Category Archives: Animals

Animal Abuse, Law, Ethics…And More Cognitive Dissonance

Gothic pets

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

23 Comments

Filed under Animals, Arts & Entertainment, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Incompetent Elected Officials, Law & Law Enforcement, Popular Culture, Public Service, Philanthropy, Charity, U.S. Society, Workplace

Ethic Dunce: California Chrome Owner Steve Coburn*

horses-assAs you probably know by now, California Chrome attempted to become the 12th horse and first since Affirmed in 1978 to win the Triple Crown and join a fabled group that includes such esteemed equines as Gallant Fox, Whirlaway, Citation and Secretariat…and fell right on his long face, finishing fourth. The  winner of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness lost the Belmont Stakes to 9-1 long-shot Tonalist, who did not run the opening two races of the series. Ah, there’s the rub. Part of the challenge of the Triple Crown, a not insubstantial part,  is that it is an endurance test. CC lost to a fresher horse.

Well, you know, that’s why winning the Triple Crown is so special and the horses who achieved it are the sport of racing’s four-footed immortals. It’s hard. When your horse loses the final and most difficult (it’s longer) of the three races after winning the first two, as many horses have, the correct, classy and ethical response is well established. It doesn’t take any imagination. You say that you congratulate the winning stables, the owners, the horse and the jockey, that of course you are disappointed, that your horse ran the best race he could but on this day it was not good enough. Then you shut up, and let sportswriters make excuses for the loss, if there are excuses to be made. Continue reading

13 Comments

Filed under Animals, Ethics Dunces, Etiquette and manners, Sports

Birding Ethics vs. Education Ethics: One Applies Common Sense, The Other Doesn’t Apply It, Or Sunscreen Either

"Don't worry, Mr. Sapsucker---the birders are looking out for you. Just be grateful you don't go to public school in San Antonio."

“Don’t worry, Mr. Sapsucker—the birders are looking out for you. Just be grateful you don’t go to public school in San Antonio.”

In the intense avocation of bird-watching, a code of ethics reminds practitioners of common sense. In public school education, there is no accepted code of ethics. And there is precious little common sense.

Cornell University’s Macaulay Library contains more than 200,000 bird call recordings, and 150,000 of them can be downloaded onto smartphones and other electronic devices. This allows canny bird-watchers to play the calls in the wild, attracting rarely-seen species.

Unfortunately, these realistic calls, experts say, can stress birds, including endangered species. Thus there is a code of ethics for the recreation of birding, The American Birding Association’s Principles of Birding Ethics, and it states,

 “Limit the use of recordings and other methods of attracting birds, and never use such methods in heavily birded areas, or for attracting any species that is threatened, endangered or of Special Concern, or is rare in your local area.”

It’s a well-conceived code that gives behavioral guidance where guidance is needed.

Now let’s look at a profession where most of us would say common sense is essential, and where the lack of it leads to  unethical and unacceptable conduct born of institutionalized incompetence. No, this time I’m not talking about our government. I’m talking about the educational profession, and the public schools. Continue reading

16 Comments

Filed under Animals, Childhood and children, Education, Health and Medicine, Professions, Science & Technology

Kids On Leashes: Final Hypotheticals

kids on leashes2

Not to beat a dead dog, but while conversing about this surprisingly contentious issue (here, and here) on Facebook with the ever-thoughtful and provocative Lianne Best (Ethics Alarms congratulations go to Lianne for being honored by NARAL as an Outstanding Advocate For Choice), I realized that I should have posed one more hypothetical for the enthusiastic child-leashers to chew on, to wit:

“Have you ever seen anyone in public with both a kid and a dog on leashes simultaneously?”

Would you do that? And if you wouldn’t, why would having a child on a leash without the dog be any better?

To which Lianne countered with an even better hypothetical:

“How about a parent walking in public with the child on a leash but the dog walking along without one?”

____________________

Spark: Lianne Best

Graphic: Baby Cottage Gifts

 

20 Comments

Filed under Animals, Childhood and children, Family, Quizzes, U.S. Society

On Liberals, Dignity, Dogs, Signature Significance and Toddlers On Leashes

But they LIKE it!

But they LIKE it!

The damndest essays ignite furious debates here. I raised CNN’s mid-day quiz about parents walking children on a leash-–did I mention it featured a video of one mother dragging her prone harnessed child through a store like the kid was a sack of potatoes? I should have—-primarily because 1) it reminded me of “The Simpsons,” 2) because I was struck by the fact that ethics was never brought into a conversation that I would deem as concerning an ethics issue, and 3) because it was notable that CNN wasn’t talking about sunken Malaysian airplanes.

Still, I have been enlightened by the unexpectedly lively discussion, if not encouraged. In particular, this never struck me as an ideological issue, but it certainly seems to be one. Upon reflection, I should have predicted it, though this is not flattering to liberals.

I’ll return to this in a bit.

The defenses of the demeaning practice have been mostly pragmatic, which involves a utilitarian argument: “It works, and the ethical violations either don’t exist, or are too small to care about.” The most annoying defense so far has required  intentionally taking a statement in my post literally that also has an important figurative message, as well as misstating even the literal meaning, all to make it easier to dismiss the intended point. That’s some kind of record for straw men. Or would that be straw dogs? No, I think that’s something else.

The phrase in question was “whether it was fair, kind, respectful or right to treat your child like a cocker spaniel…” To make it easier to attack, my critic has changed that to “…to treat your child in a manner associated with the treatment of dogs.” Sneaky. It is true that dogs are typically kept on a leash, but that is only half the message, as fair readers will acknowledge. The term “treated him-her-them like a dogs/dogs” means, and has meant for a very long time, treating a human being in an inhuman, demeaning, humiliating, unkind, unfair fashion showing a lack of respect and making the human being in question miserable. The description has been used to describe both treatment that is seen in the treatment of actual dogs—such as substandard living conditions, lack of autonomy, domineering oversight, feeding of food not fit for human consumption, and in this case, use of a leash in public, as well as used to describe treatment that would never be literally possible with real dogs, such as too many typing assignments, refusal to give credit or bonuses for effective research, not allowing a family member a sufficient allowance, forcing a child to dress in old, outdated or unattractive clothes, etc. In the current case, both meanings apply, and focusing on just one is intentionally misrepresenting the issue.

As to whether the use of leashes on human children is demeaning, try this thought experiment: Would any white nanny dare to walk in public with two black children on a leash? How about the mother in a mixed marriage, in which the mother is blonde and the children are black? Would not the imagery of whites leashing blacks be inherently distasteful, regardless of the age of the African-Americans involved? Continue reading

164 Comments

Filed under Animals, Childhood and children, Citizenship, Government & Politics, Race, Religion and Philosophy, U.S. Society

The Circus, The Animal Lovers, And The Saint’s Excuse

Ringlings_Elephant

Animal rights groups just paid a large price for falling prey to #13 on the Rationalization List, The Saints Excuse, which is described in part thusly..

This rationalization has probably caused more death and human suffering than any other. The words “it’s for a good cause” have been used to justify all sorts of lies, scams and mayhem. It is the downfall of the zealot, the true believer, and the passionate advocate that almost any action that supports “the Cause,’ whether it be liberty, religion, charity, or curing a plague, is seen as being justified by the inherent rightness of the ultimate goal…The Saint’s Excuse  allows charities to strong-arm contributors, and advocacy groups to use lies and innuendo to savage ideological opponents. The Saint’s Excuse is that the ends justify the means, because the “saint” has decided that the ends are worth any price—especially when that price will have to be paid by someone else.

And thus it was that  in 2000 a former Ringling Brothers circus worker filed a lawsuit claiming that the circus’s elephants were abused, just as animal rights groups have long claimed. It was later determined that he had been paid at least $190,000 by the animal rights groups, including the Humane Society, the Fund for Animals and the ASPCA, to back their charges. This is illegal. This is unethical. After a 2009 trial found that the abuse allegations could not be proved, the circus sued for legal fees. The ASPCA paid Ringling Bros. $9.3 million in a settlement in 2012, and now the other groups will have to cough up $16 million. They got what they deserved. Continue reading

11 Comments

Filed under Animals, Business & Commercial, Law & Law Enforcement, Public Service, Philanthropy, Charity

Comment of the Day #2: “Animal Ethics: Now THIS Is An Unethical Veterinarian”

Sid the dog

Rarely has a post generated as many defenders of the target of my critique as the recent Ethics Alarms commentary regarding the Fort Worth, Texas arrest of Dr. Lou Tierce, an aging veterinarian who, according to Jamie and Marian Harris, agreed to euthanize their dog Sid—that’s Sid above— based on Tierce’s diagnosis, but instead kept the dog caged in filthy and inhumane conditions for six months, until a whistleblower on his staff alerted the Harrises. 

Here is a portion of the arrest report, regarding another dog at the same clinic:

“The dog was lying on the floor twitching in pain with one leg missing, one leg dislocated and two dislocated shoulders. I then spoke to the suspect, Dr. Millard Lucien Tierce. He told me that the injured black and white collie was his dog. He said he had given water and food to the dog but had not given any medical treatment to the dog. He said he had not euthanized the dog even though in his professional opinion he knew it needed to be.

Dr. Morris, DVM, of the Fort Worth Animal Clinic, arrived on the scene and performed an evaluation of the dog. He informed me that in his professional opinion the animal was a victim of animal cruelty and the conditions of the clinic were deplorable.

Animal Cruelty Investigator R. Jacobs spoke to Dr. Millard Tierce. Tierce told him he knew the dog needed to be euthanized but he did not allow it. He signed over ownership of his dog to the Fort Worth Animal Control and the Fort Worth Animal Control took the dog to their facility.

On April 29, 2014, Dr. M.L. Morris, DVM examined the black and white border collie. Dr. Morris concluded that the dog was emaciated, had severe mouth disease, cataracts, abnormal overall health, non-ambulatory bottom of foot missing, had a degenerative neurological and untreatable disease and should have been euthanized when originally accepted for treatment. The dog was then euthanized by the city of Fort Animal Shelter.

Due to the aforementioned facts and information being related to me as a result of this investigation, I have reason to believe and do believe that Millard Lucien Tierce, did commit the offense of Cruelty to Non-Livestock Animals, against the laws of the State of Texas as set forth in the Penal Code; 42.092 (b)(l).”

Nonetheless, several loyal clients of Tierce’s clinic wrote to protest. They had entrusted their pets to him for many years, and he was clearly incapable of any kind of cruelty to Sid or any animal. The real villains were the Harrises. Or the tech who alerted them that their dog was still alive and being used for blood transfusions. Just wait, they assured me, when all the facts come out, this veterinarian from Hell will be exonerated. That the only way this could possibly occur would be for it to be proven that what the police thought was Sid was actually a hologram didn’t deter the doctor’s defenders at all.

Luckily, commenter Candy Roberts, a veterinary technician, put their arguments in perspective. Here is her much appreciated Comment of the Day on the post, Animal Ethics: Now THIS Is An Unethical Veterinarian: Continue reading

7 Comments

Filed under Animals, Business & Commercial, Character, Comment of the Day, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Law & Law Enforcement, Professions

Ethical Feline Of The Year: Tara the Cat

The rescuer and  the rescued (photo from KERO, Bakersfield)

The rescuer and the rescued (photo from KERO, Bakersfield)

You may have seen this video already, but as I may never again have the opportunity to honor a member of one of nature’s least ethical creatures for exemplary ethical conduct, here is the amazing tale of Tara the Cat.

In Bakersfield, California, four-year-old Jeremy Triantafilo, who is mildly autistic, sat on his bicycle outside his family’s home when the neighbor’s chow-labrador mix, who “doesn’t like children or bicycles” according to his owners, escaped the yard through an open gate , saw the boy, and attacked him. Surveillance footage shows the dog grabbing the boy’s leg and pulling him to the ground, and beginning to shake him. The Triantafilo family cat, Tara, saw the attack and charged to the rescue, leaping on the dog and chasing him off.

The boy’s father posted the video of the jaw-dropping episode to YouTube, and you can see it below.

I have had cats and lived with cats, and one cat in particular, my wife’s Siamese, broke my heart when he died. Nonetheless, cats are nature’s sociopaths, charming but ultimately self-centered,  cruel and lacking in empathy. They are not pack animals or group oriented, and “loyalty” is not one of the characteristics that anyone would say distinguishes the species. There is a reason why the film “Cats and Dogs,” which posited that the two rival creatures were really alien races of superior intelligence secretly battling for dominance on Earth, cast the cats as the villains. Cats can’t be trusted, and there is no such thing as an ethical cat.

Or so we have always been told.

Tara (the video is not a hoax) is either an outlier, or this is just one more example of how scientists don’t understand animals as much as they think they do. She clearly places herself in danger to rescue the most vulnerable member of her family. The cat assessed what was happening, set out to rescue the child, and did it efficiently and well.

I have never heard of such a thing. There are other YouTube videos that show cats engaging in ambiguous conduct that is termed a rescue, but such episodes always involve the cat protecting itself or its general vicinity from an intruder. At first, I thought Tara’s video was staged, like “The Incredible Journey.” So far, it doesn’t appear to be.

Thus we have to conclude that, contrary to lore, conventional wisdom and propaganda from the Ministry of Dogs, cats—some cats, one cat, this cat—are capable of  conduct that in a human we would regard as altruistic, ethical and courageous acts. Tara not only rescued a little boy from serious harm, she also elevated the status and reputation of cats everywhere.

Now that’s an Ethics Hero.

And here’s the astonishing video:

__________________________

Facts: Daily Mirror, ABC

46 Comments

Filed under Animals, Childhood and children, Ethics Heroes, Family

Animal Ethics: Now THIS Is An Unethical Veterinarian

Believe it or not, Dean Jones was a NICE vet compared to Dr. Tierce...

Believe it or not, Dean Jones was a NICE vet compared to Dr. Tierce…

Yechh. This story reads like a sick version of “Beethoven,” which, as all you Charles Grodin fans will recall, featured a villainous veterinarian (Dean Jones, no longer cute) who stole pets to use for medical research.

In Fort Worth, Texas, Jamie and Marian Harris took their dog, a 5-year-old Leonberger named Sid, to the well-respected  Camp Bowie Animal Clinic, to be treated for what they thought was a minor health issue. After undergoing treatment,  Sid developed trouble walking and the veterinarian, Dr. Lou Tierce, told the Harrises that  their dog  had an untreatable spinal condition that would get worse, cause him increasing pain, and ultimately cripple him completely. The family was told the best option was to have Sid euthanized. The couple and their young son agreed, said their goodbyes and authorized the clinic to bury Sid on the vet’s farm.

Six months later, a veterinarian technician named Mary Brewer, who worked at Camp Bowie, contacted the Harrises to inform them that Sid was alive and being kept alive in a cage, surrounded by his urine and feces, so he could be used for blood transfusions to treat other dogs.
Continue reading

110 Comments

Filed under Animals, Business & Commercial, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Law & Law Enforcement, Workplace

Incompetent Elected Official Of The Month: Rep. Alvin Holmes (D-Alabama)

Alvin-HolmesRep. Alvin Holmes is a hatemonger and a race-baiter, but is he a wacko?

This question was inspired in the aftermath to my post about the ridiculous Bob Marshall,  a Virginia legislator who blights the Republican Party in my home state. The question I raised in that post was whether it was true that GOP elected nut-cases are further out in orbit than their Democratic counterparts. The related theory offered (not be me) in the ensuing thread was that while liberal-slanted media sources criticize the deranged in their ideological camp, conservative media sources tend to defend the GOP’s mutants. In fairness, I thought that I should raise the case of Mr. Holmes.

He was recently featured in a column by the Washington Post’s mildly conservative—perhaps the better term is “wishy-washy”—columnist Kathleen Parker. She notes, accurately, that he has at various times… Continue reading

24 Comments

Filed under Animals, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Incompetent Elected Officials, Journalism & Media, Leadership, Race