Friday, 12 November 2010

The Ethics of Pets

We had a trip to the Greyhound Stadium in Oxford last night. I had been dubious about going because I had heard about badly treated ex-racing dogs. However, on arrival the first thing we saw was a big hoarding talking about finding good homes for retired dogs. So it looks like they are doing something about it.

Anyway, while we were there I had an interesting chat with a new friend in our group who was trying to work out what to do next in his life. Several years ago he worked as a vet and has recently been abroad doing something else. Now he is back in the UK he doesn't want to go back to "keeping 18 year old cats going" because he has ethical problems with it.

This led on to the beginnings of a discussion about the ethics of keeping pets in general.

We have a dog and a cat. The dog is pedigree, the cat from a farm. At Christmas our last farm cat was seriously injured and we decided to have her put down because the bill to fix her would have been around £2,000. We might well have paid similar money to fix our dog because she is worth more and we have had her for longer. Were/ are we right?

Is it ethical to spend lots of money on pets when there is so much human suffering about?

But, then again, pets are lifelines to some people and very therapeutic to others.

I'm balancing a pragmatic kind of farmer/ meat eating/ countryside approach and a love of animals. But I'd be interested to know if others have a more thought out way of drawing a line in the sand on this one...

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