Should you let dogs get hit by cars and then “put on the brakes” or let them run? If not, where can you find an expert on what’s “humane?”
“A lot of states are looking at what’s humane and humane to a dog and a cat,” says Jim Hines, a longtime Oregon-based animal protection activist and author of the new book, Animal Care and Management, which describes his work with the State Farm rescue network. “I have seen more interest in it since I started doing it.”
The Humane Society of the United States is pushing back against that line of thinking, particularly on the issue of “safe” for. The group claims that it is responsible for more than 30,000 dog-owners in the United States who are required to use this term.
But animal advocates are now challenging this assertion, with some calling for “the Humane Care Code.”
“There is a movement afoot among people with no animal-advocacy experience saying, ‘I have animal-advocacy experience. I know better, what is humane?'” says Jennifer Biddle of Moms Across America, a national animal-advocacy group.
And if people can’t identify the phrase humane to, say, a dog, “what are people going to call it?”
The Humane Society of the United States has been pushing a version of this idea for many years, and Biddle says it gained some traction recently among activists who believe that some humane acts can be dangerous: For example, some animals are considered too fragile for being euthanized during surgery, and they require medical intervention. A person can also be prosecuted for a non-humane act, for example, when a person drives a car into a dog in front of another vehicle.
“Some of the laws we hear about are very clear, but the laws are often not enforced because they seem so extreme,” Biddle says.
While it’s important to know whether a decision is humane to a dog or a cat, it’s not clear that every decision should be based on that specific standard, says Peter Singer, director of animal and resource rights at the Santa Fe Institute, a nonpartisan group that focuses on animal welfare. He believes that while some animals deserve to live, there is plenty of room in the definition, which was developed with a particular set of criteria: It should be limited to situations in which taking down something from a wild and isolated habitat
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