Thursday, May 19, 2011

Patrick got lucky; most animals don't

(Here’s the beginning of a column about animals who “have no choice,” prompted by the recent media attention over the dog who took part in the bin Laden raid. It also refers to Patrick, the pit bull who was so badly abused a couple months ago in Newark, NJ.)

Navy SEAL dog, hero dog, canine commando . . . whatever the name, it's a “service dog” -- meaning service to and for humans; meaning that humans' agendas are served; meaning, basically, involuntary servitude by a non-human animal.

From all the excitement over the dog who took part in the bin Laden raid, you would think puppies aspire to join the Navy SEALs (or to become seeing-eye dogs, or take on any of the other “jobs” humans so kindly dream up for them and other animals). When national security and patriotism are also involved, it becomes even easier to go along with using dogs as if they’re inanimate, disposable tools without lives of their own.

The same newspaper story about the SEAL dog also mentioned Labrador Retrievers as a breed increasingly used in war. They’re trained to walk ahead of humans to sniff out explosives. The story didn’t mention what happens to them when they find explosives. Another dog recognized posthumously?

What a dubious distinction for a dog -- risking life and limb doing un-doggy things so humans can wage war more effectively – that is, kill and conquer other humans.

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