By Published On: 27 July 20111166 words5.9 min read

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The Case Against Pets

By Julia Feliz, Guest Contributor

As an animal lover like myself, you are probably confused by the title of this article. After all, what animal loving vegan would argue against the adoption of one of millions of animals that are put on death row each and every year because their lives are not taken seriously by the humans that decided to adopt or buy them, and then for reasons, such as boredom, lack of interest, moving, etc., decided to dump them at the kill shelter without a second thought. Well, as you will see, that’s not the point of this article. This isn’t a vegan-only issue either. This applies to anyone that lives with a companion animal or is considering getting a “pet”. I always did wonder about vegans that were vehemently against keeping any animals in their homes. I just did not understand their stance. I love animals and love to be around them as much as possible. Then, I experienced the loss of one of my rabbits, Floppy, also lovingly known as Little bunny.

I’ve experienced the loss of a companion animal before. His name was Echo, and he was as part of my family as any of my other companion animals. The difference was that Echo was a cat, and knowledge about cats and their illnesses and treatments abound. We knew what his illness was and what options we had. As for rabbits, well, this just isn’t the case. I consider myself a well-educated rabbit guardian (I prefer the term rabbit parent). We have tons of books in our library about rabbits, and have bookmarked all the best websites regarding rabbit care, yet when doing the research, there isn’t even a consensus as to what companion rabbits should be eating or not eating. Each country that I have been to sells completely different food for them – most is made up of garbage and filled with fillers and sweeteners. I’ve even found some rabbit foods that contain eggs and other animal products, such as D3. Last time I checked, rabbits are herbivores, so why are animal by-products being used in their food?

Little bunny got sick in the summer of 2010, and five different vets in 3 different countries later, we still do not know why he was sick or what we could have potentially done to prevent or treat his illness. All these “vets” insisted that he was fine and basically shrugged us off. We knew they were wrong and had no idea what they were doing. We continuously took him in and offered alternatives and suggestions as to treatments that we had researched ourselves. It wasn’t until 8 months later that my partner took him to a rabbit specialist in yet another country that our worst suspicions were confirmed. He was in critical condition from what she suspected might be cancer or a severely badly treated kidney infection – something preventable if the vets that we saw had had any clue about rabbit health. Lab work scheduled and new medicine in our pockets, we were finally hopeful. Little was finally looking better and in high spirits. A week later, however, Little bunny passed away in the arms of my partner. He was only 3.5 years old – a young rabbit.

So, why the case against pets? It became obvious to me that we are basically experimenting on the lives of companion animals. Sure we know quite a bit about dogs and cats, but what about other species? From what I have experienced and the research that I have done, there’s a severe lack of information as to medical treatments, what to feed them, what kind of housing to provide for them. How is this fair to them? Some books actually say (and many people I have spoken with believe this) that rabbits will only live up to 2 years, but did you know that rabbits can live 10 or more years? One of my friends had a rabbit that lived well into his 16th year of life. What about foods? I find it odd that people (some claim to have lived with rabbits before) are always surprised by the extensive list of herbs, fruit, and vegetables that we feed our rabbits. They also always find it amusing that our rabbits have free run of our whole house. They are not confined to a cage. Yes, they are also toilet trained! Rabbits are extremely intelligent and crave companionship and social interactions. I can’t imagine how torturous life must be like for a rabbit that spends his or her life in a 2ft by 3 ft cage, yet this is seen as the norm. There is also a misunderstanding that rabbits make great companions for children. This could not be further from reality. An article published in the BBC News (UK) reported that rabbits are THE most abused animals. They noted that “owners” usually have no idea how to take care of them and are usually misinformed by shop owners as to how to take care of them. Interestingly, rabbits are the third most popular “pets” after cats and dogs and are usually abandoned after 3 months of age.

In my opinion, this lack of information can also be applied to smaller mammals, fish, reptiles, amphibians, birds, etc. All quite popular in pet shops, yet how much do you really know about these species? Enough to provide them with a great life? Enough to meet every single one of their needs? How much does your vet know about their health and medical needs? Should we really be keeping these animals as “pets”?

Cute Bunnies

I am still an advocate of adoption. With so many non-humans in need of a home due to irresponsible breeding and so many animals abandoned every day, in my own mind, how could I not support adoption? However, there is a big difference in supporting adoption and supporting the purchase of animals – often bred in horrible living conditions and that which sentences homeless animals to their death, adds to the number of animals in shelters, or to their own death due to a lack of information on basic living standards or health care. I still know many non-vegans and vegans alike that are still comfortable buying animals from pet shops, breeders, etc. I just hope that this inspires at least one person to stop buying animals and to realize that these are living beings and not just items on a shelf to be purchased on the spur of the moment because they are “cute”. I also hope that others take the time to truly research the best options for the companions that they already live with – don’t just stop at what you are told or have heard.

Photo: Julia Feliz

By Published On: 27 July 20111166 words5.9 min read

Share This Story!

The Case Against Pets

By Julia Feliz, Guest Contributor

As an animal lover like myself, you are probably confused by the title of this article. After all, what animal loving vegan would argue against the adoption of one of millions of animals that are put on death row each and every year because their lives are not taken seriously by the humans that decided to adopt or buy them, and then for reasons, such as boredom, lack of interest, moving, etc., decided to dump them at the kill shelter without a second thought. Well, as you will see, that’s not the point of this article. This isn’t a vegan-only issue either. This applies to anyone that lives with a companion animal or is considering getting a “pet”. I always did wonder about vegans that were vehemently against keeping any animals in their homes. I just did not understand their stance. I love animals and love to be around them as much as possible. Then, I experienced the loss of one of my rabbits, Floppy, also lovingly known as Little bunny.

I’ve experienced the loss of a companion animal before. His name was Echo, and he was as part of my family as any of my other companion animals. The difference was that Echo was a cat, and knowledge about cats and their illnesses and treatments abound. We knew what his illness was and what options we had. As for rabbits, well, this just isn’t the case. I consider myself a well-educated rabbit guardian (I prefer the term rabbit parent). We have tons of books in our library about rabbits, and have bookmarked all the best websites regarding rabbit care, yet when doing the research, there isn’t even a consensus as to what companion rabbits should be eating or not eating. Each country that I have been to sells completely different food for them – most is made up of garbage and filled with fillers and sweeteners. I’ve even found some rabbit foods that contain eggs and other animal products, such as D3. Last time I checked, rabbits are herbivores, so why are animal by-products being used in their food?

Little bunny got sick in the summer of 2010, and five different vets in 3 different countries later, we still do not know why he was sick or what we could have potentially done to prevent or treat his illness. All these “vets” insisted that he was fine and basically shrugged us off. We knew they were wrong and had no idea what they were doing. We continuously took him in and offered alternatives and suggestions as to treatments that we had researched ourselves. It wasn’t until 8 months later that my partner took him to a rabbit specialist in yet another country that our worst suspicions were confirmed. He was in critical condition from what she suspected might be cancer or a severely badly treated kidney infection – something preventable if the vets that we saw had had any clue about rabbit health. Lab work scheduled and new medicine in our pockets, we were finally hopeful. Little was finally looking better and in high spirits. A week later, however, Little bunny passed away in the arms of my partner. He was only 3.5 years old – a young rabbit.

So, why the case against pets? It became obvious to me that we are basically experimenting on the lives of companion animals. Sure we know quite a bit about dogs and cats, but what about other species? From what I have experienced and the research that I have done, there’s a severe lack of information as to medical treatments, what to feed them, what kind of housing to provide for them. How is this fair to them? Some books actually say (and many people I have spoken with believe this) that rabbits will only live up to 2 years, but did you know that rabbits can live 10 or more years? One of my friends had a rabbit that lived well into his 16th year of life. What about foods? I find it odd that people (some claim to have lived with rabbits before) are always surprised by the extensive list of herbs, fruit, and vegetables that we feed our rabbits. They also always find it amusing that our rabbits have free run of our whole house. They are not confined to a cage. Yes, they are also toilet trained! Rabbits are extremely intelligent and crave companionship and social interactions. I can’t imagine how torturous life must be like for a rabbit that spends his or her life in a 2ft by 3 ft cage, yet this is seen as the norm. There is also a misunderstanding that rabbits make great companions for children. This could not be further from reality. An article published in the BBC News (UK) reported that rabbits are THE most abused animals. They noted that “owners” usually have no idea how to take care of them and are usually misinformed by shop owners as to how to take care of them. Interestingly, rabbits are the third most popular “pets” after cats and dogs and are usually abandoned after 3 months of age.

In my opinion, this lack of information can also be applied to smaller mammals, fish, reptiles, amphibians, birds, etc. All quite popular in pet shops, yet how much do you really know about these species? Enough to provide them with a great life? Enough to meet every single one of their needs? How much does your vet know about their health and medical needs? Should we really be keeping these animals as “pets”?

Cute Bunnies

I am still an advocate of adoption. With so many non-humans in need of a home due to irresponsible breeding and so many animals abandoned every day, in my own mind, how could I not support adoption? However, there is a big difference in supporting adoption and supporting the purchase of animals – often bred in horrible living conditions and that which sentences homeless animals to their death, adds to the number of animals in shelters, or to their own death due to a lack of information on basic living standards or health care. I still know many non-vegans and vegans alike that are still comfortable buying animals from pet shops, breeders, etc. I just hope that this inspires at least one person to stop buying animals and to realize that these are living beings and not just items on a shelf to be purchased on the spur of the moment because they are “cute”. I also hope that others take the time to truly research the best options for the companions that they already live with – don’t just stop at what you are told or have heard.

Photo: Julia Feliz

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  1. Julia F. August 3, 2011 at 9:08 am - Reply

    However, how does that apply to domesticated animals? Or those that have been removed from their natural environments and cannot be returned to the wild or released in their non-native one? It’s not a simple black and white issue.

    I do agree that animal lovers should consider carefully the reasons they are choosing to adopt a non-human in the first place and recognize the commitment they are making to a life.

  2. Matt Clowes July 28, 2011 at 10:21 am - Reply

    Regrettably, compassion centred animal rescue covers up and, therefore, sustains continued animal abuse. We should be respecters of the natural integrity of non human animal lives, not animal lovers, which, like it or not, consigns us to the same position as those we oppose. With respect.

    Matt Clowes
    Vegan Response

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