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.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Scientists Find a Touch of "Humanity" in Rats

A University of Chicago study was recently reported in the journal Science:

hero ratExperimenters put a rat in a small cage that could only be opened from the outside. A second rat introduced into the area would see the situation and start trying to free the caged rat. When the second rat figured out how to rescue the first, the two were observed to do what the researchers called a celebration dance.

More on this can be found at the New York Times, including how the rescuer would share treats with the rescuee.

William Mullen, in the Tribune Newspapers, adds:
Previously, scientists thought that empathy and pro-social behavior to help others were unique to humans... The experiment is being hailed as a new paradigm that will help scientists trace the development of emotions in mammals back through the evolutionary tree.

Well, I'm glad that some scientists are beginning to pay attention to the way animals act. They're using the wrong assumption if they're looking for the "evolution" of emotions, however. Emotions did not evolve; they arise from the spirit, the essence of being, which is fundamentally the same in all living beings. What's different is the expression of emotions, due to physical differences in the bodies, and that is what keeps people thinking humans are so different from the rest of the animal world.