In the news recently was a sled dog “cull”. It happened in B.C. after the Vancouver Olympics. There was supposed to be a boom in business for sled dog adventures after the Olympics, but of course there was none. So 100 sled dogs were shot or stabbed and then buried.
It’s quite a gruesome story so I hesitate to link to one of the news articles. Here’s an abbreviated article that doesn’t get into details.
My last post was partly about the Amundsen expedition which successfully reached the South Pole. I found out the gruesome fact that one of the reasons for its success is that in order to have fewer supplies to pull, they ‘efficiently’ killed some of the sled dogs and ate them.
And of course there are stories about dogs being eaten in China. Apparently this is true and other Asian neighbours of China also eat dogs. As well Amundsen quite possibly got the idea of sledding with and eating dogs from Eskimos. These most northerly of people will eat dogs if necessary for survival.
So what does this say, besides the idea that a dog’s life is generally considered to be of low value?
With modern western ethics, I’m thinking that the cull of dogs is the least immoral of the three stories. Amundsen ate dogs that had served him. But Amundsen had the excuse of survival being at stake. The Asians that eat dogs largely live comfortable lives and could easily switch to more conventional meat animals.
So I’m of the mind that eating dogs is worse than just killing them.
But what do we tell ourselves about our usual meat animals?
We say that using all of the animal makes the death worthwhile. In other words it is more respectful to eat a cow after killing it. It is even more respectful to skin it and use it’s hide as leather. It is most respectful to use all its parts and not waste a thing.
Huh? It looks like the general morality of our culture reaches a contradiction. How long can we hide behind the “that’s a cow” and “that’s a dog” hypocrisy of our nice modern western ethics toward animals.
As well, there is the “fur is murder” tactics of some fringe groups, members of which might use leather. Maybe they’re thinking that at least they used the whole cow. Yet they don’t see that seal meat is eaten in parts of Canada, too, making the whole of that animal used.
I think it all comes down to cuteness. Dogs are generally considered cute, cows are not. Harp seals are getting to the status of being cute.
So as a modern day western ethicist, I say never eat the cute. In fact the cute might as well live a full life. Cows, pigs and chickens on the other hand…
A timely post – CBC’s Quirks and Quarks just had a show on culinary canines: Man Bites Dog