Animal Rights

The 'One Dog' Policy: Because It Worked So Well for Humans

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The local government in Beijing is imposing a new "one dog" policy in an effort to combat an outbreak of rabies. In a country where something like 97 percent of dogs are unvaccinated, this solution seems both excessively stringent and not stringent enough. But it may be preferable to the Yunnan Province policy of beating dogs to death as their owners are walking them without even bothering to check for a vaccination certificate. A.P. notes that Chinese attitudes toward dogs, which used to be seen as "a bourgeois affectation" and "hunted as pests," are evolving, which helps explain why the random killings of 50,000 or so aroused broad popular outrage. When I was in China a few years ago, a fellow traveler described a market in Gunagzhou that illustrated the changing status of canines: It sold dogs and cats for pets alongside dogs and cats for food. I suspect the pets get moved to the food section if they don't sell fast enough.

Responding to the "one dog" policy, Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society of the United States, tells A.P. "the focus should be on rabies vaccination rather than a limitation on the number of dogs in a household," which makes sense to me. But Ingrid Newkirk, president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, welcomes the "one dog" policy, saying, "It's sad that it comes to this, but for the dogs' sake, restricting people to one dog stops impulse acquisition, encourages better care and will reduce the numbers who are suffering on the streets."

Really? Since China's "one child" policy (combined with the preference for boys) leads to the abandonment of baby girls, it seems to me that the "one dog" policy will have a similar result for dogs, unless we think people are more sentimental about their pets than they are about their children. The restriction is also apt to increase the number of  dogs sold as food instead of pets. Does PETA think it's better to be eaten than beaten?

For that matter, how can PETA approve of pet ownership at all? If a chicken slaughterhouse is akin to Auschwitz, surely keeping a dog is akin to slavery. To respect your dog's rights, don't you have to at least give him the option of leaving rather than keeping him locked up? Presumably not, since that would tend to "increase the numbers who are suffering in the street."

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  1. China is poised to become our first all gay country.

  2. PETA doesn’t care about the bitches.

  3. PETA respects the religious freedom of dogs to worship their owners how they please. Ditto cats. However, the hamsters must be freed at any cost!

  4. This seems to me to be…how shall I say it…

    “When you choose an action, you choose the consequences of that action. If you desire a consequence, you had damn well better choose the action that produces it.”

    Either the goal isn’t to reduce rabies, or they’re in violation of the above quote.

  5. Really? Since China’s “one child” policy (combined with the preference for boys) leads to the abandonment of baby girls, it seems to me that the “one dog” policy will have a similar result for dogs, unless we think people are more sentimental about their pets than they are about their children

    Is this really an apt analogy???

    I mean its much more likely to have an unplanned child / pregnancy then it is to acquire an unplanned extra pet? You actually have to go out and willingly procure another animal, whereas with children just having sex puts you at risk of getting pregnant.

    Obviously, a dog could have puppies, but you can easily get it fixed to prevent that.

  6. For that matter, how can PETA approve of pet ownership at all?

    I thought they called pets “animal companions”. And yeah, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them try to widen their “mission” in the future to try to limit pet ownership. Sort of like MADD has gone from focussing on drunk driving to prohibition. One step at a time, baby!

  7. For that matter, how can PETA approve of pet ownership at all?

    PETA is officially against pet ownership for exactly that reason. However, it is a point that they don’t really push too hard, as they are well aware that it would alienate them with many of the “animal lovers” who support their cause with cash donations. Showing people slaughterhouse practices that have been outlawed for years seems to keep cash rolling in a lot better than telling people that their puppies and kittens need to be emancipated.

  8. “Since China’s “one child” policy (combined with the preference for boys) leads to the abandonment of baby girls, it seems to me that the “one dog” policy will have a similar result for dogs, unless we think people are more sentimental about their pets than they are about their children.”

    I’ve wondered for some time whether China’s market reforms might somehow lead to a relaxation of the one child policy. I know hundreds of millions there are still highly dependent on social services, but I think it would be interesting to see if people are more sentimental about social services than they are about their children.

  9. I fChina would simply open its borders and let people leave if they wanted to, that would go a long way toward solving this overcrowding problem of theirs. But of course that won’t happen: better to limit families to one kid apiece while simultaneously giving the death penalty to those trying to leave the country without permission.

  10. “PETA is officially against pet ownership for exactly that reason.”

    This isn’t exactly an accurate summary of their position on pets. They think that commercial exploitation of animals to provide people with pets creates many problems, but do not oppose people owning a properly caring for pets.

  11. Does PETA think it’s better to be eaten than beaten?

    You know, I asked my girlfriend that same question and guess how she replied?

  12. Jennifer,

    Does China really give the death penalty to those who leave without permission? I know there are dozens of capital offenses in The Middle Kingdom but I wasn’t aware that illegal emigration was one of them.

    Ken,

    Chinese families who wish to have a second child can pay a rather hefty fine and avoid prosecution. Perhaps the tipping point will be when enough Chinese families, enriched by the spreading prosperity, will opt to just pay fines rather than limit their families to one child.

  13. A little talked about but really big question regarding China’s one child policy–enforcement.

    I imagine that in China, much like everywhere else in the world, people sometimes get pregnant–even if they don’t want to.

    You get pregnant. You’ve already got one child, but you don’t have the money to pay the fine. So what happens then?

    Do they have abortion cops? Do the cops come and take you to a hospital? Do they strap you down and…?

  14. Matt says:

    Perhaps the tipping point will be when enough Chinese families, enriched by the spreading prosperity, will opt to just pay fines rather than limit their families to one child.

    That’s already happening.. I’ve read that many wealthy families choose to have more than 1 child and just pay the fine.

    I wonder if that’ll be the case with dogs as well.. the wealthy will have more dogs, and just choose to pay the fine.

  15. You laugh, but there really are people in PETA and similar organizations that want to outlaw ownership of pets (not that they think that pets can be “owned”, mind you).

    http://www.nfss.org/Legis/AR-alerts/Companion/Comp-Wall-1.html

  16. The reality surrounding the One Child policy seems to be complex. I’m not sure if anyone actually pays attention to it anymore in terms of following it or enforcing it.

    A friend who’s been training “barefoot doctors” in Yunnan for more than 10 years highlighted at least 1 surprising loophole. Apparently, the policy doesn’t apply to ethnic minorities like the Uighurs, Tais, Tibetans, etc. but it does apply for the majority Han.

    Pretty odd stuff.

  17. “You laugh, but there really are people in PETA and similar organizations that want to outlaw ownership of pets (not that they think that pets can be “owned”, mind you).”

    Definitely. PETA tries to put a nice face on the “Animal Rights” movement to get the cash and positive press but they’re whackjobs who, oddly, don’t seem to genuinely respect animals.

  18. “Does PETA think it’s better to be eaten than beaten?”

    Seriously, doesn’t everyone?

  19. “Does PETA think it’s better to be eaten than beaten?”

    To at least some extent, the latter is necessary before the former (unless you prefer your meals still wriggling.)

  20. Vicki Hearne had the definitive response to pets as slaves or prisoners back in 1991 copy here thanks to the wayback machine.

    Most forms of possession are reciprocal, she points out, such as if I have a daughter, she has a father. The prisoner analogy precisely leaves that out.

  21. ….don’t you have to at least give him the option of leaving rather than keeping him locked up

    Every time I give my dogs that option they leave.

    Most forms of possession are reciprocal, she points out, such as if I have a daughter, she has a father.

    Ron, I don’t think my cats agree with you. Well, at least the Siamese doesn’t. The other two might.

    Thanks for the link.

  22. good stuff at that link, thanks.

  23. Does China really give the death penalty to those who leave without permission? I know there are dozens of capital offenses in The Middle Kingdom but I wasn’t aware that illegal emigration was one of them.

    About a year or so ago I read an article about a man sentenced to death for illegally attempting to leave the country. Though perhaps he did something else as well.

  24. China has a problem with overcrowding only in the sense that a larger population is both harder to control and harder to provide for when you don’t give them the freedom to provide for themselves. The cities have grown very fast but again any blame for problems of overcrowding (not enough housing, shitty transportation, etc.) can be laid squarely on the shoulders of the government. I’ve driven around the countryside near Beijing and Shanghai and it’s no more overcrowded than, say, Connecticut. And if wide open spaces are your thing there’s always the western half of the country.

  25. PETA doesn’t like pets, but they soft-pedal that because a lot of the suckers who give them money are animal lovers.
    To fully understand PETA, you have to realize that they don’t love animals, they just hate people. They are a cult of nihilists, who latched onto the “animal rights” angle as a way to get celebrities and other bubbleheads to lend them support.

    -jcr

  26. When I was in China a few years ago, a fellow traveler described a market in Gunagzhou that illustrated the changing status of canines: It sold dogs and cats for pets alongside dogs and cats for food. I suspect the pets get moved to the food section if they don’t sell fast enough.

    Or perhaps the reverse? Isn’t veal more expensive than beef?

  27. Ken,

    Yep- abortions are very prevalent in China. When walking around Fuzhou one day, a Chinese-speaking friend of mine translated an advertisement offering one for as little as $30. Coupled with stunning ignorance of contraception methods (due to the complete absence of sex ed), heavy fines for the one China policy make it a very easy and rational decision to abort the child. Kind of a social conservative’s worst nightmare, really

  28. Preview is my friend.

    The one China policy should be one-child policy.

  29. As always, the animals suffer because of the human race being ignorant. If people want pets they should be responsible for them and take care of them. They should be spay or neutered, licensed and all their shots kept up. If they cannot afford this for more than one dog, they should not have more than one dog. Also, the stupid government should have a realistic cost for licensing and vaccinaions. What’s wrong with them? They limit how many kids one can have and now they want to deprive people of their pets. Well, I guess I had China to the list of countries I do not buy things from. One thing though, some people breed like rabbits and then mistreat their kids or have them just to go on the welfare system. Mandatory sterilization should maybe be considered for child abusers.

  30. You libertarians need to be careful – as the image at this link shows, some dogs have it in for y’all in particular.

    (Apologies if it was posted here already.)

  31. I don’t think killing dogs is a good way to keep people safe on the street. althouth dog is only an animal, it is still a life like our human beings. they have rights to live on the earth. if people want to keep health and be avoild of being injured, we should give them vaccination and take good care of them, not just by killing them to decrease the number. people should treat pets as friends and give them the rights to live equally.

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