Putting the Mutts and Moms Controversy into Perspective
The bond between humans and their pets is one that is often much stronger than the bond between humans and their family members. And at the risk of turning this post into one that is much too personal for my own taste, I will include myself among those who have experienced such a bond and briefly narrate why. To wit, the best and closest friend that I have ever had was a dog that I had as a childhood pet. I learned all my basic values from that dog, such as loyalty, compassion, affection, empathy, vigilance, and even fierceness, when it is called for. I was six years old when that dog died, and my innocence died with it. I've experienced all sorts of heartbreak and grief since that time, but none that has touched me as deeply, and I seriously doubt that I ever will experience that sort of grief ever again. At the time, I would have gladly traded places with my dead dog, and once I learned to live without him, I had to overcome the guilt of knowing that I could live without him, a paradox that most people only experience in the context of the death of a close family member, such as a parent, sibling, or child.
I acquired all of my more noble ideals through my survivor's guilt, and I continue to refine them through a personal ontogeny that is far from finished. To wit, whenever I encounter someone else experiencing their own unique and profound sort of pain, I can easily relate, which is why I recognize that the notion that Iggy is "just a dog" is a profoundly myopic view. To wit, while I disapprove of the death threats and other misguided actions of some of the people who are terrorizing Mutts and Moms, I can totally relate to the feelings of outrage sparked by the rescue group. If I were Ellen, I would have already hired a high-powered lawyer to represent the family from whom Iggy was taken, but I would also be quick to settle with Mutts and Moms, paying their attorneys fees and whatever damages they have suffered, if they would just return Iggy to the loving home from which he was taken.
There are some who say that the focus on Iggy is misguided, that the larger issues of animal rescue and animal rights are being ignored. I wholeheartedly disagree. In fact, my interest in the Mutts and Moms controversy is grounded in the fact that the irresponsible actions of Mutts and Moms have set back the cause of animal rescue by at least 20 years. To wit, what sort of idiot would want to adopt a dog through these sort of sanctimonious control freaks? Unless and until this controversy is properly resolved in a public way, it will be virtually impossible for animal rescue advocates to direct the public's attention to the very real worldwide problems of pet overpopulation and animal cruelty.
There are many people who think that animal rights is a silly cause. No doubt there is a bizarre dichotomy among most animal lovers wherein some animals are viewed as pets and others are viewed as a source of food, or prey for a hunt. This is where I part ways with animal rights advocates like those who rally around the PETA banner. To wit, being a vegetarian is a commendable way of showing your love for animals, but carnivores and omnivores are part of the natural order, as are people who hunt animals or breed them for food. As such, the most that animal rights advocates can hope to achieve is the humane treatment of animals while they are alive.
Is the cause of animal rights a silly one in the context of other, more important issues? Absolutely not. Animal rights is a legitimate issue and part of the big picture, and no one has the right to tell anyone else what issues they should or should not care about. To the extent that we interact with other human beings, we invite them into our lives. But the most basic of human rights is the right to be let alone, so when the message is one that we do not care to hear, we should always have the right to tune out or change the channel. That's the wonder of the Internet.