Thursday, September 22, 2005

This is just not rational thinking

"I cannot help but wonder how many more people could have been saved had they been able to take their pets," Rep. Tom Lantos, D-California, said Thursday.

Lantos and Reps. Christopher Shays, R-Connecticut, and Barney Frank, D-Massaschusetts, are sponsoring a bill that would require that state and local disaster preparedness plans required for Federal Emergency Management Agency funding include provisions for household pets and service animals.
I'm embarrassed by this bill. Service animals should absolutely go with their owners—without exception. You don't agree?

Read this:
Simply walking my dog Sabrina around the block, I've noticed, creates a mild social disturbance. Although Sabrina is very sweet-natured, she strains at the leash to bark at other dogs, and she tries to leap up onto strangers who, in their body language and facial expressions, often communicate very strongly how little they like dogs, which of course is their right.

Multiply Sabrina by five, 12, or 100 dogs (and cats and hamsters and snakes and God knows what else), and you have excrement and earsplitting barking and biting and all sorts of other activity that is unhelpful at best and dangerous at worst when you're trying to solve a human crisis. True, some people apparently refused to be evacuated because they couldn't bring their pets, and it's likely at least a few of these people died as a result. But tragic though their fates obviously were, it would have been more tragic, and certainly more unfair, to allow these people to impose further chaos on the appallingly slow and ineffective process by which large numbers of people received aid.
And don't forget how much trouble FEMA had getting enough food and water in to feed the people—imagine if they'd had a couple hundred dogs and cats to worry about, too! And despite the claims of cannibalism having turned out to be made up, there very well may have been a few barbecues in such a situation.

It's times like this (and McCain-Feingold/Shays-Meehan) that make me sad to admit that Chris Shays is my Congressman.


jason said...

I must respectfully disagree. As Gandhi once said, "The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated." If, in times of catastrophe, we flagrantly turn our backs on those who rely on us, we are no better than the people who have caused the extinction of so many species in our history.

Many pet owners -- and I am happy to be counted among them -- view their pets as members of their family. We would not ask parents to leave their children behind, so why would we ask people, already beleaguered by whatever disaster has befallen them, to leave behind the pets who have been their family, companions and friends? It's akin to heaping more emotional abuse upon them when they actually need some level of stability to help them get through the turmoil.

RFTR said...

I'm not saying we shouldn't try to develop ways of dealing with peoples' pets. But we should not be a)allowing people to bring pets into shelters, b)allowing people to defy a mandatory evacuation order because they can't take their pets with them, or c)risking other people because we're too worried about the animals.

We can build a secondary apparatus to save the animals, but the people have to come first.

And if you're willing to sacrifice me to save your pet... well, then you'd better hope I'm never the rescuer coming to pull you out in a boat.

jason said...

The assumption of sacrificing the rescuer for the pet seems personal, so I'll refrain from responding to that other than saying that such willingness to sacrifice a human who disagrees with you is certainly a good sign that you'll never understand this issue like the hundreds of thousands of pet owners who were faced with the decision.

Sorry, I'm willing to sacrifice anyone to save my pets. They are my children as much as if they were human, borne of my own genetic material. Certainly not to threaten your life if you decide animals need protection, too, but it's disappointing to see such a cold-hearted view of this issue.

I'd rather be left behind to die by heartless savages than be saved at the expense of an animal or animals who rely on me for health, food, shelter, care, love and protection, and who have been my family, friends, and companions. What measure is it of me to be so exclusionary with regards to rescue and safety? To borrow from the bible, who cares "for the least of these"? And what is the measure of my would-be rescuers who would rather see animals and people die in favor of rescuing the animals as well? I assure it that bar is set rather low.

I again respectfully disagree. If we can not see beyond ourselves in order to understand the non-human impact and how that, in turn, causes a negative impact to the humans who are saved only at the expense of helpless animals, then perhaps I misunderstood the meaning of the word "humane" and its roots as a variant of the word "human."