I love dogs. I grew up with dogs, and so not having a dog in college is extremely weird and unsettling. It feels like a part of “home” is missing, and if it was not for the financial instability of being a college student I would adopt a dog in an instant. However, in order to delay the inevitable addition to my family I visit the Humane Society of Tampa Bay’s website twice a day to look at the dogs. Once in the morning because that’s when they post the pictures of the new puppies and once at night to see which dogs got adopted. I often express my happiness when one of the dogs gets adopted and become upset when a previously adopted pup has been returned.
It is because of my frequent visits to the website that I noticed a change. There are now multiple dogs from Puerto Rico and South Korea all with sad corresponding stories. Tommy is one such dog from South Korea.
His description begins with, “I was raised in South Korea in a meat farm where I would have been someone’s meal. I lived in a pretty sad environment with 200 other dogs. Luckily I was saved and I traveled all the way to the United States where HSTB gladly took me in.” Another example is a dog named Acai from Puerto Rico.
Acai’s description states, “There are a lot of homeless dogs in Puerto Rico and there are wonderful people there that have helped to get us off the streets and to different shelters in Florida. Twenty-two of us arrived at the Humane Society of Tampa Bay and we are all so excited to be safe and healthy and ready for our forever homes.” When I saw these dogs I immediately wanted to adopt one. I could imagine taking one of these poor pups home and having them become a new member of the family.
However, I realized that nearly all of these dogs had the same descriptions. They were from a different country where life was bad, but humans thankfully rescued them and now they are in search of the perfect home! It reminded be of Marie Houser’s Grace for a Cure and how disabled animals overcoming disability are seen as inspiring and cute. These dogs’ living situations act in the same way that other dog’s disabilities do; they provide incentive for people to adopt them in order to feel like they are making a difference.
Another theorist, Sunaura Taylor, argues about the hierarchy of disability associated with animals. For example, dogs without hind legs are given wheelchairs and become famous, but chickens and cows are bred in order to exhibit physical abnormalities to make them more desirable meat. Tommy is a reminder of how true this argument is. He is a dog who was rescued from a meat farm in South Korea where he would have been eaten. However, those same humans did not rescue the chickens, cows, pigs, goats, or fish that live on “meat farms” and will be eaten. Tommy is a reminder that not all animals are created equal even when they are destined for the same fate.
Marie Houser stated that, “Human being love animals as only the higher love the lower, the knowing love the innocent, and the strong love the vulnerable”. Houser believes that human beings see themselves as above animals and care for them because they are below humans. These dogs are another example of how that is true. I was drawn to Acai and Tommy because of their sad tales. If the strong love the vulnerable then these dogs were the most vulnerable ones available. I felt like they deserved to be adopted before the other dogs because they already had to go through so much.
I still love dogs and want to adopt one. However, I am more cautious about the stories that go along with the fluffy pictures. A sad past should not be an incentive to adopt a particular dog. All dogs deserve to go to loving homes, and pity should not be a reason why they are chosen.
Houser, M. A. (2014). GRACE FOR A CURE: POISONED ETHICS AND DISABLED-NONHUMAN IMAGES. Journal for Critical Animal Studies, 17-37.
Taylor, S. (2014). Animal Crisps. Journal for Critical Animal Studies , 95-117.