The ethical problems with the various small creatures we stuff into cages and tanks are relatively clear cut. The more challenging moral questions arise in relation to our closest furry friends: dogs and cats. Unlike animals that must spend their entire lives in a cage or that must struggle to adapt to a human environment most cats and dogs have it pretty good. Many have the run of the house, share in many of the activities of their human families and may have opportunities to form social relationships with others of their kind. They have lived in close contact with humans for thousands of years and are well adapted to living as our companions. They can form close bonds with us and despite species barriers can communicate their needs and preferences to us and we to them.
Yet the well being of our cats and dogs is perhaps more compromised than most of us would like to admit. There are of course the obvious systemic problems like cruelty. neglect, abandonment, the millions wasting away in shelters waiting for a "forever" home that will never materialize or whose lives are snuffed out because they don't or can't behave the way a good pet should. But even the most well-meaning owner doesn't always provide what an animal needs and it is likely that our dogs and cats may be suffering in ways we don't readily see or acknowledge. We can easily forget that although we have an entire world outside our home we are everything to our animals.
How many dogs are given lots of attention inside a home but rarely get outside? How many spend their weekdays inside and alone while their owners are at work save for the one or two times a dog walker or neighbor drops by for a few minutes to feed them or take them out briefly? Is it going too far to suggest that these dogs are suffering? to be continued and finalized next week . . . . . . ..
comments appropos to this unfinished blog post appreciated.
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