Saturday, January 4, 2014

Pet "Parenting" and Leaps of Logic

I read Slate regularly, mostly because it offers a broad spectrum of material. I recently stumbled over an article objecting to the use of "pet parenting" as a description of a human's relationship to a dog or a cat or other animal.

The writer suggest the impetus for the exaggerated relationship between mankind and beast comes from Big Corporations. Make a person an animal's "parent" and that emotional connection inspires the person to spend more on the animal.

I can see that. Makes perfect sense.

In a strange, bizarre leap of logic, however, I begin to think about the idea as it relates to euthanasia. I put down a dog this summer. It was time. There was a great attachment between me and the dog, and in society's estimation, I had the right to kill the dog to prevent further suffering on her part. I didn't want to do it, but if the dog was suffering, wasn't it my obligation to do it? But who is to say if the dog was suffering? Only me, and only by powers of observation. What happens when a human being, seemingly in sound state of mind, says "I'm suffering!" I (parent or not) cannot put down the human being, else I'd be charged with murder. 

So? If the relationship between me and the dog was parent to child—family—will there be some corporate type attempting to discern how euthanasia might be infiltrated into other familial relationships? Stupid thought? It is my problem, I know, that I see these chains of causation, but frankly, to reverse the chain of responsibility, I can visualize a point in social mores where a person has no right to "put down" an animal without permission.

Conversely, to continue these bizarre zig-zags of logic, Belgium is moving to offer euthanasia to children, animal rights activists are attempting to confirm personhood onto primates other than humans, and the new mayor of New York plans to do away with horse-and-carriage rides around the Central Park area. Why, the latter? Because the horses are sometimes mistreated. But what's the purpose of a horse? Drawing a carriage seems a logical thing for the employment of a horse, which are after all domesticated animals, and so should not the new mayor be concentrating on the miscreants who mistreat the carriage horses?

In the meantime, there's a great outcry here in the USA over the return to horse slaughtering. Will the carriage horses end up being shipped to Missouri or New Mexico, the site of the two slaughtering plants? Or will it be only those wild mustangs over-populating some of our western lands?

It is an ugly, evil thing to see a living creature mistreated or abused—or suffering—but if you want to label me a "pet parent," I think I'll decline.

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