Depressed? Photo by Engin Akyurt
There was jubilation a few weeks back in New York state as Governor Kath Hochul signed into law legislation that prevented puppy mill dogs from being imported and sold. Then with the same stroke of the pen she signed this groundbreaking law she signed S6870B, a horror show of a bill authorizing shelters to execute pets for "mental suffering". Seriously, "mental suffering" in a shelter!
By definition an animal shelter is a horrid place. It's crammed with dogs and cats, the animals are in 4ft by 6ft cages, it's extremely noisy (as anyone that has visited a shelter knows well) and in general doggie hell. The new law allows shelter administrators to select which dog's to kill on any given day via an arbitrary ruling of "mental suffering". There is no definition of what constitutes such, nor is there a decision matrix or anything that administrators need to follow. They can just say "Fluffy looks very stressed today, so let's take him out of his misery and kill him". In what world does it makes sense to put a dog in a scary place and then kill them for being scared.
A prison for inmates is a nasty place to call home. Almost everyone in there is impacted by the environment in some respect. And why are people in prison, as a punishment for an ill deed. Clearly most inmates experience metal suffering as a result of how and what a prison is and does. Should we just execute the ones that look most distraught?
Even more concerning is that this New York state law breaks new dangerous precedent as it is the first such legislation targeting the state of mind of the animal as a casus belli in determining life or death. It is likely that many other states will now copy New York and enact similar legislation. Meanwhile no one knows just what mental suffering is, what it looks like or how to diagnose it.
And who wrote this horrible law...the ASPCA of course! Established over 100 years ago this organization has become the grand daddy of animal welfare and it's word has come to define the interaction between humans and all the animals we share the Earth with. Except the organization founded 105 years ago is nothing like the one that exists today. The original folks are dead and gone, new administrators have come to power that are mostly money managers. Animal welfare is just the means by which they enrich themselves.
As they say, fate gives with one had and takes away with the other. Each hard fought victory is followed by a quick defeat, but it seems most egregious when that defeat is handed to the animals by the organization most responsible for protecting them.