Domestication of animals

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Domestication of animals

Postby octathlon » Sun Mar 06, 2011 6:33 am

We know that trading in meat is wrong action and there is debate about whether trading in eggs or dairy is also wrong action. I think we would all agree that mistreatment of animals is wrong action.

What if all animals used for dairy or eggs were treated well -- would it still wrong to take their eggs or milk? A point was made a while back that this could be considered taking what is not freely given, since they can't give permission. What about oxen or other animals used for labor instead of food? Is "enslaving" animals wrong no matter how well they are treated?

The purpose of this topic is to carry this line of thought even further, to consider the very act of domesticating animals at all, rather than leaving all creatures in their natural wild state. Let's even forget about those we use for food or labor and just look at pets. For example, look at what we have done to dogs, creating breeds that endure physical suffering because of the modifications we have made to their bodies. Many breeds have serious breathing and digestive problems because of their pug snouts, back and hip problems from long bodies with short legs, genetic diseases and disabilities, and so on.

On the other hand, many animals derive benefits because of our meddling. For example, service dogs often seem to be very happy and fulfilled from their work, and pets in general may have very safe, comfortable and long lives with their humans. I often think that domestic pets who have a good home life may be enjoying fruits of previous positive kamma as well as having the opportunity to make much merit by the great good they so often do for human beings.

It seems that humans have created potential for both immense suffering and immense opportunities for animals by the process of domestication, increasing the range of rebirth experiences possible in the animal realm.
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Re: Domestication of animals

Postby Jhana4 » Sun Mar 06, 2011 1:34 pm

octathlon wrote:We know that trading in meat is wrong action


Buying and using is the other side of the circle with trading in meat. Trading in meat wouldn't happen without buyers and users.

What if all animals used for dairy or eggs were treated well


IMHO, ethical concerns are not about "what ifs" but about "what are"s. What reality is. Something that is living, that is miserable, doesn't care philosophical discussion. Philosophical discussion doesn't reduce his/her misery. The reality is that in the year 2011, in the U.S., Canada, Europe and much of the rest of the world, the economics will not allow the kind treatment of animals for meat, dairy and egg production. That is the "what is *now*", not the "what if".

The purpose of this topic is to carry this line of thought even further, to consider the very act of domesticating animals at all, rather than leaving all creatures in their natural wild state.


Let me apologize in advance for taking for going off purpose. I think it is totally in the wrong direction to have an abstract debate when there is concrete misery that can be changed with simply making different choices at the supermarket.

On the other hand, many animals derive benefits because of our meddling.


I can't tell you how many times friends of mine who are certified dog trainers, rabbit advocates, etc have described to me how people have to watch beloved pets suffer, because breeders manipulated genetics to make an animal cute or useful for a profession at the expense of early disability or an early death.
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One mistake is to cling to the literal text and miss the inner principles.
The second mistake is to recognize the principles but not apply them to your own mind, so that you waste time and just make them into causes of entanglement.
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Re: Domestication of animals

Postby Annapurna » Sun Mar 06, 2011 2:28 pm

octathlon wrote:Let's even forget about those we use for food or labor and just look at pets. For example, look at what we have done to dogs, creating breeds that endure physical suffering because of the modifications we have made to their bodies. Many breeds have serious breathing and digestive problems because of their pug snouts, back and hip problems from long bodies with short legs, genetic diseases and disabilities, and so on.

On the other hand, many animals derive benefits because of our meddling. For example, service dogs often seem to be very happy and fulfilled from their work, and pets in general may have very safe, comfortable and long lives with their humans.

I often think that domestic pets who have a good home life may be enjoying fruits of previous positive kamma as well as having the opportunity to make much merit by the great good they so often do for human beings.

It seems that humans have created potential for both immense suffering and immense opportunities for animals by the process of domestication, increasing the range of rebirth experiences possible in the animal realm.


0ctathlon.

I feel the same, esp with the blue part.

The only amnimals I can have around are ones that can live as much as possible according to their natural way of life.

My parakeets were out of the cage most of the day.
One of them was completely tame, and would let me grab him with my hand. One day, he was out of the open window and sat in the appletree.
When I called out for him, he was initially too thrilled, by nature and freedom, to give it up again, so I let him sit there, until he came back to me, and sat down on his cage. Then we walked back in, and he gave up freedom for the life by us.

My cats were free roaming, but came running in huge leaps as soon as they were called.

That's how I like pets to live with me, us.
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Re: Domestication of animals

Postby lovemygreys » Sun Mar 06, 2011 2:44 pm

Whether domestication is inherently "right" or "wrong" aside, cats are obligate carnivores and dogs really need meat and organs in their diet for optimal health (IMO, not looking to get in to a "feeding dogs a vegan diet" debate)...so if a person lives by veg*n principles, it can be problematic to own a domesticated meat-eating animal. The kibble that most people feed was part of an animal at some point in time.

I think the history of dogs and humans is an interesting one...and the "who domesticated whom" is legitimate debate. I think it can go either way, and maybe it was a little bit of both. A willing partnership. Though, today there's no question that we dominate the relationship and pets live and die at our discretion. It can be a problem, for sure.

However, the life of a wild/free animal is not a Disney movie. Nature is often brutal - exposure to the elements, injury, starvation, death by predator...it's not a pretty life. By comparison, pet animals often live a life that is far longer than it would be "in the wild" due to regular meals, shelter, grooming, medical attention and preventative care. Is that a bad thing? I don't necessarily think so. Yes, we derive benefit from our pets, but they also derive benefit from us. I always remember that my pets didn't have a choice in the matter, so I have a tremendous burden to treat them with compassion and offer them a full and enriching life. As mom to 18 dogs, 4 cats and a rabbit, it's pretty much a full time job!
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Re: Domestication of animals

Postby octathlon » Sun Mar 06, 2011 5:02 pm

Jhana4 wrote:
octathlon wrote:We know that trading in meat is wrong action


Buying and using is the other side of the circle with trading in meat. Trading in meat wouldn't happen without buyers and users.

Yes, I am including buying and using by using the term "trading" instead of just saying "selling".

Jhana4 wrote:
What if all animals used for dairy or eggs were treated well


IMHO, ethical concerns are not about "what ifs" but about "what are"s. What reality is. Something that is living, that is miserable, doesn't care philosophical discussion. Philosophical discussion doesn't reduce his/her misery. The reality is that in the year 2011, in the U.S., Canada, Europe and much of the rest of the world, the economics will not allow the kind treatment of animals for meat, dairy and egg production. That is the "what is *now*", not the "what if".
Your belief as you have stated here and elsewhere -- that it is wrong to eat meat/dairy/eggs, is a philosophical position (i.e., what's right and what's wrong), and advocating that therefore everyone should be vegan is just as much a "what-if" discussion as my topic is, because vast numbers of people don't think it's wrong to eat animal products and will never become vegan -- that is the reality.

Jhana4 wrote:
The purpose of this topic is to carry this line of thought even further, to consider the very act of domesticating animals at all, rather than leaving all creatures in their natural wild state.


Let me apologize in advance for taking for going off purpose. I think it is totally in the wrong direction to have an abstract debate when there is concrete misery that can be changed with simply making different choices at the supermarket.
No apology needed for contributing your opinion. :) I think that getting the whole world to "simply make different choices at the supermarket" is just as abstract if not more so than getting animal-product producers to treat the animals well. But that statement was not the point of this thread, rather it was a lead up to the question that is the point of this thread. Anyway, please allow me to have my abstract topic and just ignore the thread if you like.

Jhana4 wrote:
On the other hand, many animals derive benefits because of our meddling.


I can't tell you how many times friends of mine who are certified dog trainers, rabbit advocates, etc have described to me how people have to watch beloved pets suffer, because breeders manipulated genetics to make an animal cute or useful for a profession at the expense of early disability or an early death.

Yes, I pointed all that out in the paragraph previous to the part you quoted, and I find it as troubling as you do.
Thanks for responding, Jhana4.
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Re: Domestication of animals

Postby octathlon » Sun Mar 06, 2011 5:18 pm

lovemygreys wrote:Whether domestication is inherently "right" or "wrong" aside, cats are obligate carnivores and dogs really need meat and organs in their diet for optimal health (IMO, not looking to get in to a "feeding dogs a vegan diet" debate)...so if a person lives by veg*n principles, it can be problematic to own a domesticated meat-eating animal. The kibble that most people feed was part of an animal at some point in time.
All good points, and the part quoted above does seem to be an ethical dilemma.

Annapurna wrote:My cats were free roaming, but came running in huge leaps as soon as they were called.
Besides needing to feed them meat, another ethical dilemma, especially in the US and which has been discussed here before, is letting domestic cats roam free, since they kill so many songbirds.
Exact numbers are unknown, but scientists estimate that nationwide,
cats kill hundreds of millions of birds, and more than a billion
small mammals, such as rabbits, squirrels, and chipmunks, each
year. source (PDF)
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Re: Domestication of animals

Postby Annapurna » Sun Mar 06, 2011 6:59 pm

octathlon wrote:
Annapurna wrote:My cats were free roaming, but came running in huge leaps as soon as they were called.
Besides needing to feed them meat, another ethical dilemma, especially in the US and which has been discussed here before, is letting domestic cats roam free, since they kill so many songbirds.
Exact numbers are unknown, but scientists estimate that nationwide,
cats kill hundreds of millions of birds, and more than a billion
small mammals, such as rabbits, squirrels, and chipmunks, each
year. source (PDF)


Cats hunt predominantly mice and rats, also grasshoppers, spiders etc.

Birds are by far in the minority.

And you would also have to lock up all owls, falcons and birds and most of all: human beings as well.

The biggest bird killer is the human beast! For one, because he destroys their habitats and pollutes their food!

Next, because he keeps chicken birds in concentration camps and steals their eggs!

Animals like cats and owls, just do what they are supposed to do by nature.

Only we place judgements on that, depending on what we prefer. "Singing birds" are surely sweeter than rats.

But if it interests you, I have a little story for you. :smile:

I had a cat called Jeannie. I probably saved her life as a kitten, and cared for her for months, because she was very ill.

She was very obedient as a result.

When she brought her first mouse, she was very excited and happy and showed it to me.

I gently disappproved of this, and NO KIDDING, she was so broken hearted about my NO, that she hid behind furniture and hung like a limp bag in my arm when I lifted her up, her eyes closed with shame, trying to hide her face.

She never caught a mouse again.

Then she saw birds....

She brought one, again overjoyed, and showed it to me.

I said NO, and took it from her fangs.

She had not injured it, and the bird flew away....!

What did Jeannie do?

She sat down in front of the fridge and licked her lips....looking at me! She wanted milk!

:smile:

Cute, huh?

She was like that...
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Re: Domestication of animals

Postby octathlon » Sun Mar 06, 2011 7:06 pm

Sorry, you're right, they kill many other types of creatures than just songbirds. I shouldn't have said it that way or made it sound like songbirds are more important than the other animals.
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Re: Domestication of animals

Postby Vardali » Sun Mar 06, 2011 7:09 pm

Very cute, Anna! I am afraid not all of my cats would be as wise, but by and large, there is only 1-2 two "killers" amongst them. Usually, they just eat the meat I provide for them.

which again goes back to the fact that obviously I have to by meat so I am part of the consumption chain that is fueled by killing animals. I cannot help this because my cats are carnivores and I cannot let them starve. So the only other thing I can do is to minimize the amount of meat I eat (I am a vegetarian working on moving increasingly towards veganism) and to try to get organic meat for my cats (or as much as possible as it is limited in access here).

I would like to think that my cats have a good life - as opposed to many of their species who are ill-treated, discarded and ignored, just simply being left to fend for themselves and die often miserably from diseases. They have the opportunity to encounter some form of dhamma here (either by talk, action or meditation). What impact that will have on that, who knows? I personally will not believe that positive karmic effects can not be generated by animals, when I look at them with their distinct personalities, preferences and, yes, choices ..
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Re: Domestication of animals

Postby Fede » Sun Mar 06, 2011 7:18 pm

As a Dog behaviourist, I would say that not only is keeping animals as pets not cruel, I would say it's an inbuilt conditioned instinct, and vital to our survival and development as compassionate humans.
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Translation: Just to stir things up seemed a good reward in itself. ;)

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