Some time ago the San Francisco board of supervisors considered a ban on the sale of some kinds of pets–mainly dogs, cats and hamsters. The primary reason was to reduce business for the puppy mills and other facilities that breed animals for sale, but too often mistreat them. If none of those animals could be sold in San Francisco shops, the city would no longer be contributing to inhumane breeding practices. Plus, there are generally enough or more than enough animals in shelters waiting to be adopted that never are, and instead wind up euthanized. About one million animals are euthanized each year in California, according to San Francisco SPCA. Taxpayers are paying over two hundred million dollars a year for animal shelters and euthanization nationwide, according to Animal Rescue Fresno. Now a proposal is being considered banning all pet sales, including fish.
Philip Gerrie, member of the Animal Control and Welfare commission, explained their position, “From Descartes on up, in the Western mindset, fish and other nonhuman animals don’t have feelings, they don’t have emotions, we can do whatever we want to them. If we considered them living beings, we would deal with them differently.… Our culture sanctions this, treating them as commodities and expendable.” (Source: LA Times)
They are not just trying to change public policy, but the cultural attitude that says humans can do just about anything to other creatures and there should be no consequences, except in the case of obvious abuse. You might say the culture of exploiting and abusing animals has been operating for thousands of years. Laws punishing cruelty to animals are relatively new if you consider human agriculture began over 10,000 years ago. This is just one example, but a very disturbing and bizarre situation in China highlighted the lack of laws against animal cruelty there. As recently as 2006 it was reported there weren’t any laws against animal abuse.
The culture of animal exploitation includes using them for temporary entertainment in the context of consumerism. Some people quickly tire of their new pet acquisitions, and abandon them or deposit them at a shelter. Or they don’t consider the fact animals reproduce, and are completely unprepared for handling offspring. “We’re the agency that receives the old, filthy fish bowl with the goldfish at risk and have to determine whether we can make them healthy and adopt them out or flush them down the toilet, These are the lucky ones. Most people just flush them themselves,” said Rebecca Katz, director of San Francisco Animal Care and Control. (Source: LA Times) Co-president of the San Francisco SPCA said currently there aren’t many stores in San Francisco that sell animals, so if the ban is passed it would be mainly symbolic.
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