Does the End Really Justify The Means When it Comes to Puppy Mills?
by CarolineL on February 27, 2013 - 7:02pm
Animal mistreatment is somewhat of a subjective topic as situations that justify putting a human's well-being before that of an animal remain unclear and vary from person to person. When it comes to puppy mills, the cruelty endured by the animals has the sole purpose of reducing the owner's expenses. Is this enough to justify the cruel way we are treating the animals found in these mills? In the articles "Curbing the Puppy Trade", "Animals, Ethics and Public Policy" and "No pups for sale? Cities ban pet shops" we learn more about puppy mills and the ethics behind the exploitation of animals.
In her article "Curbing the Puppy Trade" written for Time magazine, on December 4th 2005, Anita Hamilton describes the living conditions associated with the USA's puppy mills and their effect on dogs' physical and mental health. She explains that puppy mills are large warehouse-type buildings where breeders mass-produce puppies in poor conditions. In order to generate the highest amount of profit at the lowest cost, the owners of these establishments often neglect the dogs by depriving them of basic human interaction, suitable housing as well as proper nutrition and health care. Over time, these types of living conditions cause a high number of behavioural problems and genetic defects such as overaggressive play, caused by a pre-mature separation of a pup and it's mother and hip dysplasia, caused by generations of over breeding. She gives the example of Raymon and Joyce Stoltzfus who, in May 2005, had to reimburse a total of 171 customers claiming that their newly-adopted pet suffered from things like pneumonia, kidney failure and heart problems caused by the conditions in which they, and the generations before them, had been raised.
Robert Garner's article "Animals, Ethics and Public Policies" published in the Political Quarterly of March of 2010, presents and critiques the typical position on the moral status of animals. This view argues that humans should not inflict unnecessary suffering onto animals, but, because man is superior, this suffering may be justified if it benefits us considerably. He believes that this kind of thinking is what probably led to the high rates of animal exploitation happening in the West as everyone's view of "necessary and unnecessary" suffering is different. To some, saving a few dollars may be considered as equally necessary as saving a life. This can be connected to puppy mills because the abuse breeding dogs endure in these institutions is most often justified by the money saved by the breeder . If we, like Garner, believe that the boundary between harming animals in attempt to benefit mankind and mistreating them for nothing is unclear, then we believed this moral status is flawed and should be clarified.
In "No pups for sale? Cities ban pet shops" written by Rebecca Dube for NBC news in May 2010, a solution to the current puppy mill issue is presented. Because it has been proven that pet stores encourage the puppy mill industry by being their main buyers, cities such as South Lake Tahoe Calif., and Albuquerque have banned the sales of cats and dogs in retail stores. This type of law forces people to save animals from shelters rather than purchasing them at pet shops. In the cities where this law has been passed, animal adoption has increased by 23 percent while euthanasia rates have decreased by 35 percent.
Animal rights and ethics should be reinforced and clarified. We should determine what exactly justifies harming another living thing. In my opinion, we have taken too much liberty when it comes to using animals to better our own quality of life. For animal testing, I believe it should only be done when the animals' lives are used to save an important number of human lives not for developing cosmetic products that simply fill the pockets of corporations. For puppy mills, I believe the mistreatment and neglect of pets is unfair because it doesn't benefit any man except the owner of the mill in question. In the end, I believe a life is a life. After all, If we start mistreating animals for the simple fact that we are considered superior to them, we may eventually move on to humans who we view as inferior.