Seinfeld once joked that if aliens came down to earth and saw
how humans treated their dogs, following them around, picking
up their excrement in little plastic bags, it would be obvious
that the dogs and not the humans were the dominant species. It
seems ridiculous, but alas, as a friend of mine says, it's funny
because it's true.
Since I moved
to the city, I have discovered that there are few things more
loathsome than trendy city-dwelling dog owners and their dimwitted
dogs. These people are everywhere, walking around with their little
bags full of poop, forever anxious to swoop down and pick up after
Fido who's been cooped up all day in some 500 square foot apartment.
The stupidity of having dogs in the city was showcased recently
when dog owners spontaneously took over a grassy field for their
dogs' "playdates" and Frisbee retrieving exercises.
When the owners of the field decided to fence off the field to
keep the interlopers out, the cries of moral outrage were deafening.
Acting as if they had been robbed of some fundamental American
liberty, they cried, "where will we take our dogs to play?"
Solution: Lose the dog, get a gerbil.
lovers" are generally the same people who would rather pull
the plug on their grandmothers than put down an injured dog. They'll
step over a legless bum to save a kitten in a tree, or give thousands
to the local animal shelter while their parents rot in nursing
homes. How can we be surprised then, when after a local police
dog is shot, that the dog's "partner" calls for legislation
equating shooting a police dog with shooting a police officer.
The negative repercussions of such an abominable law would be
are exalted as worthy of human or near human rights, any interaction
between humans and animals must thus result in a diminishment
in the value of human life. For example, if a defendant were to
be charged for injuring a police dog on a par with assaulting
a police officer, this necessarily diminishes the status of the
accused to that of a dog. Such a law would shout loud and clear
that such a defendant enjoys no preference over an animal. He
now ranks among the brutes, for now his life is no more valuable
than that of a dog. In contrast, Catholic theology, based on Thomist
and Aristotelian philosophy, maintains that only human beings
have immortal souls and are subject to salvation and damnation.
Apparently, all dogs do not go to heaven. Is this philosophy promulgated
to oppress our poor animal companions? Of course not. The teaching
against the immortality of animal souls exists to elevate mankind
and to drive home the point that human beings are worthy of special
treatment and dignity separate from all other life forms. While
the Church prohibits the gratuitous infliction of pain upon animals,
it also prohibits the excessive valuation of animals by devoting
resources to animals that would best be devoted to one's fellow
humans. Translation: Don't spend twenty grand on Spot's kidney
moral theology for political philosophy, though, it is clear that
heaping money upon one's pet can be viewed as a personal luxury
for the owners of dogs, and in a free society, there is nothing
the government should do about this. But when laws are passed
elevating the status of pets to that of their masters, the pets
become like their masters, and the masters become like their pets.
The special rights known as human rights extended to all people
in a just society cease to maintain their special significance
when extended to mere animals.
Many have claimed,
most notably the philosopher Peter Singer, that the arguments
made above are the arguments made by slave-holders in the days
of old and that we are simply blinded by our prejudice. Nonsense.
Even limiting our arguments to the case of Negro slavery where
the slaves were regarded as the least human, we have numerous
examples of slaves escaping their masters or buying their freedom
and becoming merchants, musicians, artisans, and intellectuals.
If taught, black slaves could learn to read as readily as any
other human, and some even taught themselves. Animals can do none
of these things. Show me a dog or even a chimp that can read a
book, write a poem, or negotiate a business deal and I might change
All the zeal
for special protection for animals should be even less surprising
when we consider the fact that police officers have long enjoyed
super-human status as the beneficiaries of tougher penalties for
attacking or killing a police officer as opposed to doing the
same to a mere civilian. As agents of the State, state, local,
and federal police are protected by legal privilege much the same
way that various interest groups are protected by "hate crime"
legislation that imposes greater penalties for attacks against
people who can prove they are members of some protected group.
Even if we don't
reject (as we should) the argument that police officers' lives
are somehow special, this does not in any way necessarily extend
to their dogs. Many have commented on the "courage"
of police dogs, but courage is a meaningless concept to a dog.
Dogs know nothing of their own mortality, they cannot conceive
of eternity or death or speculate on the future consequences of
present actions. They can't even recognize themselves in a mirror.
So what exactly is so remarkable about these dogs? They have been
trained to attack people that the police tell them to. When it's
all over, they get some kibble. There is no "courage"
anywhere in the equation. The dogs are useful tools utilized by
their human masters. Those who injure them should be charged with
destruction of property, for that is what dogs are.
I would like
to take the opportunity to make it clear that I have nothing against
dogs or their fellow animals. In a saner age, however, dogs were
something that stayed in the yard and were seldom seen running
through people's living rooms knocking over lamps and rubbing
up against company as their adoring masters looked on. For all
their ability to provide help and companionship to humans, dogs
and other animals will never be anything more. However, if Peter
Singer is right and we were just oppressing these poor animals
as we have so many races of human in the past, we should be careful.
It can't be too many more years before they realize that we're
the ones picking up their steaming piles of filth, and from then
on, it's sure to be all down hill.