Visiting Dog Ethics

A question to the New York Times’ “The Ethicist” raised multiple issues, perhaps the least interesting of which was the subject of the letter:

My brother-in-law and his wife adopted a dog a year ago. Since then, every time they have come over to our home, they have brought the dog too. My husband and children aren’t incredibly fond of pets. This creates some uncomfortable situations for us. I don’t think we truly enjoy their company, because they are always running around after the dog while they are with us. I have tried to indirectly hint that getting a dog sitter may be an option, but that’s hit or miss.

Nowadays we don’t feel that comfortable inviting them over as often. I feel sad, because it’s creating a distance between us. Shouldn’t they just accept the fact that not everyone is comfortable with a pet and find ways to leave it at home (for a few hours) instead of taking it with them everywhere they go? I hate bringing this up with my husband, because I know he is torn as well. How can we delicately and politely let them know without hurting their feelings?

“The Ethicist,” , issued the obvious answer: it is ethics blindness for visitors not to seek permission to bring their dogs to another home (even if the dog isn’t a Caucasian Shepherd like the one above), but also irresponsible for a family being inflicted with an unwanted canine guest to keep its resentment secret so it can fester. The brother-in-law should be told that his family dog isn’t welcome.

I was bothered by other things in the letter: Continue reading

Most Unethical Zookeeper Ever! [Corrected]

The key question in determining whether José Rubén Nava Noriega is the worst and must untrustworthy zookeeper ever rests on the basic question: How could one be worse? Almost ten years ago, there was a management scandal the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. in involving multiple cases of negligent animal care. This guy makes the zookeeper in that episode seem like Dr. Doolittle by comparison.

Noriega, the director of Chilpancingo Zoo in Guerrero, Mexico, had only been in charge for a few months before an investigation found out that he was, to put it mildly, not doing a very good job. He had authorized animal trades with fake invoices to justify money transfers. He traded rare watusi bulls for building materials and tools that he either sold or hid.  Animal births and deaths weren’t recorded, as zoo policies required. Most mysterious of all, his zoo somehow managed to lose 10 reptiles, a jagurundi, a coyote, several birds, and four of the zoo’s ten pygmy goats.

At least the missing pygmy goats mystery was solved: Noriega ate them. Well, not just him: Noriega had the four goats slaughtered, roasted and served to the whole staff at a New Year’s party. (My wife was once attacked by pygmy goats at the London Zoo. I have pictures!)

The goats are apparently not edible. “They were not animals suitable for human consumption,” the Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources told reporters. Now, if Noriega  had eaten some other zoo animals, that would have been OK. Well…better.

Noriega’s been fired, by the way.

Ethics Quiz: Condign Justice Or Schadenfreude?

In India, two cock-fighting enthusiasts bled to death at cockfighting events. Both were fatally wounded knives attached to their roosters’ feet.

 Gande Suryapraksha Rao was tying blades to the feet of his prized cock before a bout when his bird,  alarmed by the crowd, flew up and cut Gande’s leg. He bled to death before they could get him to a hospital. In the second incident, a 20-year-old spectator was cut by a bladed bird as he stood near the cockfighting pit. The blade  cut open the man’s hand, and he also bled to death.

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day is,

Would it be unethical to publicly express satisfaction in the two men’s fate?

…like if I were to write of their demise, “Good!” ?

They are human beings, after all, and cruelty to animals is not a capital offense. Are these incidents really like a bomb-maker blowing himself up by mistake? A bank robber who trips leaving the bank and dies in the fall? A drug dealer who ODs on his own product?

Or are these deaths condign justice that should be hailed far and wide to send the message that the underlying conduct is intolerable?


Pointer: JuGory [I had miscredited this, then corrected it and botched the edit. Sorry to all.]

Equal Time: A Dog’s Life Ethics Update

Having just posted about the mistreatment of cats, it is only fair to note some recent stories involving canine-human interactions.

1. At Gravelly Hill in Caterham, Surrey (that’s in England), a dog-walker was apparently attacked by the dogs she was caring for and mauled to death. There is some question how many dogs she was walking, but it may have been as many as nine. “Eight dogs have been detained” is how some news reports put it. Other reports say that none of the dogs involved were believed to be “dangerous breeds,” meaning none were pit bull breeds or looked like them (which is all a dog needs to be considered a pit bull: looking kind-of, sort-of like what someone thinks a pit bull looks like, meaning that my first Jack Russell which a silly twit started screaming about because she thought he was a pit bull was a pit bull).

Among the culprits were, police believe, a collie, a Leonberger, a cokapoo and two dachshunds. (I’m betting on the dachshunds as the ringleaders.) A Leonberger is a giant breed, typically weighing at least 150 pounds—I’d say a dog that big is potentially “dangerous.” In fact, any dog is dangerous if its in a pack.

Walking that many dogs, whether it was seven or nine, is irresponsible. It’s not fair to the dogs, and obviously perilous to the walker: I’m surprised there haven’t been more tragedies like this. The owners of the dogs are also implicated for entrusting their dogs to over-burdened caretakers.

Continue reading

Is It Ethical To Scare Your Cat With A Cucumber?

Of course not!

What’s the matter with these people?

I had been blissfully unaware that someone discovered that cats are freaked out by cucumbers. This spawned a large number of “hilarious” online videos of pet felines finishing a meal and turning around to see the dreaded green things behind them, resulting  in spectacular leaps in panic. We often hear the cackling of the cat’s owners, who probably are Jimmy Kimmel fans.

I bet they would also enjoy their beloved animal companion’s reaction if they set off a cherry bomb near Fluffy.

What assholes. The Golden Rule is not usually applicable to lower species, but humans don’t enjoy being terrified, and neither do cats. This is animal abuse.

Ethics Quiz: As The Founders Roll Over In Their Graves…[Corrected]

The headline: “Hamtramck City Council votes to allow animal sacrifice for religious purposes in the city.”

The act of animal sacrifice is often practiced among Muslims during the celebration of  Eid al-Fitr, and Muslims make up a majority on the council, it seems. There’s not much more that needs to be said, is there?

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz to begin this cold and gloomy Thursday (at least where I am) is…

Are animal sacrifices for any reason ethical in the United States of America?

Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “At Least This Time They Didn’t Blame Pitbulls…”

Happy Boxing Day, for those of you who have servants, butler and and the like! Do make sure your underlings enjoy a Christmas-like experience a day late, after caring for you and your family yesterday!

Ethics Alarms will kick off its Boxing Day festivities with another terrific Comment of the Day by Mrs, Q. I’m hopping it over two other COTD in waiting, in part because I feel guilty: her post was stuck in moderation because I was “making a bit merry yesterday” (Source?) and neglected the blog comments. I apologize to Mrs.Q and my readers. Her comment was stuck because it included many invaluable links to additional information.

She addressed the horrible incident discussed in yesterday’s commentary regarding a fatal dog attack last week that took the life of a couple’s newborn child. Mrs. Q concentrates her ethics marksmanship on an aspect of the story that I mentioned, but only broadly: the parents’ accountability for the tragedy.

Here is Mrs. Q’s Comment of the Day on the post, At Least This Time They Didn’t Blame Pitbulls…


Perhaps I’m being harsh, but I do think the parents and every parent or guardian this happens to, should be charged.

We have an incredibly irresponsible ethos going on in the world of dog ownership. People who willingly choose to have a dog, of any size dog, around small children, without educating themselves on danger behavior signals, is complicit in spreading such violence.

The killings of children is just a part of it. 50% of kids under 12 have been bitten by dogs. Most dog bites children experience happen over 70% of the time on the face and neck. Continue reading

At Least This Time They Didn’t Blame Pitbulls…

This is such a horrible Christmas story that even my fecund imagination couldn’t devise an appropriate graphic for it, yet attention should be paid.

On December 23 in Cave Spring, Arkansas, a family’s dog attacked and killed a four-day old infant girl. The dog bit the baby’s head, fatally injuring  the infant’s skull. When I read the story, my second thought after the obvious first one was “Now watch: this will be called another pit bull attack.” Amazingly, it wasn’t: the dog was a Siberian Husky. That didn’t stop the news media from attaching alleged pit bull horror stories to this one, like the attack by two Staffordshire terriers, one of several breeds called pit bulls, that killed two small children and injured their mother in October. I did learn something from the various articles: 32% of all fatalities from dog bites in the U.S. are children 4 years-old and under. Continue reading

“You’re The Dog”

The Wall Street Journal’s James Taranto—how I miss his blog!— famously wrote of accusations that something was a “racist dog whistle”:

“The thing we adore about these dog-whistle kerfuffles is that the people who react to the whistle always assume it’s intended for somebody else. The whole point of the metaphor is that if you can hear the whistle, you’re the dog.”

Bingo. In the last week we have seen two particularly vivid examples of this phenomenon. The most recent is peak Great Stupid: the World Health Organization announced  that it will begin referring to monkeypox as “mpox.” Why? Well, there were complaints that its name constituted “racist and stigmatizing language.”  Yes,  all it takes to make WHO jump is complaints from morons, or perhaps power-seeking activists who want to see how easily they can bend organizations to their will, just to prove they can. Continue reading

Who Would Have Suspected That A Historic Appointment Like Sam Brinton Would Embarrass The Biden Administration?

I wish I could say “I told you so,” but I didn’t, exactly. The last time Ethics Alarms discussed Sam Brinton, Energy Department’s chief of nuclear waste disposal, it was in an Ethics Quiz that asked, “Is it competent and responsible for someone like Sam to hold an executive  position of trust in a Cabinet Department?” To this I added,

“Within this quiz are several other questions, like “Should an individual representing the administration, the Energy Department and the U.S. government be publicizing his kinky ways?” and “Is the judgment of an official who behaves in pubic like Sam inherently questionable?” and “Is there a Simulated Sex with Puppies Deputy Assistant Secretary Principle?”

Yes, one of Sam’s passions is simulated sex with puppies. But he’s just pretending.

I said I would reveal my answers after the commentariat weighed in, but I never did. Now comes the news that Brinton, who was hired by the administration in February, was filmed allegedly stealing a woman’s roller bag at the airport’s baggage claim area by security cameras on Sept. 16, according to a criminal complaint filed on Oct. 27. Security footage also showed Brinton taking the woman’s luggage from the baggage carousel and then removing the tags before leaving the scene at a “quick pace,” according to the complaint. Brinton initially told police that be grabbed the bag and no clothes or objects had been removed. Later he changed his story. The contents of the bag, valued at $2000, have not been found.

Continue reading