSL Anti-BSL * Pit bulls and similar * The response to pit bull breeds account for a attacks is driven by media disproportionate number frenzy that gives a biased of serious attacks on people sense of the risk. and other dogs. * Pit bulls were bred to be * Effective dangerous dog aggressive as fighting dogs, regulation should be breed- so it should be no surprise neutral and focus on the that they would be more behavior of individual aggressive, and as a result dogs and their owners. they are not appropriate companion animals. * Families may be required to relinquish gentle and * Many other Western countries beloved pit bulls kept as have already recognized the companions, which have danger that pit bulls done no harm when communities represent, and prohibit pass restrictions. their ownership. * Breed-specific legislation has been ineffective as a method to reduce the number of dog attacks in a community. REFERENCES Bradley, J. (2005). Dogs bite: But balloons and slippers are more dangerous. Berkeley, CA: James and Kenneth Publishers. Rollin, B. E. (2007, January). Profiling: Two sides of the issue. Veterinary Forum, 64--67.
* DECLAWING CATS
Cats scratch for a variety of reasons including conditioning their claws, marking by leaving a physical sign (scratch marks) and scent from their paws on objects, and to stretch and exercise. Scratching and damaging furniture is a commonly reported behavior problem among cat owners. Some owners who are elderly or have other health problems can face additional risks if they are accidentally scratched by their cat. The actual procedure involves the amputation of the last bone of each toe to prevent regrowth of the nail, which is attached to the bone.
Pro-Declaw Anti-Declaw * The procedure employed has * Declawing is a procedure that has evolved over the years and no medical benefits for the cat, and is performed under anesthesia is done entirely for the convenience with post-operative of the owner. analgesics, resulting in limited pain or discomfort * It is a form of mutilation to the cat. that should not be tolerated as a regular practice" * If it is a choice between and should only be used when someone relinquishing his absolutely necessary to keep or her cat due to damage a cat in a home. that it causes and declawing, it is more * It deprives the cat of an humane to declaw the cat important form of defense. so that it can remain in its home. * Regular trimming of nails and providing appropriate scratching * The declawing procedure posts will generally prevent is an important source destructive scratching. of income for veterinary practices. REFERENCES Grier, K. C., & Peterson, N. (2005). Indoor cats, scratching, and the debate over declawing: When normal pet behavior becomes a problem. In D. J. Salem & A. N. Rowan (Eds.), The state of the animals III (pp. 27-41). Washington, DC: Humane Society Press. Landsberg, G. (1991). Cat owners' attitudes toward declawing. Anthrozoos, 4(3), 192-197. Patronek, G., & Dodman, D. (1999). Attitudes, procedures, and delivery of behavior services by veterinarians in small animal practice. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 215, 1606-1611.
DOCKING AND CROPPING OF DOGS
Docking is when a dog's tail is cut short, and cropping is when a dog's ears are cut and shaped to stand erect. There are a variety of dog breeds for which these are standard practices. These procedures are usually carried out by a veterinarian under anesthesia, though it is not uncommon for amateurs to also perform the procedures. In many parts of Europe, these procedures are not permitted, even by a veterinarian, unless it is for the health and benefit of the individual animal.
Pro-Docking/Cropping Anti-Docking/Cropping * This is an important tradition * Breeds have not lost associated with certain breeds, popularity in parts of and the essential character the world where the and popularity of the breed practice is banned. would be harmed if the practice was banned. * The claims of benefits for some working breeds * Some hunting breeds benefit from are disingenuous since docking since the tail is prone other breeds doing the same to injury when the dog is work are not docked. working in the field. * Since the procedure is * The procedure is not harmful generally not for the benefit to the dog when performed by of the individual dog, any an experienced veterinarian. risk of possible complications during surgery is unwarranted. REFERENCES Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights. Retrieved March 29, 2007, from www.avar.org/publications_position.asp#p7. National Animal Interest Alliance. Retrieved March 29, 2007, from www.naiaonline.org/about/policy_husbandry.htm.
Cats at one time were working animals, kept to manage mouse and rat populations around farms and homes. They often spent their entire lives living outside, finding what shelter they could in barns and under porches. That is no longer the case for most cats kept as companions.
Pro-Outdoor Anti-Outdoor * It is natural for cats to go * Free-roaming cats, home-owned, outdoors to get exercise and and feral cats kill large numbers enjoy themselves. of small animals and birds. In addition to the harm to these * Cats allowed access to the animals, the cats also compete outdoors have fewer behavior with native predators for problems. prey/food. * Trap-neuter-release (TNR) * Free-roaming cats are exposed to a programs can effectively deal wide variety of dangers, including with populations of car accidents, poisons, the free-roaming cats without elements, fights with other cats depending on euthanasia and animals, and mistreatment by as the primary control people. practice. * Cats kept indoors are healthier * Their impact on wildlife and do not risk injury. is over-estimated since they usually kill * It is more humane to catch and small animals that are euthanize free-roaming cats than to in great abundance. let them suffer from hunger and injury. REFERENCES Fitzgerald, B. M., & Turner, D.C. (2000). Hunting behaviour of domestic cats and their impact on prey populations. In D. C. Turner & P. Bateson (Eds.), The domestic cat: The biology of its behaviour (pp. 151--175). New York: Cambridge University Press. Patronek, G. (1998). Free-roaming and feral cats--their impact on wildlife and human beings. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 212, 218-226. Slater, M., & Shain, S. (2005). Feral cats: An overview. In D. J. Salem & A. N. Rowan (Eds.), The state of the animals III (pp. 43--53). Washington, DC: Humane Society Press.
When dogs and cats get old, sick, or are no longer wanted, they may be euthanized by a veterinarian or taken to an animal shelter. The same has not been true for horses. For many owners, a horse remains a valuable investment and they do not wish to simply relinquish or discard the horse without some form of compensation. In addition, the size of horses makes disposal of the remains a more difficult or expensive process. Many of these horses may be sold at auctions, or to brokers who buy horses. Some of these horses are kept, resold, and used for riding or other purposes. However, each year as many as 90,000 horses are slaughtered for human consumption. While horsemeat is not usually eaten in the United States, there is a thriving overseas market and most of the meat is shipped to Europe and Japan. For the past several years there have been extensive efforts to prohibit the practice of slaughtering horses for human consumption in the United States.
Pro-Slaughter Anti-Slaughter * Owners deserve the opportunity * Horses have a unique role to recover their investment in our nation's history and in their horses by selling deserve a more dignified them at auctions, even if the fate than being slaughtered horses may go to slaughter. for food. * Humans have eaten horses for * Horses transported for slaughter as long as we have historical are often moved in trucks that records. It is a part of our do not separate them by age, history, and even if size, or sex, resulting in we would not eat horsemeat we injury and suffering during should recognize that others the trip. may still do so. * Slaughter plants have not been * Ending the slaughter of designed to meet the specific horses for human consumption behavioral and anatomical would set a precedent for requirements of horses, again raising and slaughtering resulting in unnecessary injury other animals for food. and pain. * There is no adequate * The availability of the infrastructure available to slaughter option allows the absorb the numbers of horse industry to continue horses that would have normally overbreeding of unneeded or gone to slaughter. unwanted additional horses. * Slaughter is a more humane option than allowing an unwanted horse to suffer from mistreatment or abandonment. REFERENCES American Association of Equine Practitioners. Retrieved March 29, 2007, from www.aaep.org. Veterinarians for Equine Welfare. Retrieved March 29, 2007, from www.vetsforequinewelfare.org.
PET STORE SALES OF DOGS
About 7% of pet dogs are acquired from pet stores (approximately four to five hundred thousand puppies each year). These stores are typically supplied by commercial breeding establishments licensed by the United States Department of Agriculture. Investigations have documented poor conditions at many of these facilities, typically called puppy mills. Attention here is directed toward two primary concerns. The first concern is the conditions for the breeding stock, and the second is the health and transport of the puppies that are produced and sold. Breeding dogs may spend their entire lives in cages with limited or no opportunity for exercise. Puppies are often shipped at the age when it is most important for them to socialize with people. There is also concern regarding the overall health and genetic fitness of puppies produced by commercial breeders, when compared with those bred by breed fanciers/ enthusiasts.
Pro-Sales Anti-Sales * There is a huge demand * The dogs at puppy mills are in for puppies and breeds that terrible conditions, and the USDA has are not readily available failed to provide the resources or from animal shelters or effort needed to inspect the facilities breed fanciers. The public and enforce the regulations. deserves the opportunity to get the kind of * Pet store puppies are frequently sick dog they want. and subject to inherited diseases. * Pet stores that sell dogs * Commercial breeders pay little or can also provide purchasers no attention to the breed standards; with appropriate information as a result the purchaser may not get on care and diet. what they are looking for when they buy a puppy of a particular breed * If pet stores did not from a pet store. sell dogs, then breeding and selling dogs would * Pet store purchases help contribute become a "backyard" business to pet overpopulation and the with no oversight or number of homeless dogs. regulation. * Large and successful pet store The inability to sell dogs chains have decided not to sell would be a significant blow puppies, and instead have assisted to the pet industry, which shelters and rescue groups to find is a growing part of the homes for dogs in need. community. REFERENCES American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). Retrieved March 29, 2007, from www.aspca.org/site/PageServer?pagename=cruelty_puppymills. Bedwell-Wilson, W. (2007) Pets: To sell or not to sell. Pet Product News. Retrieved March 29, 2007, from www.petproductnews.com/top_stories/20070101-pet-stores.aspx. Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). Retrieved March 29, 2007, from www.hsus.org/pet/issues_affecting_our_pets/ get_the_facts_on_puppy_mills/. National Animal Interest Alliance (NAIA). Retrieved March 29, 2007, from www.naiaonline.org/about/policy_dogs.htm.
1. What is the motivation behind changing the title of pet "owner" to "guardian"?
2. In terms of species conservation, provide an argument for and against keeping exotic animals as pets.
3. What is breed-specific legislation? Name some commonly affected breeds.
4. What are some reasons that cats may engage in scratching?
5. What does the declawing procedure involve?
6. What is the historical purpose behind docking and cropping?
7. What are the arguments for and against outdoor cats in terms of their impact on wildlife?
8. What outcomes exist for horses that are no longer wanted by their owners?
9. What are the primary concerns with commercial breeding facilities?
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|Publication:||Companion Animals in Society|
|Date:||Jan 1, 2008|
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