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Critical Thinking: Dog Breeding, Case Study Example

Pages: 8

Words: 2204

Case Study

Introduction

The below case study analysis would use critical thinking methods to evaluate the ethical problems detailed in the assignment. The regulation of any trade affecting humans or animals is a sensivive social problem, and when opinions clash, there is a need for applying rational methods to evaluate the benefits and the disadvantages of the proposed changes or initiatives. It is crucial that the analysis would include research, examination of different viewpoints and effects caused by the changes.

Identification

The central ethical issue of the paper is based around the welfare of dogs and people breeding animals. In Missouri, puppy livestock is a form of making a living, and breeders are aiming for more profits, increasing the breeding every year. However, the problem is that sometimes overproduction occurs, and with so many people abandoning their dogs, animal shelters, such as the Humane Society are looking at the figures, which show that the popularity of purebreeds or shelter dogs shows a strong pattern. Although the rise in the number of people suffering from different allergies would dictate that specific breeds that are hypoallergenic would be preferred when breeders are selecting their dogs, there is another concern, which is questioning the authenticity of this approach. Although people choosing dogs should be concerned about their health, the limiation of specific, allergenic breeds would also bring up ethical problems. As a dog is not only an “accessory or household item”, but also a partner for life, and for many people their best and only friend, there should be other criteria taken into consideration when applying regulation on the breeding industry. The adoption of the gift Portuguese Water Dog, Bo has raised many questions, and the publicity of the breed and the specific dog has made animal welfare groups to limit the breed production, to protect the animals from getting bought by unsuitable families, plainly because of the publicity and popularity increase. The central problem identified is the question of regulation of the dog breeding industry (mostly unregulated private breeders)  in the USA, especially in Missouri, as well as the animal welfare issues raised by the implications of overproduction of stock and improvement of animal welfare. However, there are other ethical questions to examine, as well, such as:

  • Whether decision makers should distinguish between breeds (hypo-allergenic and ones causing allergies
  • Whether breeding should be limited or the market demand would be able to determine the volumes
  • If popularity of one specific breed has dangers, and if yes, how can these be avoided? (see Bo)
  • What happens to unsold puppies, are there any statistics that confirm that euthanasia is applied by breeders as a solution?

Research

One of the main sources of information providing a clear understanding about the case for the regulation of dog breeders in Minnesotta is the Human Society’s 2010 report. (Missouri Dirty Dozen, 2010) It is a report that reveals the current states of dog breeding farms, as well as the cruelty and inhuman treatment and circumstances, as a result of the lack of regulation at the time. I some cases, the animals were left out in the cold, had limited space to move, and the vetenarity care was not provided for animals living at the farm. The study introduced the 12 animal breeding farms where the rights of animals were violated the most. The study also revealed that some of the breeders had a long list of violations, their license with USDA (U. S. Department of Agriculture) was still valid. Although there was an institution to check the compliance within the states, there was no legal system to punish and enforce the law within the industry. Another important finding of the study is that some of the “puppy mills” continued to operate and advertise online, despite losing their license. The study also revealed some interesting statistical data, which would be beneficial for the further analysis of the case.

Another important document to review is the BBB Research (The Puppy Industry in Missouri, 2010). The overview reveals some of the major problems caused by the lack of regulation. In 2010, there were more than 4000 breeders licensed in the state, however, the number of unlicensed and illegal traders was only estimated. The Missouri Department of Agriculture carried out inspections regularly at dog breeding businesses, however, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) reported a lack of communication with the state department, and they demanded a prompt response for the 353 complaints in the past 3 years, submitted at their regional offices against dog breeders. The study reveals that the problem is real, and the lack of response and regulation does indeed endanger animals and  there are loads to do to prevent cases like the one featured in the study, related to the Doo Little Kennel. Although inspectors found violations and even repeated ones, the trader continued to breed, until, during a raid out of the 100 dogs, many were found malnourished and sick. (The Puppy Industry in Missouri, 2010)

The third document to be examined is the Illionis general study about laws and regulations regarding cat and dog breeding. The study reveals that after a vetenarian initial inspection, breeders would be licensed, while it is the state vetenarian that can initiate a court order if he finds that the state of the kennel poses health risks on animals. (The Wall Street Journal. Online.) In this case, dogs would be quaranteened by the State. The provisions include the penalties of animal cruelty law violation, and although the first instance does count as a violation, the lesser  penalty is 1000 dollars, and the maximum is 1 year prison or jail. (Illionis General Assembly, 2008)

Analysis of stakeholder  views

Stakeholders Options
  Stricter penalties Legislation declined Nothing changes Higher legislation requirements for trade
Public The public would be safer if the regulation becomes strict, including higher penalties and more regular checks, as they would be assured that all the  dogs are well cared for If the legislation gets declined, the public might need to buy from illegal breeders, putting themselves at risk, and chaos or misunderstanding might be created If the current system stays, there would be several health concerns would be raised by the public, living near dog breeding farms If the strict regulation would involve a lengthy and expensive legislation process, this would make the industry more professional, however, puppies would become more expensive.
State Departments and USDA The State and the USDA might need to apply more state vets, increasing the cost of administration, and this would be likely to be passed on to dog breeding businesses If the legislation was declined, further challenges and debates would rise, and a misunderstanding by the public and breeders would occur If there were no changes, the state and USDA would face legal challenges by Better Business Bureau, and a long debate would start The State and USDA would need to create a legislation framework, regulation and communicate it with different government agencies, and the income tax due to the number of breeders reduced would be lower.
Dog breeders Loss of business, getting rid of competition selling unhealthy puppies at a low price The reputation of the trade would be lowered, and press would continue publishing details about unethical treatments The lack of regulation would open up the market for anyone to trade, and this would create a competitive and unethical business environment There would be less, but more qualified breeders, being able to advise buyers about the specifications of breeds, avoiding dogs not getting the right home the first time.

Application

The Animal Welfare Act (2006, Online) covers many aspects of protecting animals, such as preventing harm, unnecessary suffering, suitable environment, suitable diet, normal behavioral patterns and prevention of injury or disease. (Section 9. Animal Welfare Act, 2006) Taking these regulations of the act into consideration, the legislation needs to cover all of these offenses individually, as they do not have the same weight, and the level of danger they impose on dogs and puppies would be variable, as well. (Second Chance Rescue, 2010)

Animal cruelty in general is although covered by legislation, it is more like an issue that interest every person within the society. Some people think that animals are free to use for the good of humans, and these individuals are not against scienticif research involving experiments carried out on animals. These individuals would also agree that people have the right to select which breed of dogs they would like to breed and which ones they do not need an would like to neutralize. This would theory would lead to the disappearance of some of the rare, but allergic or not well behaving dogs, while some smaller, easier to handle and hypo-allergenic breeds would survive. Some other induividuals think that dog breeding needs a strong regulation, and in order to ensure that the dogs are treated well, various guidelines need to be put in place. There are some animal welfare issues that are described and regulated by law, however, others require the decision of the individual.

The ethical decision of Dr Lee would have to be based on taking into consideration both the interest of his daughter, as well as the dog’s. Choosing a breed that is hypoallergenic itself would not be unethical, and he might be able to find a dog at an animal shelter that would be proven to be non-allergenic for his daughter. If Dr Lee looked at only animal welfare and ethical issues, he would either choose a shelter that he knows that it complies with the regulations and provides a suitable environment and nourishment for dogs, or choose a breeder that does the same. (Adams, 2009) Either way, he would not like to get a dog that worsens his child’s condition, still would like to make sure that the breed is suitable for the age of the girl, the temperament of the family and all his needs can be cared for. Dog owners have a great ethical responsibility for choosing the right breeed or dog as a family pet, and as Dr Lee is a vet, he might have already gotten experience regarding the needs and nature of different dogs. (Sullivan et al. 2009)

Decision Making

The most ethical decision would be to imply the regulation, limit the number of adult animals per trader, provide training, support and supervision for businesses, in order to help them comply with the regulation. Some of the breeders would agree to take on extra training, carry out changes, especially if the government provides support for funding in the form of interest-free loans. Customers would benefit, as they would receive more appropriate information about the dogs, all the vaccination papers would be provided, and a certificate of compliance would also be issued.

Evaluation

There are several ways the above detailed solution can be criticised by mostly organizations collecting dog breeders, but also unions and the public. The three most important possible debates are going to be detailed below.

  1. The cost of dogs would increase, and this would affect both traders and buyers. The number of dogs adopted from shelters would increase, therefore, long term this would be beneficial for the society. Also, buyers would be happier to pay more for well cared for dogs.
  2. There would be many breeders moving towards illegal trade, and the cost of investigation and prosecution would be high. The regulation would include provisions of investigation, just like it has happened before; checking websites and local papers for illegal breeders.
  3. The limitations would make some breeds more preferrable than others, and this would lead to an imbalance of breeds; for example, smaller, cheaper to keep and non-allergenic dogs, which are not necessarily the most useful or friendliest ones. However, the market demand has a huge impact on breeding, and the effects would be reduced by people’s common sense thinking.

Reflection

Critical thinking process is based on investigating various solutions and their implications on different stakeholder groups. It is important to carry out a background study, to understand the different points and interests of stakeholders, as well as checking legal or ethical issues, in order to be able to determine the best possible solution and defend it against opposing arguments.The process of critical thinking (Cogan, 2008, pp. 158) allows the analysis to make a clear choice between various models, looking similar initially. According to Fitzpatrick (2008. pp. 90.) the process would reveal some of the codes of applied ethics, providing a clear guideline for decision making processes, social and government responsibilities.

Bibliography

Fitzpatrick, T. (2008) Applied ethics and social problems: moral questions of birth, society and death. The Policy Press, 2008

Cogan, R. (1998) Critical thinking: step by step. University Press of America, 1998

States Nip at Dog Breeders. The Wall Street Journal. Online. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703395904576025650543200120.html

Missouri’s Dirty Dozen. The Humane Society of the United States. (2010) Online. http://www.humanesociety.org/assets/pdfs/pets/puppy_mills/report_on_mos_dirty_dozen.pdf

The Puppy Industry in Missouri. (2020) Better Business Bureau. Online. http://stlouis.bbb.org/Storage/142/Documents/Puppy%20Mills%20study.pdf

Department of Agriculture Animal Health Regulation, (2006) Chapter 9. Animal care facilities. Online. http://www.sos.mo.gov/adrules/csr/current/2csr/2c30-9.pdf

Speak up for Minnesota Dogs and Cats leaflet. Second Chance Rescue. 2010. Online. http://www.secondchancerescue.org/files/secondchancerescue/files/STS%20flyer2011.pdf

Illinois General Assembly. (2010) Research Response. Online. http://www.ilga.gov/commission/lru/2.PetBreederLaws.pdf

Adams, A. (2009) Human subjects and animal objects: animals as “other” in the law. Journal of  Animal Law and Ethics. Vol. 3. May 2009

Sullivan, D., Vietzke, H., Goyne, M. (2009) ANIMAL RIGHTS ADVOCACY PROGRAMS: CHAMPIONS FOR ANIMAL RIGHTS. Journal of Animal Law and Ethics. Vol. 3. May 2009

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