I thought some of you might enjoy this video highlighting a few of the adventures from Quest’s first year of life:
She posted about the missing dog in many places, and the vast majority—not one or two, but most—of the responses suggested that it was her fault for having her dog in a car. That her dog was better off dead, roaming the streets, or finding any other home, than it was continuing to live with someone who would treat it so inhumanely as to leave it in a car.
This should send a chill down the spine of every informed animal lover: not only is it absolutely insane, it is a tangible demonstration of how devastatingly effective the animal rights movement has already been in making it socially unacceptable for anyone to have a dog:
They started with a reasonable assertion: cars can get dangerously hot if left in the sun, and anyone leaving a dog in a car needs to be aware of the temperature and take appropriate precautions to ensure their dog is safe and comfortable. Of course, everyone agreed! They began passing laws mandating that dogs were not left in hot cars, and while a few wise individuals foresaw the risk in such statutes, most people cheered and voted yes. Then they began lowering the recommended temperature until almost any day was ostensibly too hot for a dog to be in a car. Then they suggested that cold cars could be a problem. Then they suggested that dogs needed to be restrained in crates when in cars. Then they suggested that dogs should never be stuck in crates because it is inhumane.
There you have it—dogs should not be in cars! Not ever. It is un-natural, unsafe, inhumane.
Of course that it is absolutely untrue: Most dogs love going places, love hanging-out in the car. Love the awesome adventures and enriching fun in which they get to participate by going in the car. Even if this means they have to nap in the car while mom runs some errands. Most dogs, given a choice, will get in the car and go almost every time. Most dogs spend a huge portion of their time lounging about anyway, and doing it in the car is as good as anywhere, and if it means they get to go for a swim or a hike or even just hang with their mom all day, it is even better. Most cars can be kept at a safe temperature on most days with a modicum of effort.
Yes, this means that a teeny-tiny percentage of dogs will die in car accidents or overheated cars or whatever. So will some people. Animals die every day out in the natural world, because life has risks. We must constantly be wary of invoking regulations that would save a few animals or people from harm by grossly diminishing the lives of millions.
It is stupefying that they believe dogs should not be in cars. But what is truly scary is how easily most well-meaning animal lovers have been convinced to accept this propaganda.
For many years, pet lovers have shrugged their shoulders about the animal rights movement—sure, they are perfidious loons, but they are no real threat. They may outlaw exotic species, or chickens or cows, but surely they would stand no chance if they came after dogs and cats.
WAKE UP! They are going to eliminate pets without ever having to say a word about it: They are simply going to make it socially unacceptable to have pets in cars, in crates, or on collars. It will be stigmatized to take your dog with you, or to leave your dog home alone. To feed your dog unnatural kibble, or to feed your dog dangerous raw food. To own multiple dogs which means you do not have enough time for each, or to own a single dog who should not be forced to live a lonely life without canine companions. Nobody should have a dog that does not have a CGC. Nobody should have a dog of certain breeds. No dog should live in a home that is not air conditioned and heated. Nobody should ever have an intact dog. Nobody should breed a dog.
These are not the paranoid imaginings of a conspiracy theorist. Oh, how I wish they were! But every single one of these things has already been stated, many have already been legislated, and most importantly, they are, with alarming rapidity, becoming accepted social norms.
Well-meaning pet lovers show up in droves to support bills and regulations that seem designed to make life better for pets, without recognizing that these bills are quickly making it impossible for anyone to keep dogs in any manner without being vilified.
Make no mistake about it, pet ownership is under serious and immediate attack, and it is up to those of us who truly love animals to protect it.
This post is not a judgment of anything you may have done! I do not know the details or variables of your decisions, nor do I believe there is a single right answer to this complex question. I am only addressing it in the hopes that everyone will consider it:
In recent years it has become an accepted and even expected practice to drop one’s dog at the veterinarian’s office in the morning and return later that day or later that week to retrieve the dog after appropriate veterinary procedures have been completed. Similarly, when owners are present, dogs are routinely taken to a separate room in back for actual procedures and then brought back into the exam room.
In some cases, leaving a dog is unavoidable or the only realistic option. But in many cases, I think owners fail to seriously consider their animal’s perspective, or are simply carried along by inertia and simply do it that way because that is how their vet does it. In many cases, I believe these practices are contrary to the best interests of the animals. So I thought it might be worth enumerating some of the key considerations in deciding whether to leave an animal or stay with them. There are tangible advantages and disadvantages that warrant consideration:
Advantages to leaving your animal at the vet office:
Disadvantages to leaving your dog at the vet office:
Every case is different. The best answer depends upon many variables, in particular the abilities and attitude of the owner, the vet, and the techs; the temperament and experience of the individual animal; and the procedure being performed. If you are going to leave your pet, get him ready for it: leave him several times with a friend for a fun afternoon, leave him in a crate in a strange place for a few hours, arrange with your vet to leave him there on days when nothing happens except they give him a few cookies and pats throughout the day. Get him used to being there, apart from you, and to the strange smells, sights, and sounds….
Before you leave your animal anywhere, including the veterinary hospital, think carefully about the risks associated with doing so. Think about it from the animal’s perspective— what are his past experiences, how will he feel, what will be going through his mind? Do not simply follow protocol—do what is right for your animal. At the end of the day, you are his advocate, his owner, and you are the one who must make the best possible decisions!
Over the past few years, dog breeders have been included in much controversy, and I want to take a minute to address all “serious” dog breeders directly:
Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! You have so deeply enriched and improved my life, and the lives of nearly every person I know, and I want to encourage and implore each and every one of you to keep breeding and know that your efforts are well recognized and understood by many of us, even if that truth is sometimes lost in the clamor…
Dog breeders are often vilified by Animal Rights zealots, by well-meaning but woefully misguided members of the public who have been persuaded that breeders are causing overpopulation and filling shelters, by rescuers and shelter workers whose views of the world have become so skewed by the war they are waging that they have lost all perspective, and by those in the media who prefer drama to truth.
Breeders are the solution, not the problem. You are the true heroes stewarding the present and the future of dogs. You are the ones creating healthy, well-structured animals with great temperaments and excellent early socialization. You are the ones funding health research. You are the ones devoting your lives and resources to the betterment of the species. You are the ones who put in twenty hour days giving your puppies everything and then wake up three times during the night to check on them. You are the ones whose dogs are virtually never in shelters because you do such a good job screening and placing and taking back dogs. You are the ones who have virtually eliminated overpopulation within your realm and in fact created a shortage of good dogs such that it often takes years of waiting before a puppy is available.
That another, completely unrelated, group of idiots allows their dogs to keep reproducing for no good reason and filling shelters; that a few profit-driven miscreants breed countless dogs in horrid conditions; that rescues and shelters keep placing horrific dogs in homes so that they bounce back and keep the system full; that naivety motivates the unnatural and unsustainable notion of no-kill, that by nature dogs produce more puppies than are needed and so some excess and attrition are unavoidable—these things are not your fault!
Yes, there are issues that breeders need to improve—breeding towards extremes, prioritizing the wrong goals, breeding too young, over-breeding certain lines, placing excessive value on breed purity, hostility towards differing opinions, elitist attitudes, undervaluing balance—and I hope breeders will continue to improve. And yes, there are some awful breeders out there. But all in all, it is you who have created the wonderful dogs of today, and you who will create the wonderful dogs of tomorrow, and my gratitude for that is nearly boundless. And while there are some lovely accidentally bred dogs in shelters (I have a few!), and some awful dogs being produced by breeders, at the end of the day the quality of dogs generally being produced by careful breeders is leaps and bounds higher than what is generally available in shelters.
All the mindless anti-breeder rhetoric is nothing more than misleading hate-mongering that points the blame in the wrong direction: if breeders, and the public, buy into this mindless propaganda, we will lose all the good dogs in a few years, with virtually no reduction in the number of poorly bred dogs filling the shelters.
Thank you readers and participants–for four years so far we have discussed challenging topics and while the dialog has occasionally been impassioned, I have never felt the need to censor anyone’s posts. That is remarkable, so thank you all very much!
Recently some comments were submitted that were acrimonious personal attacks rather than rational discourse. After much consideration I blocked those posts and their author, because I felt they would be damaging to the core intent of this blog. But I thought now might be a good time to clarify that intent and the expectations around the commenting aspect of this blog:
This blog is a safe place for attentive, mindful animal lovers to freely exchange and test ideas with good judgment, imagination, patience, courage, collegiality, and a willingness to be questioned or refuted without it ever becoming personal. Participation requires that people discuss ideas without attacking one another. It requires that people read carefully and critically, think deeply, and question assumptions. It requires that people be open to new ideas and unfamiliar perspectives, that they behave with courtesy, clarity of thought, compassion, and generosity of spirit. Virtually all opinions are welcome, and disagreement encouraged, but hostility is not allowed.
And now, back to your regular programming….
In all likelihood, tomorrow morning HB4021 will pass the Oregon House, and then will move to the Senate where it will likely also pass.
In many ways this bill is not a big deal: it merely shifts the power to commission humane agents from the Governor to the Superintendent of State Police which makes it a little easier for humane agencies to continue doing what they have been doing for years: running a private police force with state approval to seize any animals they want and then sell those animals for whatever amount they want, after, of course, charging the owner money to pay for its care while they kept the animal.
In each of the past four legislative sessions, seemingly insignificant bills have passed that subtly altered how humane agents are trained, how warrants are obtained, the process for seizing animals, and now how humane agents are commissioned. But despite strong opposition in each session that explained how these bills combine to grant humane agencies clearly unjust powers, the legislators have consistently failed to seriously consider these dangerous consequences.
Some readers may not see why this is a big deal—after all, humane societies are wonderful institutions who have the extremely difficult task of going into awful homes where animals are being abused and saving those animals. And there is no question that in those cases in which the targets happen to be guilty, this is exactly what happens. The problem is that there are no limits, no balances, to ensure that this process cannot collaterally trample innocent owners, and even more, innocent pets.
Do not for a moment forget that animal sales—even if euphemistically called adoptions—generate millions of dollars each year for Oregon’s humane societies, and that the media coverage generated during alleged abuse cases brings in millions more. Giving the same private agency the power to seize animals and the right to profit from selling them is insane. Not to mention that they also have the power to set the amount they charge for upkeep while they hold the animals, and full control of the only possible exculpatory evidence.
Humane agencies have been given nearly unlimited power to create a private police force and to utilize that force to seize any pet they choose, then turn around and sell that pet before trial has occurred, let alone guilt been proven. Thus empowered, humane agencies can perform surgery on the animal, charge the owner for the care, demand a bond, destroy the owner’s reputation in the media, alter evidence, and sell or destroy the animal, all before the owner (presumed in American tradition and law to be innocent until otherwise proven) has the opportunity to face their accuser or defend themselves. In the exceedingly rare case where the person was genuinely abusing an animal, such action may have helped an individual animal. But in the overwhelming number of cases, innocent animal lovers AND innocent animals will have suffered irreparable harm. And in every case, the most fundamental of civil liberties will have been trampled.
It matters not that some legislators are so confident in the humane society’s virtue that they cannot fathom why anyone would worry about giving such groups the power to seize animals. It matters not that some of the humane agents are ex-cops. U.S. law is intended to ensure that no person or agency can violate individual citizens’ rights. Oregon statutes should similarly ensure that no agency now or in the future should be empowered to seize a person’s property without due process, whether they are motivated by good intentions, profit, politics, personal vendetta, irrational extremism, or even a genuine-good-old-fashioned-mistake. The job of our laws is not only to find and punish the guilty, but also to protect the innocent.
Oregon’s current laws create a system in which virtually no private citizen, even if absolutely innocent, has a chance of defending themselves or their pets. Any time a humane agency feels like it, they can send their own deputized employees to any door in our state and seize the pets living there, and in 99% of cases the person will not even try to fight back against the overwhelming threat of losing their life’s savings and their good name in addition to the animals that they have already lost.
This is unjust, unconstitutional, and immoral, and hurts animals and humans far more than it ever helps them.
My friend Doug and I were walking along an old logging road in the woods when we heard the faint sound of an ATV coming towards us from way off in the distance. A few moments later, our dogs appeared to hear the sound, and visibly perked up and acted interested. Doug asked me why. Surely, he asserted, our dogs must have heard the sound long before we did, so why were they just now reacting?
Interestingly, his question is based on a common misconception: that canine hearing is far more acute than human hearing. My impression is that many people have learned that dogs, when compared to humans, have hugely superior olfactory sensitivity and that dogs can hear higher frequencies such as dog whistles, and have concatenated these two facts into a fallacious belief that canine auditory sensitivity is far greater than human.
Given the prevalence of this belief, I figured I would share with my readers the answer I gave:
In general dogs’ auditory sensitivity is almost identical to that of a typical human: both species generally begin to hear sounds at a volume level of around -7 dB. And human spatial acuity is significantly superior: we can generally localize a sound to within less than one degree of accuracy, while dogs can usually localize to an area of approximately 6 degrees. And humans can hear lower frequencies than dogs, and can generally detect low frequencies at lower volume than dogs. Dogs can however hear frequencies considerably higher than humans—humans generally cannot detect much over 18 kHz while dogs can generally hear sounds up to around 45h kHz.
So if there is a sound of more than -7 dB in volume and a frequency between 20-45 kHz, you will not be able to hear it and your dog will, but if its frequency falls within a range that humans can hear, you and your dog will hear it at right about the same volume level…
Just in case you want to verify this with your own eyes and ears, take your dog for a walk and pay attention. You will quickly recognize that his reactions to interesting sounds are virtually simultaneous with yours.
Here is the same information in a chart taken from Wolves by David Mech and Luigi Boitani:
A few weeks ago, I had one of the worst experiences of my life: my dog Sequel disappeared while we were hiking in the woods around our home, and he was missing for several days and nights. Each moment he was gone was devastating, but daytime was more bearable—there was so much to be done running the search that it was easy to set aside any thoughts about him being injured or dead. We had multiple teams searching the woods and updating the search map, people driving the roads and putting up signs, people going door-to-door, people calling all the shelters, vets, daycares, etc. Busyness can be a real friend in times of anguish! Long after night fell and the searchers had gone, I would force myself to try to get a few hours of sleep, but how can you lie in a warm bed and fall asleep knowing that your dog may be lying somewhere near death hoping you will find him soon…
And so, instead of sleeping, during the long, dark hours agonizing about all the worst things that could be happening to my dog, I wracked my brain about what I should have done differently, what I would do differently when—if—I found him and brought him home. And I returned time and again to the same surprising answer: nothing.
I love my dogs with every fiber of my being. I love them enough that while it sometimes might make me feel better to wrap them in cocoons and cloister them away safely, I force myself to always try to make the best decision for them. Insofar as it is possible, I try to give my dogs the lives I believe they would want, with the balance of safety and adventure that they would chose if they could fully understand the issues. Most of my dogs would absolutely prefer to run in the woods, to swim in the ocean, to wrestle and leap and herd and play, even if these things come with some risk.
Of course, judgment is required-knowledge of your dogs, their personality and fitness and training (I would stake my life on Sequel’s recall if he could have heard me, and as soon as I got on the right side of the creek where he could, he came immediately), and the area and all the hazards so you can make an informed decision about whether to keep your dogs on leash or a long line or a GPS collar or have them loose but call them back frequently. And no matter how careful you are, there will be some risk! But for nearly 20 years we have taken many, many animals out to run, play, hike, and camp in our woods, and the tens of thousands of hours of joy, health, enrichment, fitness, and fun it has brought is more than worth the risks, and really the worst that has ever happened is a few scrapes, a few porcupine quills, and some lost sleep…Those are pretty excellent odds, and even if Sequel had died, I am certain I would feel the same.
Please understand, I am not advocating recklessness: I am amazed at how often I watch people let their dogs out of a car in a parking lot and then pay no attention, or whose dogs are left unattended in homes full of hazards, or whose dogs are meeting groups of large, intense dogs while the owner is 100 feet away. Vigilance and mindful awareness are almost always to be advised with animals…
My dog is at risk in a moving car. He is at risk fetching a stick or a ball or wearing a collar. He is at risk at home that my house could catch fire. He is at risk on a dogwalk, or running in a field that might have a mole-hole. He is at risk chewing on a toy or meeting other dogs at a park. He is at risk that some lunatic will put poison on a sidewalk. Heck, I knew a dog recently who was run over while walking on leash in town… The risks from wildlife to a healthy, medium-sized dog in most areas are statistically very, very low. (of course if you live in an area in which risks are greater, you would need to behave accordingly!)
There are undoubtedly a few dogs that die from wildlife encounters each year in this country, or that get lost while out playing in the woods, or slip and fall down a cliff, but there are millions and millions of dogs that die each year obese and bored and with their bodies, minds, and spirits atrophied. And while you can never perfectly protect your pets from risk, you absolutely can save them from boredom.
Being a good dog owner is not about avoiding risk-it is about balancing risk with richness. Life is full of adventures, opportunities, and experiences that make our dogs’ lives wonderful, but we must not be so afraid that we avoid them. I certainly cannot tell anyone else how to find their perfect balance point, but I can say that for me and my dogs, we would rather be injured or die living a rich full life than sit safely at home growing old.
One last happy thought: pursuing a full and rich life, will often have the magical side-effect of also maximizing health and longevity. Our dogs spend their lives sprinting and swimming and leaping and playing as hard as possible, and they virtually all live well into their teens. Flint, our Belgian/Border Colli mix, lies at my feet as I write this, 18 years old. And I can hardly remember a day in his life that he did not fling himself into the unknown with utter abandon and sometimes crazy disregard for any potential risk…
I could probably write more about this topic, but Sequel wants to go for a hike now—back into the same woods, to his favorite swimming hole, and to the meadow to play a fast game of chase with Fig. We may die while playing our favorite games, but first, for sure, we are going to live…
I am asked about Cesar Millan fairly regularly, generally by novice dog owners who are curious as to whether I recommend his show and techniques. This is a reasonable question since Cesar Millan is perhaps the most recognizable and influential dog trainer ever: millions of people watch his show and listen to his advice on how to address behavioral issues with their dogs. Yet many of the most respected experts in the field consider his techniques to be harmful to dogs, ineffective, and destructive to relationships.
So, what is the truth? There is no single right answer about how to train animals. We all have opinions, and most of us are certain we know the best way and everyone else is wrong! Most trainers are very good in some areas and less good in other areas. And we all have different goals–one trainer may be much better at helping you achieve a particular objective while another trainer may be much better at something else.
I do not know Millan, and can only comment on what I have observed on television. People are entitled to like Millan’s methods–many people do! And it would be hard to fault his business and marketing savvy… I am not judging anyone’s opinion, merely sharing mine:
I think Cesar Millan is a first-rate bully and a fifth rate trainer. While he does some things well, and offers some excellent advice, in aggregate I do not like what he does to most of the animals with which I have seen him work. He is uninformed, unimaginative, cruel, and absurdly coercive. The fact that his bullying sometimes works at least temporarily does not make it less offensive. In my opinion he has hurt far, far more dogs and relationships than he has helped, and of the ones that he has helped, I suspect the recidivism rate is extremely high. He has set dog training back decades. He is dangerously irresponsible. (For example, one person taking 30 dogs off leash to a dogpark ought to be a felony in my opinion)
Let me start with what I like about Millan’s message: exercise, calmness, and leadership. I absolutely agree that a huge portion of the behavioral issues people see in their dogs can be ameliorated through increased exercise and mental stimulation. Canids evolved to spend a large portion of their lives active and challenged, and sticking them in a room all day with rich foods and little exercise leads to many problems. I also agree that canids thrive in an environment with clear boundaries and a calm and strong leader. This allows them to be relaxed and confident and know how to behave. I also recognize that many average pet homes want a dog that is as “shut-down” as possible: they do not want a happy, curious, and confident pet, they want a pet that just lies quietly in the corner, and Cesar’s techniques are in many instances an effective path to that end.
Now to the negatives about Millan’s techniques:
Adding all of this together, I find Millan’s relationship with the dogs unappealing—I do not see trust, respect, confidence, and adoration, I see subservience, temerity, and learned helplessness.
Millan fans sometimes suggest that those who dislike Millan must be softies who reject notions of control and discipline. It is absolutely true that some people who dislike Millan do so because they dislike any sort of correction. However, there are also many, many excellent trainers who do believe in appropriate corrections but who revile Millan’s techniques. Virtually all good trainers impose rules, boundaries, and limits. Some excellent trainers even use strong corrections when they are appropriate. Go to any canine competition (obedience, French Ring, agility, herding, etc.) and ask around, you will generally find the top people with the best trained and most obedient dogs dislike Millan’s methods, while hordes of novices with unruly dogs are devotees. Some of the most accomplished trainers in the world dislike his methods, and I assure you their dogs are not disobedient or disrespectful.
I do not understand why many people equate control with intimidation. Abusive parents who beat or terrorize their children may achieve “control.” So do reasonable parents who set and explain clear boundaries, teach and reward desired behaviors, earn respect and trust, and effectively utilize punishment when necessary. These good parents or dog trainers absolutely may use intimidation when it is the best option, but it is not the foundation of their relationship—it is not where they start or how they interact most of the time. (I vividly remember the few times my father seriously intimidated me, and they were hugely effective in large part because they were not frequent!)
Perhaps the best place to observe the dichotomy between dominance based training and cooperation based training is in training any wild animal. Work with a tiger, a grizzly bear, a pack of wolves, an orca, or even a raccoon or squirrel, and you quickly discover that these schools of thought are NOT the same. Dominance based trainers exert a clear and absolute dominance every moment of interacting—it is imperative that the animal understands that humans have absolute power and should never be challenged. Non-dominance trainers exert a clear and absolute cooperation every moment—it is imperative that the animal understands that humans are their friends and are not going to challenge them or hurt them. While a single trainer may utilize both attitudes at different times, if you switch back and forth with these animals, you have a VERY short career—suddenly showing weakness to a wild animal that has been dominated, or suddenly showing dominance to a wild animal used to cooperation generally elicits extremely undesirable results… Each attitude can be powerfully effective, but they are essentially different in far more than language. (I think it is important to concede that even many of the most cooperative trainers do have a line that cannot be crossed. A point at which dominance training does come into play. A point at which they say, “You have no choice here, you must do what I say.” The critical distinction is that they strive to help the animal avoid crossing that line, rather than regularly luring the animal across that line so that they can have an “opportunity” to dominate and intimidate some more…)
If your primary method of control is intimidation, the animals you train learn that intimidation and power are tools to get what you want. Sooner or later these animals may well decide to try to get what they want using intimidation. This is what happens eventually to most animal bullies in the wild, and is extremely dangerous. So I elect to use cooperation and leadership so that they learn that I am a powerful and benevolent leader who will help them get what they want in the world. I outsmart them by making sure that their success coincides with my desires until they reflexively and habitually do what I ask. I am smarter, but not stronger or faster, so it makes sense to use my intellectual advantage rather than bluffing about a physical advantage.
There is a genuine distinction between a leader who is revered and idolized and a leader who is feared, and I personally believe that being revered leads to better working, more reliable, happier, healthier dogs, but I rarely see this occur on Millan’s show. I see bullying and intimidation instead of leading and teaching.
It makes me profoundly sad to think that such a bully is out there working with dogs every day, but far worse is that so many people do not see his techniques for what they are. That millions of people still see intimidation and cruelty as viable leadership techniques makes me sad indeed.
Several people have asked me to comment on the incident in Ohio in which Terry Thompson was found dead and his animal loose.
I cannot meaningfully comment on what occurred: I just do not have enough verifiable information. Certainly the timing of the event (in the middle of a huge battle in Ohio about whether or not exotic animals should be banned), and many of the reported details—cages cut open when Terry had a key, and raw chicken piled around his body—sound suspiciously like animal rights zealots killed Terry staged it to look like a suicide. But then, he was also in financial trouble, with a history that suggests mental instability, and was having legal and familial problems, so suicide certainly is possible. I just cannot comment about what really happened…
What I can say is that while exotic animal ownership is an important topic worth discussing (and one that has been discussed on this blog many times), this incident had absolutely nothing to do with that topic.
Even if we assume that Terry committed these acts himself, it is the story of a mentally unstable man with a criminal history who went insane, ran amuck and loosed his animals, and shot himself. This is very sad on many levels, but has nothing to do with animal ownership. He could just as easily have killed his children—would we then be talking about banning children? He could have driven his car into oncoming traffic—would we be talking about banning cars? Could have poured gasoline on himself and ignited it, would we ban gasoline?
I have said it time and again, and will undoubtedly say it many more times: it is counterproductive to look at the few outlying worst cases within ANY activity and draw conclusions about that activity. The bottom few percent within ANY group are awful, and that includes animal owners just as it includes parents, college students, drivers, etc. We cannot draw meaningful conclusions about the activity, or create effective regulations, by focusing on these aberrant cases.
If you are moved by what happened in Ohio, then by all means address yourself to the correct issue: how can we help mentally ill people get the help they need? Or even, how can we help people who are deeply in debt and see no way out, or have lost their family and feel hopelessly alone, see that there are better solutions than rage, aggression, and suicide?
But if you want to talk about the important topic of animals and their relationship to man in the modern world, we will need to do so another time—a time when people have not been whipped into an emotional frenzy by animal rights zealots seeking to use this incident to inflame sentimentality and obscure reason so as to achieve their own longstanding agenda of creating laws to prevent reasonable and sane individuals from keeping animals. That topic cannot be illuminated by focusing on rare cases in which individuals behave in a manner that can only be deemed insane.
That said, there were a few interesting secondary observations possible during the media storm:
Everything that happened that day in Zanesville is sad, and there are undoubtedly many lessons to be learned from the events if we ever truly know what happened. But this was not a story about animals escaping, or about wild animals being unhappy or unhealthy in captivity, no matter how much some people want to twist it into such a story. It is the story of a person losing his mind and behaving irrationally, and that is not an appropriate basis for discussing unrelated issues.