Cruelty and pet ownership

There is a story in the news about a woman in Colorado who is getting fined for dying her poodle pink. Pink was chosen to raise awareness for breast cancer. This blog link sums it up quite nicely:

What astounds me is that this is considered cruel treatment of the dog.

First, poodles are NOT rabbits and chicks which is why the law there was created in the first place. Apparently people were dying bunnies and chicks them to sell around Easter time. Using gimmick to push product because that is the spirit of Easter after all. Let's forget that a few weeks later the kids get tired of the blue/green/yellow holiday pet and mom or dad dumps them off at their local rescue. But I digress.

I agree that bathing a rabbit or chick is a cruel thing to to to color them. They are not animals that are normally bathed so they do not take to it well. A rabbit that is over stressed can easily have a heart attack and die. Chicks can overheat which can also cause them to die. Dogs on the other hand, especially a highly groomed breed such as a poodle, have no such issue. Poodles are groomed more than many humans are in some cases! So to say staining the dogs fur with vegetable juice or other dye as cruel treatment is quite bizarre to me.

Here's an idea, how about we concentrate on the dogs living on the end of tie out chains 24/7 or dogs being used in fighting rings? What about the hoarders that are taking in dogs and not feeding them or getting them medical care? What about the people moving out of their homes leaving behind their dogs abandoning them to starve to death? How about we find REAL cruelty to fine an owner for? I have a hard time believing this town has none of those other issues going on within their jurisdiction to shine the media spotlight on.

I do not believe that dogs care what color their fur is. Some might even like it if it gets them extra attention. Dogs care about food, attention and good care. Unless the dying process includes using acid or product harmful to a dogs skin I see no cruelty here. I think the people in this case need to consider the intent of this law, not just the letter of it.

As to the issue of guardianship vs ownership here are my personal thoughts on the subject. I own my dogs because I either bought them or paid an adoption fee for them. One I was given as a gift. While they are not objects, because they are living beings, they are something we can acquire similarly. Because of this I consider myself their owner. However I also consider them companions to me because we spend time together having fun or just relaxing with each other. Their presence is comforting and entertaining to me as I hope I am to them as well. I am also their guardian because I provide care for them. I feed them, exercise them, train them and oversee their medical care. I guard them from danger.

Owner. Companion. Guardian.

Which word is more important depends on individual choice. Sadly some are using certain words to push an animal rights agenda. Unfortunatly not all that is labled animal rights is all that helpful for the animals in question. Peta is just one poster child for animal rights gone awry. In some cases or places, legally it may be better for us to be their owners. Because in court, should something happen, they are considered worth more if they are our property. So legally it can be a bit of a sticky wicket depending on your own local legislation.

I wish it wasn't about the terms, and more about the expectations of what proper care is. Good food, clean water, warm comfortable housing, regular medical care, basic training, daily positive attention. That is my basic short list of what every dog (and pet) should receive to be considered properly taken care of. It is unfortunate that so many pets fall short of that list because of the apathy of it's human owner. Perhaps those are who need to be targeted, instead of the pink poodle owner. Just a thought.

Dyed poodles