Intrigued by Belinda's comparison of my position on pet breeding and that of PeTA (in the comments to my last dog post), I decided to delve a bit more into things. A good starting place was Belinda's own anti-PeTA post from October. Then I checked out PeTA's website to make sure Belinda was portraying their views correctly, and I think she is. In addition to being against animal research and wearing or eating animals, PeTA is also conceptually against pets (or, if you prefer "companion animals") and believes that they should not be intentionally bred.
So, while PeTA and I apparently do share the view that the domestication of animals for the purpose of human companionship was wrong, that's about all we have in common. For one thing, I'm not a vegetarian (although I don't eat pork). For another, I am not against all animal research (though I am against cosmetic testing on animals, certain kinds of inhumane research, and primate research). But really the question is how much of PeTA's view on pets I share...
I agree, on a basic philosophical level, that it was incredibly selfish of humans to domesticate animals for companionship. I understand domestication for food and for work, as those were at one point near necessities, and are still at least useful. Domestication for the purposes of companionship, however, was just a qualify of life improvement measure. Please understand that I say this as someone who has two dogs and a cat, whom she loves with all of her heart. I don't think owning pets is wrong--the animals have already been domesticated, we can't go back. I just think it was a mistake to domesticate in the first place.
A related but semi-seperate issue is my view on breeding pets and buying pets from breeders. My primary reason for opposing this is our society's huge pet overpopulation problem. I believe that we, as human beings, are responsible for the well-being of the entirety of this domestic pet population, which is a monster of our own creation. It is stupid and negligent, given pet overpopulation, to intentionally create more pets. I understand the appeal of it--people are attached to certain breeds and lineages, to dog shows, to getting puppies, to getting health and temperment guarantees, etc.--but those advantages of bred pets pale in my mind in comparison to saving the lives of already existing pets, which is what rescue does. That's why I favor legislation against pet breeding. While I understand that the logical outcome of this could be no pets at all, I don't really see that happening, because that would require perfect compliance with the law, which is ridiculous. My concern is much more literal than theoretical here--once there are no more homeless pets in shelters, or at least a very marked decrease, I'd have to revisit my position on breeding. I don't think that stopping breeding with the eventual goal of eradicating the domestic species of dogs and cats is a really reasonable goal, and it's not my goal. My goal is to stop breeding while so many pets die.
On a personal and practical note, this is what it boils down to: I will never purchase a pet. I will make an effort to rescue pets that might otherwise be put down. I will strongly encourage my friends and family to adopt pets from shelters and rescues rather than buying them. At some point, I may put myeslf on the list for breed specific rescues, since there are particular breeds to which I am attracted. My primary focus, though, is on adopting pets that might otherwise not make it. And so far, that's been a pretty damn succesful way to go about things. Which I will now prove to you, with picture of my dogs, both rescues, in party hats.
Oh, and one more thing about PeTA--they support pit bull breed bans. As anybody who's been reading WINOW for long knows, I am admantly, totally, vitrolically against that. So screw PeTA.