In what is likely to be only one of the gazillion inane, uninteresting, moronic spats of Election 2012, dog welfare has arisen as an actual story you see on television. Because Mitt Romney has taken heat for once strapping his dog’s travel cage to the roof of the car on a family vacation, the Romney campaign decided to fire back by noting that in his book “Dreams From My Father,” Barack Obama wrote about eating dog meat as a child while living in Indonesia.
The basic vapidity of this spat aside (which I guarantee more people are paying attention to than, say, the candidates’ plans to deal with toxic materials leaching from hardrock mining sites into drinking water or one of the approximately 2 billion other issues that actually affect anyone), I’d like to point out that we should eat dogs.
Longtime readers will note that I really dislike dogs and think their owners become insufferable any time they are discussing/fondling their pets, but my distaste for dogs has nothing to do with my reasoning behind why we Americans should eat them (or eat no animals, but we’ll get to that).
Among my many jack-of-all-trades-master-of-absolutely-none gigs, last summer I served as a teaching assistant for an on-line class about animals, animal rights and animals in literature, which gave me a new appreciation for how illogical and thoughtless most of us are about the animals we eat and the ones we keep as pets; the ones we cry over when they die in movies and the ones we find completely dispensable.
Pigs, for example, are smarter than dogs—maybe way smarter. Studies of pig cognition have shown again and again that pigs are as smart as a three-year-old human child and may be closer to dolphins and apes than they are to dogs. They exhibit social behavior and memory unmatched by anything else on four legs, and yet people react to this with a big yawn. In order to eat the pork, bacon and ham we so enjoy, we basically torture pigs to death “Saw IV”-style in complex and efficient industrial farming practices.
Could you imagine the outcry if some meat producer herded a bunch of dogs into a pen where a steel wall descended and scraped the dogs into the clutches of a mechanical disembowler?
“Marley and Me Part II: Cutting Marley’s Terrified, Screaming Throat So We Can Eat Low-Cost Meat.”
After once writing a column for RedEye about how much I hate dogs, I appeared on some guy’s dog radio show (which likely means he’ll never host a “losing one’s virginity” radio show) so he could reprimand me. At one point he argued that humans and dogs have a long-standing evolutionary relationship because we befriended and domesticated them when we were hunter-gatherers. And that’s fine. If you go back to defecating in the woods and trying to hunt wild gazelle, I’ll appreciate your relationship with your dog in a new way.
Otherwise, shut up and admit your affinity for dogs and disinterest, perhaps even mild revulsion, for pigs is a completely illogical cultural norm. We find dogs cute and pigs not (I mean, look at that picture I used). Yet with all the hungry people in America and the world, it would make perfect sense for us to eat the millions of stray dogs put to death every year. If you grow up in a country (like Indonesia) where you can't just head down the street to the nearest McDonald's, you learn to eat dog and snake and grasshopper and anything else that provides protein.
Hell, in Detroit after its decade-long crash there are anywhere from 20,000 to 50,000 stray dogs wandering the city, many of them released by owners who fled the city or could no longer afford to care for them. Which just goes to show that as soon as overwhelming First World prosperity vanishes, our values surrounding our precious and beloved pets quickly follows.
Local Detroit shelters euthanize 70% of the dogs they catch, but why not eat them? Why toss the bodies into incinerators and send them off as carbon into the atmosphere? Why not cut their throats, skin them and hack them apart for meat like we do basically every other animal from lambs to chickens to cows to bison to pigs? Unless you’re a strict vegan, I don’t see an argument. Maybe you believe that we should eat no animals, that the federal government should ban all meat producing because that's far more inhumane than any method any shelter has ever devised for putting a stray dog to sleep and we should all be banned from consuming any animal flesh. But unless you believe that, I don’t see how you can justify not eating dog. It’s downright wasteful not to.