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Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Hapiness

  1. DrMark1961 profile image91
    DrMark1961posted 4 years ago

    Do dogs possess rights? Should we protect puppies, as we protect human children, but then recognize independence when they become adults? Or should they always be considered personal property, to do with as we wish?

    1. Kate Mc Bride profile image83
      Kate Mc Brideposted 4 years ago in reply to this

      Of course dogs have rights.We may be able to talk which they cannot do but their instinct and many of their senses are much keener than us humans.
      However,I don't believe they have a right to independence as humans when they are older because they are not independent at providing for themselves as adult humans do.They do have a right to be very well looked after though and respected for their innate abilities.Does that make sense?

    2. Melissa A Smith profile image94
      Melissa A Smithposted 4 years ago in reply to this

      I staunchly believe that dogs and other animals do not have 'rights' but we are morally obligated to provide for them. In other words, I believe in animal welfare.

  2. thooghun profile image86
    thooghunposted 4 years ago

    Good question. Personally, I've always held that we confuse the word rights with privileges.

    I consider a right to be something that simply cannot be taken from us, a philosophy or stance, for instance. The right to life, while perhaps a necessary political or social idea, is negated by someone else's ability to take your life if they desire it. Therefore I find that the marginal protection that society offers in defense of our person is a privilege and not a right.

  3. Bob Bamberg profile image90
    Bob Bambergposted 4 years ago

    I hold that if you confer rights upon animals, you give up your own rights as regards their husbandry.  You become a steward, not an owner.  As such, if you don't maintain your animals in a fashion that meets with the approval of others (regardless of their credentials), you risk legal challenges to your suitability as a steward.

    I think regulations, ordinances and laws that protect animals from neglect and abuse, when carefully written, are the answer.

  4. DrMark1961 profile image91
    DrMark1961posted 4 years ago

    I started this thread after re-reading "The Hidden Life of Dogs" by Elizabeth Marshall Thomas. I give my dog a LOT of liberty, but I still limit her freedom as I am worried something might happen to her when she is running around.
    But am I a steward instead of an owner? The dog and owner relationship has already changed in some areas. An owner/steward´s qualifications are important, and rights are already challenged in some countries like the UK, where a person can have his dogs taken away from him if he is judged to be not taking care of them properly.

  5. Bob Bamberg profile image90
    Bob Bambergposted 4 years ago

    Some jurisdictions have already made chilling changes.  They're taking the word "owner" out of ordinances, regulations and laws and inserting the word "guardian."

    Most professionals oppose the concept of "guardian" instead of "owner."  It would bring into question a number of issues pertaining to where authority lies and to the rights of the owner.

    For example, under guardianship laws, an organization that thinks you're not taking good enough care of your animals could petition a court to intervene on the animal's behalf and, without the presence of, or notification of other parties, enter private property and take temporary possession.

    I don't know about you, but I don't think that non-governmental people should have any such authority, period.  A couple of other thoughts:  would a "guardian" have a legal right to euthanize a pet without the prospect of facing murder charges?  Would a jurisdiction have the authority to regulate reproductive rights of animals against the wishes of the owner?

    Some proposed legislation I've read about would give guardians/owners the right to recover monetary damages for "loss of society, companionship, comfort, protection, love, affection and services of the companion animal" killed or injured intentionally or through gross negligence.

    Around here, those rights of recovery aren't even available to parents and spouses who have lost loved ones!

    In most cases, people writing animal rights legislation mean well, but much of it isn't thoroughly thought out.  Proposed legislation has to be well researched and thoughtfully written.

  6. Theophanes profile image95
    Theophanesposted 4 years ago

    Dogs can't have rights like people do for the simple reason that we can not communicate with them. They cannot tell us, in our own language, what they want and need. And if we could get them to tell us "yes" and "no" on their issues we would have huge problems from thereafter. For instance it is common practice to spay and neuter your pets which helps keep the population down. Well if a dog had human rights you could not do reproductive surgeries on them without their consent and being as dogs and most animals in general want children this could cause MASSIVE overpopulation. Look at people in India, they're overpopulated  but most of them are still having kids. Why? Because the drive to have kids is THAT strong. Its the same with dogs. Allowed to create feral packs in the streets they do overpopulate to the point of starvation - just look at many third world countries and cities where this is still a problem. Then there is the problem of overflowing shelters. Ideally no dog would want to be in a shelter but ideally no human wants to be homeless either. Sadly we put down many millions of dogs and cats in shelters across the globe every year. Its tragic, much of it could probably be prevented (by spay and neuter programs and the cessation of puppy and kitten mills) but it still happens and if they had human rights we would NEVER be able to put them down without their consent for any reason. Whether we want to be or not we are the dominant species and we have to make make hard decisions on their behalf. Does that mean we should treat them poorly? Of course not, they're living beings and we need to take responsibility for them because they wouldn't be here without us. It all comes down to respect. People who respect dogs for what they are treat them well. People who don't respect them use them as fodder in overcrowded, tiny, ill-run puppy mills to make a quick buck.

    1. DrMark1961 profile image91
      DrMark1961posted 4 years ago in reply to this

      So since they cannot speak, and give or refuse consent, we should be able to kill them? (It is for a good cause, of course, controlling pet overpopulation.)

      1. Theophanes profile image95
        Theophanesposted 4 years ago in reply to this

        Didn't say that necessarily. I am just saying that's what would happen if they had consent. Honestly I believe in better breeding practices (i.e. no breeding unless done by a responsible individual with the animal's best interests at heart.) Just that one thing alone would probably cut down on overpopulation to the point it’s manageable. I mean if you think about the most animals in shelters are due to two stupid reasons. 1) Someone didn't have the money to fix a pet so they let it reproduce or 'let it loose' to fend for itself and do the same and 2) People with money in their eyes over breeding because they know people will always buy cute puppies and kittens at a premium. Trace the history of any pet at a shelter and you'll find one or both of these situations somewhere in its background either in that generation or previous. We don't have an overpopulation of chickens and cows and the reason for that is predominantly because we kill and eat them. Is that a somewhat horrible thing? Yes, but at least their lives aren't wasted like many many dogs and cats. It's one of those things. Domestic animals wouldn't be here without us creating them but at the same time many are created for a reason... be it companionship, egg layers, milkers, meat producers, or beasts of burden. Dogs are at a weird point in their history. It's only been 100-150 years since we took them away from their jobs herding and hunting and started breeding them solely for companionship. We need to figure some things out because of that. It's going to take awhile.

        1. DrMark1961 profile image91
          DrMark1961posted 4 years ago in reply to this

          I think that puppy mill problem could be solved quickly and that they would cease to exist. If legislators put a $1000 tax on each dog over 5 (or 10, take your pick) a typical large puppy mill, with 300 dogs, would need to pay 300,000 a  year in taxes. They would turn to chickens and cattle in a heartbeat. Money from breeders who chose to keep over 5 dogs would be used for animal shelters. Is taxation the answer to all of the problems in the world? Probably not. Is it the answer to this problem? Probably.
          Back yard breeders would be a lot harder  to deal with.

          1. Theophanes profile image95
            Theophanesposted 4 years ago in reply to this

            Puppy mills are already notorious for bribing officials to look the other way. They make absolutely sickening profits by using little space and poor feed and using horomones to bring bitches back into heat when their bodies otherwise wouldn't let it. Each puppy could fetch them $2,000. If they have 500 breeding dogs and each bitch has even just 6 puppies a year.... well you do the math. Money talks and it's often dirty. That's not going to change. There are some laws pertaining to mills... but time and time again I see that they haven't been enforced due to bribes or just flying under the radar.

            1. DrMark1961 profile image91
              DrMark1961posted 4 years ago in reply to this

              I think your math is way off. If a puppy is sold at a pet shop for $2000, the puppy broker is receiving $1000. He is paying the puppy mill about $500. The puppy mill buys food, basic medical care for their dogs, etc. If a puppy mill was that profitable a lot more livestock farmers would be in the business. Livestock farmers are just businessmen, after all, and are not concerned about the quality of life of their animals.
              As far as the bribery issue, that is a basic problem with the government.  I do no see a clear solution to that problem, as it happens in so many areas (fire inspectors, for example). But does that mean there should not be more regulation?

    2. Melissa A Smith profile image94
      Melissa A Smithposted 4 years ago in reply to this


  7. DrMark1961 profile image91
    DrMark1961posted 4 years ago

    You said "non-governmental" but I really worry more about governmental types taking that authority. They can already kill some dogs, in some jurisdictions, because they look like Pit Bulls.
    If the PETA types existed down here, they would probably tell me that I abuse my dog since I feed her a cheap dog food. (Buying a cheap dog food and providing supplements is still a lot less expensive than the "premium" dog foods that are deficient in so many components.)

  8. Bob Bamberg profile image90
    Bob Bambergposted 4 years ago

    Just a couple of quick thoughts:

    Hello, Theophanes,
    You said: (i.e. no breeding unless done by a responsible individual with the animal's best interests at heart.)
    My point:  Who gets to decide who "a responsible individual" is?
                    Who gets to decide what "the animal's best interests" are?
    Reasonable people can, and will, disagree on those two points.

    Hello, DrMark,
    The only problem with the tax idea is that it would also affect legitimate breeders thereby putting the price of a puppy out of the reach of almost everyone.  Is it fair to deny people the joy of having a dog in their lives because of money? 

    I think those two examples illustrate my point about proposed legislation being well thought out and carefully written.

    I don't like the government having all the power it does, either, but I'd certainly rather have the MSPCA sitting in judgement of my husbandry practices than some volunteer at a local shelter, who would probably have had DrMark hauled in because he doesn't feed his dogs caviar on fine china.

    As Theophanes said, like it or not, we are the dominant species.  Unfortunately, not all of us will accept that position responsibly (and once again, who gets to define "responsibly").  All the players need to be on the same page, and that will never, ever happen.  That's why they make chocolate and vanilla.

    1. DrMark1961 profile image91
      DrMark1961posted 4 years ago in reply to this

      How would taxing people who have more than 10 dogs put the price of a puppy out of the reach of everyone? If a breeder has 5 females and one male they would not even be taxed.

      1. Bob Bamberg profile image90
        Bob Bambergposted 4 years ago in reply to this

        Legislators would be hard pressed to conduct a census within the puppy mills in existence as they are now.  Imposing such a tax would just drive them further underground.  That would leave the legitimate breeders, who follow the rules and register their dogs, selling more expensive puppies.  It may even drive some of them underground by concealing some of their dogs to avoid the tax.

  9. Theophanes profile image95
    Theophanesposted 4 years ago

    Who gets to decide who is a responsible breeder would have to be something the society itself would have to figure out. Currently the people doing that are law enforcement, dog officers, and to some extent the FDA (as the breeding of some species requires a license and annual surprise inspections.) Sometimes they do a pretty good job, sometimes they do a terrible job, sometimes they are powerless because the law doesn't back them on a judgement. All in all its a pretty big mess. Personally I don't trust any of these to do the job right on a consistent basis. Law enforcement is busy trying to stop human crimes, dog officers each have their own style and no real guidelines when it comes to dealing with breeders, and the FDA I just don't know. I definitely wouldn't trust shelter workers to make judgements. I have dealt with a lot of them and a great deal are against any kind of breeding. You could be feeding them caviar every night it wouldn't be good enough for them. I also don't trust clubs like the AKC because even if they did start doing home inspections and whatnot they're more concerned the dog is a purebred that fits breed standard than anything else. I just got done writing an article on that (When Pet Owners and Breeders should make a Stand ageinst Breed Standards)

    Taxation is great and all but it only goes so far. Lots of people like to put numbers on things too, i.e. you shouldn't have more than this many animals, but this is not good for anyone. Good breeders keep a larger amount of animals than they actually use because they're watching to see if the chosen animal is up to par. Did it go through quarantine? Is it fully grown enough to breed? Has it had any health concerns? Have you had it to the point it's a retired breeding animal that lives with you as a pet? And then there are culls which sometimes are animals that were previously used for breeding but maybe they came up with a health issue that could be inherited and had to be taken out of your program. 'Culls' can also end up with breeders as pets. (Culling just means to end its reproductive career by the way, not kill it like the old fashioned definition of the word.)

    In any event I don't really have any answers. Wish I did but I don't. Instead I rely on educating pet owners to make the right decision on where they get their pet. It's a small grassroots effort but I think its more effective than policing. Knowledge is a powerful thing. If people knew how badly animals were kept in mills and what a slew of health problems it's likely to have in the future they might reconsider bringing home a puppy from the pet store and be satisfied to boycott the practice. Besides they might like the search for their perfect pet and talking to different breeders so they themselves feel satisfied with their new family member.

  10. Bob Bamberg profile image90
    Bob Bambergposted 4 years ago

    Well said.  Around here there are "show quality" puppies and "pet quality" puppies.  What you refer to as culls are, in the PC words of ultra-Liberal Massachusetts, pet quality.

    The less the government interferes with anything, the better off that anything is.  But we need some control and I'd rather have that control in the hands of agencies that are at least beholden to taxpayers and voters.  Government is pretty arrogant, but private agencies would be worse.  Can you imagine how it would be if a bunch of well intentioned, but misguided, do-gooders stood in judgement of the way you keep your animals?  I think they'd be more power-drunk than government people, too.

  11. psycheskinner profile image81
    psycheskinnerposted 4 years ago

    Dogs have rights.  They have the right not to be abused or neglected.  They have the right not to be used in dog fights.  They have the right to medical care or humane euthanasia.  if you don't respect those rights you can be prosecuted.

    And a person has to declare their income no matter how they make it, including the sale of puppies.  Having declared their income they must operate their business legally under the Animal Welfare Act and any applicable state laws.  if they don't the USDA can drop some pretty hefty fines on their heads, and I for one would not be sympathetic.

    A person who would abuse an animal, or keep them in horrible conditions to make undeclared income, that is not a trustworthy person IMHO.  I see no reason to make that kind of behavior legal or in any way acceptable.

    1. DrMark1961 profile image91
      DrMark1961posted 4 years ago in reply to this

      But does a dog have the right not to be locked up in a crate all day long? If a parent were to do this with a child, it would be considered abuse. There are all sorts of people who consider it okay with a dog,and "crate" (or incarcerate, you choose) every day, all day. I am not talking about puppy mills-some of the posters here on hubpages will recommend this.

  12. Greek One profile image81
    Greek Oneposted 4 years ago


    1. JayeWisdom profile image94
      JayeWisdomposted 4 years ago in reply to this

      A beautiful Democrat dog!  (Or is he a Libertarian?)  I've always called myself a "yellow dog Democrat", which means I'd vote for a yellow dog before I'd vote for a Republican. That's an old saying that isn't heard in my neck of the woods any more (since this state went--mostly--Republican. I, however, will NEVER vote Republican, even if there are no yellow dogs on the ballot!)