Their Turn - The Social Justice Movement of Our Time Their Turn - The Social Justice Movement of Our Time

“Large Dogs” As Status Symbols?

August 15, 2014 by Leave a Comment


Opinion

When I visited Hong Kong in November 2013, I remember seeing exotic birds and fish being sold in (awful) markets, but I don’t remember seeing dogs anywhere. I didn’t give it any thought at the time because I was so distracted by the 7 million people crammed onto a tiny island – like one big Times Square. But now it makes sense: With its large population and a scarcity of green space (in the developed areas), Hong Kong doesn’t seem dog-friendly at all. So I am surprised and disappointed to read that Hong Kong’s newest status symbol is not just dogs – but large dogs.

Hong Kong has about 10 very upscale shopping malls with the same luxury brands – Prada, Gucci, Louis Vuitton and the like. Some of these malls are situated within a few blocks of each other. Given how prevalent these fancy stores are, people who like to display their wealth but can no longer distinguish themselves in the crowd by wearing a Rolex have resorted to purchasing large dogs, according to China Topix: “Having a large dog is meant to signal that the owner can afford equally spacious homes in a city where luxury apartments cost twice as much as in New York.”

As would be expected from people who buy companion animals for the wrong reason, “Some give up their dogs after these are fully grown, and much larger than the cute puppies they signed up for.” This reminds me of the chihuaha craze triggered by Hollywood socialite Paris Hilton and the movies Legally Blond and Beverly Hills Chihuahua. Animal shelters were overrun with chihuahas when people were bored with their dog accessory or were unequipped to care for them. In the U.S., puppy mills flooded the market with chihuahuas to the demand, and the same thing is happening in Hong Kong with large dogs (who, of course, are being raised in poor conditions.)

Sheila McClelland, the founder of the Lifelong Animal Protection Charity, says it best: “Having dogs must be for life, and not just for status.”  To that I would add, please adopt. Buying an animal from a pet store or breeder kills a shelter dog’s chance of finding a home.

Photo: CNN Money

Photo: CNN Money


Filed under: Companion Animals, Opinion
Tagged with:

Wild Dogs Have Better Lives; Domesticating Dogs was a Mistake

August 12, 2014 by Leave a Comment


Opinion

In a NY Times article about the estimated 7,000 remaining wild dogs in Africa, Dr. Rosie Woodrofe, a researcher who has studied wild dogs for 20 years, says, “There is nothing so enthusiastic as a wild dog. They live the life domestic dogs wish they could live.” As a dog owner, I’m not at all surprised to read that. Wild dogs, who can act on their natural instincts all day long, have wildly productive lives. Researchers say these “exceptionally social” and “civic-minded” dogs hunt, teach their young survival skills and care for the infirm. While one male and female in each pack breed, the remaining adults “serve as guardians, babysitters, even wet nurses for the alpha pair’s pups.” If our companion animals could talk, would they tell us that we should have never domesticated them? I think so. I have a rescue dog — a chihuahua/pug mix. He’s one of the “lucky” ones. I don’t chain him to a fence in the cold, leave him in a hot car, neglect him or abuse him in any way. I walk him four times a day; provide him with nourishment and medical care; play ball with him at least twice a day; and shower him with affection (I’ve been told to “get a room.”) Still, I think he’s bored and out of place. I wouldn’t want his life. Domesticating animals for our pleasure was a big mistake, in my opinion, especially when you consider the rampant abuse, neglect and abandonment. But companion animals are here to stay, and the burden is on us to make their lives as enriched as possible.

Photo: Scott Creel; Montana State University

Photo: Scott Creel; Montana State University


Filed under: Companion Animals, WIldlife
Tagged with: , ,

Activists in China Intercept Five Trucks With 2,400 Butcher-bound Dogs

August 8, 2014 by Leave a Comment


The News

Using social media, Chinese animal rights activists recruited “thousands” of volunteers to rescue 2,400 dogs on their way to the butcher after spotting the five slaughter-bound trucks on a highway near Beijing. According to the NY Times, the activists and volunteers were “able to surround the trucks, preventing their escape.” Even though dog slaughter is legal in China, the police allowed the activists to take possession of the dogs because many were companion animals who had been kidnapped, and most did not have the proper paperwork.

Photo: Susan Wang

Photo: Susan Wang

News & Opinion

We are so accustomed to vilifying China for being the world’s biggest consumer and/or supplier of fur, shark fins and ivory that we forget to acknowledge the activists who are moving mountains to help animals in China. Providing food, water, medicine and housing to 2,400 dogs on a moment’s notice is a breathtaking feat. Can you imagine if we tried to rescue the thousands of abused chickens stacked in cages in Brooklyn during Kaporos, the pre-Yom Kippur ritual in which religious Jews swing chickens around their heads to transfer their sins to the chickens before slaughtering them? We’d be all be thrown in jail.


Filed under: Companion Animals, Food, Victories
Tagged with: ,

TNR Passes in an Arizona County Over Objections from PETA

August 6, 2014 by Leave a Comment


The News

Over the objections of PETA, Lawmakers in Pima County, Arizona (Tucson area) approved a trap, neuter & release (TNR) program to reduce the overall number of feral cats while preventing existing cats from being euthanized. In a letter to the County’s Board of Supervisors, PETA encouraged the County to euthanize feral cats on the grounds that they are not meant to live outdoors; they prey on wildlife; and they send a message to it’s okay for humans to abandon their pets. PETA also says that euthanasia is less painful than the deaths experienced by cats in the street.

TNR

News & Opinion

I know I open up a can of (faux) worms when I ask this question, but are some feral cats better off being killed in a shelter than sent back into inhospitable and dangerous streets where their demise could be far more painful or where they are they abused by people? Do they depend on the kindness of strangers for food, only to be neglected? Do they prey on local wildlife?  Does their presence give people license to abandon their own cats, as PETA claims? Does the presence of feral cats give people license to abandon their cats? I don’t know. What I do know is that we are reckless and cruel by domesticating animals and then tossing them out into the street like garbage when taking care of them becomes inconvenient. I also know is that we must continuously remind the general public to spay and neuter companion animals and adopt from shelters instead of buying from pet stores and breeders.


Filed under: Companion Animals, WIldlife
Tagged with: , , ,

Dog Meat Festival in China Under Fire

June 17, 2014 by Leave a Comment


The News

According to the NY Times, a city in southern China is “trying to lower the profile of its much-criticized dog-eating festival. The feasting is expected to go ahead as scheduled this weekend, but local officials have taken steps to deflect outside attention from the annual event, at which thousands of dogs are consumed.”  The article goes on to say that, “the dog meat trade has become a key target for Chinese animal rights advocates. In 2011, a group blocked a truck transporting nearly 500 dogs to a slaughterhouse and paid $18,000 to free them.”

Photo: China Network/Reuters

Photo: China Network/Reuters

News & Opinion

This NY Times article provides us with a hook to ask our dog-loving, meat eating friends why we should be any more disturbed by people eating dogs instead of pigs, cows and chickens.  As Mercy For Animals asks in its  campaign, “Why love one and eat the other?”  That said, ending or compromising any animal eating event is a victory, especially for the victims.


Filed under: Companion Animals, Food
Tagged with: , ,