It seems that many of us have a fundamental difference of opinion on what our relationship is to the animals in our lives and what rights animals have. I don't think either side is going to convince the other because of that fundamental difference. I am not offended by that difference. 99% of my aquaintances also disagree with me, including my husband. So I will not be offended by you disagreeing with me, and I hope you are not going to be offended by me disagreeing with you. (I mean you as in everyone that has a different opinion on this) Some people believe that since we are responsible for our pets that that means we must protect them from every danger, protect ourselves from every danger that they could exact on us, and protect all of those around us from every danger they could exact.
I agree that we need to help and protect them and others from extreme dangers, but I do not think we should keep them in a 'bubble' (I realize people don't really want to shield them from absolutely everything - that's just the metaphor I could come up with right now) and try to protect them and us from every conceivable thing. Baby animals should be treated like babies and constantly supervised and adult animals should be treated like adults and given independence. If a cat or dog or other animal was causing a lot of problems or attacking other animals, people, or other things, I would keep it on a leash, inside or in a fenced in area since it has shown it can not be a part of "society" productively. If I lived next to a road with a lot of traffic I would do the same since there would be a large probability of being hit by a car. I realize there is a probability of them being hit by a car on any road, but I personally believe the benefits of freedom and independence outway the risks. But then, I would never live by a busy road, and if I did I *would not* have any animal companions. However, a normal animal that is not agressive to other animals unless defending itself or its friends (including people friends), I do not think it is necessary to keep them confined. Yes, a cat may kill the ocasional mouse, but then that is it's dinner for the night. So, then it is not eating the other animals killed to make it's food that it is usually given (unless you feed it vegetarian food, but then plants are being killed to feed it). What others have said, about it being the Circle of Life, it is. Something has to be killed in order for us and all animals to survive. Now, if my cat started killing birds that could possibly be endangered, then I would take measures to make sure my cat would not kill birds anymore. If that meant keeping them inside for awhile, so be it. But, since I know that the mice around where I am are not endangered, I'm not worried about them.
Also, I see a lot of people making a distinction between domesticated animals and wild animals like there is a difference in that animals rights, needs, wants, independence, etc. I do not make a distinction. Yes, their behavior is obviously different, and so that does make some of their needs different. But as far as their right to be independent, l disagree. Some of you might say well, you are making them dependent on you because you are feeding them. But, I say, I am giving them the choice to eat the food I put out. They can choose not to eat it and go catch a mouse to eat instead if they so choose. The *only* reason I would do even this is because domesticated animals risk euthanization if they are not someone's "pet." Yes, I realize that they are still in danger of being euthanized if they are outside at all, but that danger is decreased if they have a collar, tags, chip, etc. I still think it sucks that we euthanize at all. I think it is wrong, but that is the world we live in. I think that giving an animal its freedom and independence outweighs the risk that they would be euthanized with a collar, etc. The other reason that I would have an animal companion is because some domesticated animals genuinely love being around people, that is how they grew up and it is what they are used to. If a stray or an animal in a shelter that euthanizes or another animal needed adopting, I would have it as an animal companion (as long as the animal agreed
), so that it would be comfortable. I know that some animals like being inside all the time, and if that is their choice, that is just fine, like I said, it's up to the animal.
Growing up over the years we had six cats, four dogs, rabbits, and horses. We had 87 acres of land surrounding our house. One cat liked being inside almost all of the time. The others liked being outside. The dogs went in and out. One of the horses walked around the lawn, etc., supervised, he was especially social. The other horses had about ten fenced in acres to roam around connected with their barn so they could go in and out. I don't quite agree with that, but what else can you do unless they are on an island? The bunnies, unfortunately, were in a cage. I regret that, although it wasn't my decision, and I was little, I still regret it. Although we did let them jump around on the lawn, sometimes in a fence, sometimes not - they didn't run away.
I am firmly in the domestication sucks camp. I don't think we should have brought non-native animals over here. However, I recognized in our flawed and messed up world today, that we do not allow certain animals to be wild, domesticated animals that have been brought to their non-native parts of the world. I am not necessarily advocating that we release all domesticated animals into the wild in their non-native areas since that would reak havoc on many ecosystems. But domestication sucks and we have to deal with it. There is no good answer. There are too many domesticated animals now to send them all back to their native land and let them be wild, even if everyone would agree to that. I am absolutely against killing and euthanization of any kind unless it's for survival (food and defense). So, what options do we have left then if you take away euthanization and send them back? I have concluded that we can take care of them as humanely, respectfully, and give them indepence, while at the same time making sure they do not exact extreme harm to the environment. Should we spay and neuter every domestic animal so that they will die out? I'm not sure...even if we wanted to I'm not sure we could convince all domestic owners. And then, would we be contributing to the extinction of a species? Unless we released a number of each domestic species into their native habitat...I don't know, I'm still working through this one.
I struggled with my own opinions about all of this for a long time and am still struggling with them. After all, if I really were true to my beliefs I would not contribute to the destruction or subjugation of animals of any kind by living off the land and be self-sustainable. I haven't been able to get there yet. Am I a hypocrite? Yes! Am I working towards fufilling and living out my beliefs? Yes! Our world today and temptations make it hard to do, and I have to convince my husband, but I am working towards it...