I recently started reading the book “Run, Spot, Run” by Jessica Pierce, a bioethicist, after reading an interview where she discussed the ethics of keeping a pet.
In an Aug. 1 theguardian.com article, “Should We Stop Keeping Pets? Why More and More Ethicists Say Yes,” by Linda Rodriguez McRobbie, Pierce said she began questioning the idea of pet ownership after she saw a man bring a tub of live baby rats to her local pet store, as she was purchasing crickets for her daughter’s gecko.
“From the animals that become dog and cat food, and the puppy farms churning out increasingly unhealthy purebred canines, to the goldfish sold by the bag and crickets by the box, pet ownership is problematic because it denies animals the right of self-determination,” Pierce stated in the article.
Animals kept as pets are not being denied their right to self-determination. They, in fact, do not have — or, at the very least, have very little — self-determination.
For the most part, dogs and cats in loving homes cannot have the right to self-determination for their own safety and well-being.
Just as there are more stressers on humans in today’s world, dangers to animals, such as speeding vehicles, are different than they were years ago.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals website states, “Approximately 44 percent of all households in the United States have a dog, and 35 percent have a cat.”
McRobbie quotes Pierce: “Ultimately, we bring them (pets) into our lives because we want them. Then we dictate what they eat, where they live, how they behave, how they look, even whether they get to keep their sex organs...
“Treating animals as commodities isn’t new or shocking. Humans have been meat-eaters and animal-skin-wearers for millennia. However, this is at odds with how we say we feel about our pets.”
According to the article, Americans spent more than $66 billion on their pets in 2016, and many pet owners consider their pet a member of the family.
Americans may bring animals, especially dogs and cats into their homes and dictate how they need to behave for their own safety, but at the same time, these beloved pets are allowed to choose whether they want to eat dry or moist can food, where and what time of day they sleep and when they need to go outside to go to the bathroom.
They also are allowed to choose their favorite toy or whether they will or will not wear the clothes their loving companion has purchased for them.
Pierce questions the ethicality of owning pets and taking away their self-determination.
But I ask, “What is the safe alternative?”