05 February 2012

Morally Opposed to Pet Ownership


Before beginning, I feel it important to explain what I mean when speaking of morality. I mostly ascribe to the moral philosophy of Immanuel Kant. His views on morals are frustrating to most, but I’ll do my best to explain his most basic premise as succinctly as possible.

Kant believed that morals were individual, specific to each person. Only after intense consideration should a person commit to a moral. Once a person sets their moral code, any deviation from it is to be considered an immoral act. Others should not set morals for others.

Taking my leaning toward Kantian ethics into account, this blog post explains why I don’t have pets outside of a couple fish. Fish, ironically, are pets that I don’t mind keeping because the kind I get are generally short-lived when found in their natural habitat. Now, on to the post…

I'm morally opposed to pet ownership.

My moral opposition to pet ownership is a personal thing that I've told almost no one about because it makes me appear like a jerk.

While I do morally oppose pet ownership in general, it's not a morality that I would ever expect others to adopt. I do not criticize those who do not agree with my point of view.

The positive connection that pets of all sorts, even snakes and spiders, grant their owners is undeniable. It's been shown over and over again that humans benefit immensely from the symbiotic relationships they form with many of our fellow Earthly cohabitants.

Pet Ownership Weakens Species
From an evolutionary standpoint, I'm morally opposed to pet ownership because I feel it's greatly weakened other species.

Most of the genetic health defects that domesticated felines and canines suffer are a direct result of human-propagated breeding practices. We've selected those traits we prefer and bred for them. This is why we have such a wide breadth of physical appearances, or "breeds," of cats and dogs.

Ever notice how most mutts look alike? That's what dogs would look like if we left them to their own devices. In Mexico, there is a class of citizenry that serve as deep evidence of this. Canines that roam through most cities, towns, and villages who will befriend but rarely allow themselves to be turned into pets.

So many of the health issues that pets suffer are human-induced, resultant from everything from breeding practices to what we choose to feed them. Our most prevalent pets, cats and dogs, are not allowed to live as nature intended. They have become dependent upon human beings for their very survival.

Some pet owners go to great lengths to provide a diet that most closely mimics what they would get in nature. Most notable in these efforts is the raw food diet. But just as tanning lamps are okay in the short term for sun-deprived peoples, it's not an authentic long-term solution.

“Buried” Alive
This section is a little more gruesome and fantastical, but it wouldn’t be the first time a pet was to die because its owner died first.

  • What would happen to all the pets of the world if humans were to all drop dead one day?
  • Would they have been better off for having been cared for by owners?
  • How would they escape the confines of their prisons so that they could hunt?
  • Would they have the skills necessary to hunt for food?
  • Would they die and wither alongside our unwatered houseplants?

Pet Ownership Is Slavery
Some believe that pet ownership is an assertion of domination over nature, that it's a form of slavery. From my perspective, I find the claim hard to dispute.

From cats to cows to chickens, we have domesticated creatures to serve us and ousted those too difficult to tame. That's a huge part of the reason that North American bison were almost completely eradicated. They weren't as easy to push around as cows.

Domestication is the very act of destroying a creature's natural birthright. Pet ownership and all its practices deny creatures their natural birthright. In the natural world, we are all born free.

Friendships over Pet Ownership
Like St. Francis of Assisi, I believe it is possible to form strong bonds with the creatures of the Earth without asserting our dominance. Personally, I have a truly rewarding friendship with the family of scrub jays who live in my neighborhood and all I had to do was talk with them.

Dogs Trip Me Up
Dogs are a rare exception to my moral opposition to pet ownership. Historical evidence dating back as far as 33,000 years ago reveals a natural companionship formed between man and canine.

Dogs chose to join up with human beings. But they didn't choose to be controlled. That was humanity's doing.

For myself, I occasionally consider seeking canine companionship because I love dogs. They are so personable and fun to be around. They make me feel good, and they are far more considerate than cats.

Too Much Unnecessary Responsibility
Then I stop myself when I think about what a great responsibility it is to take on a furry companion. There's the obvious need to feed and care for them.

While it makes me feel wrong inside to dominate others without their consent, I cannot tolerate those who do not teach their dogs discipline. I would feel obligated to break my dog’s natural urges because to live in society, cohabitants must follow some base rules.

Like no shitting wherever you please and no destroying others material goods and no willfully inflicting pain on others. If you're going to cohabitate with another species... well, you know the saying "When in Rome..."

A Persistent Stray Would Test My Morality
That's not to say that compassion wouldn't strike should an animal naturally come to me in search of care or companionship. I would love the creature and probably invite it to join our family.

Going out to seek an animal to blend into our family? That I can't do.

Tolerant of Others Pet Ownership
I'm not going to hold it against others who choose to engage in pet ownership. The fact is that pets like cats and dogs have been so deeply integrated into our societies that it behooves us to care for our cohabitants.

I could never start a campaign to end pet ownership. The emotional connections that form between pet and owner are so positive and rewarding for both.

As for me, I will be content to be without interspecies companionship.

1 comment:

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