Banning pet shops to save the pets


Erik Kain

Erik writes about video games at Forbes and politics at Mother Jones. He's the contributor of The League though he hasn't written much here lately. He can be found occasionally composing 140 character cultural analysis on Twitter.

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21 Responses

  1. Avatar Rufus says:

    Frankly, I don’t know what the answer is here. I do know that the best pet we’ve ever had has been our cat Lola who some asshole left on their patio when they moved out of an apartment adjacent a friend’s. And, when I was a kid, we lived back in the woods and got pretty much all our pets that way- when assholes would ditch their pets in the woods and they’d get hungry and come begging for food.Report

  2. Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

    The problem with this argument is that it proves entirely too much, unless you’re already a vegan.Report

    • Avatar Gorgias in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

      @Jason Kuznicki,

      Basically. Cries about animal mistreatment have always rung hollow to me from people who are carnivorous. I like my meat too well to give it up, but I at least won’t pretend that my cruelty to animals is much better than anyone else’s.Report

      • Avatar Trumwill in reply to Gorgias says:

        @Gorgias, dogs have something (a number of things) to offer us that cows, generally speaking, don’t. So we have an arrangement that involves caring for them, feeding them, sheltering them, and so on in return for companionship or sometimes life assistance. With horses we offer food and medical care (to some extent) in return for slavery carrying us and stuff around. Because we have this relationship with them, we view them differently. If this is irrational, it is only so in a way that humanity inherently is so.

        Unfortunately for cows, the only arrangement we can really work out for them writ large involves eating them in the end. Even then, there are a lot of meat-eaters that support humane treatment of future food until their bill comes due.Report

    • @Jason Kuznicki, I suspect most people feel differently about cows than they do about dogs and I also suspect there’s a very good reason for this. Similarly we feel differently about humans than we do pets. None of it is black and white. But we certainly don’t eat the cats and dogs we kill.Report

      • Avatar lukas in reply to E.D. Kain says:

        @E.D. Kain, “most people” meaning “most Westerners.” There are cultures where people have no such qualms about breeding dogs for slaughter and human consumption, and there are cultures to which the idea of slaughtering and eating cows is abhorrent.Report

        • Avatar E.D. Kain in reply to lukas says:

          @lukas, Sure. And there’s a reason why we don’t go to India and kill cows. Culture matters. And the fact that we live in a culture that does not eat dogs, but rather domesticates and befriends them matters.Report

          • Avatar lukas in reply to E.D. Kain says:

            @E.D. Kain, but can mere cultural preferences be convincing answers to moral dilemmas?

            And can those cultural preferences justifiably be imposed on a multicultural society by exponents of the dominant culture?Report

            • Avatar Trumwill in reply to lukas says:

              @lukas, if multiculturalism necessarily means that cultural preferences cannot be enforced, it is multiculturalism than the enforcement of cultural preferences that is in greater danger.Report

            • Avatar lukas in reply to lukas says:

              @Trumwill, what kind of danger would that be?Report

            • Avatar Trumwill in reply to lukas says:

              @lukas, danger of being disregarded as a tenet of this country. If the American people have to choose between (say) allowing plural marriage and 12 year old girls getting married or simply disregarding the fact that cultures other than the dominant one should be respected whenever possible, they’ll choose the latter. The American Project has to be a cross between assimilation and acculturation. Some degree of deference (though not absolute or near-absolute, to be sure) has to be given to the dominant culture.Report

            • Avatar lukas in reply to lukas says:

              OK, I can see what you are getting at.

              I wouldn’t describe your examples as mere cultural preferences: there’s philosophical reasons behind them, and we need to defend those principles against a false multiculturalism that negates them by postulating the equivalence of all cultures. But the fact that Americans scorn eating cats, dogs and horses, preferring to feast on pigs, cows and chickens? There are no principles behind that, it’s purely incidental.Report

            • Avatar Trumwill in reply to lukas says:

              @lukas, I’m not sure that’s true. Dogs, cats, and horses provide us with services beyond food. It’s not surprising nor entirely illogical that we would bond with them on another level. Dogs and cats provide companionship (as well as services for some) and horses provide travel. Cows are not particularly useful to us in that regard. Nor are chickens. Their primary use to us is to generate food. That’s our only relationship with them and unlike with dogs and cats we don’t have any particular arrangement with (and therefore loyalty to) them. To me, it makes perfect sense and is not really random the way that a lot of people see it.

              The exception in this is pigs, which are intelligent and can be domesticated. But logistically due to size and habits are less useful for companionship than are dogs and cats.

              (On a side note, I have no particular problem with eating dogs or cats. I’ve never done it and don’t have a particular desirable when there are so many other animals that I don’t have a fondness for that I can eat instead, but I don’t think it should be illegal. However, I understand people that feel differently.)Report

  3. Avatar macon pets says:

    Banning pet shops is the most idiotic thing I have ever heard. Just like prohibition stopped people from drinking and the war on drugs really has stopped drug use huh. All this will do is create a black market just like prohibition created the mob and the war on drugs has created the cartelsReport

    • Avatar Trumwill in reply to macon pets says:

      @macon pets, there is a pretty crucial difference. People that want pets can still get them legally and safely. The potential for a black market, even if pet shops were outlawed across the country (which neither EDK nor I support), is somewhat limited.Report

  4. Avatar Jaybird says:

    The Birdhouse (as we affectionately call it) is a four cat household.

    We intended to be a one cat household but… well. You know.

    Our first cat of the four was an adoption from a service. The other 3 were caught in the back yard in a raccoon trap in a year in which we caught 15 cats, spayed/neutered them, then let them go (well, the kittens were fostered and then given to Dreampower or Nine Lives Rescue or whatever they’re called). One was a kitten that we couldn’t let go, the other two were ferals who kept somehow getting in the house.

    All that to say: I think that there are many, many marvelous pets available out there. You don’t need to go to a pet store… heck, you should go to Dreampower or Nine Lives Rescue and get a perfectly loving and lovable pet who is looking for a forever home.

    Also, instead of getting an abortion, you should bring the kid to term and have some other parents adopt it.

    But I don’t want to pass a law saying that this is the only option available. What the hell?Report

  5. Avatar MadRocketScientist says:

    I’d be OK with some kind of more stringent breeder standard, and/or a spay/neuter requirement unless you are a breeder (or the pet somehow can not be safely spayed or neutered).

    I’ve known a lot of people who’ve gotten a pure-bred critter and figured that they could now make tons of money selling the offspring. When the fact that they had the dogs living in mud & feces out back behind the trailer somehow affected the price they thought they could command, well, things got even uglier.Report

  6. Avatar E.D. Kain says:

    Just to clarify – I’m not really in favor of an outright ban, but I do think it’s good that the conversation has been started. I think there are ways that the pet shops could work with the rescue shelters to get more of these abandoned pets back in homes. I think there’s probably a number of ways we could improve a bad situation without creating a black market for pets. Still – I think this argument shouldn’t be taken lightly.Report

  7. Avatar Trumwill says:

    Thanks for posting this. Both the excerpt and your commentary. It needed to be said. This is something that looks ridiculous at first glance but there really is some substance to it, I think.

    Like EDK, I don’t support a full ban because there are people that need traced lineage for work dogs or hypoallergy purposes and the like. And there are a lot of people that really want a specific brand and wouldn’t consider anything else and wouldn’t return their dog. For traced lineage and purebred dogs, the profit motive has to be there.

    What I would really like to see is the scale tipped against dog sales. So that people wanting a dog think of pet shops more as a last resort (because they need something more specific) rather than as a place to go.Report