As the legislative season approaches again, I’ve been spending time trying to define what fundamentally divides the two sides of the animal legislation debate. As I have been rolling these ideas around, I keep coming back to a single word.
Reality is fundamentally what divides us, actual reality as opposed to virtual reality. There are myriad moral and ethical arguments presented to justify much of the proposed and upcoming legislation. Yet, all these positions are based on the idea that there are black and white solutions to the complex issues associated with animal ownership and management at every level. The problem is actual reality is messy, full of an entire spectrum beyond shades of grey. We should all know better but what traps us is our wish that life’s choices were simpler, the virtual reality of a easier world.
Proposing limits on animal ownership numbers is ‘easy’ but doesn’t take the spectrum of reality into account. ome people can’t manage a single animal while others manage a large number of animals easily. Limits don’t take into the phenomenon of co-ownership into account, where an individual retains partial title on an animal that goes to another home which provides a safety net. Limits don’t take into account the difference in managing a large number of small dogs vs a large number of very large dogs.
Proposing mandatory spay/neuter laws is ‘easy’ but doesn’t take the effect of altering an entire hormonal system into account. They don’t take into account the direct or indirect effects on animal health:
- Direct effects of spay/neuter on an individual animal: increased display of fear aggression and inter-sex aggression, increased risks of costly skeletal disorders, increased risks of lethal cancers
- Indirect effects of spay/neuter: loss of genetic diversity, loss of healthy animals from the breeding populations through too early selection as potential breeding prospects
Proposing cage-free raising of chickens is ‘easy’ but doesn’t take into account that cages also protect birds from each other. It doesn’t take into account the natural startle response of chickens is to flock together and that they can easily hurt and even crush each in the case of large flocks. It doesn’t take into account that chickens fight, and even severely hurt each other. It makes it especially difficult to protect birds from disease.
And so on…
Actual reality, its the world we live in. Its a world where complex problems don’t have simple answers. If there were simple answers then we wouldn’t have the problems in the first place. Its a world full of people; good and evil, honest and deceptive, strong and weak in various combinations at every level.
That’s the reality, the actual reality, and ‘simple’ solutions just don’t cut it. But ‘simple’ solutions are awfully good for trying to sell you a virtual reality, which in reality, is nothing of value at all.
Copyright 2009 by Erica Saunders
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