Why It’s Cruel to Keep Dogs as “Pets”
An unnatural existence
Stolen from your mother as a youngster, confined, controlled, surgically altered, and bored for hours on end. Imagine yourself as a "pet" dog.
You retain many of the instincts of your wild ancestors such as the desire to run free at your own will, eat fresh food as nature intended, and to have the constant company of your own family members as you explore your territory and take in the sounds and smells of the natural world.
Now place yourself in a small Manhattan apartment, enduring the intermittent company of your beloved master with your ability to see the world and even use the bathroom remaining on their terms only. You only occasionally get to meet members of your own species, many of which have been so strangely altered due to selective breeding that the natural order ceases to exist. Your range consists of wherever your owner takes you, on a leash of course. It is a confusing, distressing and unnatural existence.
- Sad Animals in Zoos
Exploring the phenomenon of people thinking animals are "sad" in zoos because of the expression on their faces. Can you read an animal's mind by looking at it?
Facts about the dog trade
- There are Approximately 83.3 million owned dogs in the United States.
- 70% of dog owners own one dog
- 6-8 million dogs enter shelters each year, and an estimated 3-4 million healthy cats and dogs are euthanized yearly.
- Across the country, privately-held dogs held have escaped from their fenced in yards and have attacked humans and other animals — with sometimes fatal results.
- Many dogs can transmit deadly diseases — including MRSA, lyme disease and salmonellosis — to humans.
- The CDC states that "Nearly 4.5 million Americans are bitten by dogs each year, half of these are children.1 One in five dog bites results in injuries serious enough to require medical attention."
- Puppy mills are breeding factory farms that hold dogs in cramped cages and force female dogs to breed every time they are in heat (a 5 year old dog gives birth to 10 litters).
Dogs are often kept in crates
Domestication is cruel
Many owners of dogs think that they love their “pets” and that they are members of their families, but the reality is that these animals are being denied their freedom that people mistakenly think they no longer desire because they have been “domesticated”.
All too often, people think that because a practice has been around for ages, it can't be unethical. It is true that dogs have evolved with mankind for centuries, but the relationship started as a symbiotic one where wolves would accompany humans free-ranging in a wild and natural existence. Eventually, the reciprocal relationship of humans and dogs devolved to exploitation and abuse.
The Suffering of Pure Breds
Many dogs are forcibly “selectively bred” (and their puppies abducted) to have unnatural traits and suffer from health problems, shortened life spans, and impaired mental development. These once wild and magnificent animals have been altered to be entirely dependent on humans, with only a few dog breeds capable of providing for themselves in the wild.
People think that they have successfully altered nature to such an extent that this once wild wolf is now as good as a human child with stunted cognition, perfectly suited for confinement. Most dogs have no choice but to endure an existence with humans for their social, physical, and psychological needs, but these needs are on a large scale, often not met.
Puppy mills flourish
Dog Breeding and the Dog Trade
If a domesticated dog is lucky enough to not to be bred with numerous intentional deformities (and some breeds are even forced to go through surgery to alter their appearance), it is still yanked away from its parents at a young age to be sold to humans as a “pet” through ‘pet’ stores or breeders. Dog ownership has grown to such popularity that many ‘surplus’ dogs languish in shelters, waiting to get adopted by the species that created them, and often unsuccessfully.
Dogs that suffer from ‘behavioral problems’ (these are often dogs that express their natural, repressed instincts) are put to death because they make less than optimal “pets”. Other dogs can even suffer the same fate simply because they are large, black, and unappealing to new families.
To combat the ‘pet overpopulation problem’, it is recommended for most dog owners to ‘spay or neuter’ their animals. These words are a nice way of saying castration, or mutilating the dog’s reproductive organs. Would you want your genitals severed in the name of human population control? Many studies show that such a procedure causes hormone imbalances and increased risk of some ailments.
After dogs go through this procedure, most are fed boring and inadequate dried kibble that is not anywhere near what their natural diet should consist of or taste like. These inferior diets lead to illness, bad breath, and life threatening dental diseases.
What happens if you work regular 9-5 hour jobs like most Americans? Dogs must spend unnatural amounts of time waiting for their owners to return. No matter how much we selectively breed dogs to suit our lifestyles, no dogs prefer loneliness. Sometimes dogs less resilient to this mistreatment acquire mental problems that are referred to as “separation anxiety”, but owners brush it off as acceptable and may confine their dogs to a crate (barely enough room for the dog to turn around in) as a result.
Stereotypic behavior in shelter dogs
Dogs have been known to suffer from depression, obsessive compulsive disorder and other mental and emotional problems in captivity. Often under-exercised and under-stimulated, some dogs may become unnaturally lethargic, leading to weight gain.
Many dogs are so far removed from their natural behavior that they do not know how to get along with other dogs. These dogs when available for adoption are simply titled 'must be adopted to a one dog household', but often are suffering from profound anxiety disorders and neurosis.
Dogs Carry and Transmit Disease
Dog ownership helps spread disease among the public. Dogs can carry and transmit to humans: brucellosis, campylobacteriosis, cryptosporidosis, giardia, MRSA, lyme disease, rabies, ringworm, salmonellosis, toxocariasis, and others.
Diseases spread by dogs are often under-reported as well, making owners of dogs more susceptible to ignoring the risk. Dogs also spread many diseases through their waste in the environment, so it is not only the owners who are at risk.
While many owners pick up after dogs, there are more than enough remnants of their fecal matter to transmit illness to children who play in the areas where they have eliminated. Not all dogs are vaccinated for rabies (and dogs love to chase and fight with animals that carry rabies) and can acquire the deadly disease and spread it unbeknownst to the owner through a bite or scratch. Recently people have even acquired diseases from commercial pet food. Raw diets for dogs are closer to their natural diet but also can transmit germs.
Dogs are a dangerous public safety hazard!
Every year, Americas are reminded that their domesticated pets still retain defensive and predatory instincts. Dog attacks on people are extremely common in comparison to all other pets. In fact, around 50 percent of all homeowner insurance liability claims that are paid out are due to dog attacks. In 2011, the total cost amounted to $479 million.
Also under-reported are less severe bites that the owners and their acquaintances sustain because they do not want to report their beloved pets. Approximately 4.7 million people are bitten by dogs each year. Even bites and scratches from dogs can become infected with bacteria such as Capnocytophaga ochracea or Pasteurella multocida and become life threatening if the infection reaches the bone. Dog attacks result in approximately 20-30 fatalities each year, with most of the victims consisting of young children.
End This Cruel Practice
Simply put, breeding dogs to be "pets" is a wrong and cruel act that is detrimental for our society. Wild wolves were never meant to be the pet project of humans solely for their amusement and company. Dogs should be with members of their own species, free to make their own decisions. Humans have each other to provide companionship, and small children can have very realistic stuffed toys if they want a mammal to play with. Live animals are no substitute for good parenting.
What Can You Do?
Unfortunately, the problem of “pet” dogs is extremely prominent. We need to support laws that ban the breeding of these animals. If you must have a dog, please only adopt one, and try to give it as much freedom as possible in its confined and unnatural existence. Together, we can phase out the practice of breeding and owning dogs as “pets”.
IF YOU LOVE SOMETHING SET IT FREE. LIVE AND LET LIVE.
“The bottom line is that people don't have the right to manipulate or to breed dogs and cats... If people want toys, they should buy inanimate objects. If they want companionship, they should seek it with their own kind.”
— Ingrid Newkirk, Animals, May 1993 (PETA)
Disclaimer: Does everything written above sound like a load of irritating nonsense? Perhaps your first reaction was, "that's not true about my dog", or, "that may be true...but". Maybe you are certain that you or your friend's conduct of dog ownership does not support the dark side of captive canines, and surely the benefits and fulfillment that dog ownership entails for people exceeds the negative impacts that occur. Well, be advised that most, if not all of what is presented in this hub is true, in its own misleading way.
This is the emotionally manipulative and toxic rhetoric that I face everyday and is used to urge legislative officials to ban non-domesticated pets in captivity for private owners and even zoological facilities. My bullet point list toward the beginning of this article is partially ripped and modified from the webpage "10 fast facts about exotic pets"
Don't understand this article? This may help
- Understanding Domestication: The Ethics of Wild Animals as Pets and in Zoos
Why do people put down wild animals in captivity while being perfectly fine with domesticated animals in human control? Are domesticated animals really that different from exotic animals?
- What to Say to People Who Are Against Exotic Pet Ownership
How should you respond to people who think your pets are ethically unacceptable because they aren't domesticated?
- Game Commissioner raid
Harmless animals abducted from a private owner and killed.
- Exotic Pet Bans are Senseless
Stemming from the ideology of animal rights, essentially, any argument against 'exotic pet' ownership is calling into question pet ownership in general.
People with uncommon pets are easier targets and are subjected to public scrutiny because their choice of species is unlike that of the majority. There is also a dominant assumption that all of these animals are dangerous or unsuitable for captivity with little or no evidence, just ideological viewpoints. It should be understood that "exotic pet" does NOT pertain only to large dangerous carnivores.
Animal rights groups attempt to remove the complexities of the issue and propose that an enormous group of animals simply can't properly co-exist with their caretakers in captivity by exploiting the ignorance of the unknowing public.
Responsible pet owners pay taxes and are also contributing members of society who do not deserve to suffer not being able to do what they want with their lives. It's time that pet owners of every kind are afforded the same consideration for their lifestyle choices that are given to owners of dogs and cats.
Ownership of animals is a property right that is and should remain protected by the Constitution.
A person's choice, livelihood, and pursuit of happiness should not be determined by another individual's arbitrary emotional sentiment.