The US pet industry is a big business. As of 2013 Americans owned more than 78.2 million dogs and over 86.4 million cats. The annual pet expenditures overtop a staggering $51 billion on a nationwide scale. Notwithstanding such a tremendous adoration, three to four million of pets are found in shelters (Mayyasi, 2013). Homeless animals are prone to lethal injection. This is how the love for the pets is at odds with killing them. There is a flourishing economy determining the use and exploitation of animals. For decades, animal exploitation has been a billion-dollar industry promising monetary gains. Therefore, the legalization of the animal (nonhuman) status, as well as the enablement of their proper treatment and sterilization practices are the major concerns on the agenda.
From a legal standpoint, animals are neither property nor persons. This means that the major problem is in legal definition of their status, which subsequently determines our treatment and attitude towards them. The legal status of animals is, therefore, an open question and subject to a serious discussion high on today’s agenda. The lack of the legal classification of animals results in various violations of animal rights (Francione, 1996).
The codification of animal personhood is rather important to determine the legal status of animals around us. Clear comprehension will save us from confusing perception and attitudes towards animals. Evidently, animals (including our bellowed pets) are nonhumans. However, this does not indicate that these nonhumans (often the members of our families) should be subject to experiments, prone to maltreatment or cruelty in puppy mills, or euthanasia given the rising pet overpopulation. Their use for entertainment purposes should also be legally defined and regulated to avoid excessive pain and suffering in poor conditions.
The normalization of legal status of animals and pets will put an end to conflicting attitudes. Tougher legalization will definitely standardize the exploiting of animals with the consideration of cultural, religious, and belief systems that have forever put humans superior to animals and thereof determined their nonhuman treatment.
It’s Raining Cats and Dogs
The compassion contradicts cruelty given that six to eight million pets get abandoned in shelters each year. Fortunately, many lost pets return to their owners while others are rehabilitated for further adoption. Still most of the abandoned pets live in unbearable conditions, while many get killed. The annual toll equals to three to four million. Considering the growing dynamics of filling up shelters, pet advocacy groups, rescue organizations, and veterinarians neuter and spay the abandoned cats and dogs to cease their overpopulation in compliance with local legislation. High euthanasia numbers among pets are due to the denial of private pet owners, breeders, and pet stores to castrate their pets. The trend results in rising numbers of stray sheltered and rescued pets. Rescue organizations practice regular raids to examine the living conditions of abandoned pets. The overcrowded cages and crates cause the spread of various infections and diseases. Glazed eyes, skinny bodies, and matted hair serve as the best proof of gruesome reality.
Since 1971, there has been the national movement spaying and neutering dogs and cats. Mass sterilization helps to eliminate the overpopulation of unwanted animals. Given such logic, sterilization comes as compassion and feasible solution. Over time, spaying and neutering turned into a norm. Nonetheless, the sterilization procedure comes as a real challenge to low-income pet owners given its cost. While the practice of spaying and neutering is mandated, the laws are not uniform across the states. Given that 30 states practice spay/neuter procedures, 78% of pet dogs are subject to spaying or neutering. Thus, a standard practice of care, sterilization is commonly accepted and approved (Francione, 1995).
Another major concern relates to the reports of animal cruelty. Nonetheless, most puppy mills are legal. Pursuant to the Animal Welfare Act, a breeder should be equipped with a cage that is six inches longer than an animal’s body. The US Department of Agriculture accredits such minimum standards for three thousand puppy mills nationwide. Unfortunately, the mills are not subject to federal and most state laws. As a result, pet advocates claim that every puppy purchased from a breeder, a pet store or online comes from an exploitive puppy mill.
The establishment of committed pet care comes both as a necessity and relevant solution. Numerous pet care organizations on all possible levels inform public about the responsibility of pet ownership and take care about the improvement of living conditions for pets. The latter should be accepted as a social norm while the pets should be treated as a privileged property rather than commodity or tool. For instance, tougher legal action over the past four decades have led to the declining numbers of pet euthanasia, while the increased resources and legal norms have increased the overall quality of pet care and reduced animal cruelty. Consequently, the welfare of pets directly depends on the increasing resources required for their proper treatment and adoption. Further, the increased legal emphasis on puppy mills promotes spaying and neutering, and condemns animal cruelty. In particular, on a local level, the stringent conditions favor dog breeding. In its turn, increased sterilization helps to reduce pet euthanasia (Francione, 1996).
The three issues and due solutions discussed in this paper summarize the state of affairs on the status of animals and their treatment, including the recent trends of overpopulation and consequent sterilization across the United States.
- Francione, G.L. (1995). Animal Rights and Legal Welfarism: “Unnecessary” Suffering and the “Humane” Treatment of Animals. Rutgers.
- Francione, G.L. (1996). Rain without Thunder: The Ideology of the Animal Rights Movement. Rutgers.
- Francione, G.L. (1996). Animal Rights and Animal Welfare, Rutgers.
- Mayyasi, A. (2013). “How We Treat Pets in America,” Priceonomics, retrieved Oct 19, 2017 from https://priceonomics.com/post/44230885813/how-we-treat-pets-in-america