Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Animal Rights

A few months ago, someone in Atlanta was suing a vet for the loss of their dog (a 13-year-old miniature Schnauzer) – I think they wanted $75K because of vet malpractice. I remember the age of the dog because I thought to myself when I heard about it, "Thirteen is a very unlucky number."

My second thought, of course, was "How long to miniature Schnauzer's live?" About 15 years, came the answer from a trusted internet site. Sounds about right to me. The law generally treats dogs as property, not people. When I purchase a tire (a piece of property) and they have to replace it, they do some calculation that takes into account the benefit I have already had from the property. If you do so with an animal, such as this Atlanta dog, I get the whole life (all 15 years) being worth $562,500. My husband does not have that much insurance on his head, and his life, I don't think, is 13/15th used up.

And I know, lots of people will call me callous. But even actuaries calculate how much human lives are worth. I don't think calculating the same value for animal lives is any worse.

I don't really know where I fall when it comes to animal rights.

I have fish, which are animals. Placing fish in an aquarium seems cruel to me, but fish don't have much of a brain. I wouldn't be happy when I ate in the same water I crapped in. But that's is just me. Fish don't seem to mind. Fish seem to be towards the "decorations end" of the animal spectrum. You don't want to cruelly kill them, but when people dispose of them by flushing them down the toilet, that sort of defines their pecking order.

Snakes, lizards, turtles, those sorts of animals. I put them in a category slightly above fish. You can't dispose of them as easily as fish (no quick flush). And you can hold many of these animals (although I would not be that excited about holding a snake). And, sorry Grant, I could not find a picture of bikini-clad Tia Carrere holding an anaconda in the Wayne's World movie.

I don't think we should be testing make-up on rabbits. It seems cruel. But I have had a rabbit dish once (I did not know it was rabbit originally), and it was good. Taste like chicken. Sure, people from Georgia shoot rabbits that are eating their flowers (and then, bonus, have something for dinner). I never got while people would want an animal that routinely ate their own poop. As I remember from high school biology, wild rabbits eat grass in the morning, poop in a pile, and eat their own poop in the afternoon. Apparently they have bacteria that helps break down the grass and whatever, then they digest more stuff. So when people buy rabbit food, it is basically partially digested grass. Okay, maybe that is not right, but it sounds a bit silly.

I think ferrets are more like elongated rats that people take care of. These animals make me nervous.

Dogs and Cats
I don't own a dog or cat. I just don't want to grieve every ten or so years. I have read that they do certain experiments on dogs and cats, and I wonder what the cost is. I have not really figured that out. I think it is more impactful for all dog and cat owners to neuter or spade their pet. Perhaps Bob Barker knew what he was talking about – it probably will cause far less animal rights violations (think of the pound and how animals are treated there; how many are put to sleep).

Oh, this blog entry went in a whole different direction. I am just scribbling today.


Anonymous said...

I think you need a snake skin bikini. You would probably look good in it.

Grant said...

Animals have the right to be tasty. I think they should be humanely treated, killed, and cooked.

And why aren't fish considered to be animals? Is it because you can't hug them?

~Just me again~ said...

Ironically, from all the ads I see on tv for lawyers about lawsuits. Alot of Americans seem to like to sue for everything. It seems so easy down there.

I'm with you on the fish, reptiles, bunnys...been there done that, no more lol.

I do have a dog, I love very much...she's heading on 15 and Im so not looking forward to that. Dont want to do that again.

Advizor said...

At some point I should sit down and write a well-reasoned post on my "animal rights" position, but today, I'll just shoot from the cuff and piss people off.

I love animals. Really, I think they are great. I don't know what we'd do with out them, however, they are not people.

People are more important than animals.

People should treat animals as a special and precious resource, but, it's OK to eat them.

Occasionally, it is OK to do medical experiments on them. Make-up is NOT a medical item, so blinding bunnies is a bad idea. BUT, if I can save a cancer patient, develop a new surgical technique, improve a bullet proof vest, perfect a new vaccine, or understand heart disease enough to save people, then I am OK with using animals to achieve those goals.

My brother has a bad heart and now has a pig’s valve where his used to be. I am glad that the medical world took apart enough pigs to realize that they could save my brother’s life, because, repeat after me, My brother is more important than a pig.

Anyone who would like to dispute that can give his wife a call.

I ramble on a bit more on my own blog, but I didn't want to put a 3-page rant in Leesa's comments.

Oh, and Fish? Anything that can be given as a party favor in a plastic cup is flushable, guilt-free.

Leesa said...

Knot: Thanks, sweetie. Not the point of the post, though.

Grant: Fish can be very tasty, so they are included. I said they are almost not animals.

Just me again: Thanks, sweetie.

Advizor: Two issues I have with your post, I mean comment: (1) You can't ask a wife if the husband is better than an animal; I have some friends who would place more value on their pets than their husbands, and that doesn't mean the pig would trump the husband. (2) We should not be flushing live fish just because we get them at a party. Killing fish for food: good. Killing fish for fun: may have some impact on your own soul.

Advizor said...

I seem to have fallen on Leesa's bad list. I'll have to be more careful in the future, and keep my thoughts shorter.

I did not say that flushing fish was fun, I said that you don't have to feel guilty about getting rid of it. People should not give pets as unexpected gifts, and people should not accept them unless they are wanted.

But, once taken from the pet store somebody has to deal with it, you can bet the giver isn't going to raise them. In my own defense, I just buried a "gift fish" that I kept for almost 2 years before it died of natural causes.

Maybe I should have eaten him. Then I wouldn't have to feel guilty at all.


Gary Baker said...


Not picking on you for your comment, but I hope that you don't object to me kind of using as an example. To me, you (and to some extent Leesa as well) show my major objection to applying the term "rights" to animals. If they really do have "rights" than any limit imposed is going to be somewhat arbitrary, and sooner or later someone is going to go to court over it.

We've had a dog for the past couple of years. I love that dog. As a dog. I consider her extremely valuable property, but if it came down to either her or the most miserable excuse for a human I've ever heard of, I'd have to decide against her.

Advizor said...


I couldn't agree with you more, I just didn't put my finger on it.

The use of the words "rights" put the discussion in the wrong context from the start. We have responsibilities towards our animals, but the don't have legal standing of their own.

Last year an old lady died and left her estate to her cat. What? People are actually arguing that it's OK to give a cat a house. Now who's going to clean the litter box? Can the cat sell the house for a small carpet-covered box? Does that allow the cat to send her kittens to public schools? If another female cat moves in is that a domestic partnership or a common-law marriage? Who gets the two mouse and ball of string when they break up.

Leesa said...

Advizor: I was not trying to be argumentative. Well, actually I guess I was. Not feeling well. And I think that gift fish can be curses as well. Perhaps the next time I get a gift fish, I will liberate it in the nearest pond (it will probably be food for another fish).

Gary: I was using the conventional naming mechanism for animal rights. It is more like human responsibilities, not animal rights.

Advizor: The cat is not to blame; the human is to blame.

Karen said...

You crack me up. I am so not an animal's right person. Humans - yes, but animals - not so much.

I wear fur and leather. I eat veal. I don't have pets because I don't want the responsibility of taking care of someelse's poop.

Leesa said...

Karen: Thanks, sweetie. I hear ya'.