Monday, July 23, 2018

The Love Argument

Charles Danten, former veterinarian

The King of the Urban Jungle

The notion that other species should have the same rights as humans is another dangerous fallacy. In the United States and elsewhere, in the name of equality for every species, parks and protected ecological sites, for example, are trampled and desecrated by pet owners who feel they have every right. On a good day in San Francisco’s Fort Funston, reports journalist Michael Schaffer in his book, One Nation Under Dog, there can be up to 400 dogs off-leash, spoiling the home of endangered species like the bank swallow or the western snowy plover. In the name of love and anti-specism, Peter Singer advocates everywhere are waging “dog wars” to gain free access for their dogs to rare and protected land.

Near my home there is a small, pristine forest, a protected national treasure, where dogs are admitted only on-leash and where walking outside the trails is prohibited. Unfortunately, a number of dog owners use it as an exercise park and a toilet for their pets. On one occasion, I saw as many as half a dozen dogs running loose in the woods, barking, trampling rare plants, and scaring birds away. The trails are often littered with feces. Plastic bags containing excrement are thrown in the underbrush and left hanging on the entrance gates. Whenever I have asked dog owners to keep their dogs on-leash and respect the law, I have been treated with contempt and derision, even verbal threats and physical intimidation. One day, an aggressive pet owner, out of her wits after I had told her to put her dogs on leashes, actually shoved my sister out of her way as she continued along the trail. The comment I most often hear is: “If you don’t love animals, why don’t you move to another neighbourhood!” I’ve complained many times to City Hall, and several of my letters on the subject were published in local newspapers, but to no avail. The love argument is a powerful one.

Of course, there are selfish reasons behind this unruly behaviour. Pet owners feel guilty about locking their animals up most of the day while they go about living their lives. Affection-slavery comes at a moral price. They find some solace by treating them like "kings," 
hiring a dog walker or trainer, buying their pets an expensive brand of food, playing ball with them on the week-ends, or letting them loose for a few minutes in the woods or with their own kind. Some make these outings into social events. But everyone knows the road to hell is paved with good intentions.