Monday, January 26, 2015

Pets are People

So, today I read another horrifying story about people's pets that breaks my heart. In this case, about 40 dogs have gone missing from a county in Texas over the span of a few months. Theories about what's happening vary, but in my humble opinion, dogfighting is probably the most likely explanation. Family pets are often stolen to be used as bait dogs in dogfighting, and it's disgusting.

This is why I am a strong advocate for changing the classification of pets. Currently in most of the country, pets are considered property. And what is "property" in the minds of the masses? Something you can do whatever you want to.

If I want to take my DVD player out to my backyard and smash it Office Space-style, I can. It isn't a crime, because it's my property and I can do what I like with it. This same mentality often carries over to pets. Abuse, neglect, and abandonment of pets is a very real and very widespread problem, one with pansy punishments for offenders. They might get a year in prison for abusing an animal, when the same offense committed against another person would land them an extremely long prison sentence.

This is disgusting. Animals are feeling, thinking beings, with their own likes, dislikes, and personalities. They are self-aware and they feel just like we do--they love, they feel sadness, they mourn the loss of their owners or of another pet in the household. They hurt, they cry in their own ways, and they provide unconditional love and support to their human and animal companions.

Just because they aren't human, it doesn't mean they aren't people. 

Animals deserve the same respect of life and well-being that we give to other humans. Just as it is not ok to abandon your 9 year-old child because he won't do what you tell him, it shouldn't be ok to abandon your pet for whatever reason. Just as it's not ok to beat your child for whatever reason, you shouldn't be allowed to beat your pet. And the laws should be just as harsh for animal abusers as it is for people abusers.

And again, the classification needs to change. When you adopt a pet, you are taking on the responsibility to provide for that pet's wellbeing, both physical and mental. They aren't toys to throw away when they're no longer cute little babies. They aren't plates you can take out and smash when you decide you don't like them anymore. They aren't things, and we need to stop allowing our laws to treat them as such.

For instance, if someone kills your dog, you are entitled to money damages in the amount the dog is worth. If your dog was a breedable purebred, you get more money depending on the dog's bloodline and potential earnings through breeding and showing. If your dog is a mixed-breed shelter rescue, you're SOL. 

Imagine if we treated people the same way. Your family member gets murdered, and because they worked as a pizza delivery person, you get $100, while at the same time, that senator gets $5,000,000 for the death of his or her family member. You know, because they're somehow more worthy and more important than the pizza delivery person's family.

Of course, this isn't about money. This is just an example of what these innocent animals are worth in the eyes of the law. And it makes me sick.

Can you imagine the outrage? That very same outrage should be applied here. Pets are just as invaluable as people, with their own perfect and unique souls, their loyalty, their compassion, and their love. My dogs and my cats are a part of my family. No, they aren't humans, and I don't treat them like they are humans. But I do treat them as loved and valued members of my family.

So write, call, or email the members of your state Congress, and the federal Congress, while you're at it. Tell them the way pets are considered property is barbaric of us, and a disgrace to family pets everywhere. Demand tougher penalties for those who steal, abuse, or abandon animals. I am physically sickened by the stories I read, every day, of pets abandoned at shelters just because, or tossed out of moving cars (how fucked up a person to do you have to be to do that????), or stolen to be used as bait dogs in dogfighting, or tortured, or poisoned...the list goes on and on. And so far, not much has been done to stop it, because according to the law and society, pets are the same as my DVD player. Sure, it sucks that it was stolen and destroyed, but it's not really worth anyone's time to prosecute or make amends for.

And that's how our society treats living, breathing, feeling beings. So what does that say about us?

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