Q&A: Animals As Companions
The following is Q&A about animals used for experimentation (vivisection).
There are also Q&A pages in these areas:
Literally millions of homeless animals are killed in shelters all around the world every single year.
Breeders - whether they are backyard breeders, professional breeders, or puppy mills - continually add more animals to the current population, when there are clearly not enough homes for the animals already in existence. Petshops are a component of the equation because they obtain their animals from said breeders.
There are three major players who perpetuate the current crisis of so many homeless animals: those who breed the animals, those who buy the animals from the breeders, and those who abandon the animals to the shelters.
That means if you buy from a breeder, puppy mill, or petshop you are supporting a major player in the problem and also becoming a major player yourself. Be part of the solution instead: adopt a homeless animal.
Financial gain or no financial gain, it's not okay to breed your animals.
Whether or not money changes hands is completely irrelevant - if you breed your animals you're still another breeder contributing to the problem of the overpopulation of companion animals. Be part of the solution: desex your animals.
Newsflash: It's not about you.
Bringing more companion animals into the world while there are literally millions upon millions on death row in shelters is utterly irresponsible.
If you really love your companion animals, then extend that love to ALL companion animals, and focus on the greater good rather than your own selfish wants. Do the right thing by desexing your animals and therefore not adding to the overpopulation.
Ever heard about speaking to your child, and explaining reproduction using words?
There’s no need for a child to watch one dog mount another or for them to witness puppies being born so as to learn about the cycle of life, any more than that child needs to watch her parents having sex or see her mother give birth nine months later.
For goodness sake, responsible parenting doesn’t involve messing about with the lives of sentient beings so that you can teach your children something that can be taught by verbal explanation and with the help of age-appropriate books on the subject. Because that’s what your mouth is for: to explain things, using words, to your child. Next you’ll tell me that you’re also planning to suffocate all the puppies your dog gives birth to so that you can teach your child about death.
For goodness sake, if you really want to teach your child about life, teach the child about RESPONSIBILITY. Teach your child that it’s wrong to bring more animals into the world when there are so many homeless ones, and that desexing companion animals is the responsible thing to do.
No, it's not.
But I'll tell you what is cruel: millions upon millions of animals all around the world sitting behind bars waiting to either be adopted or (more likely) killed. That’s what's cruel. More than that, it's a tragedy.
(And, no, desexing an animal does not make him or her overweight. That's a myth. Like humans, overfeeding and underexercising is what makes an animal overweight.)
Well, desexing is certainly not something that naturally occurs to animals in the wild. So in that way, yes, it's unnatural. But so is having non-human animals living in the concrete boxes we call our homes.
When it comes to companion animals, we're not talking about nature; we're talking about a phenomenon distinctly unnatural. Remember, humans created companion animals from animals in the wild: they are therefore not natural by virtue of who they are to begin with. And, to be perfectly blunt, companion animals are beyond unnatural: the poor things are inbred genetic freaks. (I mean, why do you think companion animals have such a huge array of genetic problems?)
Next is the unnatural situation of millions of homeless animals worldwide sitting on death row - most of whom will be killed rather than adopted. Not only is this current state of things unnatural, it's also immoral.
So rather than concerning yourself with what's natural and what's not (which, as I've pointed out, doesn't really figure into the equation anyway), concern yourself with the bigger picture. Desexing an animal means he or she will not breed, and therefore not bring yet more animals into the already overflowing population.
(As an aside, desexing an animal not only prevents him or her from getting various cancers, but also helps curtail or completely eradicate certain antisocial and unwanted behaviours common in non-desexed animals. In other words, desexing is ultimately beneficial for the individual animal in question.)
To begin with, the world doesn't revolve around your testicles. Next, if you tend to base your decisions in life on your testicles, you have some serious psychological issues that you should deal with immediately.
So, get your mind off your testicles and consider the big picture. (Hint: the big picture has nothing to do with your testicles.) This big picture is that, due to people selfishly breeding animals - including those who, like you, won't desex theirs because they're in love with their own testicles - millions of homeless animals are killed year after year in shelters.
Now, let's take the issue raised of not wanting to do something to another that you wouldn't want done to you. On a general level, this is a very valid point and one that I'd usually support one hundred percent. However, in this specific case, it's missing the mark completely; because desexing is not about randomly lopping off testicles as some kind of game, it's about stopping the animal holocaust currently underway in shelters all around the world.
Further, if you want to explore the notion of "how would you feel if it happened to you?", how would YOU feel if you were one of these homeless animals, sitting in a cage by yourself, not understanding why you're there, and not knowing what will become of you? Hmmm?
Because those animals are there because of people who are concerned about themselves more than the animals: they breed animals for money or, like you, simply won't desex their animals due to an obsession with their own genitalia.
In summary: get over your testicle fixation and focus on the big picture.
(Note: I haven't written a Q&A about women not wanting to desex their female dogs because "I wouldn't want someone to remove my ovaries, so why should I do it to my dog?". The reason is that this particular genital-based song and dance is one unique to men. Not all men, of course. There certainly are men who are capable of seeing beyond their own testicles. But, unfortunately, there are some who can't, and hence this Q&A.)
This one is just silly, but I’m including it because it was an actual conversation I had: a woman told me that she wouldn’t desex her dog because it gives dogs cancer.
I only just managed to recover from hearing such a ridiculous statement to tell her that this was absolutely not true. She replied that she had a friend whose two desexed dogs died of cancer. I told her that her ‘case study’ of two dogs is hardly evidence. I also pointed out that, if what she was saying were true, then all dogs who are desexed would die of cancer which, of course, is not the case.
That’s convincing logic if you ask me, but not everyone is swayed by logic (and especially not people who reach such ludicrous conclusions as this woman did). So I suggested that she also call a collection of vets - any vets - and ask them about this. I guaranteed her that all of them would agree with me, and that they’d probably add that not only does desexing an animal not cause cancer, but it also prevents or greatly reduces the likelihood of certain types of cancer.
When it comes to your animal’s health, it’s crazy to make deductions by jumping to conclusions. Don’t rely on stories of tragic coincidences to make decisions: do your research!
No, of course it doesn’t. Overfeeding makes an animal fat. The myth of desexing being linked to weight gain stems from people falsely correlating the two.
Let me explain: when young animals are desexed people sometimes find that the animal puts on weight in the years to follow. But the weight gain has nothing to do with the desexing. It has to do with the animal maturing, and going from having super-speedy puppy metabolism to a slower adult metabolism - but without the necessary change in caloric intake.
Rather than adjusting the animal’s calorie intake to suit the physical changes of maturation, people feed them the same amount. And instead of seeing this clear connection (ie. that they’re responsible for the animal’s weight gain), they blame the desexing.
Because this myth is so prevalent you might not believe me. But the good news is that you don’t have to. All you have to do is call up a handful of random vets and ask if desexing is to blame for weight gain. You will hear, time and time again, the same truth: that it’s just a myth.
It would be, except there's no such thing as an ethical breeder. As long as there's even one homeless companion animal on death row, ANY breeding by ANYONE is unethical. So adopt, and don't support breeders of any kind.
In a word, no.
Professional or not professional, anyone who breeds animals - including puppy mills, backyard breeders, and professional breeders - is part of the problem. They irresponsibly add to the already-huge overpopulation of companion animals, millions of whom are being killed every year in shelters worldwide.
Each purchase from a breeder of any description (even if indirectly from a petshop that buys from breeders), is one less less home for a shelter animal. And one less home for a shelter animal means one more animal destined for a lethal injection.
The bottom line is that purchasing from any type of breeder or from a petshop is as irresponsible as doing the breeding yourself. Do the responsible, ethical thing: adopt a homeless animal.
No, it's not.
A breeder who makes sure the animal initially goes to a good home is merely making a token gesture of care. Because, sure, it’s a good start - but where does the story end?
I’ve known plenty of dogs (my dog Jake, for a start) who began their lives in so-called 'good homes' and ended up homeless when their presence became inconvenient to the people they lived with. And where are these supposedly caring breeders when this happens? I don't see them taking the animals in question into their homes.
So forget about breeders of any sort. Forget about buying an animal from a petshop too. Go straight to a shelter and save a life.
No, why would it be?
Treatment is not the issue. While, yes, it's worse if the breeder in question treats their animals badly, but the matter of treatment is missing the point. The point being that while there's even one homeless animal sitting on death row, adding more individuals to the already-existing population of companion animals is utterly irresponsible.
Millions of animals are being killed in shelters year after year after year, while breeders of all descriptions (both those who treat their animals well and those who don't) persistently add to the population.
And buying from breeders of any type - professional, backyard, or puppy mills - and from petshops who support the said breeders makes you part of that problem. Therefore, good treatment or not, the last place to acquire a companion animal is from a breeder of any sort.
Seeing as there are millions and millions and millions of animals all around the world being killed in shelters, 'running out' of animals is hardly an issue.
(Note: I'm putting the words "running out" in inverted commas because of the offhand nature of the phrase: we're not talking about things here - "Oh no, I've run out of pens!" - we're talking about sentient beings. The entire notion of 'running out' of companion animals points to an inherent problem in thinking of animals as just another piece of property. Yes, they're chattel property according to the law, but that's the crux of the problem. Changing their status from property to sentient beings is the paradigm that needs to shift, and that shift will only come with a change in people's thinking. And that change in thinking will only come when people don't use phrases like "running out" with regards to animals. Hence my use of inverted commas to show the incorrectness of this thinking.)
Anyway, back to business: getting those shelter cages empty is the immediate concern, not worrying about an imagined future where we've 'run out' of companion animals. Once every animal shelter is unnecessary, then we’ll talk about the topic of not 'running out' of companion animals. (And when that time comes the real topic will be whether to do away with the institution of owning any animals at all.)
But in the meantime, while those shelter cages are crammed with animals, it’s irrelevant for us to even think about this matter. And it’s selfish too: how dare we think about our own wants ("Oh no, we'll run out of companion animals!") when all those innocent animals sit behind bars on death row.
Well, that's a weird question for a few reasons.
First, because there already is a huge population of homeless animals, so the idea that the population will become huge is redundant: it's already there. Second, everyone not buying from breeders is not something that will happen overnight, so there's no chance of this occurring to begin with. Third, people don't buy companion animals every day like loaves of bread, so it's not like breeders churn out trillions of animals daily who would turn into squillions within a week's time if people don't buy them all.
Essentially what I'm saying is that the question itself is not only beside the point but unrealistic to the point of being preposterous.
A realistic future scenario would be that as more and more people adopt homeless animals instead of going to breeders, less and less people will breed. (And continue to keep in mind that when I say "breeders" I'm referring to ALL types of breeders, not to mention the petshops who support them.) Over time it will be the norm for people to make the responsible choice of adopting from a shelter.
So, don't worry about imaginary issues - focus the reality at hand and adopt a homeless animal!
To answer, let's look at this from the standpoint of simple economics.
Any type of breeder (and remember that when I say "breeder" I'm referring to backyard breeders, professional breeders, and puppy mills - they are ALL breeders) needs to make sales in order to continue breeding. Like any business, they need to sell their product - in this case, animals (ugh, it makes me cringe to refer to animals as products, but that's exactly what they are to breeders) - in order to remain in business. And, like any business, if people stop buying, they go out of business.
Therefore, if people stop buying from breeders, breeders will stop breeding animals. The equation is simple supply and demand. As demand decreases, breeding rates will decrease too: if there's no one buying the 'product' (argh!), there's no point in creating 'it'.
(Note: I use the word "it" to highlight the fact that animals are commodities to breeders. As with the word "product", I put the word "it" in inverted commas within the previous sentence to note my disdain for this attitude: an animal is not an "it", but a "he" or a "she".)
So that's all fine, but that doesn't answer the question of what will become of the animals if no one buys from breeders.
Well, the question is really a non-question, because it's not like this change will happen overnight; it will happen over time. Over time, more and more people will make the responsible choice of adopting homeless animals, and demand will slowly dwindle. This gradual diminishing of demand happening over time means the concern posed in the question will never be a concern.
Any animals in your care are just that: in your care. And that means caring for them properly, which includes keeping them free of parasites.
I don't know if fleas or ticks or worms are sentient - they might very well be - and I’d rather not use medicines to keep them away or kill them, but in this case it’s the health of a family member (ie. my dog Jasmin) at stake.
And I’ll say this too: if I got lice, I would treat them with medicated shampoo. That might be offensive to some vegans, but I don’t think that being infested with lice makes you a better vegan. It just makes your head itchy.
So with regard to fleas/ticks/worms, my opinion is that it’s permissible to do whatever is needed to keep my dog safe and healthy - and to me that means regularly giving her medications that keep her parasite- free.
It seems like a contradiction for vegans to have companion animals, but it’s not.
Vegans adopt homeless animals from death row whose lives hang in the balance. That’s why so many vegans have companion animals despite the fact that veganism is against ownership of other beings: they want to save lives.
So, yes, vegans reject the idea of owning another, and while they do own their animal companions according to the law, they don’t believe themselves to be owners but rather guardians.
Furthermore, vegans are well aware that the millions of homeless animals worldwide are homeless due to human irresponsibility. And seeing as we put them into this mess, we feel it's our moral obligation to help as many of them out of it as we can.
I'm against the ownership of animals. I don't think other sentient beings should be at the mercy of humans for any reason at all. They should all be allowed to live free and in peace.
So if animal homelessness was finally no longer an issue I would NOT choose to support breeders and therefore help begin the cycle all over again. Never in a million years.
No, because such an animal offenders register wouldn’t stop animal abuse.
If we were to create a truthful and thorough register of all animal abusers, then anyone who hasn't been vegan since birth would have to go on it. That means almost all people (including me, and almost all other vegans) would be on that register. And such a register wouldn’t achieve anything except to remind us of how horrible humans are to other species.
The thing is, though, people in favour of creating an animal offenders register aren’t really talking about that kind of a register. They’re talking about a register that lists those who’ve harmed dogs and cats (and sometimes rabbits, guinea pigs, and hamsters…but mostly dogs and cats). And a register like that would achieve little if anything at all. In fact, the only thing it would truly achieve is to reinforce the erroneous notion that the term “animal abuse” means the abuse of only certain species of animals.
Furthermore, many people speaking in favour of such a register do so with a cheeseburger in one hand and a milkshake in the other, while wearing leather shoes and a woollen scarf. In other words, they actively abuse some kinds of animals while seeking to protect other types of animals, and see no the flaw in that thinking. They don't see that the "love some animals, but abuse others" thinking is a moral paradox. And the register they seek to create would only serve to reinforce this moral paradox, making such a register worse than useless.
You might ask, and fairly so: “Then what would help stop animal abuse if an animal offenders register is not the solution?” The answer is: going vegan, staying vegan, and advocating for veganism. Because every time someone in the world goes vegan, the overall level of violence towards animals is reduced. And enough people going vegan will result in a world filled with people who truly care about ALL animals (not just a chosen few).
Here’s a point-form summary of vegan thinking on the subject of ‘pets’:
· They’re not ‘pets’, but rather companion animals.
· We’re not their ‘owners’, but rather are their guardians.
· Yes, humans should leave all animals alone, BUT because we’ve created a massive homelessness problem, it’s our duty to help companion animals by adopting them into our families.
Then foster animals who are up for adoption. If you can't do that, volunteer at your local shelter. If you don't have the time, then donate money. There are many ways you can help homeless animals if you can't adopt.
The simple answer is: they'll do something else.
If someone works in a bank and gets laid off, they'll find another job. If a pen factory goes out of business because no one uses pens due to the technological age, they'll start another business.
Now, I know that it's not easy to just jump to another job or business - I'm not saying "they'll do something else" to be cavalier. I'm saying it because it's the realistic answer in a nutshell. People and businesses move on to other jobs and product lines all the time, so breeders can do it too.
And the same goes for petshops: if they can't sell animals, they can sell more of the items they sell for companion animals, like collars and toys.
Also, in the case of the breeder, I personally am not perturbed by the idea of them having to change their source of income because they're no longer breeding. Because no matter the type of breeder - whether backyard breeder, professional breeder, or puppy mill - they are all making money by exploiting animals. (And, yes, I know that some backyard breeders give animals away for free, but most sell them.)
So here's to the demise of this particular way of making money, and to the rise of more people adopting homeless animals from shelters!
Because fireworks terrify animals.
Every year scores of family dogs and cats escape in terror from their homes and get injured or killed on the roads because of fireworks. Not to mention the wild animals who are scared to death (both figuratively and literally) due to fireworks displays.
Fireworks are nothing more than a testament to human selfishness: all those animals out of their wits with fear just so that humans can satisfy their infantile urge to see bright lights in the sky.
Harming others is no way to celebrate: fireworks should be abolished forever.
I agree that it's terrible that even one homeless animal is put to sleep, but you can hardly blame the shelters for having to work within a broken system.
If you want to blame someone, put the blame where it belongs:
The shelters have the heavy burden of finding homes for the unfortunate animals who are dumped on their doorstep. Worse, the shelters are the ones who must do the dirty work of putting many of them to sleep. But they're not the ones who created this nightmare of a situation, so don’t blame them for doing this horrible task.
Abandoned animals do have problems - but not the kind of problems you might think.
The biggest problem abandoned animals have is that they’ve been dumped by some selfish person who didn’t take their responsibility seriously.
The second-biggest problem abandoned animals have is people who wouldn’t dream of adopting them just because they’ve been abandoned.
Sure, some abandoned animals have issues. But so do we all, due to a mix of genetics, upbringing, and experiences. It’s the same with animals, except that any issues they have due to genetics, upbringing, and experiences are our fault because we bred them, we brought them up, and we exposed them to the experiences they had.
If you don’t want to be part of the solution by adopting a homeless animal, at least have the maturity to not put the blame on the animals themselves.
In other words, you don’t care about saving an animal’s life, but you do care about being able to control the animal’s upbringing. I’m curious: what do you think makes you so special that you can do a better job than everyone else bringing up a pup?
You’ve got to realise that the animals in shelters are homeless because of irresponsible people, and any behavioural problems they might have are not the animal's fault but because they weren't taught well - something that can be rectified by positive training.
Millions of homeless animals are sitting on death row right now waiting to be saved. So get over your hang up about older animals, and go save a life!
This kind of thinking is pure selfishness.
If you know full well that fireworks are a terror to dogs and cats (not to mention wild animals) yet you continue to support their use anyway, you have a terrible lack of empathy. Not only do you care nothing about the wellbeing of animals in general (bad enough), but you care nothing for the animals who are supposed to be part of your own family (even worse!).If you really care so little for members of your own family, you need to question what kind of person you are; because if your own fun is more important than their wellbeing, your moral compass is in desperate need of repair.
The selfishness and emotional immaturity in this attitude is stunning.
While so many dogs (and cats, and other animals) sit on death row in shelters, how DARE anyone think that it's all about them!
Yes, the pain of losing an animal is unbearable, but while there are homeless animals in need we need to look beyond ourselves and think about them.
The fact is that we humans have created this nightmare for companion animals, and are therefore obliged to do whatever we can to clean up the mess we've made. To sit back and cry "Waaah! It's too hard for me, I couldn't handle that loss again" is so unbelievably selfish it makes my head spin and my stomach turn.
Humanity as a whole is unbelievably egotistical, and as a species we need to wake up, grow up, and realise that it's not all about us.
Bottom line: if there's room in your home, adopt a homeless animal. If for some reason you can't adopt, then foster. And if you can't do either, then regularly volunteer your time/money to the shelters.
Because you think you’d do a better job than the millions of people who brought up the millions of homeless animals in the world? Or maybe it’s because in order to feel the animal is really yours, you must have him or her from puppyhood? If it’s either or both of the above, I have a rather blunt question for you: are you really that arrogant and self-absorbed?
You have to understand, there’s nothing wrong with homeless animals. (Nothing, that is, except for the fact that they’ve been dumped and are facing a death sentence.)
And while, yes, you might be able to bring up a baby animal well, that’s beside the point. The point is that there are homeless animals out there who desperately need our help. Their homelessness isn’t their fault, remember - it’s ours, so because we’re to blame for their plight it’s also our responsibility to help them out of it.
Still not convinced?
Ask yourself this: are abandoned children of less worth because they were abandoned through no fault of their own? The answer is, of course, “no”. Well, the same goes for abandoned animals. Get over your prejudice and replace it with empathy. Then do the responsible thing and adopt a homeless animal.
Currently under the law, you are allowed to breed them. They're your animals and you can breed them all you like. In fact, your animals are your chattel property as far as the law is concerned, and you can even kill them if you wish.
But the fact that the law permits you to breed (or kill) your animals doesn't mean it's the ethical thing to do.
There are literally millions of homeless animals all around the world sitting on death row in shelters. Most of those poor creatures will live their last days there. So with all those healthy animals being routinely killed in their millions, there’s no need for anyone to breed yet more animals. As long as there is even one animal in a shelter cage, there’s no reason for any more companion animals to come into this world.
Visit death row at a shelter and let the animals due to live their last days behind bars convince you that there’s absolutely no reason to breed more. In the end, it’s about putting aside our own wants and doing the right thing.
Of course it will.
Considering the many millions of animals worldwide who are sitting on death row, you adopting one homeless animal might feel like a tiny drop in the ocean. But your action makes the world of difference to that individual animal.
Furthermore, you can multiply your responsible deed by encouraging others to do the same.
Yes, it will.
If everyone thought, "I'm just one person, so me dropping my rubbish onto the street won't make a difference", then all the streets would be littered with rubbish.
In other words, everything everyone does makes a difference.
So separate individuals each thinking, "Me buying from a breeder won't make a difference - I'm only one person" adds up to lots and lots of people buying from breeders. Meanwhile, millions of innocent animals are being killed in shelters.
Supporting any type of breeder - be they backyard, professional, puppy mill, or a petshop who obtains animals from breeders - makes you part of the problem. If you want to be part of the solution, save a life by adopting a homeless animal.
>>>Go on to more Q&A:
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.