On Pink Poodles and Pet Ownership
Joy Douglas, a hairdresser in Denver, Colorado decided to dye her poodle Cici pink to generate awareness for breast cancer. Being a considerate owner, she used organic beet juice to dye the dog.
According to Douglas, “Cici is a conversation piece. Customers come in and ask why the dog is pink. So we tell them about breast-cancer awareness, about the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, and then we ask for a donation.”This sounded like a noble cause to us, but apparently not all of Douglas’ customers appreciated the idea. One of them called animal control and reported her.
Douglas was ticketed on March 1, 2008 for violating a Boulder ordinance that designed to discourage people from dying chicks and bunnies at Easter. She’s now facing a fine of up to $1,000 and has retained legal council.
Lisa Pedersen, chief executive officer of the Humane Society of Boulder Valley and the city’s Animal Control and Care, said officers received “several calls about the animal” before they wrote the ticket. “There were lots of people concerned about the dog,” Pedersen said Monday. “And we have given more than one verbal warning, so we thought it would just be best to write the ticket and let it resolve itself in the court system.”
Apparently not much in the way of lost dogs, treed kittens or animal abuse occurs in beautiful Boulder, Colorado. If officials of the Humane Society of Boulder Valley (who use the term ‘guardian’ quite liberally on their website) have nothing better to do than post thousand dollar citations for the illegal use of beet juice – there’s either very little going on or (gasp!) somebody is advancing a personal agenda.
In a recent interview on Slate.com Jon Katz wrote:
The guardian campaign is a vivid example of the growing tendency to blur the boundaries between us and our pets. Many Americans have already stopped seeing their dogs and cats as animals. They’re family members, emotional support systems, metaphors for issues from our own pasts, aids for healing and growth, children with fur.
Seeing them the way we see ourselves—as having human thoughts and needs, human rights—is another kind of abuse and exploitation.
He goes on to say:
Dogs are not “people” of another species. They are another species. To train and care for them properly, to show them how to live in our complex world, requires first and foremost that we understand that. I owe my dogs much—more than I can say—but they are not my “companions”—as if we voluntarily chose to hang out together but none of us has authority over the others. I bought and/or acquired them. I own them. I am profoundly responsible for their care and well being.
Guardianship, a word always applied to human beings, implies equality—the highest and perhaps most noble of all goals in this democratic nation. Ownership implies responsibility. Americans who own dogs need to be more responsible for them, literally and emotionally—not more equal to them.
So…. Is Joy Douglas a caring, responsible pet owner being unfairly punished by animal rights activists or is she the guardian of a poodle-person and therefore subject to intervention by outside agencies with self-proclaimed interests or expertise who are willing to use the court system to force her to make the decision they think is “best” for Cici?