Pet dogs are more than property and less than citizens. When they become surrogate children, as they often do, the legal battles over which member of splitting couples will have custody can become as furious and emotional as anything in “Kramer vs. Kramer.” Now the Vermont Supreme Court has approved a a new approach to these cases, deciding one on the basis of “the best interests of the dog.” Here is the relevant portion of the decision, in the case of Hamet v. Baker: Continue reading
Category Archives: Animals
I don’t know what kind of a person Darren Wilson is, and I don’t know if he was justified in shooting Mike Brown. But it there is increasing anecdotal evidence that a lot of police officers have a cruel, vicious and callous streak as evidenced by their attitudes toward animals, and to me, this suggests that are a lot of people in uniform with the authority to use deadly force who should not be police officers at all.
Jonathan Turley highlighted two nauseating cases in recent days.
The first unfolded in Baltimore, when Nala, a young Shar Pei, escaped from her owner’s yard over the weekend and a neighbor tried to check the dog’s tags. Don’t try this with unfamiliar dogs that might be stressed, everyone: Nala snapped at her, causing a minor wound. The neighbor then summoned police to deal with the dog, though she has acknowledged that the bite was her own fault, and Nala was just frightened.
The police and took control of Nala using the long dog-control pole. The neighbor reported that the two police officers abused the dog without cause in the process, twisting its neck and hurting her. One officer kneeled on Nala’s chest, causing her to whimper in pain.
They were just warming up.
Officer Jeffrey Bolger then said, according to multiple witnesses, “I’m going to fucking gut this thing.” As the neighbor and others watched in horror, Bolger pulled out a knife and slit Nala’s throat while Officer Thomas Schmidt held her down. Witnesses say that the dog was already immobilized against the ground and was posing no threat. Animal cruelty charges have been brought against both Bolger and Schmidt.
The Washington Post informs us that greyhound racing, a once popular form of gambling that as recently as 1991 brought in $3.5 billion and was operated at more than 50 tracks in 15 states, is in freefall and headed to oblivion. Betting on the dogs netted only $665 million in 2012, and just 21 tracks remain in seven states, with some of them already on borrowed time. Any decline in state sanctioned gambling is good news (yes, I am shedding no tears over the closing of one casino after another in Atlantic City, even the ones not owed by Donald Trump), but dog racing was always a particularly unsavory and unethical breed of the malady. Good riddance. The sooner that last greyhound has chased his last mechanical rabbit, the better off we are.
I have a bias here, it is true. My uncle, the youngest brother of my mom, was addicted to dog racing in Massachusetts, where the “sport” was banned in 2010, but not in time to save Uncle Charlie. He had a wife and two sons, and worked hard as a truck driver, but threw away an unconscionable percentage of his limited resources betting on racing canines. Maybe he would have crippled his prospects and harmed his family by finding other ways to waste his money if there had been no greyhound racing; probably he would have. Nevertheless, it was this corrupt, ugly, stupid gambling industry that wrecked his life. I hate it.
Dog racing was initially linked to allowing slot machines, another evil beast, to become legal, as little by little—first lotteries, then casinos—the states abandoned their ethical duties to embrace the cheap income that could be made by enticing the poor and the stupid to blow their paychecks on false hopes of a big jackpot. One they were hooked on the instant gratification of video poker and credit card one-armed bandits, however, greyhound racing became too slow a method of losing money. “It’ll take you half an hour to lose $50 at a racetrack. You can do it in five minutes sitting in front of a slot machine, ” said an insider interviewed by the Washington Post. This is called progress. Continue reading
There are bad apples in every barrel, but no apple barrel should contain poison apples. When it comes to teachers, these two make me regard the entire barrel as a bad risk.
At Summerville High School in Summerville, South Carolina, a teacher caused a 16-year-old student named Alex Stone to be arrested and suspended because he wrote a passage on his Facebook page, as part of an assignment, that described using a gun to kill a dinosaur. Never mind that dinosaurs are extinct: guns are real; the teacher, a hysteric, a child abuser and a fool, notified school officials, and the school notified the police. They in turn, searched Alex’s book bag and locker for the dinosaur murder weapon, and came up empty. Police said that when Stone was asked by school officials about the his post, he became “very irate” —as would I—and so they handcuffed and arrested him.
Look at the bright side: at least they didn’t shoot him. Then Stone was suspended for the rest of the week. Continue reading
The wonderful photo above has gone viral on the web, and is also causing serious debate among intellectual property lawyers. The weird tale is as follows:
Wildlife photographer David Slater was visiting a national park in North Sulawesi to photograph the wildlife. His subject was a group of crested black macaques, and when he left his camera unattended, the primates took advantage of the opportunity. Apparently attracted by the reflection and the noise the camera made when activated (the implications of the macaques doing this because they were interested in photography are too disturbing to contemplate, so I won’t), one macaque took hundreds of photos of itself. Most were blurry and out of focus, just like the pictures my dad took, but a few were superb selfies that would have Ellen DeGeneres eating her heart out.
Wikimedia took the clear images off of Slater’s website, adding them to its collection of royalty-free graphic, and sending them all over the web as a result. Slater now demands that the images be taken down or that he be paid for them. While Wikimedia argues that either the monkey owns the copyright for the photos or nobody does, the photographer claims that being the owner of the camera, and the artist who created the circumstances under which the macaque was inspired to release his inner Richard Avedon, he alone is the owner of the photographs.
As you might expect, copyright law is unclear on the issue of lower primate selfies, an art form that was not anticipated as the law evolved. I don’t care about that: today’s Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz is about fairness:
Should Slater have full ownership of the macaque’s creations?
(Normally a story like this would make my head explode, but my head is apparently too disgusted to blow.)
This incident sounds like a sick joke in “Policy Academy 6″ that ended up on the cutting room floor, but unfortunately, it really happened.
Dispatched to a home to deal with a feral mother cat and her five adorable kittens discovered in the yard, Bob Accorti, the Humane Officer for the North Ridgeville Police Department, told the homeowner that the animal shelters were full but that he would make sure that the cats went to “kitty heaven.” He then too out his revolver and shot the five kittens, estimated to be between 8 and 10 weeks old. The homeowner’s children, aged 5 months to 7 years, watched in horror from inside the house.
The mother cat escaped during the slaughter.
After a complaint of animal cruelty was raised by the Ohio Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, NRPD Chief Mike Freeman responded that no discipline was necessary or appropriate, as he reasoned that “animal organizations accept shooting as an acceptable means of euthanasia.”
The chief did concede that Accorti could have communicated better with the homeowner about how the kittens would be killed.
Be thankful for small mercies: Accorti was the Humane Officer. I assume one of the non-Humane officers would have stomped the kittens to death.
Was shooting the kittens necessary?
Some animal abuse issues are ethics slam dunks, some should be, and some are more complicated than the wo people posture over them seem to think. Here are three examples from the news:
1. Tattooed Kittens?
A law about to be passed in New York, S.6769, will make it illegal for pet owners to inflict tattoos or piercings on their pets except for medical purposes or when a tattoo is used strictly for identification purposes. Violations would carry fines of up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine.
“I believe that if given the choice, animals would decline to having themselves undergo a painful procedure of being either tattooed or pierced,” said New York State Senator Mark Grisanti, a Republican who is supporting the measure introduced by Democratic Assemblywoman Linda Rosentha in 2011.
Ya think? The fact that a law would even be necessary to articulate that tattooing or piercing a pet for the owner’s amusement is horribly wrong and obvious cruelty foretells the approaching apocalypse. That such a law would take three years to pass also tells us something bad about, oh, New York, politics, partisan warfare, human intelligence…just about everything. The problem, was brought to public attention by the prosecution of this idiot.
2. The Opossum Drop Continue reading