Letter writer: Feeding pets raises conundrum of compassion

Graphic by Lori Deaton

Not too many thousands of years ago, for reasons about which there is much speculation, humans domesticated the carnivorous primogenitors of today’s cats and dogs. Although their bodies have undergone much change as a result of domestication and breeding, felines and canines have maintained and carried forward one distinctive trait: They are naturally designed to kill and eat other animals to survive.

For conscientious individuals, those who are serious about a plant-based diet, the thought of killing animals and eating parts of their remains is not a tenable way to go about life on Earth. A natural extension of the choice to be plant-based is this question: If I am unwilling to kill animals or to have them killed, rendered, cooked and put on my plate, then how is it justifiable for me to kill animals or to have them killed, rendered and put into the food bowl of a carnivorous companion animal?

This is the crux of the conundrum of compassion that underlies Rowdy Keelor’s desire for “uncompromised compassion” toward all sentient beings and his desire to protect all animals [“Spreading the Word: Brother Wolf Animal Rescue Launches Asheville Vegan Outreach Initiative,” April 20, Xpress]. I wish it were otherwise, but unfortunately in keeping a cat or a dog, you have to participate in the exploitation and/or destruction of other animals.

We believe that we display compassion by taking home a rescue animal. But who’s going to rescue all of those animals that will be put to death to feed the animals we have rescued?

So, how does one deal with this problem? You can attempt to turn your companion animal against its nature and rationalize that feeding him or her a vegetarian diet is OK. But it doesn’t take a lot of thought to see problems with doing this, one being that it’s the antithesis of the oft-heard vegan position that carnivores are designed and meant to eat animals, and we humans are not. If you are making your dog or cat eat a vegetarian diet, are you being compassionate toward your companion animal?

And how about Brother Wolf? Does Brother Wolf feed animals to other animals? If the answer is yes, then that’s one very problematic answer.

A few thousand years ago, a sage walked the Earth, and this saying is attributed to him: One is not called noble who harms living beings. By not harming living beings, one is called noble.

It turns out that the question Mr. Keelor posed is a very good one for Mountain Xpress readers and for Mr. Keelor himself to consider: How can we love some (animals) so much but have this huge disconnect from others who are just as sentient and just as smart and want to live just as much?

— Jim Brown


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6 thoughts on “Letter writer: Feeding pets raises conundrum of compassion

  1. boatrocker

    This topic is a ‘pet peeve’ of mine- pun intended as a pet taker carer ofer (‘owner seems to have fallen out of favor recently as a title).

    Ok, for pretty much raising the same points every time a certain letter writer informs the entire world we should not eat meat at all and domesticated animals are a sin, here goes again.

    -We humans domesticated certain animals quite along time ago to in our history on earth. To cling to anthropomorphic (yes vegetarians/vegans, own that word) beliefs, my question would be what to we humans do with all the domesticated animals on earth? do we open the front door and yell “Run free Fido!”?- no, domesticated animals have now lost the evolutionary skills to survive in the wild for all those centuries of chewing on nothing but a tennis ball and napping on a couch.

    I hope you don’t advocate letting PETA adopt unwanted animals. They kill over %80 of adopted animals at the HQ in Richmond- they don’t kill them for food, they just kill them.

    -I keep using anthropomorphism to illustrate how foolish crying over an animal who eat other animals is. Would the veggie/vegan crowd look down on nature for animals eating other animals? Is a lion ‘bad’ for eating another animal?
    Would the PETA crowd look down their noses at the American Indian idea of the Circle of Life? When I hear someone say nobody on earth should eat meat, I usually think of “The White Man’s Burden” as defined by Kipling, as in the duty of enlightened 1st worlders trying to
    ‘civilize’ the ‘barbarians’ of the world.

    But hey, Mr Brown, at least you don’t frame your assertion with ivory tower Gandhi quotes and accusatory fingers like another certain poster who always is guaranteed a spot on the LTE here. And, unlike most PETA types, I see you actually live here and are not merely trying to flood the Internets with propaganda.

    I’ll keep my dog, thank you. I’ll also feed her animal products and not feel guilty, as if she were an un domesticated dog running free in the wild without her couch, tennis ball and constant spoiling at home, guess what she would eat? Yea. Meat. If veggie/vegan types have a problem with animals eating meat, well, maybe evolution is wrong and you all are right. sigh.

    • Lisa Watters

      Don’t you think there’s a difference between animals eating each other in the wild and the hell that is factory farming? I’m not a vegetarian and I have a dog but even I can see that Jim asks a good question.

      • boatrocker

        Uh yea, I do see the difference.

        I still have yet to hear an articulate answer to my questions such as

        ” What kind of anthropomorphic fool treats a dog as a vegan?” or
        “What is the vegan stance on animals who eat other animals?” or
        “What is the vegan stance on the American Indian idea of ‘the Circle of Life’?”- aka a hunter/gatherer society- yes, many cultures in the world still practice this.

        I think I’ll have to wait a looong time to ever hear a vegan address those points.

        But by all means, whatever you do, do not- repeat do not answer those pertinent questions that matter in terms of well thought out arguments.

        The most egregiously vegan-centric and sanctimonious comment that I can never un read is that someone on this comments board actually thinks it a good idea to feed a dog a vegan diet. Because evolution is so wrong and we humans know better- pffft.

  2. Zia Terhune

    This letter is so unfair. Brother Wolf is way ahead of 99.9% of other animal rescue groups with respect to compassion toward ALL animals. Most groups are still serving BBQ and prime rib at their fundraisers. Have you attended a Brother Wolf event, Mr. Brown? They are all vegan. For this you should be praising Rowdy Keelor and the other Brother Wolf leaders instead of attacking them.

    Dogs can do very well on a vegan diet but vegan dogfood is more expensive than regular. Instead of finding fault with Brother Wolf, why not offer to donate money to help pay for V-Dog or some other vegan dogfood? Dogs love sweet potatoes so donate the cost of a truckload of sweet potatoes (please not all at one time).
    For us who care deeply about saving animals’ lives, we need to be grateful for Brother Wolf and their progressive vegan ethic. If you want to point the finger, Mr Brown, go after the meat industry, the real animal abusers.

    • boatrocker

      I rest my case for trying to appeal to reason for vegans-

      Mtn X published a letter that blatantly disregards science and evolution for Zia’s false assertion that doggies are vegans.

      Want a crystal with that?

      Uh oh, 10;22pm, May 15 Ad- when is this response published online? Not until after ‘save the 4 legged vegans’ responses.

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