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hiirhiir
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Post by hiirhiir » Sun Apr 07, 2019 7:02 am

Hi, I've been reading these forums for a few years sporadically whenever I've had some real questions about the essence of veganism. I turned vegetarian when I was 13 but then I stayed vegetarian for about 6 years because I saw no reason to change. It was partially reading this forum that helped understand me why I would want to go vegan. (The main reason is that I began studying veterinary medicine and that really opened my eyes to how farmers view animals and how much they really suffer.)

So now I am vegan but the reason I wanted to make an account was to find answers, or at least direction on how to handle the subject of pets. I had a very demoralizing conversation recently with some vegans who insisted that keeping pets can never be vegan and it made me question my entire way of life and whether I'm lying to myself. Because keeping pets is really what gives my life meaning - I have fostered and rescued numerous homeless cats (which I know vegans are mostly ok with), I have rats who are vegan, and I also have a dog who is not rescued, which I know is looked down upon. I read through all the forum threads in the "pet keeping" wiki of this forum, but still have some questions so I'll have to do some more searching ...

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brimstoneSalad
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Post by brimstoneSalad » Sun Apr 07, 2019 8:52 am

Welcome! Glad reading here has inspired you, please ask away, we're happy to answer any questions.

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Jebus
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Post by Jebus » Sun Apr 07, 2019 9:06 am

Welcome hiirhiir,
hiirhiir wrote:
Sun Apr 07, 2019 7:02 am
it made me question my entire way of life and whether I'm lying to myself. Because keeping pets is really what gives my life meaning.
Same for me. I live with eight dogs and I couldn't imagine life without them.

Would you agree that, henceforth, the superior choice would be to adopt a homeless dog (or other animal) rather than to purchase a bred dog?
How to become vegan in 4.5 hours:
1.Watch Forks over Knives (Health)
2.Watch Cowspiracy (Environment)
3. Watch Earthlings (Ethics)
Congratulations, unless you are a complete idiot you are now a vegan.

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Red
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Post by Red » Sun Apr 07, 2019 9:27 am

Welcome to the forum hiirhiir. :)
Learning never exhausts the mind.
-Leonardo da Vinci

hiirhiir
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Post by hiirhiir » Sun Apr 07, 2019 11:21 am

Jebus wrote:
Sun Apr 07, 2019 9:06 am
Welcome hiirhiir,
hiirhiir wrote:
Sun Apr 07, 2019 7:02 am
it made me question my entire way of life and whether I'm lying to myself. Because keeping pets is really what gives my life meaning.
Same for me. I live with eight dogs and I couldn't imagine life without them.

Would you agree that, henceforth, the superior choice would be to adopt a homeless dog (or other animal) rather than to purchase a bred dog?
So for background, I'm from Europe, not the US. I don't think my conclusions apply to the US because the homeless pet problem is just so vast and so poorly controlled in the US, and even breeding is much less regulated. Even selling dogs in pet stores is OK in the usa - that's really horrible.

Where I am from, there is definitely a problem with cats. A few thousand cats are euthanised every year despite most shelters here being no-kill shelters. But there are about a few hundred dogs in the local shelters here at a given time, and almost none are routinely euthanised unless deemed too ill or aggressive. They live in the shelters sometimes a few months, sometimes a few years - they get walked several times a week, they get veterinary care, they are socialized. Of course it is not a good life, but it's not horrible like in some US shelters where I have seen dogs only live in small cages...

When I talk about "breeding", what I mean is so-called "responsible breeding" (never done with the purpose of making money, but keeping the dogs' health as a primary goal, strictly regulated by the kennel club, and so on). So that's for background.

The way I see it is, breeding dogs has bad aspects:

-potentially homes are lost that may have adopted a shelter dog otherwise
-some breeds are too far-gone in their health problems and probably cannot and should not be "saved" even with the best of breeding techniques

It has good aspects:

-breeding dogs with the primary goal of health will make dogs' lives better as they will suffer less from heritable diseases. (Various health tests are already mandatory for several breeds here. I think that the health aspect should be promoted even more, and more health testing should be done, and some breeds should not be bred at all, because it's impossible to "fix them", or the gene pool is too tiny. Some breeds are very healthy.)
-a secondary goal is retaining cultural heritage as many dog breeds have a long history
-breeders do a lot to propagate the best possible care for pet dogs and to ensure a network of help to make sure no dog gets abandoned or left behind somewhere and that they all get the help they need (due to this, dogs from breeders almost never end up in shelters because a breeder will always take their dogs back, also accidental litters do not happen etc)
-dogs with a predictable personality are more likely to end up in homes exactly suited for them, resulting in less conflicts and better welfare for the dog, whereas a dog with an unknown background will have an unpredictable temperament, resulting in unexpected problems

I understand that some people are very negative about the idea of breeding dogs and "playing god" just for human goals like having a companion or conserving heritage. But I personally don't see why our purposes matter as long as the dogs do not suffer. I am not convinced all dogs suffer in human care. I don't think a healthy and happy dog is disturbed by the fact that they exist just to be someone's companion - it seems they don't really think about these concepts - but who knows.

So the problem is when some dogs do suffer because of breeding, meaning shelter dogs, because they have to spend more time at a shelter. But if all breeders stopped breeding dogs, I really don't see that the shelter dog problem would end. Shelter dogs come from irresponsible owners who let their dogs breed accidentally, randomly, or for fun, or for money. This kind of breeding is pointless because the positive aspects I mentioned are not there, just the negative ones. I think there will be homeless pets as long as these kinds of people are still owning and breeding pets. But breeders are actively working against this kind of pet ownership, they do a lot to raise awareness about responsible dog owning. I think the homeless dog problem can be fixed, at least in areas like where I live, just by promoting awareness and showing a good example. There are no dogs on the streets here anymore, but 15 years ago there were many dogs on the streets here. Almost none are being euthanised, but they were 15 years ago. I think in another few decades the homeless dog problem will cease to exist.

So maybe then, we should instead import as many pets as possible from poor regions like Romania and Bulgaria. Some countries (Norway for example) are already banning the import of stray dogs because of the biohazard to local dogs. I don't agree with that... But I also think importing strays from the balkans will not end the homeless pet problem in the Balkans until the attitudes and the economy over there begin to change.

With cats it's definitely a different story because several thousand cats are being euthanized every year even in my country. And cat breeds have no real heritage to be saved - most of them are recent inventions, from the 20th century. And even if irresponsible cat ownership ended and people stopped letting their pet cats have accidental litters, the homeless cat problem would still not stop, because we still have colonies of cats on the street that are completely without owners and who are reproducing uncontrollably. We need to get them off the streets, but we can't because shelters are in their maximum capacity, and there's no money to neuter and release them either. The problem is not so acute with the dogs.

So I don't really know. I feel like dog breeding is such a non-issue compared to farm animals, because everyone already cares a lot about dogs being abused, but nobody cares about pigs being abused. It puts off a lot of people (I realize this sounds very "apologist" of me). There is definitely an issue with "objectifying" pets and treating them as items. But I don't think the idea of domesticated dogs in general is wrong because in my opinion it doesn't necessarily harm the dog. My dog isn't a rescue, but I got her several years before veganism. I would love to foster shelter dogs, just to socialize them and make them trust people again, so that they could be more easily rehomed, like I already do with cats, but I just don't have the space for any more dogs currently. So I make sure to donate to shelter dogs as much as I can. But at the same time, I don't see dog breeding as the root of all evil, because they are against stupid irresponsible dog owners and pointless dog "production" just as much as I am.

Sorry for the long reply. I guess I just don't know how to formulate my thoughts very well so I can't abridge them.

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brimstoneSalad
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Post by brimstoneSalad » Mon Apr 08, 2019 4:40 am

If there are no rescues to adopt and you can't bring one into the country, then breeding dogs may have some utility. However, there are still substantial environmental costs to consider. A small dog can reduce these costs somewhat, as can waste composting and feeding mostly leftovers (with fortification) if those leftovers are unsuitable for human consumption.
hiirhiir wrote:
Sun Apr 07, 2019 11:21 am
-a secondary goal is retaining cultural heritage as many dog breeds have a long history
I can't agree with this point at all. Appeal to tradition/culture is fallacious.
hiirhiir wrote:
Sun Apr 07, 2019 11:21 am
-dogs with a predictable personality are more likely to end up in homes exactly suited for them, resulting in less conflicts and better welfare for the dog, whereas a dog with an unknown background will have an unpredictable temperament, resulting in unexpected problems
I think this is massively over-stated. Unless you're getting a working dog who needs to sniff out bombs or assist a disabled person, the average dog is going to be just fine for dog-related things. Being a dog isn't that demanding. Limited training can usually resolve small outstanding behavioral issues quite well.
hiirhiir wrote:
Sun Apr 07, 2019 11:21 am
But if all breeders stopped breeding dogs, I really don't see that the shelter dog problem would end. Shelter dogs come from irresponsible owners who let their dogs breed accidentally, randomly, or for fun, or for money. This kind of breeding is pointless because the positive aspects I mentioned are not there, just the negative ones.
The positive aspects you mentioned are illusory. If demand for dogs is greater than supply, shelters will all stay empty aside from the absolutely most aggressive dogs. I don't think most people are so racist breedist against certain dogs that they would just not adopt if there were no designer breeds available.

Breeding for health is fine in theory, but in practice really just means eliminating recessive genetic diseases because the breeders are still trying to balance that with some notion of racial breed purity, which is done pretty much automatically with mutts.
hiirhiir wrote:
Sun Apr 07, 2019 11:21 am
But I also think importing strays from the balkans will not end the homeless pet problem in the Balkans until the attitudes and the economy over there begin to change.
That's an appeal to futility. Just because you can't end the problem doesn't mean you can't make it less bad.
hiirhiir wrote:
Sun Apr 07, 2019 11:21 am
I feel like dog breeding is such a non-issue compared to farm animals,
It's a lesser issue.
hiirhiir wrote:
Sun Apr 07, 2019 11:21 am
It puts off a lot of people (I realize this sounds very "apologist" of me).
Adopt don't shop is mainstream. Just don't be vocally anti-adoption, that is alienating.

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Post by hiirhiir » Tue Apr 09, 2019 2:26 am

brimstoneSalad wrote:
Mon Apr 08, 2019 4:40 am

I think this is massively over-stated. Unless you're getting a working dog who needs to sniff out bombs or assist a disabled person, the average dog is going to be just fine for dog-related things. Being a dog isn't that demanding. Limited training can usually resolve small outstanding behavioral issues quite well.

[...]

The positive aspects you mentioned are illusory. If demand for dogs is greater than supply, shelters will all stay empty aside from the absolutely most aggressive dogs. I don't think most people are so racist breedist against certain dogs that they would just not adopt if there were no designer breeds available.

Breeding for health is fine in theory, but in practice really just means eliminating recessive genetic diseases because the breeders are still trying to balance that with some notion of racial breed purity, which is done pretty much automatically with mutts.

[...]

That's an appeal to futility. Just because you can't end the problem doesn't mean you can't make it less bad.

[...]

Adopt don't shop is mainstream. Just don't be vocally anti-adoption, that is alienating.
In my experience, about half of the dogs (maybe a bit more, maybe not) in the shelters here have been brought there by their owners. Some, because the owners' financial or health state has changed. But most, because the dog's personality is incompatible with their lifestyle. A dog with a husky-type personality is definitely not suitable for most people, and will suffer in a "normal" family, and a dog with an ovtcharka-type personality is also not suitable for families or people who need a dog who can socialize a lot. This is the main point why dogs are rehomed and given to the shelter as far as I see it here. Even mutts have very varying personalities. They are often taken from the shelter and brought back 1 or 2 years later, then adopted again, then brought back again.

I don't know about racism, but I know that people who have had a good experience with a breed/a specific type of dog will want more of the same experience. For many people, they will take more of the same breed, but if it's not currently possible, then they will not adopt a dog at all - they will wait until the dogs are available. But of course, people who have had a positive experience with a shelter dog will want to adopt more shelter dogs. And some people have no preference.

It's not really true that diseases are eliminated automatically with mutts. Since you have little idea of the health history of their ancestors, you have no idea whether maybe two dogs with the same disease or disease disposition have bred. Usually, at least here, the way mutts and accidental litters are made is this: a person in a small country place has a dog. Keeps it in their yard, maybe on a chain. So the neighbour dogs visit and have some fun and suddenly, surprise, there's a litter. Well, okay, I'll just give the pups away to other people in the village or nearby. Then these again breed, but who knows if they avoid their own siblings and parents? Then their offspring breeds. Etc. Some lines stay in the same small village for generations. Inbreeding is very much an issue. Mutts are not generally healthier than purebred dogs, but they are more healthy than some breeds in specific. Purebred dogs, at least here, ARE indeed seen more at the clinic, true - but this may be because owners of purebred dogs just tend to have more financial resources.

I think the way to help the dogs and owners in poor countries is local aid. Spay and neuter organizations, volunteering at shelters etc. It seems to me that this is more effective aid than just exporting the dogs. I'm not sure. I have always thought I would like to do something like that for a while when I graduate.


I agree that appeal to tradition is fallacious - meaning that it's wrong to say "this is right, because it's tradition". But conserving traditions can be a positive aspect on its own as long as it doesn't cause harm. That's what I meant.

The environmental issue is valid: the more pets, the more consumption. Even if the dogs are kept vegan and so on. But I think if we could eliminate farm animals, then dogs are just such a small environmental impact compared to all the farm animals in the world. It's like fighting against plastic straws instead of fighting against fishing. I justify my personal choices like this: I'm vegan (and try to do activism), I am childfree, but on the negative, I have bought a dog.


In my opinion it is just that breeders have actually done a lot to advance the dog culture here, indirectly saving a lot of homeless dogs. Before purebred dogs were introduced to this country, dogs were only seen as a tool and not something to spend a lot of money or care on. Breeders introduced the idea of keeping dogs just for their own sake. And they spread the idea of viewing dogs as family members and actually treating them instead of just putting them down in case of a problem. I read an article from when the first small animal clinic opened in this country, in 1990 or 1992 I think. There was a sentence: "this clinic even offers specialized procedures meant for purebred dogs, like spaying, meant to prevent unwanted litters!". Purebred dog owners were the first to introduce demand for many specialized veterinary procedures, because they saw the dogs as more important than just a "farm security device". The way I see it, they continue still to lead the way in seeing dogs as our equals and in providing the best care for them. So I don't think they should be made out to be the villain, at the very least.

I would never be vocally anti-adoption, of course. But I'm not sure I can be vocally anti-breeder either. Of course I'm anti puppy mill (so are breeders). Maybe that makes me not vegan after all...

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brimstoneSalad
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Post by brimstoneSalad » Tue Apr 09, 2019 4:50 pm

hiirhiir wrote:
Tue Apr 09, 2019 2:26 am
In my experience, about half of the dogs (maybe a bit more, maybe not) in the shelters here have been brought there by their owners. Some, because the owners' financial or health state has changed. But most, because the dog's personality is incompatible with their lifestyle.
And how many of those dogs brought to shelters because the owner didn't like the personality were actually purchased by the owner from a breeder?

You would have to demonstrate that effectively *all* of the returned dogs are shelter dogs, and that there's virtually no risk of this with dogs from a breeder.
And even then, you'd need to demonstrate the harm of trying out a couple dogs. There's not a comparison there:

Bred dogs, when bought and then given to a shelter, *increase* the number of dogs in shelters and burden those shelters.

Adopted dogs, when adopted from a shelter and then returned, do not increase the number of dogs in shelters but in fact *decrease* the number by temporarily or cyclically removing dogs to homes (even if not forever homes).

There's a systemic risk of harm with buying a dog and then giving that dog to a shelter. There's no such systemic risk with adopting a shelter dog and then returning him or her because it didn't work out.
hiirhiir wrote:
Tue Apr 09, 2019 2:26 am
A dog with a husky-type personality is definitely not suitable for most people, and will suffer in a "normal" family, and a dog with an ovtcharka-type personality is also not suitable for families or people who need a dog who can socialize a lot. This is the main point why dogs are rehomed and given to the shelter as far as I see it here. Even mutts have very varying personalities.
What's the relevance of that to the adopt don't shop message?

Most people seem to prefer breeds based on aesthetics, and the choice of breed seems about as likely to go wrong for a first time dog owner as opting for a mutt if not more likely to go wrong for a purebred. Not only are mutt personalities going to be about as predictable as a breed since it's not that hard to figure out what the parents were (there are even genetic tests today), but mutt personalities are likely to be more mild where purebred dogs have more extreme personality traits that are more likely to cause trouble if you don't know what you're getting into (and most people do not). Yes, mutts have varying personalities, but the distribution there is less extreme and a mutt is more likely to work out for somebody than a random purebred.

Like I said, unless this is a working dog with very strict requirements, a mutt can probably fulfill people's needs.
hiirhiir wrote:
Tue Apr 09, 2019 2:26 am
They are often taken from the shelter and brought back 1 or 2 years later, then adopted again, then brought back again.
Many previously owned dogs have behavioral issues that have nothing to do with genetics. They need to be better trained, and shelters should really do a better job of this (and matching dogs to families) in order to have a lasting fit. Of course the trouble with that is that they aren't incentivized to do so, they only collect adoption fees when an animal goes out... so it kind of works out for them if there's a revolving door. Of course the animal lovers working in shelters don't want to see that, but from a business standpoint it doesn't make sense to invest more in training and dog-family matching.
hiirhiir wrote:
Tue Apr 09, 2019 2:26 am
For many people, they will take more of the same breed, but if it's not currently possible, then they will not adopt a dog at all - they will wait until the dogs are available. But of course, people who have had a positive experience with a shelter dog will want to adopt more shelter dogs. And some people have no preference.
Then it seems like the doggie racists breedists should wait until one shows up for adoption. Or maybe should just not have a dog.
If it comes to it, I think this kind of prejudice would die out if the breeds did or it became impossible to adopt one.

Aside from assistance animals, bomb sniffing dogs, etc. I think the only exception might be for somebody with severe allergies, since some dog breeds may be more hypoallergenic... but then there are always allergy shots, so it seems kind of extreme to specially breed a dog (and all of the ethical risks of that) rather than just investing in fixing your allergy problem at the root.

When there's no compelling reasoning there we can't indulge irrational prejudices like that by giving them a pass to breed dogs. Would we respond that way to human racists, saying it's OK for them to only hire white people because they had good experiences with white people? Or would we condemn that?

The only place we allow that kind of hiring prejudice is where it makes sense, like casting somebody in a movie role who looks like the character he or she will be playing. If there's not a very compelling objective reason to exercise prejudice, against humans or dogs, then I don't think we should condone it.
hiirhiir wrote:
Tue Apr 09, 2019 2:26 am
Usually, at least here, the way mutts and accidental litters are made is this: a person in a small country place has a dog. Keeps it in their yard, maybe on a chain. So the neighbour dogs visit and have some fun and suddenly, surprise, there's a litter. Well, okay, I'll just give the pups away to other people in the village or nearby. Then these again breed, but who knows if they avoid their own siblings and parents? Then their offspring breeds. Etc. Some lines stay in the same small village for generations. Inbreeding is very much an issue.
How large are these villages? That's not an issue in most of the world. You only need a few hundred individuals in the population to prevent serious issues unless there's intentional selection for certain traits.
If we're talking about very small populations, this could be pretty easily resolved by way of a shelter dog exchange where shelters ship their dogs out to more distant villages and accept dogs from other places. Seems like we should advocate an easy fix like that rather than dog breeding that doesn't fix the problem at all but at best just adds more dogs without the problem.
hiirhiir wrote:
Tue Apr 09, 2019 2:26 am
Mutts are not generally healthier than purebred dogs, but they are more healthy than some breeds in specific. Purebred dogs, at least here, ARE indeed seen more at the clinic, true - but this may be because owners of purebred dogs just tend to have more financial resources.
Some purebreds may be comparable to mutts in terms of genetic health, while others are worse. I don't see any credible argument that mutts could be, on average, less healthy than purebreds.
Unusual cases of localized inbreeding aside (in which case you should adopt from a larger town/city where the population is better mixed) a mutt is going to be as healthy as a healthy purebred.
hiirhiir wrote:
Tue Apr 09, 2019 2:26 am
I think the way to help the dogs and owners in poor countries is local aid. Spay and neuter organizations, volunteering at shelters etc. It seems to me that this is more effective aid than just exporting the dogs.
That may be more effective to get to the root of the problem, but that doesn't mean export does nothing. Export still helps, and it still saves lives.
It's still better to import a dog from somewhere with a population problem rather than purchase a bred one.
hiirhiir wrote:
Tue Apr 09, 2019 2:26 am
I agree that appeal to tradition is fallacious - meaning that it's wrong to say "this is right, because it's tradition". But conserving traditions can be a positive aspect on its own as long as it doesn't cause harm. That's what I meant.
Then you can't put that in a list of pros and cons to be weighed against each other, the implication there is that tradition offsets or justifies a harm.
hiirhiir wrote:
Tue Apr 09, 2019 2:26 am
I justify my personal choices like this: I'm vegan (and try to do activism), I am childfree, but on the negative, I have bought a dog.
Vegan is positive and activism is great, childfree is negative (unless you're adopting), and buying a dog is negative. There's a big difference between children and dogs: children of progressive and conscientious people grow up to become adults who contribute to society and carry on those ideals... dogs don't. If your dog could vote and hold down a productive job then things might be different. There are major advantages to raising children (biological or adopted) to the world as a whole that don't exist with dogs, and outweigh their environmental footprints even if you don't adopt (though adopting is arguably even better for some people).
hiirhiir wrote:
Tue Apr 09, 2019 2:26 am
In my opinion it is just that breeders have actually done a lot to advance the dog culture here, indirectly saving a lot of homeless dogs.
Them having done some good things doesn't justify the bad thing they regularly do. Do you not think they'd keep doing the good things if they stopped doing the bad thing? If breeding were banned, most of them might move on to advocating for shelter dogs.
hiirhiir wrote:
Tue Apr 09, 2019 2:26 am
Before purebred dogs were introduced to this country, dogs were only seen as a tool and not something to spend a lot of money or care on. Breeders introduced the idea of keeping dogs just for their own sake. And they spread the idea of viewing dogs as family members and actually treating them instead of just putting them down in case of a problem.
OK, but that's in the past.
You could say that Slavery in the U.S. elevated the prevailing opinion of black people from violent and dirty savages to (while still seen as inferior) people you could trust to raise your children as house slaves. So should we defend slavery? I don't think so. There's no reason we can't continue to fight racism without slavery -- and do it even better without slavery, which still perpetuated certain racist beliefs.
hiirhiir wrote:
Tue Apr 09, 2019 2:26 am
I would never be vocally anti-adoption, of course. But I'm not sure I can be vocally anti-breeder either. Of course I'm anti puppy mill (so are breeders). Maybe that makes me not vegan after all...
"Puppy mill" is a bogeyman term, no breeders identify as being puppy mills, but to some degree if they are selling animals then they all are. It's like how every farmer insists he or she is running an ethical operation.

If it makes you uncomfortable, you don't have to vocally oppose breeders. My only point was that it's not alienating to do so because "adopt don't shop" is mainstream.

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