Americans adopted millions of dogs during the Covid-19 pandemic, in what was largely seen as a positive event by dog rescue groups, adoptees and dogs that make up the greater shelter population.
Despite this, dog welfare groups spoke incessantly about the potential for dogs being returned to shelters once lockdown restrictions would end. Their concern was that people who felt a loss of companionship during the pandemic would suddenly abandon their dogs when socializing returned to normalcy, and people could once again leave their homes. While this didn’t end up occurring, the thought of individuals within animal welfare groups being concerned about dogs being returned to shelters while simultaneously participating in wholesale factory farming for animal products ostensibly seems contradictory.
What truly is the difference between a dog and a pig? Is one more valuable than the other? Often humans assign a value based on an animals level of awareness, or sentience, meaning smarter more complex organisms are seen as more important. Let’s take a look at a pig; pigs can learn tricks, provide companionship for humans and form bonds with their owners. Some scientists see pigs as intellectually superior to dogs. Studies have shown that pigs can feel pain, love, and also have an awareness that other pigs are self aware. So why have dog rescue groups look the other way when a pig is raised in a farrowing crate but advocate for the adoption of dogs that are in shelters where they are relatively better cared for? Why do individuals within these groups claim to be animal lovers yet tacitly neglect farm animals?
To take it one step further, a lot of the food that rescue dogs eat contain pork products. Pigs that live their entire lives in cages are pumped full of antibiotics so they can produce the maximum amount of flesh for consumption of animals higher up on the food chain. Such is capitalism, when profits are maximized the welfare of an animal raised within it’s bounds will likely be marginalized. This flesh is then processed and fed to human owned pets. So should dog lovers really feel good about saving a dog whilst feeding it pork products? Logically, they absolutely should not.
Animal rights advocates have made great progress on the treatment of dogs while turning their heads to the treatment of farm animals. Pigs are intelligent beings worthy of our moral consideration. Dog lovers need to closely look at the products that they consume, and certainly cannot call themselves animal lovers if they turn a blind eye to the treatment of animals in factory farms, or feed their dogs factory farmed products. There is no excuse for this level of ignorance, factory farms aren’t hidden, activists have documented videos of squalid farm conditions, and poor treatment of farm animals across the world.
A subtle yet dangerous unconscious unawareness has allowed for social atrocities to take place throughout human existence. This uncritical acceptance of what is currently perceived to be a majority view is currently allowing for our generation to unknowingly participate in irrational, harmful activities. Take a moment and think about your consumption of animal products and whether or not these habits are contradictory to your ethos as an animal lover.