Monday, November 8, 2010

Puppy vs. Unintended Consequences

Pretty interesting post over at Democracy in America new law targeting puppy mills.

I agree with the author that objections to the law (essentially it's a slippery slope towards the prohibition of all commercial dog breeding), really don't hold water. As noted, there is a profound difference in what people view as acceptable practices for raising and keeping pigs as opposed to raising and keeping dogs. Dogs have been bred to be lovable to humans and to be honest, humans have been bred to love dogs. It's quite arguable that we've evolved not just socially and psychologically to care for anything that wags a tail, but physically as well.

As the author says quite nicely:

We have bred dogs specifically to play on our sympathies, to smoothly mesh with daily domestic life, and therefore to elicit from us a sense of duty to provide, protect, and love. Most of us don't feel that way about sentient bacon precursors.

That said, he does point out that as with every law, there will always be unintended consequences:

The more serious objection to Prop B is that these days puppy mills are not a product of insufficient legislation, but insufficient enforcement. Placing further burdens on law-abiding breeders will do nothing to shut down the cruel backwoods puppy factories already illegal under existing animal-cruelty provisions. Indeed, insofar as Prop B increases compliance costs for law-abiding breeders, we should expect the price of well-treated puppies to rise relative to their puppy-mill counterparts. Moreover, some relatively humane breeders no doubt have over 50 breeding dogs. The least indispensable breeding dogs are likely to be the oldest, least-adoptable ones. Many of these will be killed thanks to Prop B. Meanwhile, unless the new law is accompanied by stepped-up enforcement efforts, outlaw puppy manufacturers will continue to thrive. Tender sentiments can make law, but they can't make the sheriff give a damn.

Interesting post and well worth reading.

NOTE: I find this to be an extremely apt point from the Comments:

These sorts of laws are comforting, in a strange way, because they give one a sense that the people who pass them really have pretty good lives. People living in the midst of a war, or abject poverty, or struggling to recover from a natural disaster or plague, would not trouble themselves about the happiness of puppies. The fact that puppy happiness is a serious ballot issue in one of the poorest states in the union tells me that, despite all the doom and gloom coming from the politicians and pundits, life in America is still pretty good.

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