Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Breedism: A Valid Concern

Quite a while ago now, I saw a picture with this logo on it on the Internet...
This shirt (and another one like it) is being sold on PETA's website. The text on the shirt reads,
"FIGHT BREEDISM
ADOPT
EACH YEAR
8 MILLION
DOGS AND CATS
ARE DUMPED AT
ANIMAL SHELTERS
MORE THAN HALF
NEVER FIND A HOME
BREEDING ANIMALS
= KILLING ANIMALS
NEVER BUY"

(I don't know where they get that statistic. According to the Humane Society of the United States, the number of cats and dogs who are euthanized in shelters every year in the United States is 2.7 million. And on PETA's own website, the number is 3 to 4 million cats and dogs who are euthanized per year in animal shelters. Either way, the numbers are staggering and horrific.

When I first saw it, I wondered if breedism is really a valid concern. Is the notion of fighting "breedism" taking it too far?
Now that I've considered it, my answer to that question is, quite simply, no! Breedism is indeed a valid concern with real consequences. When you read the rest of the shirt, you can see that "breedism" is referring to how people buy animals from breeders or pet shops just for the sake of having a "pure-bred" pet (or a specific breed, such as a pug, Pomeranian, or husky). This, in turn, means that there are less homes for shelter animals and more money going to the breeders, who then can breed more animals, so the cycle continues. As a result, animals die in shelters because they aren't being adopted-- and this is at least partially due to "breedism".
A dog is a living, sentient being, regardless of what he or she looks like. If you want to have a dog to live with you, adopt one who is in need. That way, you'll be rescuing an innocent being from dying in an animal shelter (even if the particular animal you adopted would have been adopted anyway, the person who would have adopted your new dog or cat will then be able to adopt a different shelter animal, who perhaps would have been euthanized if they didn't adopt him or her), and you won't simply be "buying" an animal as if he or she is just a commodity.

Recently I opened up a couple books on dog and cat breeds, just wanting to look at the pictures. However, I was quite disgusted by the emphasis on "pure-breds" that so many self-professed "animal lovers" display. Do these people truly love animals for who they are as individuals, or only for their appearance and usefulness in dog/cat shows? In fact, breedism is in some ways comparable to speciesism, racism, and sexism, although it is more difficult to pinpoint.
If you have a favourite dog or cat breed, I'm not criticizing you for that. However, adopting a Pomeranian from a breeder just for the sake of having a Pomeranian is irresponsible when there are plenty of other dogs with various temperaments and needs waiting to be adopted from shelters.

Moral of the story: adopt! Don't buy! And, if you can, try to adopt a dog or cat who would otherwise have been overlooked at the shelters due to their looks, medical needs, etc.

As always, I hope you have a nice week!

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