The following post is the second part in a series of posts dedicated to Zoopolis. If you haven’t read the first part yet it is recommended that you do so before reading the following text, especially if you haven’t read the book Zoopolis itself.
In this part we’ll focus on the first Zoopolis’ citizenship category – full citizenship for domesticated animals.
As argued in the former post Donaldson and Kymlicka think that the reason animals haven’t gained rights yet is because of the animal rights theory which they find unattainable and unjust. One of the injustices they point at is the abolitionist/extinctionist position which is a common resolution among activists regarding “farm animals”. In this text we’ll present and object to their arguments against the abolitionist/extinctionist position. In the next post we’ll present and object to their alternative model for domesticated animals.
Donaldson and Kymlicka provide a brief explanation for their opposition to the abolitionist/extinctionist position:
“In short, we believe that the abolitionist approach is multiply flawed; it wrongly treats states of dependency as inherently undignified, and wrongly treats human-animal interaction as somehow unnatural. Once we set aside these misconceptions, there is no reason to assume that domesticated animals are stuck in a condition of intrinsic and unalterable injustice that can only be remedied through their extinction (a goal which itself could only be achieved through further unjust exercises of coercion and confinement).”
But states of dependency are inherently problematic and harmful, and were definitely not chosen by the depended. Opposite views can only be held by the ones who are not depended. It is not up to the rulers to determine whether their domination is just – domination mustn’t exist at all.
The problem is not only that human-animal interaction is somehow unnatural, but that it is in every possible aspect unethical. Relationships which are by definition and unavoidably so unequal and so unilaterally depended, are unethical.
But the main problem is not that domesticated animals are stuck in a condition of intrinsic and unalterable injustice but that domesticated animals are stuck in a condition of intrinsic and unalterable suffering, and that can truly only be remedied through their extinction.
Donaldson and Kymlicka focus on dependency, but the main reasons behind the abolitionist/extinctionist’s position that these animals should go extinct are far from being summed up by dependency. Domesticated animals tend to have a significantly reduced brain size, decreased fearfulness, increased morbidity, decreased resistibility, and of course high dependency – all are very severe harms which justify, in our view, that these animals would cease to exist. But “farm” animals’ selection for increased “productivity”, which is incomparably more intensive, has resulted in animals suffering just from being alive. We were very surprised that the existence of these animals – humans’ most horrible creation – is even questionable.
Much of the suffering in factory farms is due to their dire conditions but not all of it. Almost each and every “farm” animal would severely suffer at some point even if they would all live under great conditions.
Chickens are by far the most common “farm” animal (humans consume more fishes than chickens but most are not domesticated ones) and they are also the ones who more than any other animal would suffer from the inherent, internal harms humans have forced them to endure, regardless of their external living conditions.
Chickens have been selectively bred to grow as fast as possible in as short as possible period. Their diet also plays a very significant part in their accelerated growth as well the lightening manipulations in the sheds they are imprisoned in, but the most prominent factor is their genetics.
About one hundred years ago chickens lived 16 weeks before they were murdered. 30 years ago that number dropped to 12 weeks. Now they gain more or less the same weight in just 6 weeks.
This extreme fast growth rate means that chickens are growing too fast for their legs, hearts and lungs. Millions of birds suffer heart failure each year. Cardiac arrhythmias have been found in chickens as young as 7 days of age!
The strain on their cardiovascular system is enormous, causing “congestive heart failure” which causes ascites – pooling of blood fluids in the abdomen. The high oxygen demand of rapid growth combined with restricted space for blood, which flows through the capillaries of the lung, results in an internal accumulation of yellow or blood-stained fluid in the abdomen.
These diseases would be less common once chickens live outside factory farms but they will not disappear.
And the same goes for the chickens’ severe and crippling leg problems resulted from their huge breast muscle that cannot be supported by their weak skeletons.
The most common skeletal disease in chickens is angular bone deformities occurring when the legs become bowed in or out, and may even be twisted. Angular bone disorder can be observed from as early as 6 to 8 days, resulting in crippled chicks who are unable to reach the feed or the water.
Another very common skeletal disease in chickens is Tibial Dyschondroplasia (TD) in which the young leg bones of the growing birds develop crippling fissures and fractures. The bird’s body grows too fast for the bone plates to accommodate. Consequently, the birds develop angular bone deformities and Spondylolisthesis (“kinky back”), in which the vertebra snaps and puts pressure on the spinal cord, causing paralysis. The birds can only move by using their wings for balance. In addition to TD, studies have shown that 90% of birds have a detectable abnormality in their gait. Other pathological leg conditions which have been found in chickens are: Rotated Tibia, Rickets, and Chondrodystrophy (“slipped tendons”).
These birds will not die from hunger as they do in the industry because they would be taken care of by the human community, and probably the frequency of these cases would decrease outside of factory farms, but still, millions of chickens would still suffer extreme pain all the time just by being alive.
Selection for rapid increases in muscle mass is highly correlated with selection for increased appetite drive. Chickens selected for meat production don’t stop eating when their metabolic needs are met, but when their gut is completely full. That means that the only way to temporarily prevent the chickens’ suffering from all the aforementioned diseases is by a significant restriction of their food, an act that would keep them hungry all the time. And indeed this is the industry’s extremely cruel “solution” for breeding flocks. They constantly starve the breeding chickens, because if they would eat as much as they want, most would die before puberty. These chickens are chronically hungry, frustrated and stressed. They are highly motivated to eat all the time and so display abnormal forms of oral behavior such as stereotype pecking at non-food objects and excessive preening. They are literally going mad from hunger.
Chickens genetically selected to suit the flesh industry, would be the most severe victims of the insistency to keep these poor animals alive instead of supporting their extinction, but other animals would also terribly suffer from this decision, including other kinds of chickens.
The most notorious aspect of the egg industry is the battery cages, but chickens selected for the egg industry suffer from many other factors regardless of their horrific prison cells. One of them is that they lay 15 times the amount of eggs they would produce naturally. Each hen produces about 300 eggs per year. This is twice as many eggs as a hen produced 50 years ago, and it is compared with only about 20 eggs laid each year by their wild ancestors. This enormous amount has dire consequences for the chickens’ health, for example, it puts a strain on the hens’ calcium reserves. Since calcium is an important mineral in egg shells, by laying so many eggs the hens lose a lot of calcium and this makes their bones very brittle. The quantity of calcium for yearly egg production a hen will use is 30 times greater than there is in her entire skeleton. Calcium deficiency and osteoporosis are very common among hens in the egg industry. And it can result in broken bones, paralysis, and even death.
Another severe health condition which is independent of the chickens’ external living conditions is Uterus “Prolapse”. Modern eggs are too big to be laid. When huge eggs are pushed through the vagina of small birds, they wear out the uterus that is forcefully strained day after day to eject them. The result is a prolapsed uterus.
Another kind of bird which would severely suffer no matter the living conditions is the turkey.
Due to the high demand for more and more “white” meat, the genetic selection and inbreeding of domestic turkeys, have resulted in an adult male bird so large that he can weigh up to 40 pounds, about three times the weight of his wild ancestor. This increase in size along with the weight of his massive pectoral muscle, the so-called “turkey breast”, often results in a bird too heavy to stand on his own two feet – his legs are too weak to support him.
Turkeys’ legs are too fragile to bear their own weight because their bones cannot keep pace with the high-speed growth to huge unnatural sizes. Their hips may also become displaced.
As a result of their forced accelerated growth, like chickens, turkeys also develop congestive heart and lung diseases, accompanied by engorged coronary vessels, distended fluid-filled pericardial sac, abdominal fluid, and a gelatin-covered enlarged congested liver. Tens of millions of turkeys suffer from “round heart syndrome” because of genetic selection. At an age as young as one week old, they suffer from cardio vascular diseases.
Turkeys have been anatomically manipulated to have such large breasts, that they cannot reproduce naturally anymore as the males are simply too big for the females. So unless humans would decide that they must intervene so these poor animals would be forced to exist as well, at least they are supposed to naturally go extinct. That is of course in case their exploitation would ever end.
Like chickens and turkeys, pigs’ legs also cannot keep pace with the rapid growth rate of the rest of their bodies. As a result, pigs often suffer from painful joint and leg problems. One of the most common ones is spraddle legs which is the condition of legs being spread to the sides as a result of incomplete development of muscle fibers in the front and rear legs. These muscles are responsible for pulling the hind legs and forelegs toward the body. Another common leg condition is bent legs. This abnormality generally affects only the forelegs, although in isolated cases the rear legs are also involved. The legs are bent back at right angles and are stiff.
And like chickens and turkeys, pigs also grow so quickly that their hearts and lungs cannot cope, so even very young pigs can suffer heart attacks.
Another severe health issue of pigs is the Porcine Stress Syndrome (PSS) which is characterized by a progressive increase in body temperature, muscle rigidity, and metabolic acidosis leading to sudden death of heavy muscled pigs.
Another congenital condition is tremors (also known as myoclonia congenital) in which pigs tremble, shiver, shake, or are very jumpy. The symptoms generally are present within a few hours of birth and are characterized by rhythmic twitching of the neck and legs with varying degrees of intensity. Animals with minor tremors are able to move and nurse, but those severely affected fail to function normally and are subject to starvation and chilling. The shaking becomes more intense with excitement.
At some point, due to consumer demand, pigs were selectively bred for leaner meat. These pigs are less resistant to cold weather as the fat helped insulate the pigs from the cold. Basically any change which affects the homeostatic mechanisms of animals may cause suffering.
A much less intuitive effect of the genetic selection for lean meat is tail biting, but studies have shown correlation between the two.
Another result of genetic selection for both rapid growth and lean meat is an increased number of highly stressed and nervous pigs. These animals are more likely to panic and become extremely agitated when subjected to sudden novel experiences. For example, a light tap on the rear causes squealing in pigs with a nervous temperament.
Again, like in the case of chickens and turkeys, pigs’ appetite far exceeds their basic metabolic needs, so if pigs in breeding stocks would be allowed to eat as much as they wish they would become overfat, which can result in leg problems and other diseases. So like in the case of chickens and turkeys, pigs in breeding stocks also suffer from chronic hunger, and as a consequence they also suffer from stress and many abnormal behaviors such as stereotypies.
Therefore, the same horrible dilemma is raised in the case of pigs too, why should so many animals be forced to either suffer from chronic hunger or chronic pain, and in many cases probably both? Why should animals who are less resistant, and are highly stressed and nervous, and are more likely to panic and become extremely agitated, exist?
They don’t. And so do cows who don’t fare much better than pigs.
Most of the genetic problems of cows are of the ones who were selected for intensive milk producing but the ones who were bred for intensive flesh production also suffer from innate physical problems. For example, the Belgian Blue breed has been bred for ‘double muscling’ which leads to larger, heavier muscles at the hind quarters. This means that cows carrying these Belgian Blue calves are frequently unable to give birth naturally as the calves are too big for natural birth.
Like in the case of pigs, the genetic selection for both rapid growth and lean meat, created highly stressed, nervous cows. Like the agitated pigs, these cows are more likely to panic and become extremely stressed when subjected to sudden novel experiences.
But the most severe issues of cows are among the ones who were selected for high milk yield.
Cows have been selectively bred to produce much more milk than their calves naturally need and that places them under metabolic stress, predisposing them to a range of nutrient deficiencies, increased leg problems, and a greater incidence of mastitis, Ketosis and other diseases.
Ketosis (Acetonemia) is a very common disease that occurs during early lactation and is caused by the cow’s metabolism being pushed too far in order to sustain high milk yield. In other words, cows metabolize their own body fat to make milk. Cows with Ketosis become progressively depressed and lethargic. In severe cases, they lose weight, become dehydrated, and show nervous, agitated behavior such as delirium, bellowing and walking in circles.
Being forced to produce large quantities of milk, day after day, wears the cow out very quickly, making her more susceptible to infections such as Mastitis and bloat. Mastitis is a painful disease of the mammary gland which is very common among cows bred to produce very large quantities of milk. Outside of factory farms, some of the cows’ milk would be fed to her claves, but since cows were forced to produce much more milk than their calves need these health conditions are bound to continue as long as breeds such as Holstein would continue to exist.
Cows also suffer from various other diseases such as:
Bovine Brachyspina Syndrome – a brachyspina or significant shortening of the spine. Other phenotypes include growth retardation, extremely reduced body weight, uneven alignment of the upper and lower teeth, and malformation of inner organs.
Bovine Leukocyte Adhesion Deficiency (BLAD) – recurring infections of soft tissues, fever, low appetite, chronic pneumonia, and diarrhea. These cows also have severe ulcers, stunted growth, and impaired wound healing.
Syndactyly, also known as mule foot, refers to the fusion or non-division of the two developed fingers of the bovine foot. It is most common in the front feet, but all four feet may be involved. Calves with Syndactyly suffer from stiffness during walking and significant weight bearing on their toes, both result in pain.
Weaver – bilateral hind leg weakness and inability to coordinate movements between the age of 6-18 months resulting in a weaving gait. They have abnormal reflexes and function in the hind legs.
Haplotype for Cholesterol Deficiency (HCD) – having trouble metabolizing cholesterol. This causes weight loss, low appetite, weakness, and chronic diarrhea. Cows with HCD typically live about 6 months.
Humans have transformed cows from strong wild animals who could run away from predators, to huge milk machines. Dependency and unnaturalness are not the only issues here, these cows cannot even lie comfortably due to their giant udders. And that dire condition would keep tormenting cows even if they are full citizens.
Similar to chickens selected for massive flesh production, ducks were also selectively bred for a very fast growth rate. As a consequence ducks are forced to carry high weight on legs and joints which are naturally weak, since ducks do not need to support their own bodyweight in water.
Furthermore, the breeding for earlier muscle development does not coincide with earlier skeletal development and as a result the legs of these young birds are often not developed sufficiently to support their heavy bodies. These ducks can barely walk, some fall on their backs and cannot turn back over and are often unable to manage themselves.
Like chickens selected for massive flesh production, ducks also suffer from pooling of blood fluids in the abdomen (a disease called Ascites). The high oxygen demand of rapid growth combined with restricted space for blood, which flows through the capillaries of the lung, results in an internal accumulation of yellow or blood-stained fluid in the abdomen.
And like chickens selected for massive egg production ducks also suffer from similar health conditions resulted from this horrifying exploitive selection.
In the wild, the female duck lays 8 eggs, two to three times a year. Ducks selected for massive egg production were genetically altered to produce 300 eggs per year, more than 12 times of their ancestors. This huge amount of eggs female ducks are forced to lay, results in weak fragile bones, which snap easily, since they use their calcium resources to produce the egg shell.
Another torment caused by genetic manipulation is the horrific disease called egg peritonitis, which causes the inflammation of the ovaries and ruptures in the reproductive tracts, and dooms the helpless ducks to a slow agonizing death.
As citizens, ducks wouldn’t live in crowded filthy sheds without any access to water. Some causes of their suffering could be easily eliminated by, for example, providing them an adequate water source so they can perform some of their natural behaviors, but many others, such as the ones specified here could never be prevented.
And speaking of water, fishes are not mentioned very often in Zoopolis, and when they are, it is goldfishes imprisoned in humans’ houses, or wild fishes harmed by humans’ various industrial activities. Domesticated fishes in the food industry are not mentioned at all. That is not surprising as demanding humans to grant them with full citizenship would sound even more implausible than granting land animals with full citizenship.
But domesticated fishes in the food industry are suffering terribly.
Farmed fishes have been selectively bred to enhance the industry’s desired traits such as more rapid growth, larger size, greater resistance and “improved feed conversion rates”. Almost 100% of the farmed Atlantic salmons grow twice as fast as wild salmon. Fast growth rates are associated with an increased incidence of cataracts and abnormal heart shape and function.
And the horror of selectively bred fishes got even worse about 5 years ago when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the production, sale, and consumption of genetically modified Salmons, the first transgenic animal approved as food. By adding a growth hormone regulating gene from another type of salmon, these fishes grow even faster than the already fast growing salmons and their growth is also year-round (as a result of another gene added from an ocean pout). The genetically modified salmons reach “market size” in 18 months instead of 3 years. They suffer from deformities, feeding and breathing difficulties, reduced swimming abilities and lower resistance to diseases.
Since in Zoopolis keeping animals in cages is not an option, domesticated fishes would have to be released into the open water. That means that selectively bred, and genetically modified fishes would mate with their kind and therefore their horrible traits would be assimilated, or that they would outcompete the wild ones to the point of extinction and then all the salmons would suffer from fast growth rates issues, or that they would damage ecosystems due to their scope and eating habits, or that they would transmit pathogens and parasites common in fish farms to fishes who live in the open water, or that they would be rapidly killed by other fishes since they are not customized to these kind of dangers. It is not clear which scenario would take place, but it is very clear that all of them are horrible.
And finally Sheeps, one of the animals Donaldson and Kymlicka suggest that can be kept being used by humans, an issue which would be addressed in the next part of this series.
Sheeps were selectively bred to grow much more wool than is needed. This unnatural overload of wool causes the sheeps to suffer and to die of heat exhaustion during hot months since unlike wild sheeps who have the ability to shed their own wool during the warm months and retain it during the winter, these sheeps can’t. Therefore the suggestion is that as part of their rights as citizens, the sheeps would be sheared by humans, which would be allowed to use the wool for their own purposes.
Humans might like to believe that shearing causes little or no discomfort, and that the wool is shaved from the outside of the sheep much like a haircut. But it isn’t. Even if all humans would always shear all the sheeps as gently as possible, the process still inevitably involves grabbing and placing the sheeps in very uncomfortable positions, without them knowing that it is for their own good, and it still involves electric razor running all over their bodies. Cuts in the skin are inevitable. And so is the sheeps’ fear and stress.
An even more inevitable issue is the sheeps’ skin wrinkles. To provide more surface area for wool, Merinos, the most common type of sheeps exploited in the wool industry, were bred for excess skin wrinkles. These wrinkles collect urine and moisture which attract flies. The flies lay eggs in the folds of the skin, and the hatched maggots literally eat the sheeps alive.
Obviously once sheeps are citizens, practices such as mulesing (cutting huge strips of skin off the lambs’ backsides while they are fully conscious, to cause smooth and severely scarred skin that won’t harbor fly eggs) or anything of this sort would never be performed, however something must be done to prevent the “flystrikes”, otherwise sheeps would keep being tormented by maggots.
Under natural conditions sheeps reproduce every spring after a five month pregnancy. They produce a single lamb with each gestation (twins are relatively rare in nature).
But genetic selection and intensive feeding have created a situation whereby twins and even triplets are commonplace, although sheeps only have two teats and can only feed one or two lambs.
Even if, as unlikely as it is, solutions would be found to each of these problems, why should even one animal suffer until humans would figure them out instead of preventing them all in advance?
Redefining Dependency, Coercion and Responsibility
Donaldson and Kymlicka argue regrading dependency that:
“Most relationships have instrumental aspects which are unproblematic as long as we don’t view others’ very existence in a totalizing instrumental fashion. This use is part of the give and take of society, and only tips over into exploitation under certain conditions. Indeed, in the human context, we don’t simply use people who happen to be available, we actually bring new people into the community, at least in part, in order to make use of them. For example, parents often have multiple motives in deciding to have children. They may simply wish to bequeath the gift of life onto another. But having children also serves their own ends-a desire to be a parent, a desire for companionship, the hope of an heir to carry on a family tradition or business, and so on. Consider also the case of immigration policy. Countries routinely favour immigration applicants of a particular age, or possessing particular skills, depending on the labour needs of the host country. We bring individuals into the community on the expectation of using them to benefit particular industries, or society more generally. Precisely because others have an interest in using them, both children and immigrants are vulnerable to exploitation.
But the solution is not to eliminate reproduction or immigration, or to eliminate the ways in which children and immigrants help us to achieve our aims. Rather, justice requires defining a set of criteria and safeguards to ensure that use is mutually beneficial-that it is indeed part of a give and take of social life amongst members of a shared community rather than the one-sided exploitation of the weaker by the stronger.”
First of all, the obvious flaw of the children analogy is that they are humans, and humans being anthropocentric, already think of them as belonging to the superior species. And secondly, they have their human parents to care for them, not representatives of a different species which would not only be extremely biased, but would also be technically less capable of interpreting the needs and wants of members of other species.
But more specifically to their point, if anything, the children example shows how producing children is selfish, functional and immoral, not that domestication can be morally legitimate.
Clearly in all of these examples there are very clear power differences and dependencies. Immigrants are depended on the country they have immigrated to, and children are even much more depended on their parents, who have also chosen for their children to exist. Existence was forced on the children by their parents who created them for functional reasons. They are not created to serve their own desires, so obviously they are created to serve their parents’ desires. The fact that all relationships, including ones between parents and children, are functional, is not a valid justification, it can’t serve as a reason to preserve them. What kind of an ethical argument is it that since anyway all the relationships are functional and involve some sort of dependency then there is no reason to forsake the most functional and exploitative relationship ever in history? Of course there is a reason to cease humans’ relations with domesticated animals and it is their current expression, and the fact that even if one day it would change for the better, it can always return to the present state of affairs, and it is always up to humans to decide. That is one of the greatest objections to the citizenship idea. And as explained in this text, an even stronger one in our view, is that it forces a painful and harmful existence on animals as a result of the violent and invasive selection they have gone through for so many years, which is totally unnecessary. No animal would be harmed by the fact that s/he had never existed, while billions of them would be severely harmed if they would. And even under the citizenship model all of them are exposed to the scenario of things getting back to the way they are right now. Some may argue that this scenario is always possible, however if farm animals would go extinct the option would be less available and more complicated. Yet we do agree that it is optional and quite likely, therefore we are not only in favor of domesticated animals’ extinction, but first and foremost we are in favor of human extinction. That is the only way to truly ensure that such a horror would never happen again.
And regarding coercion:
“The abolitionist position implies that if humans stopped ‘creating’ domesticated animals, they would cease to exist. But this isn’t the case. For domesticated animals to be ‘phased out of existence’ would not just require a cessation of human creation of animals, but a massively increased (and probably impossible) human effort to forcibly sterilize and/or confine all domesticated animals. It would mean not just limiting the procreation of domesticated animals, but preventing it entirely-denying them the opportunity ever to mate and raise a family. It would, in short, involve precisely the sort of coercion and confinement that AR theorists say makes domestication unjust, and in that sense compounds rather than remedies the original injustice.”
We felt quite embarrassed reading how far they would go to validate their argument. Obviously limiting the procreation of domesticated animals when performed and/or supervised by animal rights activists would not involve precisely the sort of coercion and confinement that AR theorists say makes domestication unjust. It wouldn’t even come close in scope or practice to the way it is done by the industry. That accusation is so harsh that it can only be a result of despair. Obviously as soon as the artificial inseminations of farm animals would cease, only the living population would remain, and since most of these animals are already castrated they wouldn’t need to go through any procedure. The rest can be transferred into designated farms where they would be spayed and neutered and if for some reason it can’t be done without harming them then they can live separately in terms of gender so they won’t reproduce. That is very far from ideal however it would never be anything close to “involve precisely the sort of coercion and confinement that AR theorists say makes domestication unjust“.
Besides, as earlier explained, many farm animals would suffer from genetic deforms and diseases when they’ll reach maturity and would have to be euthanized.
Dogs and cats who live in humans’ houses are anyway spayed and neutered, and the only reason why most of the stray cats and dogs are not already spayed and neutered is because of humans’ carelessness, not their respect for animals’ freedom to reproduce.
“Our concern is that the abolitionist/extinctionist position supports a massive intervention and makes no attempt to justify it in relation to the individuals whose liberty is being restricted.”
The reality is the exact opposite. The abolitionist/extinctionist position is trying to prevent the endless cycle of restrictions of individuals’ liberty by preventing them from being born into such a speciesist and exploitative world, and into such restrictive bodies. It is the opposite position to the abolitionist/extinctionist which perpetuates the situation in which billions of individuals whose liberty is being restricted, would keep being created.
It is not a coincidence that Donaldson and Kymlicka barely mention the innate diseases and impairments of domesticated animals. Maybe it is a result of ignorance, but it is more likely that it is because they have no solution to these issues. They say little about the fact that most farmed animals would suffer just from being alive.
Maybe there is too much emphasis in the abolitionist/extinctionist position on the dependency issue, but many activists support the extinction option because they refuse to entrust animals’ fates in humans’ hands and because they refuse to let animals continue to suffer from the distorted bodies that humans have designed for them.
And regarding responsibility:
“Our actions, over generations, have foreclosed for many domesticated animals the possibility of a life in the wild. We can’t evade this responsibility by choosing as individuals not to adopt an animal companion, or not to keep chickens in our yard. It is a collective responsibility stemming from the cumulative impact of our treatment of domesticated animals.”
Animal rights activists don’t evade the responsibility to domesticated animals, they suggest a radical solution for their problem. They argue that there should be no such animals ever again. That is not an evasion but a comprehensive solution. Donaldson and Kymlicka can disagree with this assertion but it is not legitimate to describe animal rights activists as whom who wish to evade responsibility. No animal activist suggests letting domesticated animals manage by their own in the wild. Most suggest to stop breeding them, to spay and neuter them all, and letting the last generation live in designated farms until the last one of them dies. That position is not in consensus, some think that cats and dogs should keep living with humans and others think that after everything they have been through and due to their innate impairments farm animals must be euthanized, but none think that forsaking them is a solution. That is a straw man.
Donaldson and Kymlicka know very well that animal rights activists are the last people to try and avoid taking responsibility for animals and yet they repeat this false argument again and again. Not only that they are using a straw man, they solely focus on it and totally neglect one of the main reasons many activists support the extinction of farm animals which is that these animals are born to suffer even if they wouldn’t live in factory farms and would be full citizens.
“In our view, we need an entirely new starting point. We need to start from the premise that humans and domesticated animals already form a shared community-we have brought domesticated animals into our society, and we owe them membership in it. This is now their home, where they belong, and their interests must be included in our conception of the common good of the community.”
It is one thing to argue that we must take responsibility and another thing to argue that this is now their home and where they belong when they feel so uncomfortable in their “home”, when they feel so uncomfortable in their own bodies, when they are forced to share “home” with their exploiters, when they are so depended on their exploiters, when they can so easily be forced back to their former exploitative functions. Depended relationships mustn’t perpetuate themselves. These animals shouldn’t be forced to view this wrecked home as theirs. They don’t belong here or anywhere. Animals who are bound to suffer from their very existence shouldn’t exist.
It doesn’t make sense to try to heal extremely unhealthily relationships with extremely unhealthily animals instead of solving the problem from the root, once and for all.