On Friday, February 25, an Oklahoma animal control officer gave lethal injections to five stray dogs. On Saturday, the officer discovered that one of the dogs, a puppy to whom he had given two lethal injections, was still alive.
The puppy was taken to a veterinary technician who noted the dog’s survival on a pet adoption website. And now, hundreds of people from the United States and Canada are trying to adopt the dog.
Millions of healthy animals are killed every year in shelters because no one wants them. And now, because this dog escaped death in an ostensibly miraculous fashion, hundreds of people want to adopt him. According to one comment, “people are interested in the puppy because his story is unique.”
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This story is similar to the stories about farm animals who escape from slaughterhouses and are then given homes to live out their lives. They, too, are “special.” They escaped from the institutionalized exploitation that we have established. They have cheated death.
Many people think that when an animal escapes death in this fashion, it is some sort of divine sign. These sorts of events ironically reinforce our view that because there is no divine intervention for the all the other animals that are killed at “shelters” or in slaughterhouses, then this is the way things ought to be for those other animals. They are killed as part of the “natural” order.
My guess is that if God exists, s/he is as concerned about the four other dogs that were killed on Friday by the Oklahoma officer, the millions of others who are killed in “shelters,” and the billions who are killed for no better reason than that we are so selfish that we think that our palate pleasure justifies depriving another sentient being of her or his life.
And whatever God’s view of the situation, I suggest that our reactions in these sorts of situations should compel us to think about why we engage in the injustice of animal exploitation at all rather than thinking that only the “lucky” animals who escape our institutionalized injustice matter morally.
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If you are not vegan, go vegan. It’s easy; it’s better for your health and for the planet. But, most important, it’s the morally right thing to do. You will never do anything else in your life as easy and satisfying.
And, if you are able, adopt or foster a homeless nonhuman. We got them into this mess; we have a collective obligation to help them out of it.
Gary L. Francione
©2011 Gary L. Francione