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Dearest Companions of Humanity: Ethics of Pet Ownership

Since the dawn of time humanities ability to tame animals had been one of its core abilities. We domesticated animals to eat them, ride them, and to put them on to work. The domestication of our canine and feline friends was a different story though what started as just a mutually benefiting relationship turned wolves and wildcats into our fluffy friends over the years. Although this seems like a really positive outcome there are still some questions we need to ask ourselves. Did we robbed these animals from their original natural state or how did this turn of events effected them or maybe we need to ask can we even go back even if we wanted to? All of these questions need to be looked at carefully to determine the ethicality of our actions as a race against our beloved pets.


Firstly let's look at the positives to cheer ourselves up. As humanity, we clearly saved cats and dogs and all other domesticated animals from extinction. As long as we exist they will exist alongside us. We also improved their lifespan quite marginally as stray dogs and cats on average only live up to the ripe old age of 4 while the average life span of dogs and cats as pets are 12 and 16 respectively. The biggest contributor to the domestication of cats and dogs and the real reason they chose to bond with us though was giving them easy access to food and shelter. We did not stop at all that though we took cats and dogs and brought them to all corners of the world with us at the expense of the local wildlife of course. Hundreds of species were hunted to extinction by cats and the other invasive species we brought with us. Along with humans cats and dogs are one of the most successful invasive species ever. They can thrive almost anywhere with the help of humans. Statistics show us there are 471 million dogs and 373 million cats worldwide as pets. So these numbers do not even show stray ones. By comparison, the world's wolf and wildcat populations are just 300 thousand and 20 thousand respectively. The funny thing though we do all of this for our pets for nothing other than love and friendship. Originally we used dogs for hunting or guarding and cats were used for killing pests but in modern times most pets are not expected to do their original work we just want them as companions.


So we established that we helped our pets to be the second most invasive species after us along with allowing them to reach numbers that are impossible to be reached in the wild and we keep doing this all for love right. The question is though if our supposed love is ethical or not. We put them in small cages just a few months after their birth and we sell them for gain in pet shops. Is it ethical? We breed them to our liking focusing on aspects like cuteness above all else and in turn, we create animals with a list of health conditions who knows how long. Is this also ethical? We sterilize them when we desire so and sometimes we cast them onto the streets to survive or perish just because it is not convenient to take care of them anymore or because we are just bored of them. It is not like they can turn back and go back to the wild anymore also. Our breeding programs robbed many dogs of their abilities to survive in the real wilderness. Many dogs, size, and more docile behavior coupled with their lack of hunting experiences make them unqualified to survive in the wild. Is any of this in any way sound ethical?


Below is a comparison photo of two pugs one from the year 1880 and one from today to show the effects of selective breeding. Today almost all pugs suffer from respiratory issues, eye problems, skin disorders, bone and joint problems, and sometimes even seizures.


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Sadly selective breeding is not the only problem. All pure dog races are prone to some kinds of health issues. German Shepherds has hip dysplasia, Huskies have autoimmune problems, Labradors are susceptible to obesity and Golden’s have skin allergies so on and so forth. Dog shows are also a part of the problem as horrible as they are by themselves they make it worse by allowing and promoting only pure breeds. Subsequently, pet shops which are sadly still a major source of dog adoption rub salt into the wound by only selling pure breeds.  Instead of trying to eradicate these health problems from our fluffy friends, we are making them more susceptible to these problems every generation.


After all these problems it is time to talk about solutions. First and foremost adopting shelter animals or stray animals is one of the best solutions. It is true that probably the animal you will be getting will not be a puppy or kitty. On the other hand, you will be saving a life from the streets and possibly future lives as well because you will be enabling the puppies or kitties of your animal to be born in a household. The animal you save would also most likely be a mixed breed as no one can control the breeding on the streets.  Nevertheless, you should never consider this as a bad thing as mixed breeds are generally more healthy. The second most important solution is social and legal one instead of personal. As a society, we need laws protecting our pets. You maybe can not even think of hurting or abandoning your dog or cat willingly but let's not forget these kinds of things are happening every day around the world. People kill them, torture them for amusement and some psychopaths even sexually abuse them as you probably heard about it in recent times on social media. What happened to these maniacs you may ask, well most of them are still walking free. Do you think a society can consider itself ethical with them walking free? Governments need to create those laws and they need to implement tight regulations after the laws are created to ensure we can give our fluffy friends a better life, free from abuse of all kinds.


Below is a picture of a dog shelter in Florida USA. For the first time in shelters history, they managed to get all of the dogs adopted. This picture can be considered a positive change in itself on how and where we want to adopt our dogs.

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In conclusion, domesticating wildcats and wolves were not an unethical thing in itself. Neither adopting them and taking care of them is today but there are a right way and wrong way of doing things. When we put more emphasis on things like monetary gain, show performances, pureness, and cuteness rather than the well-being of our dear pets we stop being ethical. We have to treat them with dignity and we must protect them from the evil deeds of society's evil members. These are the musts of an ethical person and an ethical society. (1) (2) (3) (4)

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