For some time now I have been intrigued by the way we compartmentalize our ethical judgements towards animals and humans. I am not sure whether the judgement regarding humans or animals is more correct. But it definitely highlights the cognitive dissonance like reaction to the moral issues.
For example, a common ethical dilemma is the question of whether to allow Euthanasia, Physician assisted suicide (PAS), and in which circumstances. When this issue is put forth regarding animals, pets such as dogs, or humans each is often met with a completely different set of moral judgements. As a cancer stricken dog is said to be being put out of its misery, while the human is put on to a ventilator to live as long as possible. This occurs even in situations where the pet is very beloved and holds a special relationship to the person “putting it down.”
We also see this in the way we treat stray dogs and humans. I have yet to see an orphanage asking people to adopt or foster youth to save their lives as otherwise they will put down and killed as there simply is not enough room, resources or money to hold them. I have also not seen Facebook pages of children with time limits of when they will be killed if not adopted. To even think of something like this is kind of extreme. Yet this is totally accepted behavior by kill shelters all over the world . They even have shelters called high kill shelters! You heard that they add the word kill and shelter into the same name. Imagine a shelter for youth, homeless or beaten women called a kill shelter? It could never happen. It almost sounds like a butcher shelter. Buy your meat for a week and a family pet, right? Aweful.
Additionally families that love their pets can leave their young puppies at home with only a bowl of water and food for many hours. Sometimes even tied to a chain around their neck or in a cramped cage for toilet training purposes. They may even have a shock collar on in case they yell or cry. Again can you imagine if this was done to a child?
Lastly there is the spay and neutering thing. If you don’t do this people look at you as if you have not given your dog his vaccine shots or fed him. The publicity campaigns discuss the possibility of dogs having many many babies who will run stray in the streets and have even more children. Yet imagine if this approach would be taken with the homeless, poor or low SES persons? They too have many kids, many even in high school or in the slums. Yet there is no push to sterilize them. And if there was it is seen by the same people that push this as abhorrent.
Lastly there is the idea of eating meat vs your pet or a human (cannibalism). Which is why some people decide to become vegetarians or vegans.