metaspective: An Ethical Question    
 An Ethical Question14 comments
picture24 Sep 2003 @ 15:39, by Dave da Shaman

Please help me to come to some kind of conclusion to a question that has been bugging me(if you'll excuse the pun)for some time now.
Namely, is it ethical to own a pet?


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14 comments

24 Sep 2003 @ 16:37 by martha : not sure
what you mean Dave. If you are a responsible owner, why not?  


24 Sep 2003 @ 16:46 by craiglang : Own...
I've usually found that while we may officially "own" pets, usually the pets see it as the other way around... :-)
Like any relationship, the bond is two-way. And I've found that any pet I've ever had has been a part of the family.  



24 Sep 2003 @ 17:38 by scotty : living together with respect
and above all remembering the animal counts on the 'owner' to meet it's every need is the best rule when one has decided on sharing ones life with an animal - after much reflection and consideration as to why one wants an animal and asking oneself honestly would an animal want to live with one !  


24 Sep 2003 @ 18:40 by spiritseek : My pet mouse...
some days I look at him and feel I'm holding him prisoner, especially when theres wild mice running around in our garage. So what would happen if I let him out? Would he be caught in some mouse trap, or eaten by hawks, or starve because he's used to being fed? I decided he lives right where he's at, the reason I have him is because he was suppose to have been my granddaughters pet snakes dinner but was saved cause he was so cute.  


25 Sep 2003 @ 00:30 by jeffolsen : A fish named fluffy
I'm unsure. My room mates Jay and Erica have a bunny named Dot. They keep her in a cage, but it seems to me that Dot enjoys being out of her cage more than being in it. I let Dot out from time to time, but I always put her back in the cage at the end because I do not possess her. She is not my pet to decide the future for.  


25 Sep 2003 @ 02:48 by susannahbe : Ethics?...
I believe all our fellow inhabitants of our planet whatever species are deserving of our respect...I too feel uncomfortable with winged animals having no room to fly.... fish in tiny bowls etc.....but cats and dogs (the majority of pets)...what an evolutionery move!! Think how many there are and think how many of us (me included) are their willing servants! :-).
Silk worms need mulberry bushes to survive, Cats and Dogs need us. "Sharing" your life with an animal can teach us so much about the "nature" of things...and are a reminder to not get too caught up in our heads, but to honour our own "nature" as that is where our connection to "all that is" is made...just an opinion :-)
love Susannah, Harvey the elderly disabled dog and the four fabulous felines that share my life :-)  



25 Sep 2003 @ 02:59 by repsyche : what great responses
will lay out my thoughts tomorrow - ta very much  


25 Sep 2003 @ 16:18 by jmarc : my cat
questions my ethics when i pay attention to anybody besides him. I tried to take him outside once but he went into shock, poor thing. So he stays in the apartment and jealously guards his jmarc time. Sometimes i feel guilt at all of the things he is missing(hunting, since we plugged the mouse hole, and cat sex) but hey, he seems to like his little limited world, as long as he doesn't have to watch me touch another human being, and as long as i share my sardines with him.  


25 Sep 2003 @ 17:21 by devic : A Pet?
Why refer to it as 'owning' a pet?
You are simply inviting a fellow being to live with you.

"If you listen very hard, the tune will come to you at last.
When all is one and one is all..."
(Robert Plant....)  



26 Sep 2003 @ 03:26 by repsyche : Purrfect!
Thanks for the responses, which were just what I was hoping for, and covered nearly all the range of opinions.
Taking each point in turn, I'd like to say ;
I used the word "own", deliberately as this is one of the areas I think is at issue. As I expected, folk at NCN tend towards an enlightened approach, and qualify this in several ways. However, not all "owners" are so minded; for instance the chap nextdoor regularly shouts at his dog that she is stupid, which sadly, is similar to his attitude to his wife. Not blaming the good owners for bad attitude here.
We also rescue animals from uncertain fates, and it is hard to imagine a sensitive, loving soul doing otherwise.
The issue of ownership and control varies from species to species. Our own bodies are in many ways complex, symbiotic colonies of myriad small systems, working in unbelievable harmony and balance. Even the most disturbed of minds and infirm of bodies are still ineffable miracles of creation; and so deserving of our utmost love and respect.
It is not just the owning or companionship with a particular animal that is the issue here. Humans have dramatically modified the biosphere on this planet, and our coexistance with various species confers a sort of biological patronage. Thus species that do well with us really thrive. So tea, silk worms, cannabis, rats, fleas, HIV, cats, dogs, horses etc. do well. I'm sure we could add many more. Its extinction or the zoo for those that do not. There is also a huge evolutionary push to fit in with human wants and culture.
For a species to succeed with us, it has to offer either a good or service. Pets give us a range of services; especially security, both emotional and physical.

My daughter is learning to ride, and is passionate about horses in a way that i am not. Yet I am uncomfortable with this as well. To force an animal to do my will is against my nature/philosophy, but I do not stop Emilee doing so as it is her life choice. I do not claim to know the answers, that is why I'm genuinely interested in looking at some of the issues.

I don't enjoy;
seeing dogs on leads, yet I realise that dogs and people and other animals could get hurt if not used in urban sites.
or seeing animals saddled or otherwise used as machines for our pleasure or food etc.
In conclusion, its pretty obvious that other species are very much part of our own families and wider human society. Our species loves some animals and not others. But we are animals too and could conceivably become pets or food or amusement for other beings.
My view is that I would prefer to see most species fulfilling their destinies with their own kind if possible. Idealist?  



26 Sep 2003 @ 08:56 by spiritseek : I agree...
dogs on chains in the back yard is inhumane. When I went to buy a dog I let the dog choose me. He is running around in a large fenced in back yard instead of a cage at the Humane Society where he was dumped off. I named him after my father so this gives him my respect, can't really be kicking my father around now can I? I needed to learn to love and recieve love back, hopefully not just my feeding him will cause him to love me.  


26 Sep 2003 @ 11:53 by martha : gotta love those kitties
SAN CARLOS, California (AP) -- Call it Ted's excellent adventure, with a high-tech twist: A cat with an ID microchip implanted under his skin was returned to his owner 10 years after he jumped out a window and vanished.

Chris Inglis' sleek, black feline, Ted, was fitted with the chip back when the technology was still new in the early 1990s. But he was gone without a trace for a full decade before someone found him this week.

Ted -- named for Keanu Reeves' character in "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure" -- was brought to the Peninsula Humane Society's animal shelter, which tracked down Inglis despite outdated information on the chip. The cat was found about 13 miles (20 kilometers) south of where Inglis used to live in Burlingame, California.
Right at home

When the pair reunited Wednesday, the cat "rubbed his face on my hand, climbed right up and started purring," Inglis said. "It's pretty monumental. It's almost surreal."

Where Ted spent all those years remains a mystery, but it appeared someone had been taking care of him.

Inglis remembers that one of the things he and Ted liked to do was cruise around in his car. On their way home from the shelter, Inglis said Ted "put his front paws on the dashboard," just like in the old days.  



28 Jan 2004 @ 08:55 by stefanti @80.137.209.216 : Human victims
Recently I saw a BBC documentation about the evolution of dogs. The perspective was a bit different than usual: dogs were presented as having evolved in a way that allows them to manipulate humans to take care of them and share their food with them even when the humans do not benefit whatsoever. They are master manipulators. So maybe the humans are the victims?

But in fact it IS a tricky question. I also see it the way that the pet is living with you. Sometimes against their will. Ultimately it will depend on how we treat our furry or feathery friends.

Beyond that the question is: is it ethical to refer to animals as "livestock" and to animal husbandry as "meat production". Is it ethical to treat animals like things? It may be a questionable practice to treat other animals like the human animal, but that is still better than treating them like things.

Stefan Thiesen  



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