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News of the Week, April 2010.

In This edition:

1. Video: Hare Dying in Hare Coursing!

2. The Ban Irish Fur Farms Campaign reaches the 10,000 signatures!

3. A Shock of Reality.

4. Barnardo Furriers court case fails again (Part 1) – 3 Court Cases, 3 Vindications. Part 1

5. Barnardo Furriers court case fails again (Part 2) – A Camera that Saw too much !

6. ALiberation now on facebook

Animal Rights and "pets"

The animal use industries and critics of animal rights are often quick to look for what they believe are areas of weaknesses in the rights position.

Is the AR movement against nonhuman companions?

One of the more popular claims made is that the animal rights movement is against “pets”.
The Encarta World English dictionary defines the word “Pet” as “an animal kept for companionship, interest, or amusement”.

Animal Rights is against the “pet industry", the "pet institution” and against the idea that an animal has no other value other than the companionship, the interest, the amusement or other whim of humans. Animal Rights however is in favour of humans looking after non humans where it is in the interest of the non human to be cared for.

◄ A Human Example ►

The nature of the claim that animal rights is looking for a “petless society” is designed to create confusion and repulsion from the general public. A claim that wishes to make believe that if the rights of animals were respected then the next day someone will come knocking on the doors of houses with “pets” and steal them away from their loving carers.

One way to clarify the animal rights viewpoint is to use an example with humans in place of the non human “pets”. It quickly becomes clear how ridiculous this claim is.

The Animal Rights movement is similar to other rights movements such as Human Rights or Women’s Rights in that all ask for rights to be respected and in this way we can make a comparison.

If we look at the Human Rights movement and asked the question what would their position be if there was a human who needed help, someone who couldn’t look after themselves and needed care to live? There are many to choose from here such as homeless people, people with a physical or mental condition or the elderly to name some examples.

It is fair to say that the Human Rights movement would support and would look for this care to be given to each individual who needs such care.

However, what would the Human Rights philosophy be in regards to an industry or institution that sold or gave one category of humans to another category of humans for the buyers companionship, interest or amusement? It is again fair to say that a call would be made immediately by every Human Rights group in the land for this to stop.

◄ Dogs as Example ►

This is the same with the Animal Rights movement. For example if we look at dogs, who are generally seen as the commonest “pet” we can make quick comparisons.

*In 2008, there were 10,069 dogs killed and a further 10,561 in the rehomed/reclaimed category in Irish dog pounds. The Animal Rights movement encourages that these dogs are rehomed in the same way you would expect the Human Rights movement to encourage the care of those humans who need it. Animal Rights activists are often the very people who look after these animals and prominent people within the movement are no exception, such as the Animal Rights philosopher, Gary Francione, who cares for a number of abandoned dogs.

◄ The “pet industry” ►

The “pet industry” however encourages the exploitation of dogs for companionship, interest, amusement and of course profit. These range from people who will breed dogs on a small scale to an intensive scale. A conveyor belt of dogs for sale flows which ignores the dogs basic interests and needs in favour of the whims of humans. There is no such thing as a responsible breeder.

On “puppy farms” the female dog (bitch) will be kept in a constant state of pregnancy or looking after her pups. This will be her life. When one set of pups are old enough, they are sold to whoever wants them. The cycle repeats itself until the bitch is too old or too worn out. Male dogs are simply viewed as sperm machines. All dogs are property which must make money otherwise they are a liability. Liabilities are usually disposed of by the cheapest means because that is good business.

The “pet industry” likes to look out for breeds of dogs that will generate the most money. So if a celebrity is spotted with an accessory dog, or if a designer breed of dog is selling better than others (This year it’s seems to be Huskies) then these are the dogs who are bred, marketed, and sold as commodities.

So for every pup who is bought today it is fair to say that this purchase condemns at least another 2 dogs. Firstly, the replacement pup (after all if you buy a dog, then you create a demand and demands are filled with supply, ie the next pup); and secondly, the dog in the pound who has five days to find a home before he/she is killed, as the home that may have saved his/her life has now been filled by the dog bought from a breeder. The dog from the breeder only exists because the breeder decided to impregnate a female dog for profit.

And this is not to forget the actual pup who is bought. Plus in the case of "puppy farms", both the mother dog and the father dog may be included in this number. So between 3 to 5 dogs are affected every time someone buys a "pet" dog.

◄ Conclusion ►

So is the Animal Rights movement in favour of the abolition of the “pet industry”? Most certainly.

Is the Animal Rights movement in favour of the interests of animals who happened to be called “pets”. Most certainly.

Is the Animal Rights movement in favour of non humans who are cared for when it is in the interest of these animals to be cared for? Again most certainly.

Will the Animal Rights movement look to confiscate non humans who are cared for with their interests in mind. The answer is no.

Please do not buy or take animals for companionship, interest or amusement. If you have a home which you think would be suitable for a non human animal who needs to be cared for, then please visit your local shelters or pounds.

*This doesn’t look at figures from sanctuaries, shelters, or other dog use industries such as hunting, farming, hare coursing, greyhound racing or show dogs. This is simply the official figures for dogs in pounds and is much lower than the actual figure for disposed and killed dogs.

◄ Vocabulary ►

Pets, companion animals: Speciesist terms that refer to nonhumans who are used as companionship for humans.
Non-speciesist word is "Nonhuman companion".

Purebred, pedigree: Speciesist word for inbred.

Euthanise, destroy, put to sleep : (a healthy animal) Speciesist words for kill, murder.

Shelter or pound that kills healthy animals : Adoption and kill facility.

◄ They said ►

Quite apart from the fact that millions of dogs, cats and other "domesticated" nonhumans currently need homes, nonone needs to breed, sell or buy nonhumans as pets. The pet trade shouldnt' exist.
Joan Dunayer

As much as I enjoy living with dogs, were there only 2 dogs remaining in the world, I would not be in favour of breeding them so that we could have more "pets" and thus perpetuate their property status.
Gary Francione
Introduction to animal rights, your child or the dog?.

We should, of course, care for all domestic animals that are presently alive, but we should not continue to bring more animals into existence so that we may own them as pets.
Gary Francione
Introduction to animal rights, your child or the dog?

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