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Animal Overpopulation Essay

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There can be no doubt that shelters in the United States are overcrowded, feral cats roam our city streets, thousands of dogs live in grotesque conditions in puppy mills across the country, and yet most American citizens when polled will readily declare that their cat or dog is like ‘a member of the family’. The state of companion animals in this country is precarious at best; caught between scientists who subscribe to Descartes’s idea of ‘anima ex machina’ (unfeeling, a living example of biological processes without the status of ‘being’) and the more common phenomenon of people who pamper their pets in ways that most people would envy. For most individuals living in an urban society such as ours, the most common interaction with animals happens within the home – if the animals that we relate to and interact with the most continue to be abandoned and mistreated on a large scale, there must be some solution that involves more than just building more animal shelters or performing euthanasia more liberally.
The evidence that pets are not considered very important in the United States is easy to find – as Bernard E. Rollin and Michael D.H. Rollin state: “we acquire these animals while knowing nothing of their needs and natures, then get rid of them because they cannot help those needs and natures…we adopt them on a whim, and get rid of them when it passes…” (Rollin & Rollin “Ethics and Companion Animals” 546). Overpopulation of companion animals like dogs and cats presents perhaps the most clearly visible dilemma – “although no completely reliable statistics exist, it is estimated that between 6 and 10 million dogs and between 7 and 10 million cats were humanely killed in pet shelters in the United States in 1990” (Palmer “Killing ...


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...ernard and Michael Rollin, I believe “that we have a contractual relationship with all domestic animals, but most clearly those who are totally dependent on us, and for whom we have left no room to subsist, let alone thrive on their own” (Rollin & Rollin “Ethics and Companion Animals” 547). Our unique relationship with companion animals should afford them considerable importance in our lives, and as Clare Palmer says “solving the problem of homeless animals is a step toward expanding our caring to all living beings” (Palmer, 579).





Works Cited (FROM ANIMAL ETHICS READER)

Leigh, Diane and Geyer, Marilee. “The Miracle of Life”.
Mathews, Freya. “Living with Animals”.
Palmer, Clare. “Killing Animals in Animal Shelters”.
Rollin, Bernard E. and Rollin, Michael D.H. “Dogmaticisms and Catechisms: Ethics and Companion Animals”.
Shepard, Paul. “The Pet World”.


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