09 October 2013

Man's best friend is ... a person?

For as long as I can remember I have been a great lover of dogs.  In fact, I can't remember meeting a dog I haven't liked.  I've even been known to say that, with a little jesting, when I visit someone's home I first pet the dog, then look at their books, and then talk with the person (a human, in this case), in that order.  And once I start talking with the people I am visiting, I am usually petting their dog the entire time.

I bring this up because the New York Times has published a letter to the editor by George Burns who, after studying MRIs of dogs' brains argues that "dogs are people, too."

Based on his studies, he concludes:
But now, by using the M.R.I. to push away the limitations of behaviorism, we can no longer hide from the evidence. Dogs, and probably many other animals (especially our closest primate relatives), seem to have emotions just like us. And this means we must reconsider their treatment as property.
One alternative is a sort of limited personhood for animals that show neurobiological evidence of positive emotions. Many rescue groups already use the label of “guardian” to describe human caregivers, binding the human to his ward with an implicit responsibility to care for her. Failure to act as a good guardian runs the risk of having the dog placed elsewhere. But there are no laws that cover animals as wards, so the patchwork of rescue groups that operate under a guardianship model have little legal foundation to protect the animals’ interest.
If we went a step further and granted dogs rights of personhood, they would be afforded additional protection against exploitation. Puppy mills, laboratory dogs and dog racing would be banned for violating the basic right of self-determination of a person.
I fully expect a great many people will hop on board his suggestion, but I will not be one of them.  And of those who hop on board with him, how many would also support the Personhood Amendment or other legislation that seeks to protect the lives of unborn human beings from the horror of abortion?

1 comment:

  1. Redefining marriage,
    Redefining personhood,
    Man marries dog.