Mansfield Fox

Law student. Yankees fan. Massive fraggle. Just living the American dream.

Saturday, March 06, 2004

HOW SHOULD WE RELATE TO OUR PETS? There's a really good piece by Jon Katz over at Slate on the pet owner / companion-animal guardian debate. This topic came up a couple of times, obliquely, in my constitutional law class. I'm inclined to agree with Mr. Katz that obscuring the line between humans and animals, treating pets as "'people' of another species", is a very bad idea. Katz argues that treating pets like humans leads people to treat them in ways that are wildly inappropriate for animals (overfeeding them, not training them properly, refusing to euthanize them). For my part, I think the problem cuts the other way as well: I think equating humans and animals is just as likely to lead people to treat humans in a way once thought appropriate only for animals as the other way around, and that's far more dangerous (for us at least, and that's what I care about) in the long term. It may just be a coincidence that the modern euthanasia movement developed simultaneously with the late 20th century move to treat pets as family members rather than, well, pets, but I'm inclined to think they're at least partially related. I mean: if Rover is a member of the family, and when Rover is old and in interminable pain we put him to sleep. Grandpa is a member of the family too; he's old and in interminable pain.... Or chemical castration of sex offenders; are we more likely to consider that option because we have no problem neutering our companion animals?

Of course, I'm an anthro-supremacist - no doubt a relic of an passing age - so what do I know?