Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Lawsuit Seeks Court Ruling on Whether Dogs Have Souls.

Hands up everyone who knows you should never buy a dog from a puppy mill.

Everybody? Good!

But in the news (here's a link to the New York Daily News) is the story of someone who didn't know this, and her dog has some serious physical problems. So she is suing the puppy mill and part of the suit is compensation for the dog's suffering, which apparently depends on the court recognizing that the dog has a soul.

"Umka feels love and pain like any human being whose pain and suffering would be recognized in a court." — as stated in the filing

(The dog's name is "Umka".)

Under current law, dogs are property, and their pain and suffering do not enter into legal consideration.

Now here is a real kettle of fish. Anyone who has their eyes open and pays attention to animals has no doubt about this matter. But will — CAN — a court recognize that a dog has a soul?

First of all, the law and the courts deal mostly with tangible things. The most intangible things they deal with are motivations — insanity, hate crimes, and such — and those dealings are based on a lot of questioning of the people involved. "Souls" are generally the province of religions — and religious people are severely divided on the subject of animal souls. What would the court use to base a ruling on?

Then, what would be the fallout should a court rule that animals do have souls? With the question unaddressed by the law, we have been functioning pretty well with animal welfare laws and allowing animals to be legally thought of as property. That may sound a bit callous at first, but if the law takes the position that animals have souls, would that make them legally equal to humans, and then could a person own an equal being?

Yes, I want PEOPLE to see animals as equal beings. Yes, I KNOW that animals have souls and they are as aware, intelligent, and emotional as any human. But do we want THE LAW to take that stand? Would it mean that we could no longer have pets? Only the most radical activists want that outcome.

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