Is Starving a Dog Art?

Some years ago when I lived in Britain, during the IRA terrorist campaign, a mortar was launched into a park in central London. One or two people might have been killed. There was the usual uproar in the press. When the media frenzy had subsided, a friend, weary of the incessant coverage, cynically remarked, “Thank God no dogs were killed.”

Intentionally killing or injuring animals, especially dogs and cats, has the ability to move us to pity or outrage as few other things do. This feeling, I think, goes beyond normal human empathy. We sentimentalize animals. Without warrant, we endow them with human characteristics and project on them human needs and wants. It’s a cult. Consider that in 2006, $39 billion was spent in the United States feeding cats and dogs rich, high protein, nutritionally balanced diets, so much in fact some of them have contracted classic industrial nation illnesses, like Type II diabetes and heart disease. Billions more were spent on veterinary fees, grooming, fencing, training, toys, worming pills, kennelling and so on. Consider also that between the years 2000 and 2006 25% of the world’s children under age 5 were “severely” or “moderately” underweight. These facts are not unrelated. Continue reading