A Little Bit of Everything

Archive for the ‘Animals’ Category

You have to put yourself in an animal’s perspective

Since my major is Animal Biology, one of my mandatory courses this semester was Animal Welfare.  Very interesting course with lots of reasons to have different opinions.  It’s had me thinking about my own thoughts on animal welfare and rights.

One thing I specifically wanted to talk about was the tendency of AR people to go, “Well, how would you like it if you were raised to be killed?” and my very interesting musing I had on what it would actually be like to be in that perspective.

First of all, I would be born in a facility and raised, not knowing much about the outside world.  I would have consistent supplies of food and water, shelter treatment when ill, and social interaction (Provided this is a responsible establishment, which is more common than people seem to think).  Even if I was in an outside paddock and could see that there was a world on the other side of the fence, I can’t imagine being interested in it at all.  Putting myself in that mindset, I would think that the outside would be very scary as it would appear much more chaotic and unpredictable next to my predictable, safe, and consistently satisfying lifestyle.

When slaughter comes, it would be quick and painless and then I would be dead and therefore unable to be bothered by the fact that I was killed for food.

I find it funny when I hear people ask “Well, how would you like to be raised and slaughtered for food?” because it’s such a narrow-minded and presumptuous question.  It just assumes that we would carry with us, our current mentality and schemas, into this new situation when the fact is; we would have a whole different perspective and outlook on the world if we were actually in the same position as food animals.

-Daine

‘Domestic?”Wild?”Tame?”What?’

Okay guys, a while ago I made a post about my thoughts on the misuse of the words ‘wild’ and ‘tame’.  I decided to redo that and here you go;

 

‘Domestic’, ‘Wild’, ‘Tame’? – What do these words mean?

Every time an animal rights activist makes a statement attacking exotic animal owners, you often hear the same words being mentioned over and over again; ‘Tame’, ‘Domestic’, ‘Wild’.  This is because the general public tends not to know the exact definition of these words and so AR groups capitalise on this and lead people to believe the simplistic meanings they have attached to the words.  They then use them as inflammatory words, evoking emotion, rather than logic, in their listeners.  As a biologist, I will start by explaining the word ‘Domestic’ as that is the one word that has a scientific basis.

The word ‘Domestic’ describes animals that have been domesticated.  The process of domestication is fairly simple and straightforward; it does not take thousands of years as some people would have you believe.  The process simply involves breeding several animals of the desired species, picking the offspring that are most friendly to humans, breeding them, and repeating this until you get the desired results.  It’s human-influenced selection as opposed to natural selection.  Granted, this process can last for a couple decades but the domestication of Russian foxes[i] shows us that the process need not take more than 50 years.

Now, what is often done in the media and by AR groups is that, the words ‘domestic’ and ‘tame’ are used interchangeably.  This is a problem due to the fact that, as I have just said, ‘domestic’ has a scientific, quantifiable meaning.  In comparison, ‘Tame’ does not have an exact meaning and therefore can be thrown around subjectively.  Generally, the term ‘Tame’ is used to mean ‘not wild’, which brings us to the last term, and the one that I think is the most grossly misused; ‘Wild’.  This term can be used as both a noun and an adjective and both uses are wielded as swords by the AR groups, media, and other misinformed individuals.  I will first tackle its use as a noun.

Probably the most common sentence spoken by people who oppose exotic animal ownership is “These animals belong in ‘the Wild’!!” Well, what is ‘the Wild’, anyways?  I will choose to interpret it as land untouched by humans.  Unfortunately, there is less and less of that available.  Of course, we should be acting to stop that but there’s only so much we can do.  Personally, I think ‘the Wild’ is becoming somewhat of a myth. In addition to that, It is strange how people are convinced that ‘the Wild’ is this magical, happy place.  It is most definitely not.  The average animal will spend its short life constantly looking over its shoulder for predators or rivals, constantly worrying about getting enough food and water, and finally dying a most likely, very painful death due to disease, starvation, or being ripped apart by a predator or rival.  There is no chance to enjoy the freedom that AR activists tout as being vital to an animal’s happiness.

Used as an adjective, ‘Wild’ is applied like a stamp, marking certain types of animals as being impossible for a human to have a relationship with.  Well, that would suggest that these same animals are also impossible to domesticate which is disproven by the aforementioned Russian fox breeding project.  The only difference between animals that are domesticated, and animals that are not, is the inherent friendliness towards humans that is shown by the domesticated animals.  This does not mean that it is impossible to form a good relationship with a non-domesticated animal, but simply that it is more challenging.

In conclusion, the three words that are the subject of this article are words that unfortunately, have been badly misused for a long time and are really at the root of the misconceptions about exotic animal ownership.  If the public’s knowledge of these words and their definitions can be corrected, then it should be fairly easy to convince them that exotic ownership is just as valid as ownership of domestic dogs and cats.


[i] In 1959, Dmitri Belyaev started a breeding project at the Institute of Cytology and Genetics at Novosibirsk.  It continues today.  The project was to selectively breed foxes in the hopes of getting a fur animal that was easier to handle.  Unfortunately, the objectives had to change as the domestication process caused the majority of the foxes to lose their solid colour and show spots, which is not desired in the fur industry.

 

The pending Ohio ban on exotics

Hi guys,

Somebody on a forum asked if somebody could write them a blog entry about the pending Ohio ban on exotics.  I wrote one and have decided to post it here as well.  Also, I reccommend you visit her blog, as she has tons of awesome information on keeping exotics;

http://www.thepetfox.net/

Here is the entry;

“Hello everybody,

I am not normally the blogger for this page but it has been requested that somebody write a post on a subject that is very close to my; the blog owner’s; and the rest of a large community’s, hearts. Earlier this summer, HSUS made an agreement with the farm bureau and Governor Strickland of Ohio on some regulations that would be passed. Included in this agreement was the prohibition of the acquisition of exotic animals. Effectively, Ohio, which has long been a state of freedom for exotic animal owners, was going to do away with that freedom without giving any warning or time for opposition. It was an extremely underhanded deal. HSUS failed to pass their last bill banning exotic animal ownership because of our community and so now they’re trying to slip it in without giving us time to react.

Perhaps a good thing to explain now; is how animal rights groups like HSUS work, and what their true objectives are. They want owning any animal to be banned. The reason they aren’t taking on the whole pet owners community is because they are cunning. They know that there is no way that they would be able to take on a group so large and win so they resort to following an old proverb; divide and conquer. They pick out the minority group and go after them; in this case, the exotic animal owners. The thing is, because those groups use bullying and intimidation tactics, the rest of the pet owners are nervous that they will have their pets taken away and therefore are more willing to agree with the AR groups in the hopes that they and their pets are left alone. The groups know this and use it to ostracise the minority group until it’s easy to take away their rights. This also ensures that once other groups are being targeted, the groups before them will not help them due to the fact that they were not helped when they were targets.

MAKE NO MISTAKE; AR GROUPS WILL EVENTUALLY GO AFTER EVERY PET OWNER. DO NOT LET YOURSELF GET SUCKED INTO THEIR MANIPULATION. BAND TOGETHER!

For those of you who are not already involved in the exotic animal community, here are some statistics to chew on. Approximately one person a year dies from a captive big cat attack, and one from captive venomous and non-venomous snake attacks(Deaths from other captive exotics are so small that they are not statistically significant). Approximately thirty three people die from dog attacks each year. Approximately sixty two people die from skydiving every year. These statistics illustrate two very big double standards. If thirty three people die from dog attacks every year, yet owning a dog is still perfectly acceptable, how does it make any logical sense to ban exotic animal ownership because of two deaths a year? And don’t try to use the ‘well, there are more dogs kept than exotics so the numbers pan out’ argument. That is a very flawed argument. You see, that argument assumes that as the numbers of captive exotics grows, so too will the number of deaths. Life does not work in perfect mathematical fashion like that. Yes, the number of deaths COULD grow, but they could also stay the same, or even reduce for all we know. So essentially, your argument is based on imaginary numbers. I’m pretty sure that politicians will agree that they want to base legislation on REAL numbers, not imaginary ones, and the real numbers tell us that more people die from dog attacks than exotic attacks.

The second huge double standard revolves around the fact that owning exotics is considered a hobby by a lot of people. You know what else is a hobby? Skydiving. Look back up at the statistics for deaths that come from skydiving; sixty two! Yet, nobody is calling out to ban that. Why is it that it is socially acceptable for a person to decide to skydive, fully knowing the risks, yet is not for a person to decide to own an exotic pet, fully knowing the risks. Well, I suppose you could say that not all prospective exotic pet owners know the risks, but I’m pretty sure I could say that about skydiving too. In fact, while it can be said that some people should not own exotic pets, the same could be say about dog owners and their dogs, and even parents and their children. The point is, people need to think about exotic pet ownership in the same light as similar hobbies, instead of singling it out, because that just leads to double standards and hypocrisy.

Last of all, I’ll leave you with this; exotic pet ownership is not a public safety issue as the AR groups would lead you to believe. If you search out the details of the twenty captive big cat attacks that have happened in the last twenty years (you can check this out at rexano.org), you’ll see that all twenty deaths were people that had voluntarily put themselves in that situation. Not one of them was a bystander.

-Daine”

So, I hope this has educated some of you who are not aware of the trials faced by exotic animal owners.

-Daine

A look back…

Last night I was thinking about a post I made a couple months ago where I was really angry with this documentary I saw.  To recap, it was about this orca who was without a pod on the coast of B.C and so started swimming along rivers and bays looking for human companionship.  He/she would swim up to people’s boats and the people would either touch the orca or just watch.  Although there hadn’t been anybody who had tried to hurt the orca, a group decided that to prevent the possibility, they would fine people who associated with the whale.  They would then boat around and tell people who had stopped their boats to see the orca that they had to leave or they would be fined.  Essentially, these people were depriving a social animal of companionship and this pissed me off so much!

Anyways, when I thought about it last night, I could feel the hostility build in me again.  I decided to try and pinpoint what exactly was causing the hostility.  I thought about how people would saythat they had to protect the animal from people who would take advantage of his/her friendliness and hurt him/her.  Not only does that involve humans imposing their will on other species, which ticks me off because, I mean, how egotistical and self-absorbed are we? but it also is extremely indulgant.  I say that because it’s basically people totally ignoring the fact that the problem is the people who think they can hurt animals.  ‘Officials’ would rather impose their will on another creature and spout that it’s ‘for their own good’ when it’s really just harming the creature (the orca wanted friendship and was deprived of it by humans who got off on playing god >.>) than actually confront the real problem and deal with the people who would harm the animal.  Those people need to be dealt with the same way they would be if they harmed a human being; jail, or at least a major fine.  Maybe this will show people that they can’t view animals as lesser beings.  That goes for ‘officials’ though too.  They have to stop believing that they know best when it comes to other species’ lives and just preoccupt themselves with keeping their OWN species in check.

-Daine

‘Wild’ and ‘tame’

Those two words are used very often when talking about exotic pets especially when the speaker is against them, and I just wanted to discuss them.

When speaking against exotic pets, a statement that is very commonly used is, ‘these animals shoul be in the wild where they would be happy’.  Okay…I think people need a reality check.  1) The ‘wild’ is slowly becoming a month due to human encroachment, and 2) Do you know what it’s actualy like living in the wild?  It’s not all happy and free like people try and make it sound.

The typical life of an animal in the wild is very short and involves constantly worrying about being able to feed him/herself, constantly looking over his/her shoulder for predators or rivals and then dying a very painful death due to either disease, starvation, or being ripped apart by a predator/rival.

Now compare that to a life where the animal has quite a large enclosure filled with tons of things to keep him/her entertained, doesn’t have to worry about predators, and gets fed and loved regularly; which life do you think that animal would choose, given the choice?  If you still think that he/she would choose the wild, then you’ve got yourself extremely deluded.

Now I want to talk about the word ‘tame’ and the word ‘wild’ used as an adjective.  I strongly dislike both words and the fact that people think that an animal has to fit in either category.  ‘Tame’, I feel, implies servitude to humans, and then when an animal doesn’t want to do something a human has told it to do, it gets labelled as ‘wild’.  AR activists always say that ‘oh, an exotic animal is a wild animal and will always be wild’.  Well, an exotic won’t just do anything for you because you want him/her to and will lash out if pushed but then again, a domestic cat won’t either, and will probably lash out if pushed as well yet we don’t label them as ‘wild’.  The only real difference here is size.  Some people think that’s an adequate reason to ban exotics but I say, why should it be a problem?  If you respect the animal like you would any other human, and you treat him/her like the companion they are, size shouldn’t be an issue.

Referring to animals as either ‘wild’ or ‘tame’ is both simplistic and shallow in my opinion and I think it’s one of the things we have to get rid of before we can live in harmony with animals.

-Daine

Is the guy who kicked this skunk really an asshole?

So I’m part of a bunch of yahoo message boards for exotic animals and I saw a post on a skunk list about this video, talking about what an asshole this guy is.  Then there are a whole bunch of comments about how he should be arrested, how seeing this made the person cry etc.

Now, it might seem weird that I’m asking this because I have so many posts that are pro-animals; obviously, I should hate this right?

Well, to be honest, I empathize with this guy and think I might have likely done the same thing in that situation.

When I watched this video, I was scared for the guy and his dog.  This skunk did not seem right and was making some threatening moves towards both of them.  In that situation, I would have panicked, which would have led to my fight/flight instinct being triggered.  Judging by the speed with which the skunk advanced, I probably would have thought that flight was not an option and would have then turned to fight/get the skunk as far from me as possible without risk of being bitten i.e. kicking it. 

That all would have gone through my my mind in a second or two.  That probably seems fast to decide to kick an animal but that’s what humans do.  They react to the threat, and then think once the threat is gone.  If they didn’t do that, they would not have lasted long; predators don’t give you time to think.

It turned out that the skunk did in fact have rabies which shows that the guy probably did the right thing, but even it hadn’t; as bad as I would’ve felt about kicking the skunk, I wouldn’t have felt like a horrible person because I know and understand the evolutionary reason for that reaction.  I also know what it feels like to not be able to think straight because of the raw terror flowing through me and so I empathize with anybody in that position.

So, I hope I didn’t offend somebody because I really wanted to state my opinion on this

– Daine

Ontario man killed by pet tiger; let the ignorance fest commence

Okay, I know I haven’t posted in forever but I haven’t been sure what to post.  As you can probably tell, I prefer to post about topics and my opinions on those topics rather than what’s going on in my everyday life.  Well, I suppose this post is a combination so I don’t feel like I’m just prattling on about something nobody cares about.

Last week, a man in southern Ontario was killed by his pet tiger.  Coincidentally, this man was the leader of the Canadian organisation for exotic animal owners.  Of course, AR activists jumped on this immediately, as well as various neighbours who have been pushing to get rid of the exotic cats, with no success.  The AR activists have even gone so far as to push premier Dalton Mguinty to ‘regulate’ (read, ban) ownership of exotic animals.  Luckily, he seems reluctant to do so and would rather leave it to individual municipalities.  Hopefully, he will maintain this mindset.

In an attempt to exert some damage control, I have written this article.

‘No reason to ban exotic cats

Throughout North America, there have been many local governments coerced into passing exotic animal bans by both extreme animal rights activists and private citizens who allow fear to consume them and block out logic.  The pressure is usually doubled right after an incident because people believe that what has just been portrayed in the news, can happen anywhere.  In fact, this is the idea that AR groups are constantly pushing.

Recently, a man in southern Ontario was killed by his pet tiger.  Nobody can say how or why because nobody saw it happen but they all assume that the reason it happened was simply because tigers should not be kept as pets.  First of all, there’s a logical error in assuming what happened.  There are a variety of scenarios that could have led to the man’s death and I’m sure if you asked a seasoned exotic cat owner, they could tell you.  Second of all, if you think about the handful of incidents that have taken place in the last two decades in the situation of private ownership of big cats, you’ll realise that almost all the injured parties are the owners themselves.  There is very little danger to the public and in the case of responsible exotic ownership, there is no danger to the public.  The possible dangers of big cat ownership are something that the majority of people know going into it, therefore making it just like any hobby-related danger.  There have been many deaths due to hobbies such as freefalling and bungee jumping yet you don’t see people calling for those activities to be banned.  Therefore, there is no logical reason for exotic ownership to be banned while people are still able to take part in the above-mentioned activities.

To see details on incidents involving exotic cats, go to the statistics page on the website for REXANO, which stands for Responsible Exotic Animal Owners.  Under United States statistics, there is a list of those deaths related to captive big cats versus other causes of death, as well as a list of the big cat related deaths and some information on who was involved.  Of the twenty big cat related deaths between 1994 and 2008, only two were due to pets and those were due to bad choices made by the owner.  It is important to note that those people do not reflect the entirety of the exotic ownership community.  In fact, while the number of deaths related to big cats over eighteen years equalled twenty, thousands of other big cats were being kept with no problem.  It is estimated by officials that there are more tigers being kept in captivity in North America than there are left in the wild.  This would suggest that for every incident involving a captive tiger, there are possibly tens of thousands of captive tigers that have never hurt anybody.  Really, when you think about that, exotic cat ownership doesn’t seem so scary anymore.’

I sent this off to a newspaper in Ottawa and when they din’t reply to me (it’s the second time they haven’t even bothered to reply, grrr) I sent it off to a Toronto newspaper.  It is late but hopefully, they will see the importance of running it.  I could probably rant and rave about this issue a little more but I think I’m just going to sit back and see what happens with the toronto newspaper.

– Daine