The following post is the third part in a series of posts dedicated to Zoopolis. If you haven’t read the previous ones yet, it is recommended that you do so before 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.
When it comes to domesticated animals Donaldson and Kymlicka approach rests on two main ideas:
“(1) domesticated animals must be seen as members of our community. Having brought such animals into our society, and deprived them of other possible forms of existence (at least for the foreseeable future), we have a duty to include them in our social and political arrangements on fair terms. As such, they have rights of membership-rights that go beyond the universal rights owed to all animals, and which are hence relational and differentiated;
(2) the appropriate conceptual framework for thinking about these relational membership rights is that of citizenship. Citizenship, in turn, has at least three core elements: residency (this is their home, they belong here), inclusion in the sovereign people (their interests count in determining the public good), and agency (they should be able to shape the rules of cooperation).”
But what would this model look like in practice? What would it mean to view domesticated animals through the lens of membership and citizenship? What forms of use of, or interaction with domesticated animal citizens would be permitted, and under what conditions?
Donaldson and Kymlicka detail what the idea of citizenship entails in nine areas:
1) Basic socialization
2) Mobility and the sharing of public space
3) Duties of protection
4) Use of animal products
5) Use of animal labor
6) Medical care
7) Sex and reproduction
9) Political representation
1) Basic Socialization
“…socialization is different from training for particular forms of labour (such as training dogs to be guide dogs for the blind). Socialization involves the basic and general skills/knowledge that individuals need to learn (insofar as possible) in order to be accepted into social community-like establishing control over bodily processes and impulses, learning basic communication, rules of social interaction, and respect for others. Training, on the other hand, is about developing a particular individual’s capacities and interests. Socialization is a basic threshold precondition for social membership.”
The idea that animals must go through social learning, and that socialization is a basic threshold precondition for social membership, is accepting and perpetuating the notion that this world is a human world. Obviously it would be humans who would conduct the social training, according to rules they would determine, and a threshold they would set.
Why should domesticated animals go through socialization which would further deepen their dependency on humans, instead of humans going a wildization? After all, all animals were wild before humans have domesticated so many of them, and so were humans. Doesn’t it make much more sense that if they are looking for just relations, historic justice, and to fix an historic crime of such unprecedented scale, that all animals, including humans, would go back to be wild? It is humans who forced this situation on everyone else so wouldn’t it be much more reasonable and fair of them to call to put things back to where they were before humans have conquered the entire planet and domesticated so many animals, than to perpetuate these animals’ dependency?
Why should animals who have been domesticated by humans go through another social and probably biological process conducted by humans to fix the original crime which is their domestication? If anything it is humans who must go back to be just another animal.
And what exactly is the fate of any individual who would “fail” to meet humans’ threshold? Would that individual be victimized the third time?! The first victimization is being forced to live with innate impairments and to be dependent on another species, all the more so the cruelest one ever to walk the face of the earth, the second victimization is being forced to go through a socialization process which doesn’t fit the nature of that individual and wasn’t chosen by that individual, and the third victimization is that if that individual “fails” to fit the humane conditions, s/he doesn’t receive social membership.
“Nevertheless, while the content of socialization is adaptable to individual and contextual factors, there are some general principles that should guide the process. The first, as noted, is that socialization should be conceived, not as the right of parents or states to mould individuals, but as the responsibility of parents or states to recognize individuals as members of the community, and to give them the skills and knowledge they need to thrive in that community, insofar as possible.
Second, socialization is not a lifelong process of control and intervention, but a temporary developmental process for bringing individuals into full membership of the community. It is justified, not as an end in itself, but because it facilitates the emergence of agency and the capacity to participate. By a certain point individuals have either internalized the basic norms, or they have not. Either way, the duty of others to mould them ends with childhood.
At a certain point respect requires that we accept that people are who they are-full citizens, warts and all. After that, individuals who violate basic norms may be humorously tolerated, shunned, or, if they become a danger to others, locked up. But it would be disrespectful to continue to treat them like children.”
Regarding the first point, it is pretty obvious that what would happen is a gradual neglect. To generally state that it is the “responsibility of parents or states to recognize individuals as members of the community, and to give them the skills and knowledge they need to thrive in that community, insofar as possible” is to state that it is no one’s responsibility. The responsibility must be much more specific, for example anyone who was involved in animal exploitation must be responsible in ensuring that the socialization process is implemented along with vets who worked in factory farms. That is just an example for a delegation of power which is specific instead of an empty statement. We are not at all in favor of such a move since obviously we are against the very idea of socialization, and even if it made sense, the last humans we would want to come near nonhumans are the ones who have exploited them in the most severe ways imaginable. Again, it is just an example for an option which is at least specific. Their general statement on the other hand is totally ambiguous. Who are the parents in this analogy?
It is quite clear that the people who would take responsibility for the matter would be volunteers who care enough about animals to do it in the most compassionate and sensitive way possible, therefore it would probably mean that there would always be a shortage of relevant people, or that it would be a governmental process, meaning it wouldn’t be conducted in the most compassionate and sensitive way possible, and that the process would probability simply be forsaken.
Regarding the second point, are they suggesting that animals’ behaviors must be subordinated to fit humans’ rules and criterions otherwise they would be punished or casted out? It is so ironic, especially since the pretense is to get justice for animals, but the more “animalistic” the animal, the less likely s/he is to fit the criterion. Punishing animals for being too true to their own nature is absurd!
Clearly this socialization process would end up being another kind of domestication because the ones who are found the most socialized would gain social membership and therefore would probably reach adulthood and be able to breed, and the less socialized wouldn’t, therefore this process would further domesticate already domesticated animals. So the solution for domesticated animals is to domesticate them even more?
Donaldson and Kymlicka are aware of the potential harmfulness of this suggestion and argue that: “The fact that socialization of domesticated animals by humans is so often harsh and coercive is a comment, not on the capacities of animals, but on the ignorance, impatience, and disrespect of humans.”
The fact that this is how humans have behaved all along history is a very good reason, probably the main one for most activists, for why a total separation between humans and nonhumans is so desired. They want to keep humans away from nonhumans as far as possible and as soon as possible. It is not that they don’t want animals’ company or that they think that animals can’t be part of human society, as Donaldson and Kymlicka wrongly claim (and was addressed in the first post), it’s that they don’t wish animals with humans’ company, and that it is humans who can’t be part of animals’ society.
2) Mobility and the Sharing of Public Space
“To accept domesticated animals as members of our community means accepting that they belong here in the community, and have the prima facie right to share its public spaces. Acknowledging membership is inconsistent with confining individuals to private seclusion or to designated segregation zones.”
“But what sorts of regulations on freedom of movement and access are permissible within a citizenship model? How do we distinguish acceptable from unacceptable restrictions?”
Even the question itself is anthropocentrically framed and that is no surprise. What is surprising is the egalitarian pretense. Of course humans would determine the freedom of movement regulations and of course they and they alone would be the ones to distinguish acceptable from unacceptable restrictions of other animals’ movement.
Donaldson and Kymlicka draw much inspiration from the disability theory, but our world is still so highly inaccessible for humans with disabilities, so for nonhumans? all the more so ones that humans have so far extremely tortured before they ate them?!
And even if our world was much more accessible for humans with disabilities, the level of alteration required to make this world accessible for nonhumans is much more demanding. Will all highways be destroyed? Is humanity going to drastically diminish the high pollution level it produces? The high noise pollution it produces? The artificial light pollution it produces? Totally ban fireworks? Remove any hung down chain from any cow’s road? Any shiny object from any horse’s path? Would dogs be allowed to walk around freely? Would humanity adjust itself for early rising at the crack of dawn because of the millions of cock-a doodle-doos by the millions of chickens? And that is just a very partial list.
However, according to them recognizing domesticated animals as co-citizens doesn’t mean that restrictions cannot be justified:
“As in the case of humans, animals need sufficient mobility, not unlimited mobility. This need may be adequately met with large fenced ranges and pastures, and parks. And mobility restrictions are also justifiable on the grounds of protecting domesticated animals from predators, from highways, or from other dangers, and on the basis of protecting people from animals.”
And how is that not to confine animals or at least to severely restrict their movement? How is that not to restrict their population as obviously restrictions on their living areas are restrictions on their reproduction? How is it not to discriminate them when no such restrictions would be set upon humans? Would other resources be equally distributed between humans and nonhumans?
The human analogy is ridiculous. Their restrictions are meaningless compared with the ones suggested to be applied upon nonhumans even after they would gain citizenship.
3) Duties of Protection
“Recognizing domesticated animals as co-citizens has implications for our duties to protect them from harm, including harm from human beings, harm from other animals, and more generally harm from accidents or natural disasters.”
“Citizens are entitled to the full benefit and protection of the law, and this means that the duty of humans not to harm animals is not simply a moral or ethical responsibility, but ought to be a legal one. Harms to animals, like harms to humans, should be criminalized. This would include both the criminalization of deliberate harm, and also of negligence leading to harm or death.”
The question of course is what is harm? Does removing an animal from one’s backyard by screams and loud noises considered harm? Does using a non-kill trap to catch and release an animal considered harm? Does using repulsive smells to repel animals from one’s garden considered harm? How about directing a strong spotlight? All are considered harms in our book and if it is also the case in the book of Zoopolis then how exactly would humans deal with situations in which animals do things that humans rather they wouldn’t such as rabbits eating the plants in their garden, pigs digging in the garbage cans, goats using their house as a shelter during harsh weather, a cow standing in the middle of the road, a pack of dogs playing in the neighborhood playground, a cat who have decided that someone’s home is now his home too. What are they to do? How would humans protect nonhumans from humans?
“domesticated animal citizens need protection not only from humans, but also from other animals. We need to take steps to protect them from predators, disease, accidents, floods, or fires. In these cases, it is their status as members of our society, and not just their intrinsic moral status as sentient beings, that calls forth our duties of protection and rescue.”
How is that possible without harming “wild” animals? We’ll thoroughly deal with the issue of harms to “wild” animals in the next part, so here we will only shortly argue that the duty to protect domesticated animals from wild ones would probably involve violent measures and surly would frustrate “wild” animals and leave them hungry. Donaldson and Kymlicka criticize the common position among animal rights activists to let domesticated animal go extinct so the suffering from their innate problems and dependency would end, and to leave “wild” animals alone so they would not be harmed by humans, but they offer to perpetuate both problems. They suggest letting domesticated animals live despite all their innate problems and inevitable suffering, and that when “wild” animals would come to hunt them, humans are obligated to harm these animals in order to protect the animals that shouldn’t exist. “Wild” animals would keep getting hurt by humans and domesticated animals would keep existing despite their inevitable suffering, and despite the exploitation, which even if would end in the citizenship scenario, the potential for history to repeat itself would never cease.
4) Use of Animal Products
That point is probably the one that most activists would find to be the most outrageous.
Donaldson and Kymlicka argue that:
“Using others is legitimate if the terms of the relationship reflect and uphold the membership status of both parties, rather than permanently subordinating one to the other, and this, in turn, requires (as far as possible) respecting their agency and choices.”
One example they suggest is wool:
“Commercial wool operations harm sheep in many ways, subjecting animals to painful and frightening procedures in order to make wool gathering a profitable business (quite apart from the fact that the sheep eventually go to slaughter). But one can imagine ethical conditions under which humans can benefit from the use of sheep wool. Whereas wild sheep naturally shed their coats, domesticated sheep have been selectively bred to increase wool production, and many breeds have lost the ability to shed their coats. They need their wool to be shorn by humans once a year to protect them from disease and overheating.”
Using the wool of sheeps who have been selectively bred to increase their wool production and have lost the ability to shed their own coats by themselves sends a very speciesist message to humans. Instead of solving the problem of excessive wool and total dependency, they suggest that humans should keep using the deformity they have forced on millions upon millions of sheeps to their own benefit. Besides the perpetuation of speciesism, it is a foot in the door for the industrial wool industry’s comeback. If even in allegedly egalitarian societies in which animals are citizens of the community their genetic manipulation is perpetuated and keeps being used for humans’ gains, then this world is still a very human and exploitive world. These sheeps need help only as a result of the genetic manipulation humans have forced on them. Had humans not invaded their bodies they wouldn’t have grown more wool than they need, and would shed it when they need to, and by themselves. Using this wool is washing up the crime of the appalling selective breeding which is what enabled this use in the first place. Using this wool is not even a slippery slope, it is already exploiting the pendency situation derived from exploitation and manipulation which must be uprooted not perpetuated.
But according to them:
“Use is not necessarily exploitative, and indeed a refusal to use others effectively to prevent them from contributing to the general social good-can itself be a form of denying them full citizenship.”
“…refusing to consider that group as potential contributors to a common good is also a way of denying citizenship.”
Only that none of the sheeps have ever chosen the dire situation forced upon them and which is the grounds for their alleged ability to “contribute” to the common good.
Donaldson and Kymlicka are, oddly, trying to reverse the order of things arguing that not using wool is a form of discrimination similar to the one imposed on humans from certain ethnic origins who were banned from certain professions. Only that wool is not a profession and it wasn’t chosen by sheeps. Wool is part of sheeps’ bodies and it is available as a “common good” only due to genetic distortion. And sheeps are supposed to gain full citizenship not on the basis of their contribution to the common good, but since they need protection from humans exploitation.
If Donaldson and Kymlicka argue that the ticket to full citizenship is contribution to the common good and sheeps’ contribution to the common good is the product of horrific selective breeding and exploitation, then this is an utter perpetuation of exploitation, as the logic is that since we have bred you to be totally depended and to grow too much wool, and since we have exploited you from time immemorial, then in order to fix this we’ll change the exploitation terms and call it work or contribution to the common good. Humans have been exploiting sheeps for thousands of years to the point that these animals have become depended and distorted beings. Now that this is the dire reality of sheeps the suggestion is to keep using them that way but to regulate it differently? That is shockingly anthropocentric and speciesist.
“The mode of contribution will vary greatly. Some may contribute simply by participating in loving and trusting relationships, others might contribute in more material ways. What is important is that all be enabled to contribute in a way suited to them.”
Surly living with excessive wool isn’t the suited way sheeps want to live. It probably suits them to live with the exact amount of wool they need and without being depended on humans to shed it. This claim is anthropocentric since this contribution is suited for humans only, and it is not chosen by the sheeps, maybe they too would like to contribute simply by participating in loving and trusting relationships.
Furthermore, there is no way to shear sheeps in a pleasant way. It can surly be much less violent and aggressive than the way it is currently being done by the industry, but it would always be submissively and never willingly and with consent. Humans are not likely to wait for sheeps to come to be sheared only when they wish to and on their own time. Even under the citizenship model they would be grabbed by humans who would move a cold sharp instrument all over their body. In the best case it would be very uncomfortable. And can we really trust all humans to always do it in the most gentle and sensitive way?
They suggest that the use of wool wouldn’t be for commercial incentive but for the common good but what if the common people change their minds? What would happen in the first economic crisis? What would happen if humans in cold areas would want wool but couldn’t live with sheeps? Would they barter it? Would the barter be soon replaced with commerce? And isn’t that gradually coming back to commercial exploitation of sheeps?
In every given moment, with every economic crisis, any climatic crisis, or even local and temporarily extremely bad weather events such as a hurricane or draught, or a natural disaster, the first to be hurt are the weakest ones in every society. So why preserve the weakest social class ever in history, which is not only at rock bottom but is far from any other social class, including human salves, which many activists wrongly compare their horror with animals’ horror.
Donaldson and Kymlicka also have no problem with consuming eggs:
“Humans could have chicken companions on the farm or in large backyards-chickens with flourishing lives, allowed plenty of scope to do what chickens like to do, chickens who explore and play and form social bonds and raise young under the watchful eyes of humans who protect them, shelter them, and care for their food and medical needs. And meanwhile, humans could consume some of the chickens’ eggs. It’s true that this relationship would in part be based on use-that is, many humans who would choose to have chicken companions would do so at least in part because they want some eggs. But this fact of use need not compromise the full protection of chickens’ rights and community membership. As in the sheep case, the primary concerns would be to ensure that mechanisms are in place to fully monitor and enforce these rights, and to regulate commercial pressures that might erode these rights.”
Such a suggestion perpetuates the concept of some animals functioning as food sources, which is very wrong conceptually and practically. Seriously arguing that this model could always be maintained or that every human would respect chickens’ rights is beyond naivety.
This whole theory of citizenship is of humans still running the world only in a much more considerate, fair and kind way, but of course even that is according to their measures.
If there is something dangerous about this theory it is not that it would turn humans away from much less demanding ideas such as veganism (a claim which is addressed in the first part), it is that it is a foot in the door for other ideas much less demanding and egalitarian such as ‘humanity really went too far with factory farming which is the real problem with consuming animals, the solution is small local family farms in which animals wonder around giving milk and eggs in exchange for food and protection’. Others would argue that since animals eat each other it is ok for humans to do so as well and offer “humane killing” and “happy meat”. In the best case, this realistic course of events will “only” end with traditional farms and not factory farms all over again.
When it comes to milk they have some reservations:
“Using milk from cows is more problematic. Dairy cows have been bred to produce abundant milk, and this breeding has undermined their health and longevity. (For example, excess milk production reduces calcium stores, leading to weaker bones.) In addition, to make dairy production a commercially viable process, male calves are killed to produce veal, cows are continuously impregnated to keep them producing milk (which wears them out, and contributes to many diseases), and calves are separated from cows in order to maximize the percentage of milk that goes to humans.”
“This does not mean that there will be no cows, just not very many. There will always be people who want to have cow companions (or pig companions), but the reality is that since these animals are less ‘useful’ (under non-exploitative conditions), fewer of them would be brought into the human-animal community. On the other hand, cautious commercialization of the use of cow’s milk could lead to it becoming a luxury good, resulting in a limited but stable cow community.”
Their focus on humans’ self-interest motives goes to show the main focus of the book which is the humane perspective. As we wrote in the former part of this series, we think that these animals mustn’t exist, but they beg to differ and are even highly critical of the abolition/extinction position. However, it seems that according to them populations of domesticated animals should be determined by the usefulness of these animals to humans. The number of cows in the world is in accordance with the number of humans who would find them useful enough to rear them. And that is obviously an extremely speciesist and exploitative position.
The factor of usefulness is the last that should play any role in the decision regarding the existence of cows. The fact that “cows have been bred to produce abundant milk, and this breeding has undermined their health and longevity” is more than sufficient. Regardless of any human consideration, since these cows are suffering by their very existence, they mustn’t exist. Even if humans could find a sustainable model for living with them, cows with innate severe deformities mustn’t exist.
And it is not just cows. Other domesticated animals were also bred to produce abundance: chickens from the egg industry were breed to produce abundant number of eggs which has undermined their health and longevity, chickens from the flesh industry were bred to produce abundant flesh which has undermined their health and longevity, and same goes for pigs, ducks, rabbits and turkeys. All of them are victims of the most tyrant species ever, and all of them must never exist because of their unavoidable impairments, and because of humans’ unavoidable urge to exploit.
Donaldson and Kymlicka are aware of the potential danger however formulate it in a very peculiar if not circular argument.
“Given that humans have a great stake in using animals, there is an omnipresent danger that they will adopt a self-serving picture of animals’ needs and preferences. This is why we have emphasized the need to recognize and enable animal agency. We have a responsibility to try to understand what animals are able to communicate to us about their needs and preferences, and to facilitate their realization of their own life projects.”
This argument is flawed because it is not that humans have a great stake in using animals but that they are using animals, and there is no omnipresent danger that they will adopt a self-serving picture of animals’ needs and preferences but that they have been doing it since the beginning of their history. The great danger Donaldson and Kymlicka are referring to is relevant only after humans have recognized and enabled animal agency, before that, it is not a case of potential danger but everyday reality. And given that this danger will always be relevant, even after humans have recognized and enabled animal agency, obviously there should be no use under any circumstances of animals ever again.
Even if the imaginary citizenship theory would someday be globally implemented, how can we ever be sure that all humans would respect that at all times? And why should we entrust animals’ fates in the unreliable hands of the ones who have been torturing them since forever?!
Ideas of using animals out of dignity and not out of greed are already very popular. Many humans who exploit animals in small farms are often making such claims. Of course it would be very wrong to compare these kind of people with Donaldson and Kymlicka who we are sure genuinely seek the best option for animals. However it is easy to see how easily humans would go from their version of using animals, to “happy meat”. It is not that we could never totally trust humans to always be aware of the line and never to cross it, it is that we can totally trust them to always cross the line.
5. Use of Animal Labor
“So far, we have focused on cases in which humans benefit from using animals engaged in doing what they do naturally-eating grass, growing wool, producing manure, eggs, and milk. A different form of use involves training animals to perform various kinds of work for humans, such as assistance and therapy training for dogs, or police training for horses. There are some jobs that dogs and other animals can perform without significant training. For example, if we return to Sheepville, we can imagine that the community also includes some dogs or donkeys who help to protect the sheep.”
No, sheeps don’t naturally produce excessive wool, chickens don’t produce so many eggs, and cows don’t produce excessive milk. Nothing about this behavior is natural. They are called domesticated animals for a reason. And there is nothing natural about dogs protecting sheeps, in fact it is extremely ironic since dogs have evolved from wolves, and wolves definitely don’t naturally protect sheeps, but more like sheeps need protection from wolves. And also, despite that their function would be to protect the sheeps, the dogs would be another source of stress for the sheeps who see them as potential predators.
And the example of horses used for policing missions, besides the obvious exploitation and speciesism, as the horses never perform tasks for their own good or for their own kind but always for humans, this use of them is utterly horrendous for them.
Even when these horses are not violently attacked by humans who punch them, throw things at them, scare them with flares, spray them with tear gas, as often happens during riots of all kinds, they are always ridden by a grown human and they are always stressed as they are naturally shy animals. Under natural conditions, horses have evolved to avoid conflicts as much as they can, their natural tendency is to flee under a threat, not to fight. And that is exactly the opposite of the missions forced on horses exploited for police work, therefore they are always stressed and nervous.
And as they do in all of the points, they write a disclaimer which is no more than a fig leaf:
“We emphasize, however, that the possibilities for exploitation are very high, and the use of animals for these purposes would need to be carefully regulated. For such use to be nonexploitative, the animal must be in a position to give a clear indication that they enjoy the activity, that they thrive on the stimulation and contact, and that the work is not a price they need to pay to receive the love, approval, treats, and care that are their due (and need). Work must be balanced with lots of down time in which dogs engage in other activities and socialize with their human and dog friends. In other words, dogs (and other working animals) should have the same opportunity human citizens have to control the conditions under which they contribute to society, and to follow their own inclinations in terms of how they live their lives, and with whom they spend time.”
Since they rely on the human rights theory, it is worth noting that in many cases worker exploitation and human slavery is not a result of lack of laws and regulations. Slavery is now illegal in every nation on earth, yet it can be found in every corner of the globe. Even on the narrowest definition of slavery it’s likely that there are far more slaves now than there were victims of the Atlantic slave trade.
There have been several attempts in the history of the modern world to abolish slavery. They have all failed. Slavery has always re-emerged in one form or another.
In a way the fact that slavery is not legal anywhere but happens everywhere makes it worse because it means that slavery exists not because of political disputes between groups or anything of this sort, it exists and is so prevalent because humans don’t care enough to stop it and are benefiting from it.
6) Medical Care
“Health care is a right of membership in contemporary societies, and domesticated animals have the right to be treated as members. This indeed explains why we have duties to provide health care to domestic dogs and cats, and not (or not always) to wolves or leopards in the wild (we discuss our obligations to animals in the wild in Chapter 6). These duties would likely be fulfilled through some scheme of animal health insurance.”
If the point regarding the use of animal products is considered the most controversial, this one is probably considered the most delusional.
In a world where each and every activity of each and every individual animal is directed towards the fastest and cheapest way to gain the maximum benefit for humans, including for example preventing food and water from animals before they are murdered since it no longer effects the weight of the flesh torn from their bodies (even in cases of very long-distance transport by road, railway or sea), it is absolutely delusional to suggest such a dramatic reversal of priorities as health care for every domesticated animal.
It is totally implausible to suggest turning from a situation where every animal exploiter makes tremendous efforts to save every penny at the expense of each exploited animal, to a situation where many pennies would be invested in the same animals’ wellbeing. In a world abounded with wars, diseases, hunger, and poverty among the human population, it is impossible to imagine humanity investing much of its budget in animals it now views as the phase between grass and meat.
Not that humans are by any means more important than nonhumans, but they are in the eyes of most humans and yet a universal medical care is not a right that even all humans are currently entitled to. So universal medical care for all chickens seems beyond utopian.
Donaldson and Kymlicka use dogs to make many if not most of their points along the book, including this one. So it is crucial to say a few things about humans’ relations with dogs.
The history of humans’ relation to dogs, their most beloved animal, is violent and oppressive. Thousands of dogs are experimented on every year. Who knows how many are tied to one place, which is also where they eat, shit and sleep, because humans force them to protect their property. Millions are still forced to serve humans in the military, the police, various rescue units, guiding for blind humans and so on. Thousands of dogs are forced to fight each other for humans’ entertainment and gambling, and tens of thousands per year are forced to race each other for humans’ entertainment and gambling. And of course, in south East Asia dogs are also eaten.
Dogs are also paying very high costs for living with humans even in cases when they are not being used to fill more explicit functions for humans but to keep them company and greet them when they come home. Hundreds of millions are left alone in humans’ houses for long hours which seem like an eternity for such social animals. This issue is very common and practically unavoidable. Other issues are even more inherent. Humans’ affection for the cute and infants like, has produced dog breeds in which full-grown dogs resemble perpetual puppies. On the psychological level, by breeding dogs for Neoteny (retention of juvenile features), humans have created emotionally immature dogs who are prone to neuroses. And on the physical level, the practice of selective breeding so dogs would come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and temperaments, has terrible consequences expressed in hereditary defects, deformities, and infirmities within any given breed. Here is a very partial list:
About 60% of Golden Retrievers will get cancer during their lifetime. Additionally, Golden Retrievers are prone to a variety of health problems such as canine hip dysplasia (CHD), seasonal allergies, and diseases of the skin.
Boxers also develop cancer pretty frequently. They’re particularly prone to lymphoma and mast cell tumors. They are also prone to heart-related and thyroid problems, as well as skin allergies.
German Shepherds are prone to hereditary hip dysplasia, a deformation of the hip socket that may lead to arthritis or lameness. Degenerative myelopathy is also a common condition among German Shepherds. This is an untreatable disease that results in progressive paralysis.
Due to their out of proportion bodies, Dachshunds are prone to getting back injuries that can lead to paralysis and in the worst cases, death.
Pugs’ flat snouts restrict airflow, making it hard for them to breathe. Their eyes can bulge painfully and they can easily contract infections.
Siberian Husky often falls victim to autoimmune diseases of the skin that cause sores, blisters, and itchiness that can be so bad that they chew their own skin. Their eminent blue eyes are prone to juvenile cataracts, corneal dystrophy, and progressive retinal atrophy.
Cocker Spaniels are prone to suffer from Syringomyelia, which essentially involves cavities forming in the spinal cord that become filled with fluid. It can occur in any type of animal but has become prevalent in this breed of dog due to the fact that they have been bred to have very small heads. This disparity in size between the brain and the skull puts the spinal cord under pressure and causes malformations. Syringomyelia can cause severe neck and head pain, putting the dog at risk of lifelong agony if not successfully treated.
Being very large dogs, Bernese Mountain Dogs are susceptible to both hip and elbow dysplasia, yet their greatest tragedy is an extremely high rate of Histiocytic Cancer that typically develop between 5 and 8 years old.
Weimaraners can be born with a rare condition called Von Willebrand Disease, which inhibits the blood’s ability to clot properly.
Poodles can develop gastric dilatation-volvulus, commonly known as bloat, which is frequently fatal without surgery. Poodles are also prone to epilepsy and a degenerative bone disease that could cause immobilization.
And finally (in this very partial list) bulldogs, the dogs who are considered the most extreme example of genetic manipulation in the dog-breeding world, struggle with the same flat-face issues as Pugs do. These dogs are also prone to weight gain, as well as allergies. Some kinds are also prone to skin infections due to their skin folds. The large size of a Bulldog’s head, which has been selectively bred for its pleasing appearance, has led to a problem that is unique to the breed. Mothers have tremendous difficulty giving birth, as the puppies are simply too large to pass through the birth canal. This means that a natural birth is often not possible with Bulldogs. Instead, vets have to perform cesarean sections in order to ensure the safety of both the puppies and the mother, otherwise both could be killed during birth.
Human began domesticating dogs about 20,000 to 40,000 years ago. The American kennel club registers 135 dog breeds, most of which suffer from at least one of more than 300 genetically transmitted abnormalities.
Dogs – Donaldson and Kymlicka’s fixed and repeated example – are animals who suffer from many emotional, mental and physical problems, and other animals are suffering from humans’ desire to live with dogs as most are not vegans. The share of dogs who are vegans, who don’t suffer from any physical condition due to selective breeding, and who live with humans who are with them most of the time and they get to play and walk as much as they wish, is probably less than one percent of all dogs.
7) Sex and Reproduction
Donaldson and Kymlicka argue that limiting animals’ reproduction is not speciesist since there are limitations on humans’ sexual and reproductive lives as well. Only that in the case of humans these limitations are mostly on their sexual lives, and mostly to prevent sexual exploitation and STD’s, and when it comes to reproduction, limitations are mostly in cases of birth defects, not because there are too many individuals to care for.
But they insist that limitations on human reproduction also involve population control:
“Societies engage in extensive use of incentives (and sometimes more coercive measures) to encourage or discourage people from reproducing. Our sex and reproductive lives are in fact highly regulated, although the form that this regulation takes is largely internalized self-regulation and response to social pressures and incentives.”
Only that except for China it is always incentives to reproduce, and only in cases of severe diseases not to reproduce. When did any state except for China (which gave up its one-child policy about 5 years ago), ever restricted human reproduction? On the other hand there are many states who encourage reproduction.
Obviously there is an extreme problem of sustainability, within states as well as globally, and it still hasn’t made humans discourage people from reproducing.
And speaking of human reproduction, as mentioned earlier, Zoopolis should have stated that it must be dramatically reduced in order to reduce humans’ ecological foot print and pressure on other animals who would be common citizens of their community. How is it fair that some citizens have a tremendous foot print yet they can reproduce as much as they want and others have miniature foot print compared to them yet their reproduction is limited?
“Where animals do not or cannot selfregulate their reproduction, the costs to others of having to care for and maintain their offspring could become prohibitive. In these circumstances, imposing some limits on their reproduction is, we believe, a reasonable element in a larger scheme of cooperation. As in the case of mobility restrictions, reproduction restrictions would need to be carefully justified, and involve the least restrictive available methods. This justification is importantly different from the abolitionist call for universal birth control/sterilization leading to extinction. Abolitionists would restrict the liberties of individual animals without reference to the interests of those animals. With the citizenship model, restrictions can only be justified by reference to the interests of the individual, while recognizing that these interests include being part of a cooperative social project which involves both rights and duties.”
In the best case this argument is embarrassing and in the worst case it is fascist. It is embarrassing since clearly they realize that it is impossible to avoid regulating animals’ reproduction since humanity would never accept granting them with full citizenship, all the more so when there are so many of them. So they suggest limiting animals’ reproduction but since they wish to distinguish themselves from the animal rights theory who suggests total control over domesticated animals’ reproduction (which is according to Donaldson and Kymlicka to restrict the liberties of individual animals without reference to the interests of those animals), under their citizenship model on the other hand, “restrictions can only be justified by reference to the interests of the individual, while recognizing that these interests include being part of a cooperative social project which involves both rights and duties“. Can you spot the differences? Neither can we. In both cases it is a restriction on the liberties of individual animals. There is no way around it. They are saying that they are justifying the restriction with reference to the interests of the individual but they are actually justifying it by placing the interest of the cooperative social project (as if it is even an ethical entity) before individuals. That is false and speciesist as clearly they don’t suggest that in the case of humans. The human race is the most unsustainable species ever. Why not restricting human reproduction for one person per couple in order to tackle environmental problems? Or to reduce harm to other animals? Clearly the more humans the more suffering animals, so why not restrict human reproduction in any case?
The road to Zoopolis must go through a dramatic reduction in human population and that obligates restricting human reproduction to at the most one child policy if not halting reproduction entirely for at least one generation. That could be a significant step towards Zoopolis, especially for sovereignty for “wild” animals, the topic of the next part. But that is not on the table. Instead they are making a very flawed argument. While they are not ready to state that humans must drastically restrict their population size despite how self-evident this is, they are ready to intervene in animals’ reproduction. And while they are criticizing the animal rights theory for restricting the liberties of individual animals despite that the aim is obviously to prevent further and future restrictions of liberties of individual animals, they justify their own suggestion of restrictions of liberties of individual animals by appealing to non-entity notions such as cooperative social project. And that part of their argument is fascist, since it gives the moral high ground to the system which obviously is not a morally relevant entity, at the expense of its members which are the only morally relevant entities.
Animal rights activists suggest restricting or preventing domesticated animals’ reproduction in order to prevent harms to domesticated animals. Donaldson and Kymlicka know that but they are making all the wrong moves to avoid the inevitable conclusion which is domesticated animals’ extinction.
“Dog and cat companions have been long removed from a wild context in which they could adequately feed themselves through hunting and scavenging. Feral dogs and cats can often survive on their own, but they rarely thrive unless their diets are supplemented by humans. Indeed, dogs and cats are long adapted to living with human families, and sharing their food. In recent decades we have gotten used to the idea of specially prepared cat and dog foods. (In part this reflects growing understanding that dogs and cats have different nutritional needs from humans. In part it reflects a desire to find markets for the by-products of an industrialized meat system.) But for most of human-pet history, dogs and cats have just eaten family leftovers and their own scroungings. Dogs especially have evolved to be highly flexible omnivores. There is ample evidence that dogs can thrive on a (suitably planned) vegan diet.”
Even if all the dogs that live with humans would become totally vegan, the estimations are that out of the 900 million dogs in the world, more than 80% don’t live in humans’ houses but on the streets. About 200 million are stray dogs meaning dogs that used to live with humans but were abandoned by them and found themselves straying in the streets, and most of the rest are feral dogs. So it would be very hard if not impossible to regulate the diet of most dogs, which would most probably eat other animals. And currently, even most of the dogs who live with vegan humans, are not vegans.
Donaldson and Kymlicka argue that it is wrong to let cats hunt other animals. However, since they are the only truly carnivores among domesticated animals, they might not make do with a vegan diet supplemented with taurine. Since as mentioned earlier they are permitting using animal products, as far as they go cats can be fed with chickens’ eggs.
“a commercial industry in egg (or milk) products is probably not viable (and would invite abuse), and so there can be no mass production to solve the problem of animal protein for cats. However, it could be that for people who want to live with cat companions, part of the deal, as it were, is that they might need to find an ethical source of eggs, perhaps by keeping their own chicken companions as well.”
Humanity had brought the situation that there are so many carnivores as cats and fed them with other animals’ flesh for decades, and now instead of solving that problem from the root, they suggest that if humans want to live with a domesticated animal, that they have created, they must keep another domesticated animal that they have created. A chicken selectively bred to produce as many eggs as possible at the expense of crucial body functions would be forced to live so humans can fulfil their desire to live with another domesticated animal, with a limited freedom and human regulated life so that they won’t go out and hunt. That is to add insult to injury.
“Cats are the only true carnivores amongst domesticated animals, and thus pose a unique challenge in human-animal society. There may be no way for humans to have cat companions without dealing with a certain level of moral complexity regarding their diet and other restrictions necessary for them to be part of human-animal society. (Such restrictions are not just diet-related, but involve careful monitoring of cats outdoors to protect other animals from their predatory activities.) Does this level of restriction undermine the possibility of cats being flourishing members of mixed society? Does it mean that we would be justified in bringing about their extinction? At the very least, it means that any individual human contemplating having a companion cat is signing on for a great deal of responsibility in terms of doing the work to ensure their cat flourishes under the necessary restrictions.”
Even if all cats would be supplied with a protein rich vegan diet supplemented with taurine, some of them would try to hunt. Humans can restrict them from getting out of the house but that would be a restriction of their rights. Of course the question is what is the difference between a cat hunting another animal or a “wild” animal hunting another animal, we’ll broadly deal with the issue of “wild” animals in the next part, so we’ll shortly argue that indeed for the victim the identity of the victimizer is meaningless. But it does matter in the case of predators that humans have created and can control. Street cats not only can harm other animals but be severely hurt themselves by cars, heat, cold, disease, other animals, hunger or dehydration. So cats must be neutered for their own and for others’ sake, and so if a spay and neuter project is successfully conduced there would be no domesticated cats anymore. Humans can easily prevent the existence of at least one predator, all the more so one which, according to a research conducted a few years ago by the Smithsonian Conservation Biology institute and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services, is estimated to be responsible for the killing of between 1.4 to 3.7 billion birds and between 6.9 to 20.7 billion mammals per year, and which is also very vulnerable by itself, but they are not even doing that.
9) Political Representation
“We have also emphasized that domesticated animals have the capacity to participate in this process, if assisted by those ‘collaborators’ who have learned how to interpret their expressions of preferences. But this sort of dependent agency is only going to be effective, politically, if there are institutional mechanisms that link domesticated animals and their collaborators to political decision-makers. We need, in short, some way to ensure the effective political representation of domesticated animals.”
“…Effective representation within this scheme will require institutional reforms at any number of levels. It will involve representation in the legislative process, but it will also require representing animals in, for example, municipal land planning decisions, or on the governance boards of various professions and public services (police, emergency services, medicine, law, urban planning, social services, etc.). In all of these institutions, domesticated animals have been rendered invisible, and their interests ignored.”
Donaldson and Kymlicka aspiration for making animals active in the political sphere is truly admirable. However the citizenship model doesn’t really turn animals from passive to active because it is still humans who will make all the calls. It is unavoidable. At any given moment it would be humans who would make the decision whether to make a decision based on animals’ interests or to distort if not ignore their interests, and it will always be according to human interoperation of other animals’ needs and desires.
Even if it was possible for humans to read nonhumans very well, eventually everything is depended on humans’ willingness to implement their interpretations of animals’ needs and desires. It is always humans’ decision. They can choose to respect animals’ needs and desires or not. Humans can choose to force their own interests on others or to try and be considerate of others’ interests as well, and even then it will always be based on their subjective interpretation of what others prefer.
Given that that conflict of interests will always exist, humans’ interpretation will always be biased.
If we’ll take for example humans most favorite animal – dogs, they prefer never to be alone, walk and play as much as possible, and get their most favorite food all the time. No dog lives like that. And many live horrible lives. And if it doesn’t happen with humans’ most favorite animal why would it ever happen with fishes and chickens?
Even if humans weren’t so biased when it comes to others’ needs, let alone when these needs must be fulfilled by humans themselves, their ability to interpret animals’ needs is anyway highly questionable. Donaldson and Kymlicka are giving examples of humans’ ability to interpret dogs (as usual) which are probably the animals that humans can best understand, but when it comes to other animals it is highly unlikely that humans would be able to really understand them and act accordingly even if they really wanted to.
How is it possible to ensure that animals’ trustees would always act according to animals’ best interests and not according to humans’ self-interest, which among it is the desire to preserve animals’ exploitation?
Even if humans had truly acted in good faith, it is wrong to entrust animals’ fates in humans’ hands, and it is wrong to experiment with interpretations of their needs at their expense.
But way before that, at no moment in history had humans proven that they had good faith, so far, at every moment in history they have proven to have an extremely bad one. Therefore, what we must do is make humanity history.