The Case Against Pet Ownership by Hei Mudan

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NonZeroSum
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The Case Against Pet Ownership by Hei Mudan

Post by NonZeroSum » Tue Mar 19, 2019 4:07 pm

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The Case Against Pet Ownership + Video Reading
by Hei Mudan

In this blog post, I share my reply to a former housemate from university who sent me Twitter comments and Instagram messages, namely:

"Melissa what the hell? This is the most extremist take I’ve ever heard and incredibly messed up. You were too smart to let some youtube psychobabble turn you into someone who makes these kind of comments..."

"Hmm so pigs can convey misery, suffering, and fear to humans but dogs “don’t care about the human ideas of family and love”? Your arguments make no sense"

Megan, I understand this may be this is the first time you’ve really thought through these concepts. You have said hurtful things in your Twitter and Instagram comments to me. I have every reason to simply delete your comments and ignore you, but I'm going to take the high road and offer an explanation.

What’s shown in nature documentaries is how I want animals to live. I think it is our responsibility as human beings to allocate as much of the planet's surface as is possible to be like what is shown in documentaries so that animals can live their lives in a way that is meaningful for them.

Humans are animals, but we are endowed with cognitive abilities that are superior to any other animal on earth. We have complex language, we have culture, and we have built (and destroyed) civilizations. We have the ability to reason and use that reason for good rather than evil.

Unfortunately, much of what we do to animals is evil and has become so normalized that people don’t question it.

There are obviously basic similarities between the life cycles of humans and other animals: birth, childhood, adulthood, reproduction, death. Animals absolutely feel pain, fear, joy, and sorrow. However, animals have their own social lives and family structures (without interference from human interaction).

Wolves, for example, are predatory pack animals who love to hunt and fight with other wolves. Wolves compete to find mates and reproduce. Wolves raise their children, and the cycle begins again. Wolves are happy to live this way in the wild.

Think about what humans have done to wolves. The life of a dog is nothing like the life of a wolf in the wild. Humans have selectively bred wolves over generations to be tame enough, small enough, and cute enough to be playthings. We’ve even bred them so that their bodies are so far removed from nature that they experience serious health problems like breathing issues (Pugs), hip dysplasia and intervertebral disc disease (Beagle, Corgi, Shih Tzu, etc.), and sometimes they can’t even reproduce with one another (the French Bulldog, for example, is shaped in a way that it can’t even mount another Bulldog).

If a dog is able to reproduce, their mate is often chosen by another human being so that the babies are more valuable and can get sold off to humans. The dog doesn’t get to raise a family of pups—the pups get separated pretty soon after birth. Most of the time, not too long after they are puppies, humans remove their reproductive organs to make them more docile and to avoid them ever being able to reproduce. (Cats, too, as I’m sure you know. I think most people in America these days don’t even know what a cat in heat sounds like because they have their reproductive organs removed before they can even be “in heat.”)

Wolves in the wild roll around in the grass and dirt. They smell. They often have parasites and fleas. This just doesn’t fit with animals living in the homes of human beings where furniture has to be kept clean and free of fleas and dirt. We groom dogs and give them medicine to keep away parasites. They scratch at the floors and blankets on beds because that’s part of the behavior of wolves: they scratch and dig… but in a human home, they aren’t supposed to scratch, and they have nowhere to dig.

Wolves, like all wild animals, urinate and defecate wherever they please. This also is an issue for animals living in a human home, and they have to be trained NOT to pee or poo wherever and whenever they want to like they would in the wild. It’s a struggle and anyone who has owned animals know that it oftentimes doesn’t work and you end up cleaning pee and poo out of carpets. Anyone who has owned dogs or done any dog sitting knows the disgusting feeling of using a plastic baggy to pick up warm poo from the grass so that our parks and sidewalks don't get covered in dog poo.

I’ve owned cats and I’m personally really disgusted that I had to spend so much time cleaning up cat poo from litter boxes, cleaning up kitty litter from crevices around the house, cleaning fur out of carpets, furniture, and clothes, etc. When my cats got older, especially, I had to clean up a lot of waste around the house. It’s just plain gross to have to clean up after animals, and we force them into this unnatural, uncomfortable lifestyle when all they really want to do is be outside, hunt, mate, and fight with one another.

Dogs are the obviously the most happy when they get to go to a dog park and sniff the butts of other dogs and mount other dogs. They’re pack animals and want to be around other animals of their own species, but most of the time they are sitting at home, alone, waiting for their owner to come home from work so that they can go outside and pee and maybe, if they’re lucky, see another dog.

This is not even mentioning the messed up reality that they don't get to hunt for their food even though they're naturally predatory animals. They're fed mushed up remains from slaughterhouses (the body parts of pigs, cows, and chickens that humans don't want to eat) on a schedule dictated by humans, their owners.

It’s all horrible, and I think people will all be better off when they can just GET REAL and admit that we naturally have an aversion to living amongst animals who, naturally, in the wild, are filthy and smelly. We should let animals live out their lives with other animals in their natural habitats: in the forests, in the deserts, and in the oceans.

And that’s just talking about household pets. Animal agriculture is a whole other level of human derangement, and you can watch a variety of documentaries about veganism: Cowspiracy, Earthlings, Vegucated, etc.

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Last edited by NonZeroSum on Tue Mar 19, 2019 4:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by NonZeroSum » Tue Mar 19, 2019 4:08 pm

Anyone up for going round in circles about pet ownership again aha?

So the context is Melissa watches a video advocating 'adopt don't shop' by a popular entertainment outlet and responds with a message criticizing the people who made the video, in the video and anyone who would identify with it.

First obvious question, is it irresponsible to brashly turn potential converts away in this manner? Or if we agreed with her philosophy would the importance of raising this issue in order to disambiguate animal rights from pet ownership be worth it?

An example, Eisel's talked of not helping shoppers when asked to reach for animal products from a high shelf, whereas that's the exact wrong image I want to impart of veganism for hindering community co-operation for individual code they have to work out later. So I think my answer is no, whenever I'm criticizing I always want to be inviting a person over to my way of thinking. The circumstance in which I'd want to reserve the possibility of coming across as an asshole are wholly important conflict scenarios, like negotiating human rights with one another and where we're on the brink of collectively game changing achievements for animal rights and the battle lines are plain, like out fox sabbing against cruel sports.

Next a friend from college who's been following her on social media writes some rude personal attacks in response. Melissa goes to the trouble of writing a long blog post explaining her position in depth.

Second obvious question, is Melissa right on the issue of pet ownership? Criticizing people self-congratulating being able to rescue a dog from a shelter to live in a house that is still a cage in comparison to what a dog's interests are in reality; to be able to roam all day, hunt, pick their own mate, like a wolf in the wild.

And I think my answer to this is also no, I wouldn't go as far to use all the failings of man keeping dogs alive without being able to satisfy all their needs as reason to deride anyone taking a dog from a shelter.

The part I liked about the original video being critiqued is in the video they say though it'll be sad when your rescue animal dies, that basically you'll have gotten to experience it's whole life, and you'll likely be open to wanting to experience that again. So whether you rescue from a kill or no kill shelter, you on average become this carrier capacity for rescues, which in the future could mean no dogs left on the street or in shelters. Along with a change in the culture through people meeting the dog and you, those conversations happening that wouldn't otherwise, where you're able to advocate for adopt don't shop, you start to see a decline in the number of people breeding these animals.

Dogs also get people out in the countryside more, create a demand for nature parks and in the future a big paradigm shift might even be spurred on by an optimistic future vision of packs of feral dogs that we help be able to survive and roam on their own in managed wildlife habitat.

Finally I think the article should have grappled with frequently asked questions with this issue, even if her answer is simply we shouldn't own dogs, like why would it be better to see all dogs be killed than occupy a moment of our time? I think there's room to bring up video games and how shallow the relationship between man and dog often is, whilst painting a clear picture of the kind of life a dog could find meaning with a person in rare circumstances like living somewhere isolated and rural where farm dogs often take themselves on walks at night, or where the person works a job outdoors and is able to take the dog with them. Also would it be worth having the dogs Fallopian tubes tied so it can be at gatherings with other dogs, off the lead, fight and fuck, without risking bringing more dogs into the world? Etc.

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Post by brimstoneSalad » Wed Mar 20, 2019 7:08 am

Wow, even glorifying fleas; like some anti-vaxxers who glorify human disease. It's such an extreme and absurd take that it's hard to know where to start responding to it.

I can understand being anti-pet, but still having enough sense to understand that "the wild" isn't some perfect heaven for animals and that we can and should help them if we're able -- least of all by eradicating diseases (and parasites) that only cause suffering and add nothing of value to their lives, but also by some things that are done now like providing water during times of drought.

If somebody can't even agree with the most obvious means of making their lives in the wild more pleasant and more worth living, it's hard to imagine reasoning with that person on the more contentious issues. Nothing about dying of thirst or disease due to bad luck of circumstance and through no fault of your own is fulfilling.

Maybe, just maybe, you could argue that dying from injury sustained in a fight is part of a fulfilling life because without risk or stakes the fight is meaningless, and it was a risk the animal chose to take only then to lose on his or her own terms.
I don't agree with that outlook, and I think that defense of death from injury is a horribly bleak and cold-blooded rationalization that serves only to uphold some slanted romantic view of nature documentaries as an aesthetic ideal -- BUT it perhaps could be argued, and it's a notion I would take seriously enough to dispute.

I also sense a lot of stereotyping here with respect to dogs (an cats) that would be just as at-home from the mouths of white nationalists about certain minorities. The notion these animals *want* to be dirty just because they are, in the wild, afflicted with certain circumstance that may make them seem that way is just profoundly insulting. I'm insulted on behalf of dogs and cats everywhere.

That said, I suppose we should give her the benefit of the doubt and open up the possibility of a dialogue if you want to invite her to discuss it.

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Post by brimstoneSalad » Wed Mar 20, 2019 7:17 am

I think you already know my takes on these:
NonZeroSum wrote:
Tue Mar 19, 2019 4:08 pm
First obvious question, is it irresponsible to brashly turn potential converts away in this manner?
Yes.
NonZeroSum wrote:
Tue Mar 19, 2019 4:08 pm
Or if we agreed with her philosophy would the importance of raising this issue in order to disambiguate animal rights from pet ownership be worth it?
No, not at this juncture.
I think you have the right idea about only reserving being a jerk for extreme cases with overwhelming societal support behind you.
NonZeroSum wrote:
Tue Mar 19, 2019 4:08 pm
Second obvious question, is Melissa right on the issue of pet ownership? Criticizing people self-congratulating being able to rescue a dog from a shelter to live in a house that is still a cage in comparison to what a dog's interests are in reality; to be able to roam all day, hunt, pick their own mate, like a wolf in the wild.
She's wrong, but not entirely in every case: we know there are bad owners out there, and some pets are miserable. I think it's something we have to work on with public awareness of what our animal friends need out of life, and whether everybody is equipped to provide it.

I don't think rescuing pets from a shelter is a particularly effective form of altruism (and that I've mentioned before), so it's a mistake to congratulate ourselves about it. It's more of an obligation to do it *if* we want pets, with buying from a breeder to be something to be ashamed of and adopting from a shelter being neutral.

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Post by NonZeroSum » Wed Mar 20, 2019 9:29 am

brimstoneSalad wrote:
Wed Mar 20, 2019 7:08 am
Maybe, just maybe, you could argue that dying from injury sustained in a fight is part of a fulfilling life because without risk or stakes the fight is meaningless, and it was a risk the animal chose to take only then to lose on his or her own terms.
I don't agree with that outlook, and I think that defense of death from injury is a horribly bleak and cold-blooded rationalization that serves only to uphold some slanted romantic view of nature documentaries as an aesthetic ideal -- BUT it perhaps could be argued, and it's a notion I would take seriously enough to dispute.
Yeah, I'm sympathetic to it through wanting animals to have the option to express all their evolved capabilities in pursuit of whatever meaningful goals they have. As well though, I just see animal sanctuaries and rescue networks as having this subversive effect, it's not the end solution, but it's a great thing for farmers to know that someone decided to let the animals on their property live out their days. Or for someone who's always admired pets as a play toy, to know the story of someone rescuing street dogs to live in the countryside, out of what for them is a hellish urban landscape compared to their wolf past.

A rescue culture puts pressure on a culture of animals used purely for cruel sports and it alleviates the shift away from it, by diminishing claims that if the animals weren't doing that they'd all have to be put down.

A work at home, outdoor profession, outdoor sports, cycle touring, camping, caravaning and/or motor-homing culture in combination with giving a dog the best life it can have, all work to subvert bad animal caretakers. Whenever I was living and working on an outdoor site, I always had the family dogs because it was just acknowledged that they had a far superior life to being stuck at home most of the day. People ask their friends with the most outdoorsy life to take their dog if they have to leave the country rather than have to put it back into the shelter system to wait. The rural caravan site or cottages with a community looking after dogs being able to roam all day is just a step away from within a few generations the dogs being feral within the nature park adjacent, spending most of their time chasing rabbits and only coming back for scraps of food or shelter when they're lacking.

We can work with the shoot hunting community to advocate re-wilding more land for nature reserves and even communities like falconry and hair coursing who just want to get a chance to see animals kill their prey as they would in the wild, so long as we can enforce them not trapping and releasing the prey, we can use this to advocate more livestock farm land be opened up for this reason too.

Many Irish Travellers take pride in caring for greyhounds that are obviously even more skilled and adapted to being able to kill rabbits than wolves. The Penan who's culture revolved around being semi-nomadic within primary rain-forest, know they are culturally opposed to raising livestock themselves because when they tie up and teach a wild jungle fowl chicken to hang around and be a pet for their children, they see it as family and after spending time with it know they would never eat it.

So I think you just have to be open to opportunities to subvert the culture from within whilst helping animals. Like for my final example with a best selling book: Me, My Bike and a Street Dog Called Lucy
brimstoneSalad wrote: That said, I suppose we should give her the benefit of the doubt and open up the possibility of a dialogue if you want to invite her to discuss it.
They said thanks for the share and discussion on twitter, would be cool to see if sign up to join in.
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