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Building the perfect dog – or not

September 25, 2017

I was surprised to read that the great State of California is considering banning its residents from acquiring dogs unless they come from shelters.

Why surprised? Well, if ever there was a part of the world dedicated to the perfection of mind and body, it’s the west coast of America, and California in particular. So why would their law-making elite try and force you to choose your soon-to-be-beloved pet from a collection of mongrel, inbred, psychologically-disturbed mutts whose previous owners in a fit of buyer’s remorse chucked them out of the car window somewhere down the I-80? Shortly after Christmas, of course.

The new law also applies to cats and rabbits, though I doubt if they’re as populous as the dogs. Cities like Los Angeles and San Diego no doubt have their fair share of stray cats – known as feral if you don’t like the species – but I should have thought that your chance of being attacked by a street bunny with attitude is close to zero.

Predictably, according to the New York Times, which was good enough to alert me to this startling development, the animal breeders have been begging Governor Jerry Brown to veto the bill, on the grounds that owners want to know about the provenance of their prospective pets. Yep, they want to know that their new Rottweiler comes from a long line of small dog maulers, preferably with a few human victims thrown in. If they’re cats, they want to be sure that their lineage includes ancestors with a high rat-killing quotient.

Supporters of the bill say that the animal breeders keep their product in appalling conditions, and that anyway, the shelters need to be cleared. It seems that the concern is also partly financial, which always gets Californians’ attention. Their taxpayers shell out approximately $250 million a year on domestic animal shelters.

If I was a cruel and uncaring person, which I’m not, I would say that a decent proportion of that money could be saved by a timely injection. But the animal welfare folks say that that’s also cruel, which must be a great consolation to all the battery hens, cows and hogs slaughtered every day to keep America fed.

The other reason I’m surprised at the initiative is that California is one of the great centres of bio-engineering. You would have expected by now that by tinkering with a few genes, Silicon Valley would have figured out how to produce the perfect dog. One that doesn’t poo in its owner’s handbag, is inclined to take chunks out of intruders, but not out of visiting great aunts, only barks when asked to, doesn’t shed enough fur to add an extra layer to your carpet every two weeks, and is able to digest a significant proportion of the vast amount of plastic packaging thrown out by the average American household. Oh yes, and a dog that auto-destructs at the first sign of incurring large veterinary bills – after having donated a few stem cells for cloning.

As for cats, why haven’t they produced an animal that loves humans rather than using them, that doesn’t vomit fur balls and is incapable of hunting birds because it sees everything with wings as predatory pterosaurs?

I can’t think of any improvement you could make to rabbits, except possibly to give them a few more brain cells.

In the absence of the perfect dog, cat or rabbit, I’m with the California legislators. As Martin Luther King might have said if he had been a dog lover, we should surely be valuing our animals for their character rather than the colour of their fur. What’s more, perhaps if we had a bit more human miscegenation, we wouldn’t be giving ammunition to the racists and bigots who, nearly fifty years after Dr King’s passing, continue to infest our public life on both sides of the pond.

From → Politics, Social, USA

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