Thursday, 9 October 2008

Why are people dumb?

Campbell Live just ran a story about a young woman who'd had her puppy impounded and couldn't afford the $200 to have her pet released. At the end of the story, John Campbell advised that the phone had been ringing off the hook with people offering to pay the $200 on behalf of the puppy's owner.

If this young woman can't find $200 to release her puppy, she'll struggle to feed the growing dog, let alone pay its vet bills. I guess the people offering their money didn't think of that.

In the supermarket, I've regularly noted that the SPCA pet food donation bin is full, while the foodbank donation bin is pitifully empty. Why is that?


Anonymous said...

I have a relative that only donates to animal charities. Her reasoning is that animals don't have choices like humans do. My argument back is "try telling that to some of the people in Dafur"

Carol said...

I was watching Close Up instead tonight. Well, half watching while I did some housework.

There was an item about the low pay and other stuff to do with workers in rest homes for the elderly. They focused on one woman worker who is top of her pay scale, having a certificate for the work. She gets between $14-$15.00 an hour. She seemed really into her work She seemed really caring in her approach, helping a very elderly woman get washed and dressed in the morning. She talked about how it's upsetting when the elderly people pass on, but they they look on it as helping to make the final days a good experience.

The Minister (Cunliffe I think) was queried about Labour not doing anything sooner to improve wages. He said they couldn't do everything at once, and that they had steadily improved things, had some changes in the pipeline, and also that the rest home owners didn't necessarily have enough money to pay much more.

Anyway, you wonder if as people send in money or petitions/protests etc., to pay such workers more, as much as they send money for animals.

Someone e-mailed in about how western society pays people a lot more money to look after our money, than it pays someone to look after our mothers.

Danielle said...

I don't *only* donate to animal charities, but I do donate to the SPCA. I think my motivations are about living up to our end of the bargain we've made: domestic dogs were basically created by us through thousands of years of selective breeding. We made them greatly dependent on us for survival, and the fact that some people exploit that dependence to abuse or neglect them makes it that much worse, to me. But I am a complete sap about dogs. :)

That being said: you shouldn't have one if you can't afford one. The little homeys are really expensive, to the tune of several hundred dollars a year, at least.

Anna said...

I don't have any problem with the SPCA whatsoever, and I'm very grateful to the volunteers and donors who keep it trucking. Like most people, I support the humane treatment of animals, although I'm not averse to eating them (animals, not people).

It's just the idea of valuing animal life over people's wellbeing that bothers me. Caring about both is fine, but I don't get people like AAML's relative!

Anonymous said...

For many "poorer" people, sometimes isolated in relative poverty for any number of reasons, companion animals are immeasurably life-enhancing.

The costs of food and other basic care, including some anticipated veterinary services can be manageable when spread over time.

Many vets will work with animals' people, allowing drip-feed saving up for speying or neutering, for example, and drip-feed paying off for some unanticipated emergency treatments.

Extraordinarily expensive operations and the like will see many of those who imagine themselves "able to afford" an animals upkeep choosing, or feeling forced to choose to have animals 'put to sleep'.

What is imagined to be affordable can be quite subjective, I think.

Pounds, to the best of my knowledge, charge a per day rate for animals in their keep, with a firm cut-off date in place, making this an increasingly expensive, more fraught situation.

I'm glad help, and such a relatively little help, was forthcoming.

Anna said...

Point taken about the benefits of animal ownership, anon, but if poverty/social isolation is the reason a person owns an animal, then surely addressing the poverty/social isolation rather than equipping the person with a pet is the better option. The pet is a furry band-aid on a much bigger problem.

And I could be completely wrong, but I don't think the people giving money were concerned by the plight of the pet owner (who was a woman in her twenties, and probably in a better position to deal with social isolation than an older person, for example). If they were, they'd be more concerned about the women's financial situation than the impoundment which resulted. This was not explored in the item. Neither was the woman's responsibility to maintain public safety by preventing the dog from running loose - the reason it got impounded.

Besides, animal ownership is beneficial and good for people, but on the list of human needs I think it falls well behind adequate nutrition, housing, healthcare, the right to safety and so on.

Anonymous said...

People living in poverty and/or social isolation are often not at all well positioned to change that, even and especially for themselves.

Do you mean to suggest that they should not, ever, equip themselves with a furry band-aid, as you rather dismissively put it, if that is the only or one of the few meaningful or personally life-enhancing choices available to them, as particular individuals?

Sometimes, too, pet ownership comes before economic troubles descend. Should everyone deemed unable to afford an animal be denied or deny themselves that, even if they can mostly manage to attend the costs involved?

You know, I think we're probably on the same page politically. To me, though, you're sounding shades of judgemental and right-wing in an economics-is-all-and-defines-all way that denies or at very least relegates the human angle, even as you appear to seek to address it in this instance. Is that deliberate, I'm now wondering? To talk left and right..? :)

Maybe that pup got away just that one time and never will again. Things like that happen sometimes.

To position this woman as socially and fiscally irresponsible, within a hierarchical system that is overall, in and of itself, socially and economically irresponsible, a system which expects those at the bottom of the heap to toe as deprived a line as those at the top dictate, well, colour me unimpressed (and slightly confused to boot).

the first anon (in case there are others)

Anna said...

My point was not that owning animals is a bad thing or that poor people shouldn't own animals. Rather, I was saying that people who prioritise the welfare of animals over that of people are dicks.

What I was saying was that if the woman in question couldn't afford to have her dog released, she probably has financial problems. She may have trouble maintaining a healthy diet, affording healthcare or paying the utility bills. That's not the sort of thing that people rush to give money to.

I didn't position the woman as irresponsible. I positioned her as poor. I'd like her to have a dog, but I'd prefer her to have an adequate standard of living, including enough money to bust her own dog out of the pound if needs be.

What I was saying - and will reiterate - is that the people who offered money almost certainly cared about the dog more than the owner. Do you think they'd be so keen to help her with any debts which are not dog-related?

Anonymous said...

Well, that's a lot clearer, Anna, given that some of your comments could've been read either way. Thanks.

I honestly wasn't sure who was "dumb" and why, on some of the different points you'd made.

I agree with you, with the notion that people responding to the situation were probably often being short-sighted, acting as an ambulance at the bottom of the cliff that there should be no need for in a just world, (or country for starters).

muerk said...

I think this situation might be over thought a bit.

People love puppies, puppies make people happy. The woman lost her puppy, and people wanted her to have her puppy back.

Imagine happy reunion scene of squiggly happy puppy with her owner - all cute and excited after being locked in canine prison with a death sentence over it's head.

She can probably afford the dog day to day, it's just finding a large lump sum that's difficult. And sure, I know there's always the possibility of vet fees and indeed, perhaps a puppy isn't her best choice, but really... Sometimes we do make crappy choices because in some way they make us feel good.

A puppy is pretty mild on the "not greatest choices" scale, as opposed to say risky sex, smoking, binge drinking or drug abuse.

And sure, there's a strong possibility that people cared more about the animal than perhaps a struggling person, and objectively that is wrong. But I suspect that the people gave the money to make themselves feel better - the warm glow of altruism.

Miranda said...

I am a student, so I don't really have much money to live on let alone donate. When I do donate however, it's usually to Rape Crisis or Women's Refuge. My parents donated to them when I was a child, and my dad still does (as well as Breast Cancer Foundation and the local hospice that looked after my mum). I was raised Catholic and went to a Catholic school that was forever raising money and organising drives for the third world and the missions, and I still buy all my Christmas presents from Trade Aid. I think my parents bought all their Christmas cards from the Foot and Mouth society (Is that its name? Does it still exist?)
I prefer to donate and give time to these organisations, as they aren't as well known or as supported as the RSPCA, and it's heartbreaking to realise how underfunded the organisations that support, provide and care for humanity are.

Anna said...

I'm like you Miranda - I also went to a Catholic school, and had Mission Week and so on drummed into me! I give to a range of things, including a wee bit to the SPCA. Not all things are equal in the world of charity though - some organisations definitely attract funding more readily than others. So I try to give more to places like the Unemployment Centre or the Head Injuries Society - the ones that aren't sexy and don't have bracelets or anything like that!

I am in two minds about charity though - I do feel uncomfortable giving to organisations that I feel should be taxpayer funded.

Anonymous said...

I choose to donate to the SPCA thrift store, where the profit goes to the animals and people who can't afford clothes can get them for an incredibly cheap price. This way, people and animals can benefit. However, this is the only SPCA thrift store I've heard of, and I wish there were more.