The Legal Hypocrisy of Killing Pets

When taxpayer funded shelters kill pets because those pets are their property and the shelter can dispose of them as they see fit, what kind of an example does it set for the community? What legal hypocrisy is exposed?

In April 2011, William Richerson of Oneida Co, NY took the family pet, a  Jack Russell Terrier named Sam, down to the basement and shot him to death:

[Mr. Richerson] told a judge in court this week that he didn’t see anything wrong with killing the family dog […] because it was his dog, prosecutors said.

He pled guilty this month to two felonies – aggravated animal cruelty and a weapons charge – and is scheduled for sentencing in July.

There is no information that links this heinous crime to kill shelter practices.  I am simply drawing the parallel between the prosecutable act of killing a dog because he is property with the publicly sanctioned act of killing shelter pets because they are property.  Is it time to consider leveling the playing field for the protection of all pets?  Should the law apply equally to individuals and public shelters alike?

In the case of individual owners, society accepts the euthanasia of a pet who is medically hopeless and suffering or a dog who has been deemed vicious.  In fact, we grieve with those who share with us the sad news of euthanizing a beloved pet.  But the killing of a pet simply because the animal is the property of the owner?  We condemn that act and, when the law allows, prosecute it as a crime.

When a municipal shelter kills pets simply because they are property, I consider that a crime.  The law does not agree with me and society has been fooled into accepting the killing as a necessary reality.  That however, is a lie.  There are enough homes for every shelter pet in America.  So why should the laws of a humane society allow for pets to be killed by shelters just because they are the shelter’s property?  And to make the killing even more egregious, some shelters store their pets behind closed doors, making no attempt to adopt them out or even to let the public know they are there.  After the required hold period expires, the shelter then kills the pets – because they can.

This is a grey issue when you consider the potential exceptions and special circumstances that could crop up in any shelter or even an individual owner’s situation.  But in broad terms, what are your thoughts about the laws applying to the killing of pets simply because they are property – should they be completely different for owners and shelters?  Or should the two parties be bound by laws more similar in nature – laws which are representative of our society’s attitude toward pets?


Rescue Five-0 is a site aimed at helping people to initiate action regarding local legal protections for shelter pets similar in nature to those afforded other pets.

42 thoughts on “The Legal Hypocrisy of Killing Pets

  1. Did he shoot the dog simply because they didn’t want it anymore, or because it was sick and he felt it was his responsibility over having a vet put it down?

    If the dog was dying and he wanted to put it down, that’s a lot more understandable than just shooting it because he could. At least with livestock when you kill them it’s for a purpose – they’re dying or it’s time to become food/products. Even hunters do something with their kills.

    Shooting a dog simply because you CAN does sound like cruelty. Shooting a dog that is dying because you can is acceptable IMO.

    1. The articles I read make no indication that the dog was medically hopeless and suffering. He apparently shot the dog because he was having a bad day and the dog was his property, so he figured, why not?

  2. We’ve talked about this a lot in our household.

    Can you imagine the outrage from the animal welfare community if a ‘puppy mill’ went out and killed 50 dogs one day because they said they were no longer able to care for them? I think it would be huge.

    And yet, many shelters do this every day in this country and society has given them a free pass on it….it just doesn’t make sense to me.

    1. That happened here in PA. A farmer that had about 80 dogs he was breeding for money was inspected by the state dog warden, who told him to seek vet care for some fly bites on the ears of some dogs. When he returned a week later for the follow up visit to ensure compliance, there were no dogs. The farmer told him that he knew about changes in the state law that were going to require substantial investment to upgrade his facilities and he figured he was going to be constantly pestered to do more and more that would require higher expenditures, eliminating any chance of profit, so he shot all of his dogs and buried them. The dog warden did not believe him, so the farmer got out the back hoe and moved some dirt and showed him the carcasses. The farmer’s brother had a few dogs he was also breeding and the brother shot all of his dogs too.

      They couldn’t be charged with anything, because under the law it was not illegal to shoot your own dog. It is now. Now there is a law that mandates than any euthanasia of a dog must be performed by a vet.

  3. IMO we need to change the way we look at our pets. We have taken them into our homes, we are responsible for their care, and they are living breathing beings. They are not property! They are companions. They are members of our families. They deserve to be treated with love and respect. Property is land, house, table, chairs. There is a distinct difference. These things have no heart, do not feel pain, joy, sadness, loneliness. Our pets do. They live and breathe and they love and protect. We have no right to kill other beings just because we can.

  4. presumably the part of cruelty was shooting the animal not in the killing itself.
    presumably, if the owner had access to the drugs that vets use to euth. animals, it wouldn’t have been an act of cruelty. Or vets would be accused of cruelty every day.

    You can’t claim that killing for a good reason is “euthanasia” and is not cruelty and then at the same time excoriate shelters on the grounds of cruelty (or even hypocrisy) for doing what they call euthanasia when you don’t agree with the reasons for killing.

    What MAS is doing is wrong. Very wrong. But not on the grounds of cruelty or hypocrisy.

    1. I interpreted the fact that the Jack Russell was NOT medically hopeless and suffering (or vicious) as being integral to the case. JMO, natch.

    2. i agree with Emily- i was struggling with this issue, trying to wrap my brain around it. I kept coming back to the shooting vs euthanasia. (not that a bullet to the head can’t be done humanely)
      But Emily said it better than i was able to

      I mean…i get where you’re coming from. But also i think we need to see where the actions are coming from.
      Is the owner killing out of kindness? Is the shelter killing out of kindness? I think those are the questions that need to be answered before we can claim hypocrisy

      1. Just because Ingrid Newkirk and her ilk say it is killing with kindness doesn’t make it so! That’s just another of those *catch phrases*…like some shelters say they are no-kill just because they fudge their numbers enough to only murder the ones that sneeze or cough or bark wrong.
        It’s not a good death if it doesn’t have to happen! And here is where we get *stuck* in opinion vs fact. If MAS (or our local Animal Control) doesn’t have the drive or enthusiasm to do that which needs to be done to save lives, then they fall back into that *we MUST kill* space. There’s an endless supply of apologist speak and back-tracking justifications…just read any post and you’ll find the new commentors presenting it again and again.
        If taxpayers are funding murder at the local *shelter*…then I think the guy should have the right to murder his own dog on his own property with his own weapon as long as he does it quickly and safely. (The guy in Canada who was overwhelmed and botched the job when he tried to do it to a hundred of his best friends being a case-in-point of how this plan can go horribly wrong.)
        Please note: the Canadian SPCA refused to help him rehome ANY of the dogs and their attitude led him to believe that they wouldn’t even help him KILL them! (Although they told the press they’d have killed his dogs…AFTER the fact.)

      2. LynnO: My problem with your contruct is that there are AVMA approved ways of executing “euthanasia”. Shooting a dog in the head or wherever, is killing, not euthanasia.

        As for the guy in Canada: one ALWAYS has the choice to do the right thing – he could have persevered in efforts to find other solutions. Just like a soldier told to execute an innocent family on suspicion does NOT have to carry out an unjust order, Mr. Canada could have made the very same choice.

    3. Why were guns invented if not to make death quick and painless?
      Heartstick is the laymans method of euthanasia with the drugs that vets use, and it is cruel and painful!
      I think what MAS is doing IS cruel…but it is the living behavior that I cite as cruel. Dead is dead. But to leave animals alone in cages, forgetting to feed or clean, or spraying hoses to spread disease and filth while the animals remain inside, unloved and ignored…THAT is cruel. Lifting animals into upper cages with a choke pole, carrying an animal by a limb or by the tail or the back, these are cruelties! And we have it documented nearly on a daily basis via web cams. Your civil servants at work.
      We’ll never all agree on *reasons* for killing. MAS thinks they have good reasons to kill! (So do many owners.) As a publicly funded facility, MAS has an obligation to listen to the voters and their governmental representatives. The JRT owner didn’t think the government had a right to interfer with his choice/reason, and MAS doesn’t think WE have a right to complain about theirs! I see similarities…
      But my bent is to support an individual’s choice over the government ignoring the public outcry.
      I’ve seen too many cases of the government going overboard in the other direction…using public outcry to attack/seize or shut down individuals. (Which is EXACTLY why MANDATORY Spay/Neuter and BSL backfire. ..government uses them as a tool punish people and more pets die..

  5. Using Brent’s example, if a puppy mill killed 13,000 healthy/treatable pets every year, simply because they needed the space for more dogs, and they didn’t bother trying to find new homes for more than say, a few hundred of them – would that be legally acceptable? And if it was, would there be a massive public outcry to get the laws changed so that it was no longer legally acceptable?

  6. Well, we all know that shelters are big fat hypocrites. They will swoop in to “rescue” animals and then turn around and kill them. They claim that the public doesn’t care for their animals property and then they are found to be neglectful or even abusive. I’m sure if I took my otherwise healthy dog or cat down to the pound and requested an owner “euthanasia”, they would not hesitate to do it but they would be muttering about me behind my back about how cold and heartless and terrible I am. And then they would take the next row of puppies out and kill them all without a second thought.

    Some of them are so convinced that they are the only ones who “care” about animals, even as they do more evil than 99% of all the public.

  7. The big problem here is the paradigm of animals of any kind as ‘property’. as stated above, they are living, feeling sentient beings. They are not tables, chairs, shovels, cars. We must change the way society thinks about animals – that they are not “it”s, they are individuals with their own memories, their own culture(s), their own feelings, etc. Until we change this, the point is almost moot.

    Now to contradict myself slightly, I DO agree with Shirley that really, what is the diff between cruelty in the JRT’s case and what shelters do? IMHO, not a DAMNED thing.

  8. Killing is one thing, euthanasia another.
    Most municipal shelters (pounds) do not euthanize, they kill. There is nothing humane about the procedure. They operate much as a slaughter house, lining them up, killing and then disposing of the bodies.

    I have witnessed municipal shelters treating animals they are in the process of owning in the same manner that private citizens would be prosecuted for. And once their ownership is complete, they kill the animals.

    What many citizens accept in the name of “legal” is mind blowing.

    You are correct, the public outcry of killing 13,000 dogs in a puppymill would be on every news station.
    13,000 killed in a shelter not near a peep.

  9. I think referring to animals as property is outdated now and the governments need to get on board. People, especially in Western society, are having less children, or no children, and embracing animals into their family instead, not as pets or property but as family members. The way people responded when they were told to abandon their animals during the recent floods and earthquakes in Memphis, Queensland and Japan is evidence of this. Even the recent standoff in China over a truckload of dogs that were to be killed for meat shows that people are starting to think differently. I really believe it’s more than that though. The way a person thinks about and responds to an animal is a reflection of who they are and the health of the society in which they live. When governments start protecting and respecting the lives of animals and encouraging people to feel empathy for animals, children will grow up protecting and respecting life and feeling empathy for people as well as animals. Treating animals with kindness will result in a kinder society. People need to stop placing themselves above and start seeing themselves as just another part of nature. But you’re absolutely right Shirley, there is no difference between killing a healthy shelter pet and shooting your dog in your basement. In fact, I wonder if the dog in the basement did not die a kinder death than the animals that are piled into a gas chamber, or tied up and forced to wait in line and watch as the animals before them are killed, or even the animals that are killed in a slaughterhouse or on a farm. I think the biggest lie is money, people think they’ll be happier, the world will be a better place if everyone has enough money, but I think kindness trumps money every time.

    1. Well put, Mel. There must be an outcry EVERY time a sentien being is killed for no reason – just as we protest idiotic wars, the wars taking place against innocent non-human lives must also cause an outcry. If not, then we are ALL doomed, and I would rather shoot myself in my basement than endure life on this planet with such foul beasts as humans would (have?) become.

    2. I agree with you Mel, except that I have raised horses, chickens, goats, pigs and cows. And honestly, I have love them all! I also eat my animal friends. I find it kinder/easier to raise my own meat than to go out hunting. The idea of wounding a wild animal and not being able to end its life quickly and kindly is very difficult for me.
      In many respects, *owning* an animal is the easiest way to save it!
      I have many foster dogs, I own all of them because otherwise animal control could/would tell me which ones I could keep and which ones they should kill.
      If you want to legislate love, you’ll be in trouble. That’s PeTA’s whole scheme…their ultimate goal is the end of animal ownership.
      Did you see the movie Secretariat? The father gave the son control of the estate, but he left the disposition of the horses (the living, sentient beings) to the daughter because he trusted her to do right by them. She was the OWNER and it was a good thing! Pet ownership doesn’t have to be a bad thing!

      1. What’s wrong with animal LEGAL guardianship as opposed to ownership? And here I should state that I am NOT a Peta supporter for reasons stated and more. But do you OWN your kids? NO. Do you OWN your husband or he OWN you? NO. So show me the difference.

      2. Oh, and btw, although I don’t eat my animal friends, I applaud your honesty on that, and think it is more honest to do what you are doing than to go buy your meat in a package. I doubt I could ever do it, but you’re honesty is refreshing. Not sure your argument will get you the results you desire though.

      3. I have difficulty with the concept of guardianship for animals because I’ve yet to see a good discussion of just how it would work, how it would affect not only my rights and duties to my current pets, but in the acquisition and care of future pets. I also worry that, in the absence of a clear definition of what it might mean to be a pet guardian as opposed to owner, implementation in the real world would be left to those who shout loudest – and those typically *are* zealots. Of whatever stripe.

        So, until I see a detailed legal discussion of the ramifications of it, I’m against it. If and when I do find such a discussion, then I may form another opinion of it. Or I might not.

        Then again, there’s the San Francisco approach, where local regs were changed so that pet owners – whose rights and duties remain the same – are merely referred to as pet guardians. IMHO, that’s just so much wallpaper.

      4. Morgana, that might conceivably have weight if it applied. Alas, solipsism is, rather, the concept that anything outside of one’s own mind cannot be objectively proven to exist, and thus may not exist. How you got there from my comment is a mystery.

        What I tried to get across is that changes in the legal status of animals from owned property to wards under guardianship is sure to have legal consequences, and as it now stands there’s no good information on what these might be. So, I don’t support it – and I will not, until I know what’s at the bottom is sweet water or muck.

      5. Eucritta: I KNOW what the word means, and to my way of thinking, your argument wins the vote. If you were placed as guardian of say, your nephew, what would that mean to you? Could you take him to your basement and shoot him when you’d had enough of him? The concept of guardian is the same.

      6. You’re assuming that pet guardianship would be the same as guardianship of children is now. But would it? For instance, there is no right to euthanize human wards, no matter how badly they may suffer – would you want this right, which you have by ownership, to be rescinded for mortally ill or injured pets?

        Solipsism does not mean what you seem to think it means. Seriously. I have no clue what you actually have in mind, except it’s clear you don’t agree with me.

      7. Morgana asks: What’s wrong with animal LEGAL guardianship as opposed to ownership?
        My sense is that Eucritta (and me too!) can’t envision exactly what that looks like, and thus chooses not to endorse/support it.
        As an owner/breeder of both livestock and dogs, and as a rescue for all of the above and cats and doves and guinea pigs and goldfish too…I also would like to know more about legal guardianship before I jump on the bandwagon.
        Dogs Deserve Better say that tethering dogs is bad. But most of my dogs live on chains…happily! If my *guardianship* of them is deemed legally unacceptable, will they be taken away from me? And then what? Killed. (Most of them are currently available for adoption, and I don’t get too many calls…some of them have issues/problems. Many of them are elderly.)
        Would Ingrid’s *good death* be better?!? Well, okay, it might be less stressful for me, and certainly a lot cheaper, but NO! I choose to allow them to live. That is MY choice, MAS chooses otherwise.
        I’ve not wanted to sell my calf because I didn’t trust that the animal would live a happy/safe/healthy life. (It’s tough being a cow in Alaska…or a pig for that matter, a nigerian dwarf goat is easier because they are smaller and cute and can plug into that *pet* factor way easier than other livestock deemed more edible.
        I don’t have any livestock anymore, the decisions and choices were endless and difficult. I think about eating my guinea pig (that’s what they were originally bred for you know…) but it hardly seems worth it, and I love him lots in his living state. (Which is how I feel/felt about each of my animals.)
        Management is critical. Especially with larger animals. You can’t just keep a horse in your back yard. (Well, you can, but it gets messy and it is a LOT of work!) People want to go equitrekking, but they don’t want to shovel manure every day or repair fences or even rotate pastures! RESPONSIBLE animal ownership is quite difficult to actually define. Vets don’t agree. Communities don’t agree. And as soon as the word LEGAL gets thrown in there…I see animal control coming out and stealing my dogs and murdering them *for their own good * (or because I can’t afford the fines.)
        Wives used to be property as a PROTECTION! (Although there was a lot of luck involved too I think…same as with animals today.) I would not want to be the pet of some people I know. And I certainly would NOT want to be a factory farm animal. (Although I think I was at some point in my soul cycle.) I know I was a mosquito—swatted and gone *prematurely,* I didn’t get to live out my *natural* 30 days!
        I do the best I can for the critters in my care and live by example. It’s the best I can do on this cycle.

  10. Back in the 18th century women, children, and slaves, as well as domesticated animals, were all considered property under the law in our country. Slavery still exists in the world but has been outlawed in the U.S.
    Women are full-fledged citizens and can vote, just like the descendents of former slaves. Children are afforded the protection of the law and are no longer regarded as “property.” It’s FINALLY time for the animals to receive protection under the law, too–as sentient beings and our companions, not property.

    I’m betting on CAPA–the Companion Animal Protection Act–as a huge first step toward protection under the law for our animal friends. You can get more info on CAPA here–

  11. I think it could be a slippery slope to start making a animal not a persons property. If it is not your propert then if your animal went to live at another persons home what right wouid you have to bring it back? Iit is not your property. Also when the dog did need to be put to sleep and you and the Vet disagreed telling you that U must tend this animal thru his sickness and pay unbelievable high vets costs Heart operation ,chemo therapy to keep your animal alive because it is crule to let them go when there is a chance with
    the the right amount of cash that you could keep little Fifi alive another year or two. And when the Vets start refusing to put your dogs to sleep for you , and start reporting you for cruelty for not spending the big money to save your pet .what do you do then? Just saying /////

  12. If the majority of people in a community desire to see homeless dogs and cats re-homed when at all possible instead of just killed then the community leaders should do all they can to do as their people desire and re-home the animals instead of just taking the easy route and killing them. Don’t we strive to have a government that is for and by the people? If our government doesn’t do as we wish it is up to the people to demand better or kick out their leaders that are failing them.

  13. LynnO: Eeep PETA! Heaven forbid lol :) I hear PETA and immediately think animal killers. As for being against ownership, if it has to result in what the Bulgarian street dogs are going through at the moment then, I’d ask for ownership every time. But like Morganna and Jeanne, I think elevating the rights and status of animals beyond property doesn’t have to result in a hands off approach. We don’t own human children but we do take responsibility for them, care for them and protect them because we recognise they are vulnerable. (Eucritta, I’m not sure how you define zealots, when I think of zealots I think of not being allowed to squish a mosquito that’s biting me because all life should be respected- I think you should be able to protect yourself- but I think it’s about finding the right balance. At the moment the scales are definitely tipped in favour of humans to an unsustainable degree, IMHO.)

    When I made the comment about dying on a farm, I was thinking about undercover animal welfare workers picking up a hammer and bashing in the skulls of calves hobbling around on frostbitten hooveless stumps because it was the least cruel euthanasia method available to them. I realise that not all farms blantantly abuse animals and some farmers do care for their animals but I question how you can kill and eat an animal you love. I also think about people like the Australian Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders who continue to live off the land and sea, but are finding it increasingly difficult to do so because the environment is so screwed up thanks to the way many European Australians use the land and the animals without empathy, understanding or consideration of the future.

    I do think that people should only eat meat if they are willing to do the wet work themselves and I agree with Morganna, you have my respect for your integrity, but I think speciesism is misguided and if animals are on the menu then humans should be too. I don’t understand why it’s ok to take few day old calves away from their Mum and kill them just so humans can consume milk that we don’t need, but it’s not ok for someone to come over to my place and chomp on me. The planet is groaning from the weight of too many humans and we still work towards living longer and breeding more while other species die into extinction. Not to mention only 17%* of the energy it takes to feed cattle is reaped from their flesh and milk, Westerners are suffering from obesity in growing numbers and people in third world countries are dying in droves from malnutrition. There’s something wrong with this picture.

    As for eating meat, I think that if you are a carnivore or omnivore and need to eat meat to survive then it’s ok to take what you need (for example I think it’s wrong to force cats to be vegetarian) but if you can survive quite well without eating meat, why would you take a life? It makes no sense to me, especially if you love animals. Though regardless of what I think, and I’m often wrong, most people don’t have your integrity and slaughterhouses make it too easy for people to unthinkingly consume more meat than they need. It’s so wasteful.

    I just think we have to find a better balance.

    *I read about the 17% in some research the other day, but I’m in the middle of assessment and only had a couple of hours sleep last night so I might have my facts a little off. Off the top of my head it was 11% from meat and 6% from milk. Normally I’d do a search and get the reference for you but I have an essay due today and I’ve already spent way too much time writing this, so I’ll have to ask for everyone’s forgiveness :) Please correct me if I’m wrong.

      1. Bah Morgana, just realised I spelled your name wrong, so sorry! I was the walking dead when I wrote this :)

    1. Way off topic, but yes. I find it more ethical/moral to eat my animal friends than to buy chemically enhanced (or poisoned) strangers wrapped in plastic wrap from the grocery store.
      However, I also buy cheap hot dogs in bulk in order to give my dogs meds. (Ran out of pork fat bits years ago.)
      But what I should REALLY kick out of my diet right now is high fructose corn syrup! (That means ketchup, BBQ Sauce, most dressings, soda, juice, etc.) Now THAT is a waste of resources…and we Americans are addicted to the stuff. I’m trying.
      I’d rather we forced Animal Control to recycle the dead animals in some way rather than just fill the land fills with them.
      If you’ve ever raised a pig, you’ll understand that at some point (usually around 1 year old) eating them is the kindest and most natural thing to do. (Especially if you live in Alaska, and actually, six to nine months is a kinder lifespan as winter really isn’t very pleasant for swine up here.) I go for quality of life rather than duration.
      With that said, my beloved sled dog Tiger died last night. It came on fast. She would have been very nearly 14…can’t remember if her birthday was this month or next. *Natural causes*…which doesn’t mean it was easy or pretty or fun. But it didn’t cost me anything, and I have friends who spend THOUSANDS on their old dogs with a similar outcome.
      I would never eat a human…do you know how much CRAP they feed into their system?! Mad Cow Disease X 10!
      Yes Mel, it’s all about balance. I’m bipolar and my scales tip hard and fast, but I manage.
      Life goes on, except for Tiger…and an assortment on unknown critters at MAS.

      1. I’m so sorry to hear about Tiger, Lynn :( It sounds like she would have had a pretty good life though, 14 years and loved by you. I’ve never raised pigs but I’ve heard, due to them being genetically altered to get big fast, their bodies get heavy quickly and their legs can’t hold them up any longer- is that right? I guess when I think of pigs, I think of Boris, a pet pig someone was trying to rehome through our local animal shelter recently. Boris was massive but he was raised with dogs, slept on the lounge in front of the TV and followed his people around everywhere. They were trying to rehome him because they’d moved to the suburbs and the neighbours didn’t think Boris was cute enough to live next door to them. Lol I agree about humans, gross :)

  14. “shelters kill pets because those pets are their property”
    Are the animals the property of the shelter? I don’t know about your state but I can’t find support for that concept in Texas; nothing in our laws that transfer ownership from the owner to the shelter unless it’s a surrendered animal.

    Animals are property and, in Texas, property is not abandoned until 7 years have passed and, even then, it doesn’t escheat to the state. I keep asking what right the State of Texas or any of its subdivisions have to destroy someone else’s property after some arbitrary and short time period. We have extensive laws on what is to be done with estray livestock and even wildlife but no equivalents for owned pets.

    As far as I can tell, that 72 hours, 3 days, 5 days… It’s all made up mythology to support the concept of destroying property that has an owner – somewhere. Hardly strikes me as a due process taking of property.

  15. Can anyone tell me how they care for homeless pets in Germany? I heard that they don’t kill to free up space for more animals.

    Do they have life-saving policies in place to prevent animals from becoming homeless?

  16. @LynnO: Sorry about your dog. But I think you need to reread HISTORY because women were NOT property to protect them….this is such an old and insensible argument that I almost didn’t even respond. Read some feminist history, and you’ll see how “protected” women were! They were about as protected as the MAS animals or any other animals. It was LEGAL to kill your wife for various reasons – does that SOUND like protection to you? If it does, well, I am done with this ridiculous conversation. No offence. I just disagree with almost everything you say! Happy Friday.

    1. Thanks Morgana, glad you took the time and effort to respond. It’s still legal to kill women in some places for some reasons. Why is that? Because people allow it to be that way.
      I’m not saying ownership is the only right way, I’m saying I’ll lose more choices and control over the destiny of those in my care if we create legal guardianship for pets without being VERY careful and very sure about the details. Will pigs be included? How about pot-bellied pigs? Cows? Miniature horses? Chickens? Doves, Parrots, Turkeys? Rabbits?
      What about Moose or Elk or Deer? Tigers? Elephants? LOTS of angles and areas to be considered. There are many ways/places that I find human social services to be cumbersome, cruel, and frankly, it just doesn’t work right. Some people *work* the system. Some within the system work the system to *get* the public or the end user, or to thwart or hurt others. It’s not a perfect system by any means, and we can discuss how/what to change, but I think going that way with pets has more negative results than positive. (We can’t legally get MAS to stop it’s standard protocol of murder right now…and yet you’re thinking the GOVERNMENT can legislate compassion within the private sector?!
      Mary says Joe is mean to his dog. Animal Control goes and has a talk with Joe, or gives Joe a ticket, or checks on Joe’s dog. But Fred the ACO is a beer-drinking buddy of Joe’s. Or is sleeping with Mary. If Joe is mean to one of his dogs, does Animal Control have the right to take away ALL of his dogs? How about the cat? The kids? What is Animal Control’s responsibility to the one, or 47 dogs that it takes from Joe? What if they give two of them to Mary?
      Must stop. I’m being insane. Sorry. Appreciate that you are here and listening.

  17. Clearly our relationship with pets has changed drastically over the past century. Law is a construct. We can give animals a legal status other than chattel property and still different from humans. It’s not an either-or proposition.

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