Tyson-Lord J. Gray
Animal cruelty on factory farms, in zoos, and in amusement parks are all leading concerns by animal advocates and many have gone as far as to compare these industries to the human institution of slavery. Animal advocates who endorse such arguments often fight for the protection of these animals and make large donations to Friends of Animals, Mercy for Animals, and PETA supporting improvements in animal welfare. Yet, rarely does their concern extend to household pets.
However, many of these organizations are not only opposed to the inhumane treatment of animals, but to pet ownership as well. Each year approximately 7.6 million animals enter shelters, and of those 2.7 million are euthanized. Consequently, animal rights activists are vehemently against the breeding of animals for domestication and prefer that individuals adopt animals from pounds and animal shelters as oppose to purchasing them from pet stores or breeders.
Animal advocates who purchase pets from these businesses therefore, are merely cherry picking forms of animal cruelty in which they are opposed to while being complicit in others. While it is perhaps easy to argue that keeping a whale that can swim up to 100 miles a day in a concrete tank to perform tricks is cruel; who is to say that it is not equally as cruel to confine domesticated animals to small apartments in the city or relegated to a fenced-in backyard in the suburbs?
For these reasons, most animal rights activists oppose all forms of animal ownership and only recommend adopting a pet when it is to lessen the suffering of an animal that is already in the world. In these instances, they regard themselves as animal stewards as opposed to pet owners. It would appear then that if animal advocates are genuinely concerned with animal cruelty, they would not only reject the obvious cruelty to animals in factory farms and via vivisection, but that they would seek to abolish all forms of animal ownership. For if the institution of slavery has taught us anything, it is that there is an intrinsic contradiction in owning another living being.