There are people who, though they would squall loud and long if they had to relenquish any of their own rights, would gladly deny the rights of others, justifying their course of action as being for the good of something, someone, some group, whatever. I’m thinking of the people who, through a misguided desire to end cruelty to animals, have set out to end all human interaction with animals. They don’t want us to hunt them, eat them, wear their skins, use them for research, keep them captive in zoos, manipulate their lives in any way, or keep them as pets. I think some of the most extreme of these people must indeed hate animals. They also must hate people.
If their actions are successful they will not only be condemning all domestic animals to extintion, they will irrevocably damage millions of human lives. Disregarding all the lives that have been saved, extended, or enhanced as a direct result of medical research first carried out on animals, think of all the people who use service animals or seeing eye dogs; all the people who owe their lives to search and rescue dogs; all the troubled souls who have been helped by therapy animals. Are these presumably well-meaning individuals going to step in and fill those roles? I think not. What, then, do they propose as replacements? Robots, perhaps? Oh, please.
I need flesh and blood dogs. I need them to be fallible. I need them to remind me how fallible I am. I need them to keep me sane. I don’t need them to stroke my ego with slave-like devotion and burning desire to obey my every command (HA!). I don’t need them to atract all kinds of “ooh, ahh, what cute doggies” attention. I don’t need them to make me look good. (And I have certainly chosen the right breed for those jobs.) I just need them to be there, so I’ll have a reason to get out of bed in the mornings.
But this is about way more than just me and my personal needs. I think there is something basic to human nature that makes us want to connect with other (non-human) creatures. If we suddenly lost all companion animals, the members of PETA (Persons for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) and HSUS (Humane Society of the United States) would undoubtedly rejoice, thinking they had won their fight. But what do you really think would happen? It doesn’t even take much imagination.
While watching the “Puppy Bowl” on the Animal Planet channel on SuperBowlSunday this January, I kept seeing commercials for pet food that featured people engaging in activities with thier “pets” — an ostrich and a rhino, among others. I think, even though that ad was meant as a joke, that as a species, we will have pets, in whatever form that may mean.
They have not yet tried to outright make ownership of pets illegal, but they are trying to change the language of laws to make calling it ownership a thing of the past. That’s the first step in losing the right to keep your pet if they decide to take it away from you. If you can’t say you own it, you have no say in what happens to it. Mandatory spay and neuter laws are another step closer to the goal of outlawing all breeding of pet animals. Later they will want to outlaw consumption of animal products — meat, milk, eggs.
They can’t possibly be considering the effect this would have on the economy, which presumably will recover from the current disaster. The pet industry is huge, but dwarfed by the sector of the agriculture industry that would be wiped out by making it illegal to eat meat and dairy. And the fact that those markets are so large says something about how much control a relatively small fraction of the population is trying to wield. And if we don’t watch out, they may just get what they want.
It’s not just PETA and HSUS we need to look out for. Once I started thinking about it, I realized how far we’ve come toward a future where we will have laws that tell us exactly how to live our lives, as determined by a few people who “know what’s best.” I’m not even going to go into details. Everybody can think of an example. I’m reminded of a few scenes in “Demolition Man,” a movie I’ve probably seen too many times, where everyone is fined for even the mildest strong lanquage, and all the restaurants are Taco Bell (but they will only be able to serve beans).
You know how we all speculate about “if I was in charge…” I’m just saying, be careful what you wish for.