Ethics of Dog Sports
Is that an oxymoron? Who regulates dog sports ethics? Dog sports, breeding, conformation, agility, obedience competition, working dogs…etc., are all so common that many don’t even blink an eye when they are mentioned. But who is looking out for a dogs’ rights and welfare?
The well-off percentage of the population often has access to the best healthcare, most powerful attorneys, best clothes, nicest homes, etc. However, imagine that even with all of that fame and fortune, the peer pressure of others and conflict of interests skewed the ability of the individual to do what is healthy or humane for themselves? And instead the omnipotent were conversely powerless. Sounds crazy right? Well, maybe not so crazy after all. Recently, Hall of Famer, Dan Marino proclaimed he could not defend and stick up for himself and his health when playing a sport at the highest level. If a wealthy and powerful man, with all the perceived power in the world, can not stick up for himself, how can a simple animal without a voice, fame or riches? Unfortunately, they can’t. It’s up to all of us to be their voice and to put an end to unnecessary animal abuse and exploitation.
If some of the world’s richest, powerful and influential people, with access to media, PR, and millions of people, are not able to do what is in the best interest for their health, how can one expect an animal with no rights, voice, PR agencies, riches, lawyers or lobbyists sticking up for them? Who is looking out for dogs, horses and all animals in sports? And how does the inherent conflict of interest play a part in an animal’s mistreatment?
When money and ego enter the equation, there is an inverse correlation and perverse relationship between winning, and the health of the human and nonhuman animal (hereafter animal). First, let me describe what I mean when I say, ‘health’. Not only is the organism implied to be free from disease, pain, injury, or illness but I am also referring to the overall mental, emotional, physiological, behavioral, medical, physical, social and all other aspects that contribute to the wholeness and oneness of a being.
Health also means taking into account and focusing on the animals’ equality, autonomy, liberty, will, and desire and educating an animal in a humane, force-free manner without punition and unnecessary stress.
There is a resounding, deafening silence when it comes to an animal’s best interest, that speaks loud and clear. This gaping lack of support for what is in an animals’ best interests, speaks to the unfair treatment not only on the farm but on the playing field where they are taken advantage of and exploited. Because animals don’t communicate in the same way that humans do, animals’ interests are not at the forefront and spoken about. The perception is that it simply doesn’t ‘benefit’ anyone to speak up for them, and consequently, they are treated as ‘things and property’ and not sentient beings that feel pain and have emotions the same as you and I. Sadly animals’ interests are ancillary and tertiary to a humans’, where the prevalent speciesism is so engrained it permeates the fabric of our culture.
However, even with all of the differences an animal may have with us, what binds us all together is the ability to feel profound, love, pain, joy, and suffering. This sentience is what connects all beings to one another. Humans are animals and are no different to others than the ocean is different from the waves.
Sticking up for an animal’s rights is synonymous with sticking up for humanity and oneself. They are one and the same.
Animals are here with us not for us; it is about time we treat them with compassion, as we would like to be treated.