Christmas is supposed to be a special time of kindness, compassion and gratitude. Christmas gives people the opportunity to reaffirm shared values and to strengthen social bonds. It is a time where people share feelings of excitement and are unified in the experience of participating in a ritual together. It makes people feel like they are part of a collective, whether that be with kin or chosen family. And this is, as humans are social beings, one of our fundamental human needs.Continue reading “Some Thoughts About Christmas”
Domestication and Pet Ownership
Ethically seen it is quite obvious – domestication and pet ownership violate the fundamental rights of non-human animals. When talking about basic animal rights, then we really should only talk about one basic right – the right not to be regarded as ‘property’. If we agree on the fact that human and non-human animals are not ‘things’ or ‘objects’, then they cannot be a property. Also, if human and non-human animals are regarded as ‘objects’, then they logically cannot have an intrinsic value, and therefore they cannot have any rights. Only the owner of an object, or in our case a pet, has got rights, not the object or the pet itself.
This story occurred a couple of years ago, but the described scenario and underlying problem is as timeless as ever. During my evening shift as marine mammal surveyor on board of a ferry on route to Santander in Spain, I was forced to witness a small group of lost racing pigeons loosing their fight against the strong winds of the Bay of Biscay. I had to watch the drama unfolding, and there was nothing I could do to help. In this respect, spring and autumn surveys are known to be particularly emotionally demanding, as surveyors are regularly forced to helplessly watch the struggle of travelling and migrating birds. This situation is neither unexpected nor unique, but can be emotionally draining. At the very least, it feels very surreal when witnessing tragedies like this one on board of a luxurious ferry, where most people are busy enjoying their lives and holidays. Most of these tragic encounters go unnoticed and are missed even by keen birders and whale and dolphin enthusiasts armed with expensive gear.
The answer to this questions depends on ethical values and how these are applied by both, the finder of a bird in need of help and the rescue or rehabber taking over its care. The need for a suitable environment, a suitable diet, to be able to exhibit normal behaviour patterns, to be housed with or apart from other animals and to be protected from pain, suffering, injury and disease are just a few very basic animal welfare standards, which should always be taken in consideration. In addition to these animal welfare standards, there are further ethical values to consider, which have to be evaluated to be able to give a thorough answer to this question.