“I Gave My Dog Away”
A comment I recently heard was: "One of my dogs died, so I gave my other dog away. I couldn't bear another thing dying on me."
At first I was shocked that this woman could give her remaining dog away. But then I thought about the fact that she referred to her deceased dog as a thing ("I couldn't bear another thing dying on me"), and it all became perfectly clear: it's easy to give a dog away if dogs are little more than things.
The Excuses Start To Flow
It was suggested to me that this woman was trying to reduce the trauma of the dog's death by thinking of her dog as a thing. I told the excuse-maker that, if what he says is true, attempting to save emotions by thinking of the dog as a thing is both selfish and unacceptable.
And, I told the excuse-maker, the only reason he was offering an excuse at all was because the woman was talking about a dog. He’d never have tried to explain away what she’d said if she’d been talking about a child.
I mean, imagine if the woman had said: "One of my children died, so I gave my other child away. I couldn't bear another thing dying on me." No one would EVER dare to explain away her actions or her thinking - on the contrary, they’d be out for her blood.
The Reasons Behind This (Awful) Attitude
So why such cold-heartedness with regard to dogs?
Well, this type of thinking goes back to fact that dogs are, by law, property. In other words, by law dogs are things. They're legally our property and therefore can be treated as such. So, for example, at a whim (and with impunity) a dog can be sold off, given away, or dumped on the street.
The resulting attitude of this legal status is that dogs are often treated as though they're as expendable as other property. (In fact, I think I can safely say that many people would more likely give away a dog - a sentient being - than give away a car, which is nothing but a hunk of metal.)
You can see the evidence of this for yourself by visiting your local shelter. Every single dog there is proof that not only are dogs considered by many people to be expendable, but that society as a whole accepts this attitude.
The Solution To The Problem
Because this problem attitude stems from dogs being our property by law, you might think that changing the law would be the solution. But you'd be wrong.
You can't change people's attitudes by changing the law. A change of heart is what's required for some people to stop treating dogs as things. And while you can't change someone's heart for them, you can call people out when they refer to or treat dogs as little more than inanimate objects. What you say might get them thinking, and with a bit of luck, they might even have a change of heart.
SAY NO TO PUPPY MILLS! SAY NO TO ANIMALS IN PETSHOPS! SAY NO TO BREEDERS!
Adopt a homeless animal instead - they all deserve a second chance
It's estimated that 130,000 dogs and 60,000 cats are killed every year in Australia because there are not enough homes for them all. And the global numbers amount to millions upon millions every single year.
Puppy mills are a major contributor to the terrible problem of overpopulation. Puppy mills are essentially 'dog factories' where dogs are forced to churn out litter after litter, with no thought for the welfare of the dogs and all thought for profit. The dogs live in appallingly dirty, cramped conditions all their lives, and when they no longer serve their purpose they're killed, dumped or sold to vivisection laboratories.
Petshops fit into the picture because puppy mills are generally where petshops get their animals from. Furthermore, having animals in shop windows encourages impulse purchases, and adding an animal to your family should be a conscious, careful decision - NOT one to be made while shoe shopping.
Breeders contribute enormously to the tragic statistics above too. And it doesn't matter whether they're professional breeders or backyard breeders, and whether they breed for profit or not, because while there are homeless animals sitting on death row in shelters, any and all animal breeding is utterly irresponsible.
Now, here's where you come in. You can either be part of the problem or part of the solution. You can either buy animals from puppy mills, petshops or breeders and be part of the problem. Or you can adopt from a shelter or rescue organisation and be part of the solution.
If I haven't convinced you, visit your local shelter to see the homeless animals. Let their innocent faces convince you that adopting is the only responsible choice to make.
All information and photos are copyright © Despina Rosales.