Friday, October 19, 2007

Putting the Mutts and Moms Controversy into Perspective

Over the last week or so, I've injected myself into the Mutts and Moms controversy, stating unequivocally that the Mutts and Moms dog rescue group should not have removed the dog Iggy from the loving home where Ellen Degeneres placed it, and that they should return Iggy to that home sooner rather than later. The vast majority of people who have expressed an opinion on this topic agree with me -- 80 to 95 percent, depending on whose counting --but I have gone out of my way to engage those who do not agree with me in an attempt to reach out to the opposition and find common ground. Specifically, I've tried to engage those people who feel that Mutts and Moms has some sort of right to claim the high moral ground in this controversy because Ellen entered into a contract with the rescue group. Meanwhile, I've done my best to ignore the gay-bashers and the people who dismiss the controversy as meaningless with the assertion, "Who cares!? It's just a dog!" I will continue to ignore the gay-bashers for now, other than to say that I consider them to be as ignorant and misguided as the worst kind of racists, xenophobes, and warmongers; the people that I hope to reach out to with this particular blog post are the otherwise decent people who just don't get why some people care so deeply about the Mutts and Moms controversy.

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.

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Blogger Laurel said...

Ellen is taking this way too far. Poor thing, sounds a little paranoid to me.

Mutts and Moms is not a business, it's a non profit organization. Marina Baktis takes her time after work to seard the pounds and rescue dogs from certan death, then they llive with her in her home until adopted. She has stringent rules for her adoptive families and Ellen's celebrity doesn't excuse her from the obligations of a signed contract.

I have one of M& M's pups and I knew form the beginning that the contract was to be abided by, down to Marina's name being on the microchip as well as the tag on my dog's collar.

Ellen may believe that pets are disposable, but MArina certainly does not. Ellen should be ashamed of herself for the fake histrionics.

4:33 PM, November 07, 2007  
Blogger Japhy said...

"The bond between humans and their pets is one that is often much stronger than the bond between humans and their family members."

Um, no.

8:21 PM, January 16, 2008  

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