Category Archives: Animals

From The Ethics Alarms “It’s About Time!” Files: Iowa Strikes Down A “Dangerous Animal” Ordinance

Pinky was a happy, healthy pet dog  until March 2016, when a friend visiting Pinky’s owner let her into the yard unsupervised. The neighbor’s cat, Rebel, had wondered into the yard, and Pinky had the feline in his maw until her owner ran out and commanded her to drop it.  Rebel survived the trauma, but needed three dozen staples for her wounds.

Pinky was impounded after the city’s humane officer declared her a dangerous animal under the city ordinance. Of course, Pinky is a pit bull mix, so bias was already working against her. The Des Moines ordinance that bans the keeping of “dangerous animals” includes banning any animal “that has exhibited vicious propensities in present or past conduct, including such that the animal … has bitten another animal or human that causes a fracture, muscle tear, disfiguring lacerations or injury requiring corrective or cosmetic surgery.”

Such an ordinance could only be written by someone willfully ignorant of the behaviors of dogs as well as the vicissitudes of moral luck. Our wonderful and gentle English Mastiff, Patience, for example, once caused a bloody wound to my wife’s scalp when she gave the dog an unexpected buss on the muzzle. The dog jerked her head in surprise, nicking my wife’s head with a tooth. The wound bled profusely, and required stitches—and it was 100% my wife’s fault. Patience literally wouldn’t hurt a fly…indeed, she was afraid of flies.

As for Rebel, any cat that invades a dog’s home turf is asking for trouble. Continue reading

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Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Animals, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 4/6/2018: The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

Gooooood Morning!

1. From the Moral Luck files:

What you just saw is a bald eagle landing on Seattle Mariners starter James Paxton’s shoulder during the National Anthem before yesterday’s Mariners-Twins game.  Here’s a closer look…

The eagle got confused: it is supposed to go to his trainer, in one of the more spectacular Anthem displays that has ever been devised: I’ve seen this performance several times.  After the game, Paxton was asked why he didn’t try to escape. His answer:

“I’m not gonna outrun an eagle, so just thought, we’ll see what happens.”

Heck, he had already endured the horror of Dessa’s incredibly off-key rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner,” what’s a mere bald eagle attack? Seriously, Paxton’s quote is an ethics guide: Don’t panic, don’t act on emotion, assess the situation, see what happens, and act accordingly. Of course, the fact that this strategy worked out well helps: if the eagle had ripped his eyes out, everyone would be saying Paxton was an idiot not to run.

How I would have loved to see this happen to Colin Kaepernick!

2. How the President gets himself into ethics trouble. I just watched a clip of Trump speaking yesterday about California’s sanctuary cities. “The thing is that these cities are protecting bad people,” he said, with emphasis. Naturally, this will be characterized as racism. It’s not racism, however. The statement is just overly simplistic, and exacerbated in its inflammatory elements by the President’s rudimentary vocabulary, in which the only operable adjectives appear to be great, bad, horrible, wonderful, terrible, sad, and a few more. It is impossible to communicate about complex issues competently and fairly with such meager tools. Illegal immigrants have broken our laws and willfully so. That is not good, but it does not make all of them bad people….though many are. Continue reading

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Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Animals, Facebook, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, History, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, Philanthropy, Non-Profits and Charity

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 3/21/18: Ethics Observations As The Snowflakes Fall

Good Morning!

1 Moral luck.  In Great Mills, Maryland, a student with a handgun entered a high school and began shooting. He was brought down by a lone, armed and trained officer before anyone was killed. In the Parkland shooting, the equivalent officer chose to avoid a confrontation. There were other material differences: yesterday’s student shooter seems to have had a specific target in mind (his ex-girl friend) whereas the Parkland shooter was juts out to kill as many kids as possible. One student carried a hand-gun (which is very difficult for anyone to acquire legally in Maryland, which has among the toughest gun laws in the country), while the Florida shooter had a semi-automatic rifle. However, the primary difference was moral luck: if a competent and courageous officer had entered Marjory Stoneman Douglas High and shot Nikolas Cruz before he could inflict carnage, and Deputy Blaine Gaskill, instead of almost immediately entering the school and shooting 17-year-pld Austin Wyatt Rollins dead, had done a Scot Peterson impression and remained outside, the results in Parkland and Great Mills might have been reversed. In any case, the results would not have been changed by different gun laws or demonizing the NRA and lawful gun owners, only by different responses by human beings, and the vicissitudes of moral luck.

I think Marjory Stoneman Douglas High has serious cultural and management problems that played a larger role in the massacre than gun policies. Today’s news certainly suggest that…

2. This is how puppies end up dead in airplane luggage bins…The headline that caught my eye was “Pit bull goes on rampage in elementary school.” What actually happened was that a pit bull -mix puppy got out of the yard and ran onto a nearby elementary school playground where small children were playing, they started screaming and running because their parents had either taught them to be terrified of dogs or never instructed them how to interact with them, the puppy chased the kids into the school, and began jumping and nipping, as puppies tend to do. I was taught not to run from dogs at about the age of four. The consensus later was that the dog was not aggressive, but was just stimulated by all the commotion and playing. A teacher calmed the dog. You know, dogs are a feature of our neighborhoods and communities, and failing to teach children basic dog-interaction skills is as irresponsible as not teaching them how to cross the street. Anti-pit bull hysteria doesn’t help either. “Rampage.”

Then, this morning, I watched an episode of “My Cat From Hell” on the Animal Planet cable channel. In the first segment, one of a family’s two cats was behaving aggressively, biting and scratching in response to any human contact. The reason became apparent to the cat therapist quickly: the family’s two little girls were abusing both cats, treating the more passive of the pets like a stuffed animal as the  parents laughed and took photos. The second segment was even worse. A couple had bought a Munchkin cat—which is an ethics issue itself, since these are deformed cats bred to have such short legs that they can’t climb or jump—

and apparently thought of the creature as a cute animated decoration. They had no toys or comforts for the cat, just a bare room and a litter box. “Have you ever played with your cat?” the therapist asked. “Play? Well, no, we’re both really busy,” came the response.  And the couple wanted to know why was the cat was behaving so neurotically… Continue reading

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Filed under Animals, Around the World, Ethics Dunces, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, Humor and Satire, Journalism & Media, Leadership, Rights, Sports

A Bad Week For Puppies, Students, Human Beings…And Turtles.

“Mmmmm…puppies…”

Robert Crosland, a popular veteran science teacher at Preston Junior High School in Idaho, apparently fed a puppy to a snapping turtle in front of students after school last week. Apparently the puppy was infirm and not expected to live, justifying his conversion into Turtle Chow in the teacher’s view.

Crosland has not been criminally charged or placed on leave—yet—but the school is still investigating and considering its options, as is the Franklin County prosecutor.

Interviewed  students said Crosland is a well-liked, “cool” teacher at the school who kept snakes and other reptiles in tanks in his classroom, and had fed guinea pigs to snakes and snapping turtles in past classes. School officials describe him as a passionate, dedicated, gifted teacher. On the other side, Jill Parrish, an animal activist who filed a police report in connection with the alleged feeding, called Crosland’s actions  “sick” and “disgusting.”

“Allowing children to watch an innocent baby puppy scream because it is being fed to an animal … that is violence,” Parrish said. “That is not okay.”

While trying to sort all this out, officials took action: they killed the snapping turtle. Continue reading

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Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Animals, Childhood and children, Education, Science & Technology

Comment Of The Day (2): “A Cruel And Stupid Flight Attendant, A Dead Puppy, And A Plane Full Of Sheep”

The second Comment of the Day on the recent Ethics Alarms post about a United attendant killing a French bulldog puppy through her ignorance, cruelty and stupidity focuses on a crucial factor not covered in my post: the harried mother who allowed it to happen. I have seen this issue raised on social media, only to be followed by “how dare you blame the victim?” attacks. Well, the immediate victim was the little dog, and anyone who adopts a pet has accepted the responsibility of keeping the trusting animal safe from authority-abusing fools and the perils of being imprisoned in small, hot, airless spaces like a furry piece of luggage.

Here is Emily’s Comment of the Day on the post, A Cruel And Stupid Flight Attendant, A Dead Puppy, And A Plane Full Of Sheep:

This is a reply to several people at once who wondered about the pet owner…It’s also not a defense of the pet owner, but more an attempt to pin point where the ethical breach was on her part. A number of people here have wondered what she was thinking. From reading the article, Jack’s description, and a few other recountings across the net I can tell you exactly what she was thinking.

She was traveling with an infant, another daughter (I haven’t seen the kid’s age)* and a dog. With an infant, there’s probably a 70% chance the mother didn’t get enough sleep the night before. Then she got both kids ready to go, and trekked through an airport, clearing security, keeping track of all of their stuff, feeding the baby, keeping the puppy quiet, making sure the other kid got her shoes off and back on, getting to the gate, getting everyone boarded…

Then a flight attendant tells her there’s a problem with the dog’s carrier. Now, from what I read elsewhere, it was a TSA approved carrier, so I’m not sure what the problem was. Maybe she also had the diaper bag crammed under the seat, maybe it was an older model bag or plane, maybe she didn’t have it closed right. But whatever the case, the flight attendant tells her to put it in the overhead.

She points out there’s a dog in it, and the flight attendant insists.

I can tell you that pet owner was not thinking clearly, and had no mental space to be thinking about her pet while dealing with the two kids. I’ll be honest:  she might even have been relieved to have the dog someplace “safe” and tucked away for the flight, assuming (as other people have suggested, and I agree) she didn’t know much about the overhead compartments and expected the flight attendant to know what she was talking about.

I understand 100% what was going through this woman’s mind, as she was juggling a hundred things at once, and that’s where she was unethical. Continue reading

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Filed under Animals, Childhood and children, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Family

Comment Of The Day (1): “A Cruel And Stupid Flight Attendant, A Dead Puppy, And A Plane Full Of Sheep”

Choosing the best among so many excellent comments on this topics was nigh impossible. I chose two in the end, beginning with Michael West’s systemic analysis that also opens several ethics issues that could justify separate posts on their own. The second COTD, coming up forthwith, addresses a completely different aspect of the story.

Here is Michael West’s Comment of the Day on the post, A Cruel And Stupid Flight Attendant, A Dead Puppy, And A Plane Full Of Sheep”

1) Airlines have clearly delineated standards for carry-on sizes. Enforcement of these sizes has been perennially neglected to where passengers routinely carry noticeably larger than permitted carry-on bags. This is marginal rule breaking.

2) No doubt this puppy was in such a carry-on that would never have been permitted if rules were enforced…NOR EVER EVEN ATTEMPTED if the owners knew that rules were enforced. But the larger culture has acquiesced to the flouting of a “no big deal” rule. Continue reading

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Filed under Animals, Business & Commercial, Comment of the Day, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Etiquette and manners

A Cruel And Stupid Flight Attendant, A Dead Puppy, And A Plane Full Of Sheep

The puppy passenger, before and after the flight. Guess the ventilation wasn’t so good after all…

I shouldn’t have to write very much about the ethics of the United flight attendant who forced a passenger to place the soft carrier containing her French bulldog puppy into the overhead compartment, where it was found dead after the flight. She is an idiot. She is incompetent. She was badly trained, and has no understanding or compassion for animals.

That’s easy.

Now the flight attendant is saying that she didn’t know that there was a live animal in the bag. Right.

No, I am reopening the blog, which I thought was finished for the night, to condemn the owner of the dog and every single passenger who was aware of what was going on. I am usually dubious about those who second guess bystanders who don’t interject themselves into abusive situations, but in this case, I am shocked and disgusted that no one, including the owner, made a firm stand against this obvious animal cruelty. Passengers were tweeting about how horrible it was that the puppy was being stuffed in the overhead bin. Barking could be heard during the flight. Yet not one person on board had the courage, integrity and character to stand up and forbid this abuse.

One passenger named June Lara tweeted about the incident, writing in part,

“I sat behind the family of three and thought myself lucky – who doesn’t when they get to sit near a puppy? However, the flight attendants of flight UA1284 felt that the innocent animal was better off crammed inside the overhead container without air and water. They INSISTED that the puppy be locked up for three hours without any kind of airflow. They assured the safety of the family’s pet so wearily, the mother agreed.

There was no sound as we landed and opened his kennel. There was no movement as his family called his name. I held her baby as the mother attempted to resuscitate their 10 month old puppy. I cried with them three minutes later as she sobbed over his lifeless body. My heart broke with theirs as I realized he was gone.”

Forget the virtue-signaling: I’m not impressed with your broken heart. Why didn’t you protest? Why didn’t you, or someone, call 911 and tell the police that someone was torturing a dog on a United flight? Why didn’t you stop what you knew was wrong? Continue reading

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Filed under Animals, Business & Commercial, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Social Media