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RUNNING HEAD: Sit, stay, roll over: human domination of animals

Sit, Stay, Roll Over: Human Domination of Animals


Kayla Chubbs, Caroline Maclsaac, Jacob Dicks, Nicole Hoare, Kate Rog
Integrative Forum (RCLP 1111)
Due: Thursday, September 26
Renaissance College: UNB

Sit, stay, roll over: human domination of animals

When considering the question, who owns animals there are numerous aspects for one
to consider; however when looking at the facts from a logical and rational standpoint- the answer
is undoubtedly- we do. Looking into human interaction in regards to other animals makes it
simple to see that people as a whole have been extremely powerful influences over the earth and
virtually all living creatures. As Geordie Duckler states, Any system that would require people
to refrain entirely from owning or exploiting animals as personal property would be doomed to
failure (Duckler, 203). Humans are by nature dominant creatures who strive to exhibit control
within our world, this control can be seen through domestication; pets and farming, zoos and
entertainment, government control of hunting regulations, animal rights and ethics, and human
relations with one another.
For many years animals have been living amongst us and have continued to serve as a
critical purpose to human beings, whether they be a pet or a farm animal. Animal constitutes a
critical link between man and thing. During the last decade society deeply evolved, conferring to
animal either the role of a pet, or the role of a production tool.( Docks and Kling-Eveillard,
2006). Pets have been around for thousands of years and have provided us with an enhanced way
of life throughout history. The ownership role is one that is proven through the procedure of
signing a document when a pet is purchased. For an example:The City of Fredericton shall
cause to be kept a record of the registration of all dogs which shall show the date and number of
registration, the description of each dog and the name of the owner. (City of
Fredericton,2005)This confirms the ownership that a person exhibits over there pet. A major
symbol of ownership that is seen through pets is having animals tied to leashes and chains, this
reinforces that the animal is not free. Aside from this reasoning another reason for the ownership

Sit, stay, roll over: human domination of animals

of a pet is to hold owners responsible if something with the animal goes wrong. Such as if an
animal bites a stranger, or if the dogs waste has been left instead of cleaned up. Although society
has started to recognize pets as part of the family, ultimately they still own the pet, and as long as
they can prove ownership they may choose how and what to do with the animal. As James
Serpell states, The shift from hunting to farming also produces a fundamental change in human
relationships with animals This essentially egalitarian relationship disappeared with the advent
of domestication. The domestic animal is dependent for survival on its human owner(Serpell
1996). Animals are expected to obey their masters, they learn the basic acceptable rules of the
owners household and then they are rewarded or punished based on how they respond. Common
dog tricks include the owner commanding the animal to either sit, stay or roll over. This is a
demonstration of how not only is the dog mans best friend but man exerts domination over
animals, even those they cherish. Animals as pets has gone on for so long that pets have become
domesticated and can no longer live on their own, their survival is dependent on the ownership
that humans convey. Similar to pet domestication is the domestication of wild animals used on
farms. The farmers role however is a little different it comes from the need to produce a good;
farmers have used animals to create a product as well as a source of income. There are various
types of farmers; those that love and care for their animals and those that simply consider them
to be a machine in which a process of production occurs. For many years farmers have been
buying and selling livestock in an attempt to provide for their families or generate income. These
wild animals such as horses, cows, chickens and pigs have been domesticated over generations
and enclosed or herded. This was often done with the knowledge that the animal would be killed
in the end to benefit the human being. If in reality the farmer was not the possessor he would not
hold the power to take that animals life without consequence.

Sit, stay, roll over: human domination of animals

There are some wild animals that humans hold in captivity that are not domesticated an
may not necessarily fit within the category of the previous text. This occurs in our zoos- we take
wild animals from various countries and bring them to foreign areas where they are kept in cages
and serve as our own personal pleasure. People are able to go to a zoo in their home country and
see animals in which they would have never been able to see within their own societal setting.
Human ownership over animals is unquestionably displayed within zoos todays. In addition to
zoos, there are circus animals that perform for human audiences; circus animals are taught and
trained by humans to do captivating tricks for humans personal delight.You can also find animals
in captivity at aquariums, and places such as Seaworld. Holding these wild animals captive and
forcing them to do human demands is unquestionably ownership.
We not only have ownership over wild animals in captivity for entertainment purposes
but non-captive animals in the wild as well. The law states that before being hunted, an animal is
owned by the state (Wildlife, p.23). This is seen through many controlling acts such as moose
gates throughout Canadian provinces as well as Salmon ladders created across Canada. (Salmon
ladders are a river and waterfall-like structure put into place when a salmons natural habitat or
migratory highway has been destroyed by humans). These barriers let humans control even the
migratory patterns of these animals. Control is a very significant part of ownership and no matter
how much one may argue that we do not own animals or that we are equal to animals, the law
states that, yes, we do in fact own animals. Such ownership is subject to animals even before
they are put through the process of hunting, either for sport or for meat. The ownership is
transferred through hunting and trapping. Licenses are purchased by hunters from the
government, giving individuals ownership of the animal on one condition, the animal is hunted
and killed. This can be seen again using the example of salmon; each year you can buy and own,

Sit, stay, roll over: human domination of animals

a license for salmon. You have the ability to take the life of this animal and ultimately own its
body. Some may consider fishing for sport as a more ethical alternative to this practice, yet you
still have the control over its life and are still removing it from its home at your own will. Also in
this example you are able to release the fish, while with hunting animals such as deer or duck
you are always killing the animals even if it is only for the sake of sport. This second,
irreversible, method of hunting is significantly less ethical than catch and release programs. Even
if it is not ethical, or the way it should be, we have ownership over animals as well as the ability
to sell them, put their life in jeopardy or take their life completely.
Similarly to hunting regulations, one might look at a highly debated issue of using
animals within scientific research, and whether or not that could be defined as truly owning
animals. Animal testing has been notoriously controversial over years past, and while the ethics
behind animal testing could be highly contested the idea of ownership within this field is
somewhat clearer. Whether one morally agrees or disagrees with animal testing, it is difficult to
argue that within the world of animals and science there is a significant divide between the
power balance of the testers and the testees, providing ownership to humans. If one explores
the topic of animal testing all research leads back to the consensus, that whether or not it is
morally sound, within the world of scientific testing humans own animals. Susan L. Goodkin
states that many people take comfort in the fact that such suffering is inflicted for the research
into human disease(Goodkin, 259) This would firstly imply that humans are above the animals
we choose to test on, and that it is a savior for humans to have such animals for the sake of tests.
Many individuals believe that humans are significantly above animals and that it is far more
ethical to test on those below us. In Scientific America Madhusree Mukerjee, makes a very good
point in the direction of biblical standards; The Bible is unequivocal about the position of

Sit, stay, roll over: human domination of animals

animals in the natural order: God made man in his image and gave him dominion over all other
creatures. (Scientific America, 79). He goes on to discuss that this creates an understanding
within the world of animal testing that if it is ultimately for the better of humans it is in our own
right to. Many would argue that animals such as small rodents, which do not hold the same
mental capacity as humans are below us and therefore of less importance. As Mukerjee points
out Life is of far greater value to a human than, for example, to a creature with no selfawareness. (Scientific America, 79).Within the article he brings up the idea that an animal such
as a dog is not able to speak or function in such a developed way as a human, further proving the
point. Mukerjee goes on to make the case that evolution has created a world in which all beings
are not equal. Based on the knowledge given and much consideration, one might come to the
understanding that as observed within the sources, there is a form of hierarchy which leads to
animal ownership.
Scientists describe virtually everything that is alive as animal or plant, and humans are
considered to be animals classified as Homo sapiens. However, as humans do we have
superiority over one another just as we have ownership over other animals? It is possible for
humans to have ownership of each other, therefore there is nothing stopping us from ownership
of animals as well. When you have children, you in theory own them. A dependent is someone
you support financially and, in a sense, have ownership over. Slavery is just another form of
ownership pertaining to animals when you consider that humans are indeed animals. When we
think of slaves today, we think of the southern US before the Civil War or Ancient Egypt.
Slavery is when people are treated as property to be bought, sold, and forced to work. Isnt this
the same thing we do to animals? Domestic servants are kept in captivity, children are forced to
work as slaves or child soldiers, and there is forced marriage along with human trafficking. Some

Sit, stay, roll over: human domination of animals

may argue that slavery doesnt mean you own people; it is how people are controlled; however, if
you are being controlled, do you really have your own free will? Slaves similar to animals are
unable to walk away, and cannot make any choices pertaining to their lives because they are held
under complete control. Therefore, it is considered ownership, which is having legal possession
of something - whether it be human or another form of animal the realistic truth is ownership
exists all around us.
Politics and government control us and in a sense, have ownership over us. You do not
completely have your own free will- if you do something that is considered wrong in our society
such as murder, rape, and possession of illegal goods, you are held accountable for your actions.
You can be put in jail for years or your entire life; some countries even have death penalties. A
lifetime sentence in jail would mean that the government has legal possession and control over
you, and, therefore, owns you.
It may be immoral that humans can possess ownership over animals, but
unfortunately it is the disheartening truth. Although it would be nice to coexist in harmony, it is
simply not the case. All animals seek to be dominant, and through domestication, zoos and
entertainment, government control of hunting regulations, animal rights and ethics, and human
relations with one another, it is clear that humans have caused animals to become dependent for
survival. Those that aren't dependent yet are still forced to experience government regulations
that allow humans to do what they want with the animal. Although animals provide us with great
services and experiences they ultimately live under human rule and are considered to be owned.

Works Cited

Sit, stay, roll over: human domination of animals

Bales, K., & Cornell, B. (2008). Slavery today. Groundwood Books Ltd.

Docks, A. C., & Kling-Eveillard, F. (2006). Farmers' and advisers' representations of


animals and animal welfare. Livestock science, 103(3), 243-249.

Duckler, G. (2002). Economic Value of Companion Animals: A Legal and


Anthropological Argument for Special Valuation, The. Animal L., 8, 199.

Etling, C. D. (1973). Who Owns the Wildlife. Envtl. L., 3, 23.

Fredericton Bylaw; City of Frederiction 2005


http://www.fredericton.ca/en/citygovernment/resources/Bylaws-Safety-S-11.pdf

Goodkin, Susan L. "Evolution of Animal Rights, The." Colum. Hum. Rts. L. Rev. 18
(1986), 259.

Rowan, Andrew N, Mukerjee, Madhusree. "The benefits and ethics of animal research."
SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN-AMERICAN EDITION- 276 (1997): 79

Serpell, J. (1996). In the company of animals: A study of human-animal relationships.


Cambridge University Press.