Evidently, an unpopular opinion: most of us don’t need animals anymore. Why are we still breeding them? In a world drowning in unwanted companion animals and with ever shrinking needs for working animals, the incessant breeding of specific kinds of pets seems insane to me. Several years ago I thought the conversation on buying versus adopting companion animals was pretty well put to rest. But years of observations, Instagram posts, and conversations with other humans have convinced me that, apparently, the subject is still open for debate. Why?
Being a person with a history of misanthropy and more attention placed on animal than human welfare has put me in a unique situation. As I learned and matured over the years, I began to recognize many issues involving animals are more complicated and nuanced than I judged in my younger years. It’s not always right or enough to say animals must not be bred, killed, or used in any way. At the end of the day, I will support things like vital medical research on animals, the use of service animals, and even eating animals (in certain scenarios, more on that in another post).
Dying is a part of every life, and though this is true of humans as well, the death or suffering of a human is recognized by most to be the evil most worth avoiding; even at the cost of animal life. But I still retain the emotional and logical backing of the original argument that non-human animals are not ours specifically to torment and derive satisfaction from. Thus I do not support the gratuitous and callous use of animals in things like cosmetics testing, circuses, and filmmaking. A lot of people accept and even reflect these views. So I am always surprised when the suggestion that humans should never breed animals other than for a direct need goes over like a lead balloon.
I think the main problem is that people do not want to admit to themselves or others that often breeding an animal, or perpetuating the breeding of animals by purchasing them, is done solely for economic or entertainment purposes (again, I am omitting animals bred for service here). A person may argue that desiring a companion is not the same as desiring entertainment and that adding a pet to your family is a benefit to that animal as well as yours. But it stands to reason that any domestic animal can be a companion, especially if the human side of the relationship is willing to work with the animal as they would in a companionship with a friend or relative. As such, a person who truly wants a pet to form a sincere, respectful, and enjoyable relationship for both parties should be willing to do the extra work of finding a dog or cat that already exists. I’m going to assume you’re already aware: there are many of them. This argument does not even begin to address the health issues of so-called “purebred” animals. There’s plenty already on the internet for your perusal on this topic.
If you believe that non-human animals exist on this earth solely for the use and pleasure of humans, we have a core difference. And that is OK. I actually can’t convince you that you are wrong because that is a statement about the moral nature of reality that I’m not equipped to debate. But if you claim to believe animals have rights, that they inhabit this world in the same faculty we do, then I’m not sure what about the argument against breeding is hard to swallow. You can believe that humans should come first. You can agree that when it comes to nourishment, medical need, and mental stability animals should be used to bolster human health and safety. But you can still agree that there is a line. That beyond need, creating animals solely to use them for pleasure is unethical. That it is immoral to acquire an animal to boost your ego, “train” you to have a child, spice up your office, or even make your house feel less lonely. That to get a pet solely for your own interests, and not also to free that animal from a life of marginalized loneliness, is selfish.
If you want to build a relationship with an animal predicated on love for that animal, not on its utility or attractiveness, you should adopt. Why? Because if you care about that animal you should care about the lives of other animals like it. You should care that a purchased animal was created to fill a need inside YOU and only you while a homeless animal lost a chance at a better life. Because you might be a good pet parent, but the breeder you supported sold to three more people who will abuse their pets and ultimately dump them in a shelter. Because your enjoyment of a particular “breed” of animal is not more important than the issue of pet homelessness. Because your son would love a 1-year old mutt just as much as a golden retriever puppy. Because it’s the right thing to do.
So I’m just sick of the excuses and I really don’t accept any of them anymore. If you claim to care deeply about companion animals yet purchase them, I cannot abide you. I don’t even care what type of animal it is. At this moment their are four unwanted ball pythons within 50 miles of me. There are at least three kittens at my sisters house that need permanent homes. There are rescues for horses, llamas, and sugar-gliders. You can adopt. And you should.