July 01, 2006
In defense of ovaries
It's tyranny, plain and simple.
I know this will sound anthropomorphic, but I love my dog, and I would no more do that to her than I would cut out a daughter's ovaries. Well, I don't have a daughter, so it's only speculation, but I'm pretty sure if I did I'd feel the same way.
My dog's sex organs are not the government's business.
Proposed legislation which would make me spay Coco is based on highly questionable premises:
It shall be unlawful to own, possess or keep in the City any dog or cat over the age of six months that has not been spayed or neutered, except as provided in §210-40 of this article.Ditto, Capitola, California which recently passed a similar ordinance.
This prohibition on dog breeding (often acheived by emotional hype involving "puppy mills" in rural areas nowhere near the cities in question) targets all breeders.
One animal rights website highlights the text of one such ordinance:
"No puppies of any breeds shall be offered for sale, adoption or trade, or given away in a public place, except by animal care service mobile adoption or non-profit humane welfare organizations."Excuse me, but doesn't that sound a tad monopolistic? Is the "crisis" really so severe that breeding should be outlawed?
As the above site demonstrates, there are unintended consequences of these ordinances. As is so often the case with laws like this, the irresponsible people being targeted simply do not comply. Additionally, the drop in license applications suggest that draconian legislation instills fear into even ordinary dog owners:
Since the passage of this 2000 “spay or pay” Los Angeles ordinance, there has been a decline in dog licensing compliance. The animal control budget after passage of the law rose 269%., from $6.7 million to $18 million. The city hired additional animal control officers and bought new trucks and equipment just to enforce the new law.I can certainly understand why. Ordinary people are smart enough to see that a government invasive enough to criminalize dog breeding and require mandatory castrations and ovariectomies might not be inclined to leave people alone.
The site also asks some good utilitarian questions, and questions the logic of going after breeders:
. . .[T]o suggest numbers of animals in shelters and euthanasia rates will decline if there is a ban on breeding, is a little like saying we could find homes for all the unwanted children if people stopped giving birth to their own children. As with children who end up on the streets, in foster care or in trouble, there are many reasons why animals are left in shelters. It does not appear to have much to do with the operations of most purebred breeders. Thus, banning most if not all breeding will not reduce shelter intake or euthanasia rates. A permitting program for breeding is difficult and expensive to administer. Even mandated spay/neuter that targets everyone with few exception can also be costly. The evidence also suggests these laws may simply cause people to avoid licensing pets. As a result, there is a loss of revenues for animal control including the expensive breed permitting and compliance programs. And there is then no way to track and control unaltered animals and their numbers. In the end it appears at least some of these programs do not reduce shelter intake and euthanasia.In other words, dog breeders (who breed pure bred dogs) are not the problem at all.
Nor is "dog overpopulation."
On this subject, unfortunately, there is a near-total dearth of information. I'd be hesitant to call it censorship (after all, I'm writing this, am I not?), as there's no way to censor information in a free country. But where are the statistics? Every official site I can find lumps dogs and cats together -- using the convenient phrase "pet overpopulation" despite the vast differences between dogs and cats and the huge, largely uncontrolled feral cat population (as opposed to virtually no feral dog population.)
Is information being suppressed, or is it not being compiled? Only one book I know of takes an honest look at the actual evidence -- Save Our Strays:
“The overwhelming majority of the dogs killed are not puppies (as would be the case if there were true dog overpopulation) but young adults that were once owned.”
“The problem is not responsible breeders. The nation needs more certified, responsible breeders. The problem stems mainly from accidental breeders and amateur, backyard charlatans out to make a quick buck on the sale of puppies.”
To me the most telling evidence that the author is onto something is the fact that his book -- an out of print paperback! -- commands $44.95 and up at Amazon.com.
I cannot state with certainty that there is no dog overpopulation in the United States. However, if there are not enough puppies to supply demand, it strikes me as profoundly illogical to define the problem as purely "dog overpopulation." More likely, the problem is that people prefer puppies to grown dogs, and some irresponsible people don't look before they leap so they end up with an animal they cannot keep.
Moreover, how is "overpopulation" to be defined? Does the existence of "homelessness" (a euphemism for the socially problematic) mean there is a human overpopulation problem? Does the fact that millions of children are surrendered for adoption or placed in foster homes indicate a human overpopulation problem? How?
Does the fact that there are "unwanted" children mean there are too many? In the home of the people who had them, possibly. But I don't see what the fact that some people -- or some dogs -- are unwanted has to do with population. This is not to say that animals cannot and do not overpopulate. Feral cats are a good example. So are deer. But I can't remember the last time I saw (in the United States) packs of starving stray dogs running about.
It is not surprising that not as many people want grown dogs as want puppies. After all, a dog is a bit like a child. The younger it is when you get it, the earlier the bond, the stronger and more intimate the relationship. This may be cruel, but it reflects reality.
How many adoptive parents will take an unwanted teenager?
Aside from the fact that puppies are only rarely found in shelters, adopting puppies from shelters can be a bad idea, as there's no way of knowing its health or disposition ancestry (or even what size it will be). This means that like it or not, responsible dog breeders are the best source for healthy, reliable puppies.
So why target them?
I don't know, but I suspect this has more to do with issues of power than dog overpopulation.
Back to my personal issue. Coco has never been bred, which is my business. And Coco's. She might be bred, and then again she might never be bred. It's not very difficult dealing with ten days of discharge twice a year, and with Puff, allowing him to keep his testicles (and his integrity) posed no problems at all.
I don't care what excuses they offer, the government has no right to mess with genitalia.
(Mine or Coco's.)
MORE: Anyone who thinks I am engaged in hysteria (or exaggerating about the goal being complete elimination of all dog breeding) should read the Institute for Animal Rights Law's MODEL MANDATORY SPAY/NEUTER STATUTE.
AND MORE: Here's another high priced used paperback -- The Hijacking of the Humane Movement: Animal Extremism
UPDATE (06/02/06): Out for fireworks last night, and this morning I see Glenn Reynolds has linked this post. Thanks Glenn, and a happy Fourth to all!
(In all honesty, I never thought of this post as a defense of ovarian independence, but I'm all for it!)
One more thing. Considering Glenn's link to Virginity or Death!, and Ana Marie Cox's review of it, I think this is a good time to remind readers that Coco is still a virgin.
UPDATE (07/04/06): You can have our guns and ovaries when you pry them from our cold dead paws! (Some Fourth of July thoughts.)
posted by Eric on 07.01.06 at 10:29 AM
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